By now almost everybody should have seen or at least heard about the party that was held here on the West Side. Hundreds of young black people had gathered together to honor two individuals who had died because, for the majority of them, death from a bullet is more likely than from a virus. Of course, there has been a lot of outrage following the release of the video because of disregard for the social-distancing needed to avoid the current coronavirus pandemic.
Black people have somehow become the face of death for COVID-19. The first woman alleged to have died from the virus in Illinois was a black former nurse. There have been a number of reasons listed as to why we have had so many deaths in the African-American community. They include: underlying health conditions, lack of health care, misinformation about the disease, living conditions, and working at “essential” jobs.
I, too, am outraged about the young people gathering and risking infection. But even more so, I’m guessing the majority of females at the party were similar to the young lady who recorded the video: a young mother. And if a young mother is at a party, the obvious question is who’s keeping her children? The people who were babysitting are just as guilty as the young people who went to party.
The following morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stern response to the gathering. In my humble opinion, she should have ended it with a codicil. She should have asked all of the young people who were at the party to voluntarily self-identify, including the strippers seen in another video. Right now, the Department of Health needs to know who everyone was, should anyone get subsequently sick. Those young people not only have access to family members, the majority of them probably work those “essential jobs” that require them to be out in public. Without knowing who they are, they could be exposing themselves to everyone with whom they came in contact.
That huge party may be the unintended “test case” to see what would happen should Chicago lift the current COVID-19 ban. It could turn a negative into a positive, as they become the frontline volunteers in the “test situation: to control the spread of the disease. How so? Because if they stay masked and gloved, if they self-quarantine for 14 days with their lost pay being covered by the city, and their employer forced not to fire them for missing work, then what could have been a huge negative could be averted.
Unfortunately, the mayor (as with the alligator in the Humboldt Park lagoon) missed an opportunity because of a lack of foresight.
I don’t know who the mayor has on her team to give her advice. But her inability to turn a situation into an advantage has me very unimpressed. How so? Because right about now, she should also be publicly prodding that parking meter deal to be renegotiated. The city of Chicago is going to take a long time to financially recover from this coronavirus. The last thing we need is trying to pay that parking meters deal because people will in the future be working from home and not necessarily driving downtown. Revenues for parking will be down, and the city should not be obligated to make up that amount.
Correction: A previous version of this column incorrectly noted that the home where the party was held was used as an Airbnb rental. That is incorrect. This column has since been updated. AWN regrets the error.