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  • Writer's pictureLucius Junius Brutus

Lori Lightfoot is Letting Elderly Chicagoans Die in the Name of “Equity”

Late last week, Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the guiding principles of her vaccine roll-out strategy. “Equity isn’t part of our COVID-19 strategy,” she said, “it is our COVID-19 strategy.”

Her comments come on the heels of other comments about “equity” that reveal what liberal commentators mean when they use the term. An article in the New York Times earlier this month asked the same question about vaccine roll-outs. Tellingly, Harald Schmidt, an academic at the University of Pennsylvania, is quoted in the article as saying the vaccine distribution should take into account that “older populations are whiter.” In other words, the vaccine offers an opportunity for society “to level the playing field a bit” by offering it first to younger populations that include more minorities. This perspective, of course, is so blinded by its racialized focus that it completely ignores the fact that elderly populations die at incredibly elevated rates from COVID. In a nutshell, this logic boils down to a twisted and contorted vision of “equity” in which everything is distilled through the color of one’s skin. In essence, it means that many black and brown grandmothers will have to die because too many grandparents are white – all in the sake of “equity” to “level the playing field.”

Unsurprisingly, Lightfoot buys into this racialized logic. She claims in that same video that “equity” means that “when it comes to vaccine rollout, we will be leaving no on behind.” But that’s not true. Lightfoot emphasizes in the video that Chicago will “collect the demographic information” of everyone getting the vaccine. Ignoring for a second that this is clearly a thinly-veiled code for a race-based vaccine rollout, there is absolutely nothing equitable about the city’s vaccination strategy. Take a look at the data:

This chart should be devastating for every child who has had to forgo a grandmother’s hug this Christmas and every adult who has spent the holidays without an elderly parent. It shows that 64.92% of Chicago’s first dose of COVID vaccines have gone to adults between the ages of 18 and 39. That demographic group accounts for just 3.02% of COVID deaths. The dosages are even well in excess of their proportion of the population, as they represent just 37.29% of the Chicago population. Meanwhile, the segments of the population who have been hammered by this pandemic will see almost no relief. 7.43% of vaccine doses will go to Chicagoans who are older than 60 years old. At 73.34%, they represent a proportion of the city’s COVID deaths that is ten times greater than their proportion of vaccine distribution. Worse, they even represent 18.42% of the population – meaning they’re getting less than half as many doses as they should be. This should be cause for moral outrage. There can be no further proof of the complete failure of Lightfoot’s leadership. Mayor Lightfoot, haven’t elderly Chicagoans suffered enough? Recent public health data for the entire country illustrates just how absurd this is. According to the CDC, 79.67% of nationwide fatalities have come from patients who are over 65. An AARP study found that 40% of this country’s COVID deaths have come from residents and staff of nursing homes alone. Meanwhile, the CDC found that those aged 15-34 account for just 0.91% of confirmed COVID deaths (2,291 deaths in all). These are, of course, tragic – but they aren’t random: 98.6% of those patients under 35 had at least one co-morbidity. An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association actually found that when younger patients were hospitalized with COVID without these preconditions, just 7% required ventilation and only approximately 1% died. A smarter strategy would target vaccine distribution to those at greatest risk. All of this speaks to the enormous hypocrisy of liberals when it comes to the vaccine. For months, Democratic politicians were discounting the likelihood of a vaccine emerging in 2020. When asked about whether she would even take the vaccine, Senator Kamala Harris said “I think that’s going to be an issue for all of us.” But now that a vaccine is available, they continue to jump to the head of the line and enforce their own incoherent policies down on others, no matter how nonsensical and damaging they may be. It must be bad if even Rep. Ilhan Omar is calling out her own Democratic colleagues’ “shameful” behavior.

This year has brought enormous struggles to millions of American households that have been forced to grapple with economic insecurity and the loss of loved ones. By applying critical race theory at this crucial moment where those who have struggled for so long can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, Democrats are violating the cardinal principle of public policy: First, Do No Harm.

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