Written by Lynn Miller.

Congressman Rush, in collaboration with stakeholders and policy makers will continue to educate 1st District constituents about how COVID-19 continues to expose a racial health disparity gap. The Congressman will also educate people on how they can slow the spread through self-care and testing.

In addition, during Governor Pritzker’s daily briefings, he points out the dramatic difference in the number of COVID-19 cases reported for Black vs. White people in Chicago. The charts below illustrate the problem.

This past month, as the number of COVID-19 cases within the Black community grew exponentially, Congressman Rush led many meetings and town halls with key stakeholders, business leaders and essential workers.

According to District Director Mary Datcher, these meetings were held to educate people on the importance for all healthcare workers and other essential workers to practice self-care. This focus on self-care includes testing for COVID-19 for those with no symptoms.

“People need to realize testing is a form of proactive self-care. It helps essential workers protect older relatives and family members, coworkers, and fellow citizens in the 1st district,” Datcher explained.

During a recent conversation with Datcher, she discussed why the congressman wants to continuously communicate with constituents during COVID-19.  “Congressman Rush is a longtime advocate of making health number one—specifically self-care.”

As a cancer survivor Congressman Bobby Rush understands the importance of self-care. While fighting this disease and having access to quality health care, Rush became aware of the disparity, and took action.

“Bobby Rush made sure one of the key medical clinics Beloved Community Family Wellness Center, was established to provide access to high quality health care that did not exist,” said Datcher.

 Congressman Rush’s emphasis on self-care also includes nutrition, “maintaining proper nutrition becomes challenging in neighborhoods with food deserts. These types of food shortages are another example of racial health disparity—a topic that requires more discussion,” Datcher continued.

On Wednesday, April 22nd, from 3:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m. a discussion about racial disparities will take place during a conference call with Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Illinois congressional Black Caucus members including Congressman Bobby Rush, (see additional information below).

“Each week, the fight against COVID-19 presents new challenges. Last week, the 1st District tackled the challenge of educating homeless students, District Director Datcher explained.  “Now that CPS schools will not reopen, we need to provide a place for homeless students to learn. Yes, they have a laptop. They also have a mobile hotspot. Now, they need a place to go while completing their eLearning assignments.”

Ms. Datcher shared Congressman Rush’s next challenge, “working on CARES 2.0 for small businesses so they aren’t left out in the cold. They are trying to make sure the clarity of language in the bill focuses on small businesses and avoids the problems in the first CARES bill.”

Datcher also shared the following announcement from University of Chicago Medicine, stating, “. . . The intensified efforts to increase access to testing involve opening up curbside screening in Hyde Park and Harvey to the general public as well as partnering with South Side community hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs). Current testing partners include La Rabida Children’s Hospital, St. Anthony Hospital, St. Bernard Hospital, Palos Heights Hospital, ACCESS Community Health Network (53rd and Ashland) and several long-term care facilities, including Montgomery Place, Symphony South Shore and Villa at Windsor Park. University of Chicago Medicine will continue to work to add new sites and partners.”

Mary Datcher, is new to her role of District Director for Congressman Rush. She accepted her new role after successfully running the Congressman’s re-election campaign. Datcher’s experience as an entrepreneur, marketing and media entertainment expert and community leader, make her role as Director one of her many strengths–bridging communication gaps between multiple stake holders, constituents and policy makers.