The coronavirus pandemic sparked a mental health crisis. For Asians and Asian Americans also facing a rise in hate incidents across the country, it’s been “trauma upon trauma,” says Anne Saw, a Chicago psychologist.
“A lot of our communities are experiencing so many pandemic stressors that are then compounded by a lot of anti-Asian discrimination that we’re also experiencing,” says Saw, who teaches at DePaul University and directs the Chicago Asian American Psychology Lab.
“It’s tough to, like, get your head above water and get some room to breathe when every day we’re confronted with new traumas,” she says.
We talked to seven Chicagoans about how anti-Asian violence coupled with the pandemic have affected their mental health and their everyday lives. Among them was Kaylee Cong, 32, of Uptown, who manages a nail spa.
On March 20, four days after the Atlanta shootings, Cong says, her 60-year-old Vietnamese father was punched in the head as he walked alone that night near Broadway and West Ainslee Street. He turned to run, saw a white man holding a baseball bat watching him and called 911.
“We’re really scared,” says Cong, who’d been talking with her father about the Georgia shootings the day before he was attacked. “What if the person come back and do revenge? My entire life living here, it was so peaceful. There was no violence like this.”
She says her father hasn’t wanted to leave the house since that happened.
Older Asian Americans “just want to keep quiet and don’t want to make waves,” Cong says. “I have really different mentality. We deserve to, you know, feel safe. And we shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for ourselves.”
8:08 a.m. Spike in COVID-19 cases causes University of Chicago to announce stay-at-home period for students
University of Chicago announced a stay-at-home period for students Wednesday evening following the largest COVID-19 outbreak at the university since the start of the academic year.
After more than 50 cases of the coronavirus were detected among undergraduates in recent days, the university announced that students living on-campus must observe a week-long stay-at-home period immediately.
“We expect this number to increase,” university officials said in an email sent to members of the university community Thursday.
All undergraduate classes will be fully remote for at least a week starting Thursday and students can only leave their residence halls for food, medical appointments and short walks for exercise.
New cases and vaccination numbers
- Illinois’ infection rate is still less than a third of what it was during the worst days of the pandemic last fall — but it’s doubled in the last four weeks.
- On Thursday, officials reported 3,739 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease were diagnosed statewide among 97,741 tests. The state’s testing positivity rate is at 4.2%, its highest point since the end of January and up from 2.1% on March 12.
- Nightly COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 66% since then, with hospitals treating nearly 1,800 COVID-19 patients Wednesday night.
- After a record-breaking 154,201 shots were given statewide Wednesday, one in five Illinois residents is now fully vaccinated, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
- The state is vaccinating more people than ever, averaging almost 113,000 shots per day over the past week. About 42% of residents 16 or older have gotten at least one dose, and 73% of seniors have gotten a shot.