Chicagoans speak out on how anti-Asian violence coupled with the pandemic have affected their mental health (LIVE UPDATES)on April 9, 2021 at 2:56 pm

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Kaylee Cong, 32, whose Vietnamese father was attacked, poses for a portrait outside a nail spa she manages in the Logan Square neighborhood, Saturday afternoon, March 27, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

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.”

Read the stories of six more Chicagoans we spoke to here.


9:56 a.m. CPS high school reopening agreement remains elusive

A final high school reopening agreement remains elusive between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union just days before high school teachers are due to return to classrooms — and the union president said Thursday the next few days of negotiations will determine whether workers show up on Monday.

Though the range of issues is smaller and disagreement over those items is not as severe as the hostile K-8 negotiations in February, there are still a few unresolved concerns the union is expressing as COVID-19 infections once again rise in the city.

CPS officials have directed 5,350 high school teachers to return to buildings Monday with or without a CTU agreement, and about 26,000 students in grades 9-12 are expected back the following week.

Whether or not that timeline sticks is dependent on “how outrageous the board’s positions are as we go ahead,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey told a few hundred members at a virtual meeting Thursday that was closed to the public.

“I’ve heard people say, ‘Sharkey, I want a really definitive answer, am I going in on Monday?'” he said. “And my really definitive answer is, it depends on where we’re at.”

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

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.

Read the full story from Zinya Salfiti here.

New cases and vaccination numbers

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