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.”
12:20 p.m. Riverwalk vendors begin phased reopening Friday
Vendors on the Chicago Riverwalk began a phased-in reopening Friday that will have all vendors open by the end of May.
Island Party Hut, Beat Kitchen on the River and City Winery opened Friday. A new vendor addition this year is Pier 31, which plans to open in May.
“The Riverwalk is not only an important part of our city’s economic engine, but it also adds to the liveliness of our iconic summers,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a news release.
“This reopening serves as yet another indicator of our city’s resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we look forward to making this Chicago staple available to residents and visitors this spring and summer.”
11:05 a.m. Aldermen move to prevent parade permit infighting
With 500 permits issued every year, it’s safe to say that Chicago loves a parade.
On Thursday, the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Special Events proved that love by providing a bit of post-pandemic protection.
At Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s behest, aldermen endorsed an ordinance that preserves permit priority for “traditional parades” scheduled at around the same time along the same route “in connection with a specific holiday or consistent theme for at least the prior five years.”
That priority status would remain even though those “traditional parades” were canceled last year because of the coronavirus — and even though none have been held so far this year, either.
Deputy Transportation Commissioner Mike Simon said the goal of the mayor’s ordinance is to prevent the temporary hiatus from opening the door to post-pandemic feuds between parade organizers vying for permits on the same day.
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.”
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.