Community Conversation: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic 


It has been a very difficult two years for so many; nearly 8,000 Chicagoans and more than 33,000 Illinoisans have died from COVID-related causes.

The pandemic revealed inequities in healthcare, and other determinants of health among Hispanics-Latinos.

While government leaders celebrate dropping masking requirements and other mitigations, many of the most vulnerable say that for them, the emergency continues.

“I have had students tell me, ‘I’m not gonna get vaccinated now and I never will.’ … I’m really concerned that they could be hospitalized or end up dying,” Dr. Jesu Estrada told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Estrada is the mother of two Chicago Public Schools students, ages 6 and 12. She works at Harold Washington College and serves as chapter chair for Local 1600 of the Cook County College Teachers Union.

Estrada argued a majority of the unvaccinated are the Black and Brown students that she serves. “Our communities, our families deserve nothing less. Keep the masks. Keep the vaccines. Nothing short of that,” she said.

Join Illinois Latino News (ILLN) and WBEZ this Wednesday, March 30 for a virtual town hall to discuss the impact of the pandemic on Hispanics-Latinos on the city’s Northwest Side.

Hugo Balta, Owner/Publisher of ILLN will be the moderator of the discussion between community and health leaders. From broad issues of health equity to the latest guidance on masking and vaccines, this conversation will serve as a gathering place where you can ask questions and find the information you need.

Panelists for this event include:

  • Dr. Geraldine Luna, Medical Director, Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Dr. Anuj Shah, Integrative Family Physician, Heartland Health Centers
  • Dr. Archana Chatterjee, Dean of Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University
  • Sylvia Puente, President and CEO, Latino Policy Forum
  • Margarita Klein, Director of Member Organizing, Arise Chicago
  • Dr. Marina Del Rios, First person in Chicago to receive the vaccine

Click on this link to register: Community Conversation: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

This virtual event will be available in both English and Spanish. You can let us know what issues matter most to you and your neighbors by completing our survey.

Cover Photo Credit: Dr. Marina Del Rios, the first person in Chicago to get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Dec. 15, 2020 (Photo: Ashlee Rezin)

This edition of the Community Conversation series is presented with abundant help from our partners: Belmont-Cragin United, Communities United, Esperanza Health Centers, Heartland Health Centers, Illinois Unidos and Northwest Center.

This is the first event in the new Community Conversation series, a partnership between WBEZ and Illinois Latino News that seeks to elevate Latino voices from around Chicagoland through journalism and public programming. In future editions, we’ll explore new topics in different communities as we strive to center the information needs of all Chicagoans.

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