League of Women Voters of Cook County

League of Women Voters of Cook County The League of Women Voters of Cook County (LWVCC) is a nonpartisan organization that encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government.

The League of Women Voters is dedicated to education and advocacy on issues surrounding voting, elections, government, and public policy. Currently focusing on the Cook County Budget & Structure and the Health & Hospital System.. We never support or oppose a political party or candidate for office.

The League of Women Voters is dedicated to education and advocacy on issues surrounding voting, elections, government, and public policy. Currently focusing on the Cook County Budget & Structure and the Health & Hospital System.. We never support or oppose a political party or candidate for office.

Operating as usual

Bravo to Cook County officials for launching a new mobile vaccination program this week! And, details for how suburban r...
03/12/2021
Cook County deploys mobile vaccination teams as details of United Center sign-ups for suburban residents to come next week

Bravo to Cook County officials for launching a new mobile vaccination program this week! And, details for how suburban residents of high-need communities can sign up for the United Center mass vaccination site will be released next week.

Cook County officials launched a new mobile vaccination program Wednesday afternoon and said details for how suburban residents of high-need communities can sign up for the United Center mass vaccination site will be released next week. The pilot program by the Cook County Health and Hospitals Syste...

Be a good neighbor to Lake Michigan! Cameron Davis, Obama Great Lakes czar and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Re...
02/24/2021
Virtual: Being Lake Michigan's Neighbor

Be a good neighbor to Lake Michigan! Cameron Davis, Obama Great Lakes czar and Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District will discuss how climate change affects the lake, the impact of water levels, local resource risks, and why water management matters. Wednesday, March 3, 7-8 pm. via Zoom. To register, click here:

Rain Barrel Program and Subsidies Approved
02/23/2021
Rain Barrel Program and Subsidies Approved

Rain Barrel Program and Subsidies Approved

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting February 18, 2021 ​ The meeting was held virtually. All 9 Commissioners were in attendance. Agenda Items Several items...

What a great way to start the week! Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law today a sweeping criminal justice overhaul packag...
02/22/2021
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs sweeping Illinois criminal justice overhaul

What a great way to start the week! Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law today a sweeping criminal justice overhaul package that has been praised by reform advocates. The legislation will abolish cash bail in Illinois beginning in 2023, require police officers statewide to wear body cameras by 2025, and eliminate requirements for signing sworn affidavits when filing complaints against officers. Bail reform was the LWVCC’s criminal justice group’s first recommendation in a report it issued in December 2015. https://tinyurl.com/tkk7ud71

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed a sweeping criminal justice overhaul package that has been praised by reform advocates and panned by law enforcement groups.

The 17-day streak of below-freezing temperatures is breaking this week so prepare yourselves for the big melt! Check out...
02/22/2021
The Big Melt Is Coming, Chicago: How To Prevent Flooding As Sunshine, Warmer Temperatures Finally Arrive

The 17-day streak of below-freezing temperatures is breaking this week so prepare yourselves for the big melt! Check out the article below for helpful tips to prevent flooding. When there's lots of snow on the ground and we get warmer days, there can be a great deal of water running off into our sewer system -- almost as much as a heavy rainstorm. Do your part to lessen the amount of water that goes down your drain to make room for all that snowmelt. #overflowactionday

The week will be sunny — and it could even hit the 40s on Tuesday in Chicago.

With the number of COVID-19 vaccinations in Illinois now surpassing 1.5 million, the state requested federal help in com...
02/11/2021
Federal disaster teams called in to help with COVID-19 vaccination effort as Illinois surpasses 1.5 million inoculations; first South African variant identified in state

With the number of COVID-19 vaccinations in Illinois now surpassing 1.5 million, the state requested federal help in community outreach at vaccination sites in two counties including Cook beginning this week. The teams are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and will be focused on local health departments that serve “underserved communities and vulnerable populations." https://tinyurl.com/4g3rryda

With the number of COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Illinois now surpassing 1.5 million, the state requested Federal Disaster Survivor Assistance teams to help in community outreach at vaccination sites in two counties including Cook beginning this week, the Pritzker administration announced Th...

MWRD Commissioners Debate Rain Barrel Program
02/07/2021
MWRD Commissioners Debate Rain Barrel Program

MWRD Commissioners Debate Rain Barrel Program

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting February 4, 2021 The meeting was held virtually. All 9 Commissioners were in attendance. Board Action: The following items were...

Tenant and Landlord Ordinance Approved by Cook County Board
02/05/2021
Tenant and Landlord Ordinance Approved by Cook County Board

Tenant and Landlord Ordinance Approved by Cook County Board

Cook County Board of Commissioners Meeting - January 28, 2021 ​ Virtual Meeting – Commissioner Johnson excused absence due to medical reason. All others present. President Preckwinkle had to...

Ethics Ordinance Approved by MWRD Board
01/29/2021
Ethics Ordinance Approved by MWRD Board

Ethics Ordinance Approved by MWRD Board

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting January 21, 2021 The meeting was to begin at 10:30 but was delayed for 15 minutes due to Com. McGowan’s having technical issues with her...

It's good news for Cook County residential tenants as the Cook County Board today enacted an ordinance strengthening ren...
01/29/2021
Cook County Board enacts suburban residential tenant, landlord ordinance strengthening renters’ rights: ‘It’s time’

It's good news for Cook County residential tenants as the Cook County Board today enacted an ordinance strengthening renters' rights.
https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-cook-county-residential-tenant-landlord-ordinance-20210128-affshrzae5chpmwmpdrwqdm4aa-story.html

Cook County Board commissioners are set to vote on a proposed suburban residential tenant and landlord ordinance on Thursday following a preliminary signoff that they hailed as a victory for hundreds of thousands of renters without such protections but was condemned by real estate groups.

MWRD Board Elects 2021 Officers
01/13/2021
MWRD Board Elects 2021 Officers

MWRD Board Elects 2021 Officers

Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting January 7, 2021 Board Action: #1-3- 21-0018-0020 Election of 2021 Board officers: President, Commissioner Steel - Vice President,...

Way to go, state lawmakers! Today, they passed a sweeping overhaul of the Illinois criminal justice system that would en...
01/13/2021
Illinois General Assembly approves sweeping criminal justice overhaul that would end cash bail, require cops to wear body cameras

Way to go, state lawmakers! Today, they passed a sweeping overhaul of the Illinois criminal justice system that would end cash bail and eventually require every police officer in the state to be equipped with a body camera.

The Illinois General Assembly on Wednesday approved a sweeping overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system that would end cash bail and eventually require every police officer in the state to be equipped with a body camera.

With COVID-19 vaccine shipments arriving in the area, the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is putting its...
12/30/2020
COVID-19 Vaccine Home - Cook County Department of Public Health

With COVID-19 vaccine shipments arriving in the area, the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) is putting its program in place to begin vaccinating the 2.5 million residents in suburban Cook County. Most vaccines will be administered by partners, such as hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and retail pharmacies. For the rollout schedule and other vaccine info, click here. https://cookcountypublichealth.org/communicable-diseases/covid-19/covid-vaccine/
And, check out the LWVCC’s website for an Observer report on a recent Cook County Health board meeting.

CCDPH has been working around the clock with public health and emergency management counterparts at all levels of government to respond to COVID-19.

Coalition to End Money Bond
12/22/2020

Coalition to End Money Bond

This morning, more than 60 advocacy and community organizations, university affiliates, and faith-based groups sent a letter to the Illinois Department of Public Health requesting that the state prioritize incarcerated people in its COVID-19 vaccination rollout plan. The letter outlines the importance of priority vaccine access to protect the uniquely vulnerable people in custodial settings, including the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ), county jails and juvenile detention centers (including those detained as part of immigration proceedings), the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, locked treatment and detention facilities, and developmental and mental health centers operated by the state and associated staff.

Read the letter with citations here:https://endmoneybond.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/advocates-letter-to-idph-re-vaccine-access-for-incarcerated-people_12-21-2020-1.pdf

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Re: Request that Incarcerated People Be Given Priority Access to the COVID-19 Vaccine

Dear Dr. Ezike:

We are grateful for the leadership that IDPH continues to provide during the COVID-19 pandemic. We write today to ask that you ensure incarcerated people are given priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Across the United States and specifically in Illinois, data has shown that incarcerated individuals are among the populations most vulnerable to be infected with and die from COVID-19. The Illinois Department of Public Health (“IDPH”) has already recognized this vulnerability in your planning documents, and we applaud this recognition. The “COVID 19 Vaccination Plan” released by IDPH on December 4, 2020, however, indicates that the priority status of incarcerated individuals and corrections staff has not yet been determined and may be within Phase 2 or even Phase 3. We urge IDPH to follow the recommendations of nationally renowned public health experts and prioritize all incarcerated individuals and the staff who come in contact with them as part of Phase 1a for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan—treating them with the same urgency as people in other long-term congregate settings.

In the above-mentioned COVID-19 Vaccination Plan, IDPH notes that it has adopted the equitable framework developed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) in regards to which populations will receive the COVID-19 vaccine first. IDPH also noted in your plan that the status of priority populations is subject to change as more is learned about the vaccine and affected populations. We ask that IDPH acknowledge the high risk of COVID-19 exposure for people living in all forms of state custody and the staff who work with them and prioritize them for vaccinations. This includes people in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC), Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ), county jails and juvenile detention centers (including those detained as part of immigration proceedings), the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center, locked treatment and detention facilities, and developmental and mental health centers operated by the state. People and staff in these congregate environments should have the choice to receive the vaccine at the same time as nursing home residents and others living in places where social distancing is difficult or impossible.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the prioritization of long-term care residents, they did so based on science and research. Prioritizing those residents is scientifically supported, implementation is feasible, and the choice aligns with the CDC’s ethical values of (1) maximizing benefits and mitigating harms, (2) promoting justice, and (3) reducing health inequities. Health experts from around the country have noted that this same rationale applies to incarcerated people. Indeed, the ethical and equity concerns are even more pressing for incarcerated individuals than they are for residents of long-term care facilities given that they are disproportionately people of color and disproportionately subject to medical vulnerabilities compared to the general population.

Health experts have been unanimous in their calls for the prioritization of incarcerated people in COVID-19 vaccination programs. The American Medical Association published a statement calling for vaccinations for incarcerated people to be included “in the initial phases of distribution.” The Johns Hopkins Center for Human Rights and Public Health published an open letter that has hundreds of signatories from medical and public health experts across the nation, urging that “people in carceral systems receive the same priority for receipt of a vaccine as both their peers in other congregate settings, such as long-term care facilities, and staff working in the facilities in which they are housed.” On December 16, public health experts from seven nationally renowned universities (Brown, Columbia, Harvard, UNC-Chapel Hill, UCLA, University of California-San Francisco, and Yale) published a research paper strongly recommending that states “prioritize vaccine distribution to all incarcerated people at the same stage as corrections officers (essential workers/first responders) or higher.”

According to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice, people in jail or prison are four times as likely to be infected with coronavirus as the general population and twice as likely to die from the infection. Jails and prisons are known to spread contagious diseases quickly since individuals are confined to close quarters, are unable to social distance, have little to no access to personal protective equipment, and lack easy access to hygiene products. In Illinois prisons, 13.5% of incarcerated people are 55 and over, and thousands of people who are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of age or health conditions are also detained in jails across the state.

Experts also urge states to recognize the unique challenges of vaccine distribution in custodial settings and to draw on the expertise of medical and public health officials familiar with these systems, and on incarcerated people themselves, to determine how to most effectively distribute the vaccine. These experts emphasize that in many states, prisons and jails have consistently been left out of COVID-19 response plans, leading to shortages in PPE, tests, and basic sanitation supplies, while other institutions in the state were better resourced. We cannot let this disparate treatment happen again.

The lives of incarcerated people are just as important as other people’s lives. But unlike many other people, they are fully dependent on the state to provide them with health care—in this case, life-saving healthcare—and to protect them from exposure and harm that they cannot control. Incarcerated people in Illinois have already fallen victim to some of the worst suffering caused by the pandemic. The state must not neglect its duty to provide adequate health resources to those in its care during the vaccine rollout process.

In addition to the dangers to people inside, jails and prisons are also significant contributors to community spread of COVID. Illinois is infamous for the damage caused by inaction during the first wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in prisons and jails—particularly the one at Cook County Jail last spring. Cook County Jail (CCJ) is one of the largest single-site jails in the country, detaining over 5,500 people as of December 17, 2020. In April, the jail was named the “top U.S. hot spot” for COVID-19 cases by The New York Times. Not only did the CCJ outbreak lead to seven deaths and dozens of hospitalizations, it also exacerbated community transmission—especially in communities of color. A study in the Journal of Health Affairs by Harvard and University of Chicago researchers found that one in six cases in Chicago could be tied back to the outbreak at Cook County Jail. A report released this week estimates that incarceration added over 500,000 additional infections nationally during summer 2020 alone. By providing incarcerated people and staff priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine, we can go a long way toward protecting the public health of everyone in Illinois.

Guards and other staff are the primary pathways for the virus to enter facilities, and once the virus hits the general population in jails and prisons, it is impossible to contain. In Cook County Jail, only 38% of people are housed in single cells. The rest are either double-celled or in dormitory settings with shared bathrooms and other facilities. Social distancing and other methods of decreasing transmission are simply not possible or effective in a congregate setting like a jail or prison. Currently, there are more people confirmed positive for COVID-19 (350 people) in Cook County Jail than at the height of the pandemic in the spring (307 people). Since March, eight people in the custody of Cook County Jail have died from COVID-19.

Isolation is the default infection prevention protocol inside custodial facilities. While people who are incarcerated await vaccination, they do so largely in solitary confinement like conditions (via quarantines and lockdowns) that put them at heightened mental health risk. People with mental health conditions are overrepresented in jails and prisons, and the impact of isolation is particularly severe on them. Confinement until the vaccine is available is also especially injurious for adolescents in custody.

In Illinois prisons, the number of infections are already staggering. There are over 1,200 imprisoned people who are currently positive for COVID-19, along with over 400 staff members. Since the IDOC began publicly releasing data, the positivity rate for prisoners is 17.6%, higher than the general population in any of Illinois’ 11 regions. Overall, almost 6,000 imprisoned people and over 3,000 staff have contracted COVID since March. Dozens of incarcerated people have died from contracting the virus in prisons, far from their homes, families, and communities. Even more concerning as a matter of public health is the fact that our prisons are mostly located in small downstate towns that lack the healthcare capacity to handle a major outbreak. When there was a major outbreak in Stateville, the National Guard had to be called in to handle the surge in cases. As we vaccinate the country, offering the vaccine to incarcerated individuals and staff members first can help avoid major shortages of hospital beds in small communities with prisons and jails nearby.

For Illinois to continue to be a national leader in containing the pandemic, we must distribute the COVID-19 vaccine equitably and strategically. That requires including incarcerated people in the first round. Six states (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Maryland, and New Mexico) have already explicitly included incarcerated people and the staff that work with them in Phase 1 of their vaccine rollout plans. Given Illinois’ particularly dangerous experience with COVID-19 outbreaks in jails and prisons in the spring and now, it is vital to update Phase 1a of IDPH’s vaccination rollout plan to include incarcerated individuals. Vaccinations of staff will not be enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities. COVID-19 outbreaks are currently raging through our prisons and jails; it is imperative as a matter of fundamental human rights that we protect the lives of vulnerable individuals, whom the state has sentenced to serve time in these facilities, by offering them the option of COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

The signatories of this letter urge the Illinois Department of Public Health to assign incarcerated individuals and corrections staff to Phase 1a of its vaccine rollout plan, so that we can avoid the unnecessary loss of life that will continue if outbreaks in jails and prisons are not immediately addressed. Please do not hesitate to contact Sarah Staudt, Senior Policy Analyst & Staff Attorney for Chicago Appleseed, with any questions. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
A Just Harvest
American Friends Service Committee--Chicago
Believers Bail Out
Black Lives Matter Chicago
BYP 100 Chicago Chapter
Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Champaign County Bailout Coalition - CCBC
Chicago 400 Alliance
Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice
Chicago Community Bond Fund
Chicago Council of Lawyers
Chicago Freedom School
Chicago Torture Justice Center
Chicago Tech Workers Coalition
Children and Family Justice Center
Clergy for a New Drug Policy
The Coalition to End Money Bond
Concerned Citizens of Precinct #12
Equip for Equality
Exoneration Project
Faith Coalition for the Common Good
For the People Artists Collective
Free Write Arts & Literacy
The Final Five Campaign
First Defense Legal Aid
FirstFollowers Champaign-Urbana
Hinda Institute
Illinois National Organization for Women
Illinois Prison Project
Illinois Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC-IL)
John Howard Association of Illinois
JOLT Harm Reduction
Legal Council for Health Justice Liberation Library
Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO)
Loevy & Loevy, Attorneys at Law
Logan Square Neighborhood Association
Love & Protect
Lucy Parsons Labs
Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, University of Chicago
MediaJustice
Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration
National Lawyers Guild of Chicago
Organized Communities Against Deportations
Parole Illinois
The People's Lobby
Pilsen Alliance
Project 1-11
Restore Justice Illinois
The Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Chicago Chapter
Shriver Center on Poverty Law
Silver Law Office PC
Smart Decarceration Project – University of Chicago
Students for Sensible Drug Policy Global
Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago
Unitarian Universalist Advocacy Network of Illinois
Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois
United Congregations of the Metro East
United Working Families
Uptown People's Law Center
Warehouse Workers for Justice
Westside Justice Center
The Women's Justice Institute - WJI
Workers Center for Racial Justice

Read this post on our blog: https://endmoneybond.org/2020/12/21/over-60-organizations-call-on-illinois-to-prioritize-incarcerated-people-for-covid-19-vaccine-access/

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332 S Michigan Ave, Ste 634
Chicago, IL
60604

General information

The League of Women Voters of Cook County focuses on public policy, decisions and election processes impacting Cook County. Interest Groups allow members to become better educated on specific aspects of Cook County government. Currently, the topics of the interest groups are Budget and Structure and the Health and Hospital System.

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Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00

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