Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



Former county health chief: Racism common factor in deaths in ’95 Chicago heat wave, COVID-19
Dr. Linda Murray, former chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, was a doctor serving public housing residents when one of the deadliest heat waves in U.S. history hit Chicago. On the 25th anniversary of the disaster, she sees the same root causes fueling the same racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths.

Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times
by Maudlyne Ihejirika

Dr. Linda Murray, today an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, was an internist at a clinic in Cabrini-Green during the deadly 1995 Chicago heatwave, and says the structural racism responsible for the deaths of 739 Chicagoans 25 years ago has again played out during the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality reckoning. Here, she participates in a June 4 demonstration by “White Coats for Black Lives,” at old Cook County Hospital.

Dr. Linda Murray, today an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, was an internist at a clinic in Cabrini-Green during the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave, and says the structural racism responsible for the deaths of 739 Chicagoans 25 years ago has again played out during the COVID-19 pandemic and police brutality reckoning. Here, she participates in a June 4 demonstration by “White Coats for Black Lives,” at old Cook County Hospital.
Provided

Dr. Linda Murray sighs. The 71-year-old former chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health is quiet for a moment, traveling back in time 25 years.

She was an internist working at the Winfield Moody Health Center in Cabrini-Green when Chicago was hit by one of the deadliest heat waves in U.S. history.

As temperatures shot up to a frightening 106 degrees on July 13, 1995 — and remained stuck in high double digits for five days — bodies began to pile up at the office of Cook County Medical Examiner, Dr. Edmund Donoghue. By the time it was over, some 739 poor and elderly Chicagoans — mostly people of color — had died.

“In a heat wave, you could have one day or maybe two days of extreme heat, but when you get to the fourth and fifth day, then you really begin to see people falling out, becoming ill and dying,” said Murray, who retired in 2014 after 17 years as chief medical officer.

“That we were in the midst of an unusual tragedy became obvious to everyone, when the refrigerated trucks started lining up outside the medical examiner’s office — everyone, except Mayor [Richard M.] Daley, who famously dismissed the inordinate deaths with, ‘It’s hot.’”

Seeing the barrage of bodies coming in, Donoghue, under whom Murray studied, sounded the alarm. Daley resisted acknowledging the crisis.

Myriad studies — including a 2002 book by Eric Klinenberg, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” and the 2018 documentary “COOKED: Survival By Zip Code” — blamed the deaths of so many elderly in South and West side Zip codes on the city’s failure to address poverty and disinvestment in those neighborhoods. Bodies were found decomposing in homes.

“One thing I remember about Dr. Donoghue was that he always stressed he was an advocate for the dead,” Murray said. “He said, ‘Linda, my patients are the dead, and if I don’t speak for them, nobody will.’ And so he really stood up to the mayor. And he was proven right.”

Murray — today a governing council speaker with the American Public Health Association and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health teaching would-be doctors about the conundrum of health inequity — was chatting before she headlined a conference marking the 25th anniversary of that heat wave.

“The Summer of Extremes: Racism, Health Inequity and Heat,” brought medical professionals and community leaders together with journalists to dissect its lessons, along with similarities found in the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national call to address structural racism as a public health crisis. I moderated the three-day event.

“COVID-19 is the global pandemic that those of us in public health knew was coming, and yet our country has not been prepared. It should be obvious to anyone now, that we’ve allowed our public health infrastructure to decay,” Murray said.

“And this challenge has exposed all the cracks and deficits in American society, beginning with structural racism, the thing that ties these two events together. When we say ‘structural racism,’ it means something in people’s everyday life, in Black lives, and more generally, in the lives of people of color,” said Murray, who retired in 2018, after 40 years of clinical practice, a career she spent sounding the alarm on race inequities.

“We’re not considered valuable. We’re not considered human. That’s the only way to explain these inequities,” maintained Murray, board chair of the National Collaborative for Health Equity and a board member of the Chicago Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, as well as many other local and national medical organizations and institutions.

 

In a scene from “COOKED: Survival By Zip Code,” Dr. Linda Murray, then chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, describes the impact of structural racism on the inordinate deaths that occurred in communities of color during the deadly 1995 Chicago heatwave. The 2013 documentary was based on Author Eric Klinenberg’s 2002 book, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.”
In a scene from “COOKED: Survival By Zip Code,” Dr. Linda Murray, then-chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, describes the impact of structural racism on the inordinate deaths that occurred in communities of color during the deadly 1995 Chicago heat wave. The 2018 documentary was based on author Eric Klinenberg’s 2002 book “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.”
Provided

Nationally, racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality were first highlighted by officials in Illinois and Chicago. Statistics reported last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed Blacks and Native Americans dying from the disease at a rate five times that of whites; and Latinos, at a rate four times higher.

In Chicago, Blacks comprise 43.6 percent of the COVID-19 deaths; Latinos, 31.6 percent.

The ‘95 heat wave changed how the city responds to extreme temperatures, leading to more stringent heat emergency planning nationwide. But advocates question whether cities are adequately prepared for this summer’s collision of heat, pandemic and revolution.

 

 

“This is what I’m concerned about. My great-great-grandmother told me stories as a child about lynchings in the South, about whites killing Blacks. And I am a child of the ’60s,” said Murray, who is still advocating against racial inequities, most recently participating in a demonstration by “White Coats for Black Lives,” held June 4 at the old county hospital.

Organized by that national group established in 2014, simultaneous demonstrations were held by medical professionals nationwide in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I was in Cleveland, Ohio, when we had the rebellions in 1966. I was here in Chicago when the rebellions occurred after Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination,” Murray said.

“And for the past several weeks, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd under the knee of a white police officer, my 18-year-old granddaughter has been out on the streets fighting over the same thing that her grandmother fought for. So my question for America is, ‘When are we going to fundamentally change how this country operates?’ ”



Recent Headlines

Cannabis, gambling taxes to boost county amid long-term budget woes
Thursday, July 02, 2020
The Daily Line

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area
Thursday, July 02, 2020
Chicago Tribune

'Going To Do The Best We Can': Cook County Adjusts Outreach Strategy For US Census Due To COVID-19
Thursday, July 02, 2020
WBBM Radio

A COVID-19 surge in your county? New Illinois website offers ways to check.
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois raise minimum wage Wednesday
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
The Daily Line

Cook County’s new website shows nearly half of census funds spent on advertising, marketing
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Forest Preserves of Cook County opens more in Phase 4
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Daily Herald

Dart, other county sheriffs demand state prisons start accepting inmates again
Wednesday, July 01, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois ends June with about half the daily COVID-19 deaths and new cases as in peak month of May
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx confirms office will err on side of dismissing cases related to protests, curfew
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Kim Foxx plans to drop charges against those violating curfew, Fox 32 news reports
Monday, June 29, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois minimum wage increases take effect July 1
Monday, June 29, 2020
ABC 7 Eyewitness News

Home property taxes still rising despite bigger hike on business
Monday, June 29, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Illinois announces 15 additional coronavirus deaths, lowest one-day total since March
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Former county health chief: Racism common factor in deaths in ’95 Chicago heat wave, COVID-19
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘And She Could Be Next’ profiles grassroots political heroines of the moment
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Amazon to open two new fulfillment centers in south suburbs
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Chicago Crusader

Cook County courts reopening July 6
Friday, June 26, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County courts to hold more in-person hearings in July
Friday, June 26, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

‘Everything On The Table’ To Close Cook County’s $220 Million Budget Gap
Friday, June 26, 2020
WBEZ News

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP