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Chicago city council approves spending plan for $1.1 billion in CARES Act funds

Chicago city council approves spending plan for $1.1 billion in CARES Act funds

The Chicago city council signed off Wednesday afternoon on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to allocate more than $1.1 billion in federal CARES Act funding in the response to COVID-19.

The funds, which must be spent on COVID-19-related expenses, includes $376.7 million for airport assistance, $189.3 million for the city’s public health response and $410.5 million for direct response to the pandemic, which would help cover the cost of previously-announced initiatives to address healthcare disparities in the city’s south and west sides.

Nine alders voted against the proposal Wednesday, with several saying they could not support it without a guarantee that no funds would go toward law enforcement or policing efforts. They said such allocations would be uncalled for, especially in light of recent protests related to the killing of George Floyd.

“I recognize that there are a lot of good things that people have been fighting for and advocating for… that were included in this CARES Act funding,” said Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. “But unfortunately, absent a commitment that this money will not go toward racist policing, I will have to stand with the tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, who have said not one more cent to racist policing.”

Some alders also raised concern that the $40 million set aside to respond to a potential resurgence of the virus was not enough.

Among the allocations is $7 million to Sinai Health System for an ambulatory surgery center at Ogden Commons.

“Set against the background of both COVID-19 and the issues of racial disparities brought to the forefront in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Ogden Commons project represents a critical extension of Sinai’s legacy of reaching beyond our own hospital walls to provide much-needed resources to our community,” said Sinai CEO Karen Teitelbaum. “We want to thank Mayor Lightfoot and the City Council for making an investment that will be truly transformative for the West Side.”


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