At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the city of Chicago used its resources to convert the McCormick Place convention center into a makeshift hospital. The project cost nearly $66 million dollars. At first glance, this appeared to be a smart decision on behalf of the Chicago administration. At first, there were fears that Chicago’s hospitals would be overwhelmed by sick patients and medical staff would not be able to keep up with the demand for medical service. However, this has not been the case. Since its opening, the McCormick Place has only treated 38 patients leaving many Chicago citizens upset about the price they have paid for the something that has hardly been used.
One such individual that expressed his discontent is Corey Brooks, pastor and CEO of H.O.O.D (an activist group). Mr. Brooks pointed out in a statement that the money should have been allocated elsewhere: “Spending $66 million and $1.7 million for a patient is a very unfortunate thing, especially when we have areas on the south side and west side of Chicago that are impoverished and dealing with their own health issues that need resources.” This sentiment is echoed by many other Chicagoans who continue to feel as though their needs have been forgotten.
The cry for more investment in south side communities is reinforced by the call for a defunding of the police and reinvestment of the money into community wellness programming. The Black Lives Matter movement has made clear that vulnerable, BIPOC individuals have been exploited for far too long. They are demanding for change now.
Others have defended Chicago’s decision to invest in a special COID-19 facility on the basis that it is necessary to control the outbreak in order to get rid of it. The defendants claim there is no such thing as being too overreactive and hyper vigilant when it comes down to things related to the virus.
Nonetheless, regardless of the side you support, the small number of cases treated at McCormick Place is a victory for all. If the rate of infections is truly going down in a big city, it is a good sign that social distancing measures are paying off. Even though it is clear to many that the money spent should have gone to reinvesting in communities rather than towards a flashy hospital, the pandemic is still a significant risk that must be dealt with.