Simmons LGBTQCovidData PASS COMMITTEE

"We can't protect these communities if we refuse to see them."

SPRINGFIELD – To better determine how the COVID-19 pandemic has harmed LGBTQIA+ communities in Illinois, State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago) passed legislation out of an Illinois Senate committee Thursday that would require state agencies and hospitals to gather more specific data on age, sex, disability status, sexual orientation and gender identity when dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Simmons, the first openly gay member of the Illinois Senate, said visibility is the first step to ensuring justice in how services are delivered to these historically marginalized communities.

“For members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, who already disproportionately face challenges in getting medical care or sadly lack the support of family, COVID-19 has the potential to be even more devastating,” Simmons said. “We can’t protect these communities if we refuse to see them.”

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Equality Illinois have called for the legislation, citing a lack of routine data collection that has prevented an accurate outlook of the coronavirus’ effect on the LGBTQIA+ community in Illinois. Studies have shown members of those communities are more likely to have chronic conditions and other risk factors that can increase vulnerability to COVID-19. As one example of how the pandemic can exacerbate existing challenges, older LGBTQIA+ people already face higher rates of social isolation.

“The effects of COVID-19 will have consequences for years to come,” Simmons said. “As we mobilize our health care system to respond, it is our duty to leave no community behind.”

Senate Bill 2133 passed the Senate Human Rights Committee Thursday and awaits consideration before the full Senate.

Category: Press Releases

Simmons VaxTour 2CHICAGO – Last week, State Senator Mike Simmons toured the newly opened mass vaccination site located near Wrigley Field, which provides up to 2,000 doses daily to people who live in and around the 7th District – and vowed to bring more shots to the area.

“Vaccine efforts are ramping up across the state, but it has become apparent that too many people feel that the process of securing an appointment and getting a vaccine is out of reach,” Simmons said. “People within the district I represent are dealing with systemic barriers to accessing health care overall, and vaccine distribution is shining a light on systemic inequities that affect 7th District residents.”

Alongside Congressman Mike Quigley and Representative Margaret Croke, Simmons toured the new mass vaccination site near Wrigley Field located at American Airlines Conference Center at Gallagher Way. Advocate Aurora Health is operating the site, and Simmons says he is in discussions with the group to arrange partnerships that will target more vaccines to those in need across the 7th District.

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Category: Press Releases

Mike Simmons HeadshotCHICAGO — Two hundred residents, mostly from the Rogers Park and West Ridge neighborhoods, received COVID-19 vaccines today at events organized by State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), in partnership with the Howard Brown Health Center, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, and ONE Northside. 

Simmons worked with the organizations to set up the events and reach out to residents of the 60626 and 60659 ZIP codes and adjacent communities after reports he requested from the Illinois Department of Public Health showed that infections still remain high and vaccination rates low in those communities, mirroring broader inequities in the health system.

“We’re talking about communities with immigrants, non-primary English speakers, and those living without reliable access to quality health care here in the 7th Senate District,” Simmons said. “Those circumstances present huge barriers to vaccine access, and if we’re to overcome them we have to proactively reach out and facilitate access. Many of our residents have language, transportation, and economic barriers to accessing the vaccine.”

The vaccine appointments were booked with the help of the Ethiopian Community Association, Howard Brown Health Center and ONE Northside, working in coordination with Simmons’ office. Many vaccine recipients are members of Chicago’s Ethiopian community, immigrants and asylees, and other low-income residents who face systemic barriers in accessing the vaccine. 

“Many of our low-income members, particularly people of color and people with lower access to technology, have struggled to access the vaccine. We are grateful to Sen. Simmons and Howard Brown for making this opportunity available to our community and to provide access to this life-saving vaccine to those left behind by our healthcare system,” said Jennifer Ritter, Executive Director of ONE Northside. “We will continue to organize for equitable outcomes from our healthcare system and build a society where everyone can thrive.”

Aklilu Adeye, Executive Director of the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago said the Ethiopian community in particular faces challenges in navigating the process of getting vaccinated.

“Most of our refugee and immigrant community members have the double challenge of vaccine hesitancy as well as obtaining access to the vaccines,” Adeye said. “The availability of the vaccines we are receiving now provides access to families but also the opportunity to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services and explanations for any concerns they may have. We truly appreciate this effort and thankful for all parties who made this possible.”

Residents received shots this morning at The Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago,

5800 N. Lincoln Ave., with more vaccinations administered this afternoon at Howard Brown Health Center, 6500 N. Clark St., in partnership with ONE Northside.

“We cannot overcome COVID-19 if we leave communities like these behind. The gross and totally unacceptable inequities in health care access and outcomes we already were seeing before the pandemic will only get worse if we aren’t proactive in getting our most vulnerable residents on the far north side access to this vaccine,” Simmons said.

Category: Press Releases

2021 04 07 WilsonYardPresserCHICAGO – State Senator Mike Simmons (D-Chicago), joined by advocates from Voices for Illinois Children, SEIU Healthcare and Start Early, as well as members of the community, spoke out about his legislation creating a new $600-per-child state income tax credit to help working families make ends meet at a Wednesday press conference.

“As we reinvest in our communities following the pandemic, we must make sure working families are included,” Simmons said. “This pandemic has wrought devastation on families of color and children living in poverty in particular, and too often, they’re left out of the conversation.”

Simmons’ plan would provide a $600-per-child income tax credit for single parents making less than $40,000 per year and two-parent households that make less than $60,000. It would gradually phase out for parents at higher income levels.

“How is it not a crisis when one-third of all Illinois children are below 200% of the federal poverty level and two-thirds of African-American children are below that level?” said Voices Executive Director Tasha Green Cruzat. “These are children facing health, housing, and nutritional issues. The pandemic has only made the situation worse, and we need to make the long-term commitment and investments to pull these children and their families out of poverty.”

According to Voices’ research, 976,000 Illinois children – or 35% – fall below 200% of the federal poverty level. The statistics are even worse for Black and Latinx families. In 2019, 67% of Black children under age 6 were in extreme poverty, as were 56% of Latinx children in that age range.

“I see a child tax credit as a much-needed resource for parents who have been navigating unprecedented difficulties this past year at home, at work, and in keeping their children safe,” said Faith Arnold of SEIU Healthcare. “They deserve a form of relief that helps them in their pocketbooks.”

The proposed legislation would have a strong impact on essential and hospitality workers. Statistically, women and people of color hold a disproportionate number of essential jobs, and one out of every three hospitality workers in Illinois have lost their jobs over the past year.

“Even though we’ve had struggles this year, my family is fortunate to be able to make ends meet,” said Janet Soto, 35, a resident of Uptown. “So many others aren’t. Families need help right now.”

Simmons’ legislation, Senate Bill 2132, has been assigned to the Senate Revenue Committee, where it awaits a hearing.

Category: Press Releases

Covid-19 Resources

Office Info

District Office
5533 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60640
(773) 769-1717

Springfield Office:
Senator 7th District
M115 Capitol
Springfield, IL 62706
(217) 782-8492

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