A West Side hospital that primarily serves Black and Latino residents acknowledged on Tuesday improperly vaccinating workers last week at Trump Tower downtown.
In a memo to staff, Loretto Hospital president George Miller said he authorized his team earlier this month to “to vaccinate 72 predominantly Black and brown restaurant, housekeeping, and other hotel support personnel at Trump International Chicago.”
“Similar to other community vaccination efforts we have undertaken, this stemmed from requests from West side residents who work at the hotel and were unable to leave their jobs to be vaccinated during regular in-hospital hours,” Miller wrote. “We were, at the time, under the impression that restaurant and other frontline hospitality industry workers were considered ‘essential’ under the City of Chicago’s 1B eligibility requirements. I now understand, after subsequent conversations with the Chicago Department of Public Health, that we were mistaken.”
Miller said the vaccines were part of their regular vaccine allotment and not part of Protect Chicago Plus, a program pushed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to allocate doses to neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic. The Trump Tower employee vaccinations occurred on March 10 and 11, according to the statement.
Block Club Chicago first reported on the improper vaccinations at Trump Tower.
Restaurant workers and hotel staff are not yet eligible for vaccine doses in Chicago.
A public health department spokesman earlier acknowledged that the city is investigating the report. Public health spokesman Andrew Buchanan said the city is “gathering details” but wasn’t aware of any vaccination events there.
Representatives for the Trump organization did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
The Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin community, was chosen late last year to administer Chicago’s ceremonial first COVID-19 vaccination, as part of the city’s efforts to encourage people in Black and Latino neighborhoods to get the shot.
The Austin neighborhood was hit by a devastatingly high number of COVID-19 cases a year ago. Though Austin’s infection rates are nowhere near that level, the community’s primary ZIP code in late January had a higher positivity rate than the citywide total, public health data shows. It also had a higher infection rate, with 2 in every 1,000 people testing positive for the virus, about 20% higher than the citywide average at the time.
As of late January, about 1 in every 14 residents of Austin’s primary ZIP code had tested positive for the virus since the pandemic began, slightly better than the citywide average of 1 in every 12. However, the ZIP code’s death rate was significantly higher than the city average. One in every 430 people died from the virus in the past 10 months, compared with 1 in every 605 residents citywide, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.