Homicide has not “called in sick” in Chicago during the coronavirus crisis, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported 93 slayings during the first three months of this year, representing a 36 percent rise in slayings over the same period last year.
There were 24 murders in the Windy City last month, which was down 36 percent from March 2019, but January and February made up the difference and then some. And the warmer months of spring and summer are still ahead, and that seems to bring out the worst in people.
Back on April 7, a total of 21 people were shot, and at least six of them died. The following day, nine more people shot, including two people who were killed. One of those victims was a 15-year-old boy.
Chicago has been a slaughterhouse for the past several years, with the city racking up a higher annual body count that some entire states. Last year, 492 people were killed, according to ABC News’ roundup back on Jan. 1.
For the first three months of this year, the Sun-Times tallied up 419 shootings, which was up 22 percent from 2019.
It’s bad enough, say beleaguered city officials, during a normal year, but this year has brought the coronavirus into the equation, and it’s not good. According to the Chicago Tribune, “Chicago has accounted for 6,099 of the state’s 15,078 known cases and 177 of Illinois’ 462 deaths since the outbreak started.” People who die from virus-related cause are just as dead as if they had been shot, stabbed or bludgeoned, and the metropolis on the southwest shore of Lake Michigan is experiencing a double-whammy of trouble.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was compelled to observe, as quoted by The Guardian, “But the fact that this is especially urgent right now as our ability to treat all Chicagoans is being stretched to the breaking point, we cannot allow this to happen and we will not allow this to happen.”
That may be out of her hands, if the history of Chicago homicide is any gauge. The fact that fewer than 500 people were murdered last year in the city may have been a fluke partly due to weather during the winter of 2019. In 2018, the city racked up 567 killings. It remains to be seen whether Chicago approaches that figure again this year.
Only one thing is absolutely certain. It is a long time between now and Dec. 31.
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