COVID-19 response Health and safety
Test, trace, advocate
Colleagues from across Loyola University Chicago's campuses team up to support locals impacted by COVID-19 outbreaks
Back in the spring, and practically overnight, the COVID-19 pandemic ground life as we knew it to a halt. At the time, few understood precisely how the novel coronavirus spread; everyone and everything felt like a potential carrier (and threat). In Chicago and in other cities across the country, unsuspecting people were falling gravely ill. For Amy Luke, chair of public health sciences at Loyola University Chicago, watching the carnage from the sidelines was numbing. “I think we all felt very frustrated sitting on our hands, stuck at home,” she says, “and not having an avenue.”
Luke has worked on the Health Sciences Campus (HSC) in Maywood for 26 years. She also lives in the western suburb. In mid-April, she received a call from Nathaniel Booker, a trustee on Maywood’s village council, wondering if Luke knew of any plans at Loyola to run a COVID-19 community testing clinic. Luke didn’t, but found the idea appealing.
She figured some of her equally frustrated friends and colleagues might feel the same way. “Loyola has an awful lot of faculty and students who come here because of their focus on social justice,” Luke says. “Identifying people (to get involved) was not difficult.”
These conversations were among the early sparks that eventually fueled the COVID Equity Response Collaborative: Loyola (abbreviated as CERCL, pronounced like the shape), an interdisciplinary network intent on minimizing the harm of COVID-19 in at-risk Chicagoland populations. Working groups assembled, with students and faculty from the Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, the Stritch School of Medicine, the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, and the schools of law and social work. Each division focused on separate approaches to outbreak mitigation.