A look at Chicago’s pharmacy deserts, Highland Park shooting suspect’s not guilty plea and more in your Chicago news roundup

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

SHARE A look at Chicago’s pharmacy deserts, Highland Park shooting suspect’s not guilty plea and more in your Chicago news roundup

A sign that reads, “This location has closed. Please visit us nearby at CVS #8472 5524 W. Cermak Cicero, IL” is posted on the door of a former CVS Pharmacy at 2634 S. Pulaski Rd. in the Little Village neighborhood, yesterday morning.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

This afternoon will likely see thunderstorms with a high near 91 degrees and heat index values as high as 100. Tonight will be mostly cloudy with a chance of thunderstorms with a low near 71. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a chance of thunderstorms and a high near 78.

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Afternoon Edition
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Top story

Fewer pharmacies found on Chicago’s South and West sides, an analysis finds

Even as drug stores are providing more vital services — including COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, contraceptive counseling and wellness visits — a recent study shows communities on Chicago’s South and West sides have fewer pharmacy locations than other parts of the city.

These areas are called pharmacy deserts. The term was coined in 2014 by Dima Qato, a former University of Illinois Chicago professor now at the University of Southern California. In a pharmacy desert, at least a third of residents live over a mile from a pharmacy, or over a third of residents with “low vehicle access” live more than half a mile from the nearest pharmacy.

In Chicago, North Side residents are far more likely to have easy access to pharmacies than their South and West side counterparts, according to Qato’s research. In addition, the number of pharmacy deserts on Chicago’s South and West sides has increased in recent years.

“Chicago actually has the widest gaps between white and Black neighborhoods in the country,” Qato told the Sun-Times.

And, as Mitchell found, that problem was exacerbated by the civil unrest of 2020, when a number of pharmacies closed. It was particularly an issue in Black neighborhoods where, the city confirmed, about one out of every five pharmacies was shuttered temporarily or permanently, according to a WBEZ analysis of August 2020 city data that tracked the availability of pharmacies.

Meanwhile, a separate WBEZ analysis shows access to the two largest pharmacy chains in Chicago — Walgreens and CVS — is much higher in the city’s white communities than it is in Black or Latino areas.

Now, with the pandemic and women’s reproductive rights front and center in the nation’s conversations about health, pharmacy closings and access to pharmacies have become bigger issues for many Chicagoans.

Cheyanne Daniels and Esther Yoon-Ji Kang have more on the widening gap here.

More news you need

  1. Robert E. Crimo III pleaded not guilty today to 117 criminal charges filed against him after he allegedly fired from a rooftop during a Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, killing seven people and wounding 48 others. Our David Struett has more on Crimo’s case here.
  2. A University of Chicago student reported missing in June has been safely reunited with family, three months after they had offered a $10,000 reward to find him, school officials announced today. In an email to the school, Dean of Students John Ellison announced Diwen Fan, 20, visited campus today with his family “to show their gratitude to the entire university community.”
  3. A onetime lead prosecutor on R. Kelly’s case in Chicago’s federal court used a private email account and a fake name to engage in “surreptitious” communications with a prominent journalist, lawyers for a onetime Kelly worker have alleged. The claim by attorneys for former Kelly worker Derrel McDavid landed less than two weeks before Kelly is set to go on trial in Chicago’s federal court on Aug. 15.
  4. An Italian American group said today it has a plan to return statues of Christopher Columbus that were removed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot two years ago. The plan by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans would have the statues returned to their initial spots in Grant and Arrigo parks by Columbus Day 2022 and protected at city taxpayer expense.
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A bright one

Incoming college freshmen get set for campus move-in with CHA trunk party

Rosemary Perez will be the first person in her family to attend college when she heads to Benedictine University this fall.

Thanks to the Chicago Housing Authority’s “take flight college send-off” trunk party, the 19-year-old, who will be majoring in psychology, can cross a majority of dorm room essentials off her list.

“This was great because I didn’t know how I was going to get a lot of these things,” Perez said.


CHA residents bound for college receive a laptop during the CHA and Springboard to Success’ 12th annual “Take Flight College Send-Off” at the United Center on the West Side, where CHA residents received dorm supplies and a laptop to kickstart their college journey yesterday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The 12th annual event, hosted by the CHA and its partner Springboard to Success, was held yesterday at the United Center to support college-bound students living in public housing and give them some of the items they’ll need for college.

In its earlier years, the send-off event hosted only about 30 to 40 college-bound students who lived in CHA buildings. But this year, 175 students were provided with dorm essentials such as towels, bed sheets and a shower caddy, and they also got new laptops.

“It feels really nice to be able to have the support of the CHA, especially considering that it’s been very hard to get into college,” said Aoloni Fisher, 18, who will be attending Dominican University.

Jordan Perkins has more with the incoming freshmen here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

What do you love about living in Chicago?

Send us an email at newsletters@suntimes.com and we might feature your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What makes someone a real Chicagoan?

Here’s what some of you said…

“Ya know, real Chicagans like der sassage wit hot peppers and dipped, over by der, and der beer wit a foamy head. And, dey don’t send no one no one sent.” — Gene Tenner

“Knowing Chicago has the best pizza in the country.” — Linda Bergstrom

“Still going to school or work in a blizzard!” — Sammie T Shields

“Dey always go by Ma’s before da Jewels to see whachee needs.” — Mary Ann O’Rourke

“Walking backward when it’s 20 below.” — Jan Contreras

“Knowing where neighborhoods are generally located, their names, and what they are usually popular for having culturally available in cuisine and vibe.” — Eva Prokop Callahan

“You refuse to use the term Willis Tower because it will always and forever be the SEARS Tower.” — Brandie Osborn-Wilcox

“Knowing where the fronch room is.” — Larry Cline

“If they know which way is east by knowing where the lake is.” — Becki Gerson-Tedesco

“Someone who pronounces Chicago correctly, knows the names of all the neighborhoods (or most of them), knows the dividing streets between North and South and East and West, and never puts Ketchup on a hot dog. That’s a Chicagoan.” — Nancy Rice

“They know how to pronounce Devon and Touhy.” — Karen Kring

“No matter where you live, your heart and taste buds will always be Chicago.” — Cindy Rose Todd

“You still are proud of this city — no matter what the press, mayor or anyone does and you see that skyline it makes you smile.” — Charles W. Johnson

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

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