CHICAGO Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new COVID-19 vaccine initiative that aims to work with faith leaders on Saturday, amid rising rates in both new infections and vaccinations.

The ‘Vaccine Faith Initiative’ will see a partnership with Walgreens and more than 70 houses of worship around the city of Chicago in an effort to get more than 10,000 people vaccinated before the end of April.

Illinois health officials reported record-breaking vaccination numbers on Saturday, showing that more than 175,000 vaccine doses were administered in the state on Friday.

While the pace has picked up on vaccines, new infections and hospitalizations are steadily rising in the state, with a pronounced increase in Chicago as well.

The positivity rate in Chicago currently sits at 5.4 percent, nearly double the city’s positivity rate during this time in March.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Chicago’s Black and Brown communities have been hit the hardest, with more than half of the city’s infections in the last 12 months affecting Chicago’s Black and Latino communities.

While the two communities combined account for approximately 60 percent of the city’s population, city data shows just one in five Black Chicagoans and one in four Latino Chicagoans have received a first dose, compared to one in three white residents.

“I know there is reluctance on the part of some. There are fears on the part of some. All kind of myths about what will and won’t happen,” Lightfoot said.

The initiative announced on Saturday aims to address the hesitancy of Chicago’s Black and Brown communities.

“Going into the faith community has to be part of our strategy,” Lightfoot said.

The vaccines will be administered on weekends at 13 clinics around the city, aiming to add a boost to vaccination numbers that is expected when suburban Cook County opens eligibility to anyone ages 16 and up.

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