Ineligible Trump Tower staff get vaccine shots after Chicago hospital holds vaccination event 'by mistake'
It is unclear why the luxury hotel's workers were prioritized when other hotels' staff have not been allowed to get the shots under current guidelines. The Chicago Department of Public Health is investigating the vaccination event
A number of staff members at Trump International Hotel & Tower received the coronavirus vaccine on March 10 even though, reportedly, they might not have been eligible according to current guidelines for vaccine distribution. Chicago Department of Public Health officials said they are investigating the vaccination event held in the second week of March.
Health officials acknowledged on Tuesday, March 16, that Loretto Hospital on the West Side vaccinated workers at Trump Tower Downtown, although it is apparently unclear why workers at the luxury hotel, that bears the name of former President Donald Trump, were prioritized for vaccines when similar hotel workers have not been allowed to get the shots. Hospitality workers in Chicago are unlikely to become eligible for the shots till March 29, when the city is expected to expand its criteria for getting inoculated.
Loretto Hospital said it vaccinated 72 “predominantly” Black and Brown restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel” at Trump Tower. However, according to employees and a resident, the vaccinations were broadly offered and administered to the staff in general, including those who were white.
Hospital president & CEO George Miller also said in the memo that the Austin hospital was, at the time, “under the impression that restaurant and other frontline hospitality industry workers” were eligible for the vaccine in Chicago. “I now understand, after subsequent conversations with the Chicago Department of Public Health, that we were mistaken,” Miller wrote. Apparently, the vaccination event was organized at the request of West Side residents who work there and could not leave their jobs to get the vaccine, the memo added.
One of Loretto’s executives, Chief Operating Officer Anosh Ahmed, owns a unit in the tower. However, Loretto spokeswoman Bonni Pear has confirmed that she was told by Miller that the decision to administer vaccines in the building was “his and his alone.” Other off-site vaccination events conducted by the same hospital, occurred on the South or West sides and in schools, churches, women’s shelters, and a police precinct — and not in a downtown building like Trump Tower.
“This effort was one of multiple off-site community vaccination initiatives undertaken by The Loretto Hospital in accordance with its mission of ensuring vaccine accessibility to the minority communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the hospital said in a statement.
In a document obtained by Block Club Chicago, a Trump Tower official wrote that the on-site vaccination event at Trump Tower happened after a medical facility that is “part of the Protect Chicago Plus network” identified and contacted Trump Tower. The Protect Chicago Plus program targets residents in 15 communities on the South and West sides identified as “high-need” based on the city’s Covid-19 vulnerability index.
In his memo, Miller made clear that the vaccines used at Trump Tower were not taken from an allotment that is part of the Protect Chicago Plus program and instead, came from Loretto’s allotment. The city has also denied the claim by the Trump Tower management that the event was part of Protect Chicago Plus. “The city was not aware of a vaccine event at Trump Tower and we have reached out to them to find out more details,” the city told the Chicago Sun-Times. An official with the luxury hotel said that the Trump Tower was chosen for the program because employees come into contact with a lot of international and national travelers, making them increasingly susceptible to the virus.