Blacks make up nearly half of 3K COVID-19 deaths in Chicago

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Illinois positivity rate climbs slightly, but cases and deaths remain low in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods

Crusader Staff Report

Blacks make up nearly half of Chicago’s 2,991 COVID-19 deaths, but casualties have dramatically decreased in Black neighborhoods since the outbreak began last March, according to a Crusader analysis of the latest statistics.

Since April, the Crusader has documented COVID-19 cases and deaths in a weekly database of 20 zip codes that include predominately Black neighborhoods. The data was provided by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Officer and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In Chicago, 1,268 Blacks have died from COVID-19. That is nearly half of the total 2,991 COVID-19 deaths in the city.

South Shore has the highest COVID-19 deaths, more than any neighborhood, with 114 casualties. However, the last COVID-19 death in South Shore occurred August 21, where a 98-year-old man died from the disease.

The last death in Auburn Gresham was that of a 75-year-old Black female who died August 6. In Chatham, the last COVID-19 casualty was a 61-year-old Black woman who died August 14. The last COVID-19 death in Austin, was June 26, where an 83-year-old Black man lost his life from the disease.

At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 deaths were soaring in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods. In April, 57 Blacks in South Shore died from COVID-19. That same month, 27 Blacks in Austin died from the disease.

In September, just five Blacks in the 20 zip codes died from COVID-19.

In October, no COVID-19 deaths have occurred in any of the zip codes that include predominately Black neighborhoods or communities with large Black populations.

Statewide, Blacks make up 2,257 of the 8,997 COVID-19 deaths in Illinois.

As cases and deaths remain low, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday that an additional 53 people in the state had died of COVID-19 over the weekend, pushing the statewide total to just under 9,000.

Illinois neared that grim milestone as the statewide test positivity rate inched above four percent for the first time since early September. From Saturday through Monday, IDPH reported a total of 8,374 new cases among 177,882 tests performed, making for a three-day test positivity rate of 4.7 percent.

The weekend numbers brought the statewide totals to 321,892 confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease and 8,997 deaths since the pandemic first appeared in Illinois.

A total of 85,139 Chicago residents have been infected with the virus. A total of 736, 544 people have been tested for the virus.

Last weekend, Illinois also saw its seven-day rolling average test positivity rate spike to levels it had not seen in many weeks. For the past several weeks, that rate had been hovering between 3.5 and 4 percent, but on Monday it rose to 4.3 percent, the highest rate recorded since September 3.

As of Sunday night, IDPH reported 1,764 people in Illinois were being hospitalized with COVID-19, including 377 patients who were in intensive care units, 153 of whom were on ventilators.

On a weekly average basis, those numbers are all up substantially from the prior week. Over the past seven days, IDPH reported an average of 1,752 COVID-19 patients hospitalized each day, up nearly 10 percent from the prior week. ICU usage was up more than 4.5 percent, to 388 per day, while ventilator usage, at an average of 154 per day, was up 2.7 percent from the prior week.

Regional numbers

As of Friday, October 9, the most recent date for which regional numbers are available, Region 1 in northwest Illinois continued to have the highest rolling average test positivity rate, at 9.7 percent. That number had risen in five of the past 10 days.

Region 1 continues to be under enhanced mitigation measures, which include a ban on indoor dining and drinking at bars and restaurants.

Region 6, in eastern Illinois, which includes the Urbana-Champaign metropolitan area, continued to have the lowest positivity rate largely due to the aggressive testing program being carried out on the main campus of the University of Illinois.

As of Friday, the region was showing a test positivity rate of only two percent. But if Champaign County, which accounts for an average of more than 11,000 tests per day, is taken out of the mix, the positivity rate for the rest of the region stood at 7.2 percent, less than one percentage point below the 8-percent threshold that can trigger enhanced mitigation measures.

IDPH has said that if the positivity rate for the region, even excluding Champaign County, goes above 8 percent for three consecutive days, Champaign County will be required to participate in enhanced mitigation efforts.

Region 5, in southern Illinois, reported the second-highest positivity rate, at 7.5 percent, followed by Region 4, which includes the Metro East area, at 6.5 percent. Last week, state officials lifted enhanced mitigation efforts in that region because its average positivity rate had fallen below 6.5 percent for three consecutive days.

Elsewhere in the state, average positivity rates ranged from 4.6 percent in Region 11, the city of Chicago, to 6.3 percent in Region 8, which includes DuPage and Kane counties.

This report included information from Journalist Peter Hancock with Capitol News Illinois newswire.

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