Chicago’s positivity rate climbed for a fourth straight week as new cases emerge in Black zip codes on the South Sides, according to a Crusader analysis of the city’s COVID-19 dashboard.
As of April 12, Chicago’s positivity rate was 2.2 percent. A week prior, the city’s positivity rate was 1.7 percent on April 5 and 1.3 on March 29. On March 21, the city’s positivity rate was 1.1 percent.
Most of the new cases continue to occur in zip codes on the North Side, but a Crusader analysis of health data show the positivity rate inched up in 14 of 20 Black zip codes on the South Side for two consecutive weeks.
Eight of those zip codes had positivity rates higher than one percent. Three of those zip codes as of April 12 had positivity rates higher than the city’s 2.2 percent.
In zip code 60615 (Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Washington Park), the positivity rate was 3.9 percent compared to 1.8 percent the previous week.
The positivity rate in zip code 60616 (Douglas, Armour Square) was 2.3 percent, compared to 1.7 percent the previous week.
The positivity rate also jumped to 2.3 percent in zip code 60637 (Washington Park, Woodlawn), compared to 1.4 percent the previous week. In all three of those codes, the positivity rate climbed in the last three weeks.
Over a seven-day period ending April 12, there were a total of five deaths in Black zip codes and five deaths the week prior. For the week ending March 29, there were a total of three COVID-19 deaths in Black zip codes.
But the rise in positivity rates in Chicago hasn’t worried health officials as events and festivals plan a full return for the summer season.
Many Black churches on the South and West Side have returned to in-person worship services and anticipate higher attendance levels this Easter Sunday. Many have dropped their mask mandates or shifted to optional.
For the first time in two years, Trinity United Church of Christ in Washington Heights will have its first in-person worship service on Easter Sunday. However, worshippers at Trinity are required to register before they attend the service and must wear a mask.
The dominant BA.2 strain of the Omicron variant is causing a new wave of cases throughout the country.
The city of Philadelphia this week made headlines after announcing it will return to an indoor mask mandate in response to the rising COVID-19 cases.
According to 6ABC Philadelphia, Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said in order to provide a one-week education period for businesses, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces as of Monday, April 18.
Bettigole cited a rise in COVID cases as the reason for the city’s return to its mask mandate. Confirmed COVID-19 cases have risen more than 50 percent in 10 days. She noted that 750 Philadelphia residents died in the wintertime Omicron outbreak. “If we fail to act now, knowing that every previous wave of infections has been followed by a wave of hospitalizations, and then a wave of deaths, it will be too late for many of our residents,” said Bettigole. “This is our chance to get ahead of the pandemic, to put our masks on until we have more information about the severity of this new variant.” Bettigole said starting April 18, masks will be required in all indoor public spaces, including schools and child care settings, businesses, restaurants, and government buildings.
The restaurant industry opposes the mandate, saying workers will bear the brunt of customer anger over the new rules.