For the third straight week, Chicago’s positivity rate climbed into the double digits along with rising rates in 11 Black zip codes on the South Side.
Chicago’s positivity rate is 11.5 percent as of July 5, according to the latest data from the city’s coronavirus dashboard. But hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline, the latest data show.
On June 28, the city’s positivity rate was 10.7 percent. On June 21, it was 10.1 percent.
Approximately 10 Black zip codes are higher than Chicago’s. They include 60609 (Douglas, Grand Blvd., New City, Englewood, West Englewood); 60615 (Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Hyde Park, Washington Park); 60616 (Douglas, Armour Square); 60617 (East Side, South Chicago, South Shore, Avalon Park, Hegewisch, Pullman); 60623 (North Lawndale, South Lawndale); 60628 (Pullman, Roseland, West Pullman); 60629 (West Lawn, Chicago Lawn, Ashburn, Garfield Ridge); 60636 (West Englewood, Englewood, Chatham); 60652 (Ashburn, West Lawn, Chicago Lawn); and 60653 (Oakland, Grand Boulevard).
In the past week, only one-COVID-19 related death occurred among 20 Black populated zip codes. Some businesses in Chicago still require customers to wear masks indoors. But many have lifted their mask and social distance policies as BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants create new cases across the country.
According to updated data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants were responsible for 70 percent of new coronavirus cases last week, up from 55 percent of cases in the prior week before, when the pair became the dominant strains circulating in the U.S.
The World Health Organization last week reported an 18 percent increase in new, weekly coronavirus infections worldwide with BA.5 driving the most cases of any omicron sub-variant.
Current COVID-19 vaccines and boosters were created for the original alpha strain of the coronavirus virus rather than any of the variants.
Following approval from federal health officials over the weekend, vaccines are now available for children age 6 months through four years old. The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is urging parents to get their young children vaccinated and make sure the rest of the family is up to date on COVID-19 vaccines and boosters.
“This is great news for families to finally have vaccines available for the youngest children,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady in a statement. “Not only will vaccines protect our littlest ones from severe illness from the virus but getting them vaccinated also protects other members of the household, especially parents and grandparents who may be more susceptible to severe outcomes.”
In mid-June, an average of 664 Chicagoans each day had a positive laboratory test for COVID-19, down from an average of 875 new cases per day the week prior. At that time, an average of 16 Chicagoans were being hospitalized with COVID-19 each day and an average of three Chicagoans were dying from COVID-19 per week. During a surge in early January, Chicago had nearly 10 times as many patients hospitalized with COVID-19 than last month. More than 1600 non-ICU beds plus more than 300 ICU beds across Chicago hospitals were occupied by patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.
Moderna and Pfizer have said their omicron-specific booster shots appear to be effective against the BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants. However those shots aren’t expected to be available until the fall. The sub-variants are likely to fuel hundreds of thousands of coronavirus infections before then.
While hospitalizations are down in Chicago, they are reportedly rising nationally while deaths have plateaued at around 300 each day. Meanwhile, the CDC recommends nearly 70 percent of Americans should either be wearing masks indoors in public spaces or considering the measure based on their risk for severe COVID-19.