By Erick Johnson
Fifteen miles southwest of Chicago is the Village of Oak Lawn. The U.S. Census says the town is 67 percent white, but when COVID-19 struck, its Black residents had more deaths from the disease despite making up only seven percent of the population.
According to the latest figures from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office, 83 people in Oak Lawn have died from COVID-19 since March. This includes 38 Blacks, 32 whites, 8 Latinos, one Asian and 4, which were classified as other.
Sandwiched between Evergreen Park and Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn has 56,420 residents. That includes 3,949 Blacks and a growing Latino population that make up 21 percent or 11,848 of Oak Lawn residents. With the vibe of a suburb, Oak Lawn’s Black population has been hit harder than many predominately Black cities outside Chicago, including Country Club Hills, Chicago Heights and South Holland.
Among Oak Lawn’s COVID-19 Black deaths, 28 were females and 10 were males. One victim was between the ages of 18 to 35. One was between 36 to 48. Fifteen Black victims in Oak Lawn were between 62 to 77. Twenty victims were over the age of 78.
A total of 26 Blacks died of COVID-19 at nursing homes and a rehabilitation facility in Oak Lawn, Cook County Medical data shows. Eight died at ManorCare Health Services-Oak Lawn West, seven at Oak Lawn Respiratory and Rehabilitation Center, six at Aperion Care Oak Lawn and five at ManorCare Health Services-Oak Lawn East.
By comparison, in Chicago Heights, 22 Blacks have died since the pandemic began. Eight of those victims were over 77. Twenty Blacks in South Holland died from COVID-19. And fifteen of those victims, or 75 percent, were over the age of 77. In Country Club Hills, out of 20, nine were older than 79.
Meanwhile, the number of new cases in predominately Black municipalities outside of Chicago continue to stabilize. Out of 23 zip codes, 14 saw the number of new cases remain the same or drop from the previous week. They include North Chicago, Waukegan, Chicago Heights, Harvey, Markham, South Holland and Country Club Hills.
Many of those municipalities have new cases in the single digits. In Markham, there were five new COVID-19 cases on Monday, June 22, compared to 13 on June 14.
In Chicago, the number of new cases continue to drop in many Black neighborhoods. Overall in Chicago, about 1,099 Blacks have died from COVID-19, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.
On Friday, June 26, Chicago and the state were scheduled to enter Phase 4 with some Black restaurants planning to reopen for in-room dining, including Daley’s in Woodlawn, Norm’s Bistro and Chicago Chicken and Waffles in Bronzeville. On the West Side, an employee at McArthur’s was not sure whether the restaurant would reopen that day for in-room dining.
Statewide, Governor J.B. Pritzker said 400,000 Illinois residents were set to return to work as the state moves into Phase 4 on June 26. New guidelines will allow key leisure, recreation and business sectors to safely reopen.
Phase 4 allows for the safe reopening or expansion of several key business segments – such as health and fitness, movies and theater, museums and zoos, as well as indoor dining at restaurants.
Phase 4 also allows for expanded gathering sizes, increasing the limit from 10 in Phase 3, to 50 people or fewer. This expanded gathering limit extends to key activities like meetings, events and funerals.
Residents are still urged to wear face masks and practice social distancing.
In Washington Park, the DuSable Museum of African American History on its website did not indicate whether they will reopen on Friday, but the museum said it will stay closed until June 26.
Meanwhile on June 22, the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County reported that an employee tested positive after taking a novel coronavirus (“COVID-19”) antibody blood test. Antibody blood tests check one’s blood by looking for antibodies, which show if you have had a previous infection with the COVID-19.
Jalyne R. Strong-Shaw, Chief Public Information Officer, said the employee was assigned to the Executive Office at the Richard J. Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St. – Room 1001, Chicago.
The employee believes that he/she had COVID-19 months ago.
The employee who received the positive antibody blood test result has not identified any other employees whom he/she came in close contact with within the Executive Office or in other departments, divisions, districts or agencies.
Notification is being sent to all Clerk’s Office employees regarding the employee who received a positive antibody test result.
Since the individual who received a positive antibody test result believes that he/she was COVID-19 positive months ago and the Clerk’s Office is unable to confirm when he/she was COVID-19 positive, MB Real Estate will perform its regular cleaning and not a deep cleaning of the area where the employee worked.
To date, 26 employees of the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County have tested positive for coronavirus, and four (4) employees have received positive antibody test results after taking coronavirus antibodies blood tests.