By Crusader Staff Report
The number of new COVID-19 cases continue to drop in Black neighborhoods as Chicago moves closer to Phase 4 of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to reopen the city.
According to a Crusader analysis, the positivity rate remains under 10 percent in 16 zip codes of predominately Black neighborhoods, or communities with large Black populations. In eight of those zip codes, the positivity rate is less than five percent; another eight zip codes have a positivity rate between five and 10 percent.
However, in four zip codes, the percentage of new cases remain above 10 percent. They include South Shore, Roseland/West Pullman, South and North Lawndale and South Deering.
Last week in Auburn Gresham, there were 30 new COVID-19 cases, falling from 51 new cases on June 5.
During the same period in the Chatham and Greater Grand Crossing neighborhoods, there were 22 cases last week compared to 54 the previous week. In West Englewood, there were 23 new COVID-19 cases compared to 53 on June 5.
According to Pritzker’s plan for reopening Illinois, for any of the four regions to move to the next phase, the positivity rate must be under a 20 percent positivity rate and increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period. So far Chicago and the Northeast region meets those standards.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in Chicago’s Black neighborhoods are declining, according to data from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Last week, in the 20 zip codes on the South and West Sides, there were a total of 20 new COVID-19 deaths, compared to 28 the previous week and 41 on May 30.
Governor JB Pritzker recently opened coronavirus testing to any Illinois resident and said summer school can start with safety precautions.
Pritzker said much of Illinois is moving toward entering Phase 4 of the governor’s re-opening plan on June 26. In Chicago, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Department of Public Health, said the city could enter Phase 4 on July 1 with indoor dining at restaurants.
Health officials continue to stress testing and safety precautions to keep the coronavirus from spreading.
“As we move forward, COVID-19 testing must be widely available and this is a step in that direction,” Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director Alicia Tate-Nadeau said in a statement. “The state-operated community-based testing sites currently have the capacity to test more than 6,000 people per day, and now there will be no restrictions to who can be tested for this potentially deadly virus.”
Part of that reopening will include summer school for Pre-K to 12th grade students at public and non-public schools. The governor authorized reopening, effective Thursday, in an executive order, his 38th since the start of the pandemic.
Students, staff and visitors must wear face coverings, and schools must make disposable face coverings available to students who are over the age of two and medically able to wear such a covering.
In Chicago, bars, taverns, lounges and breweries allowed to open Wednesday, June 17 for outdoor service only.
“We are thrilled to be taking these long-awaited steps forward in reopening our city by safely bringing our bars back online with outside service, and, of course, taking our first, cautious move toward reopening our beloved lakefront,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Though we still have a long way to go before life fully returns to normal, we are able to make these important steps thanks to the commitment and collaboration with our local businesses who have been true partners throughout this unprecedented crisis, as well as our fellow Chicagoans who have done their part to keep their communities protected by being responsible and preventing the spread of this disease.”
Beginning Monday, June 22, Chicago’s lakefront will be open. The Lakefront Trail will open east of Lake Shore Drive from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily, however beaches and parks East of Lake Shore Drive will remain closed. The 18-mile Lakefront Trail will be open for exercise and transit only, and no other recreational activities will be allowed. Chicagoans must abide by a “keep it moving” strategy where only walking, running, biking, and rollerblading will be allowed. At this time, the Chicago Park District will not allow fitness classes, barbeques, beaches, and picnicking.
“The trail is one of our city’s most treasured lakefront amenities,” said Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO Michael Kelly. “We are excited to share plans to reopen the trail, encourage active living and provide guidance on how people can begin resuming activities safely.”
While the trail will open, all other lakefront amenities including outdoor fitness equipment athletic fields and beaches will remain closed while public health officials advise the District on options to open safely. Chicago’s swimming pools and playgrounds will remain closed while public health officials advise the Chicago Park District on options to open them safely. There will also be no use of outdoor fitness equipment, basketball courts, tennis courts or athletic fields, and parking lots will remain closed for the time being.