By Erick Johnson
Some 20,915 residents in many of Chicago’s predominately Black neighborhoods have been tested for the novel coronavirus and 30 percent, or 6,238 have tested positive for the virus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
State data also shows that a total of 7,077 residents in many suburbs outside Chicago, with large Black populations, have been tested for the virus. Of that amount, 2,417 residents or 34 percent have tested positive.
With Blacks now having the highest number of deaths at 527, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and political leaders are stressing resident testing as a key component for stopping the spread of the virus. With historic economic disparities and underlying medical conditions, the health and wellbeing of Blacks remains a big concern as they lack access to adequate health care.
To address the problem and boost transparency, state officials have begun releasing testing data and results by zip codes across Illinois.
Using information from the U.S. Postal Service the Crusader reviewed the state data of 22 postal zip codes from Chicago’s Black neighborhoods. The Crusader also examined 15 zip codes in Chicago’s outlying suburban townships that have predominately Black populations or a large number of Black residents.
Some 148,358 residents in Illinois have been tested for the virus as of April 21.
Whites lead in testing with 34,645 or 23 percent of those tested. Blacks remain a distant second with 19,728 or 13 percent of the total number of residents tested for the virus. That number could be higher as 75,152 tested residents left the space that indicates race blank.
Illinois has over 12.6 million residents, including 1.8 million Blacks, according to the U.S. Census. With over 2.7 million people, Chicago has 814,264 Black residents. Many live in underserved neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West Sides, where testing is now underway weeks after data showed that Blacks in Chicago had the highest death rate from COVID-19 than any ethnic group.
Data from the IDPH shows that 1,421 people have been tested for the virus in zip code 60617, which includes South Chicago and Calumet Heights. Some 350 people in those neighborhoods have tested positive for the virus.
Chatham and Greater Grand Crossing (60619) had the second highest, with 1,342 residents tested for the virus. Of that number 396 or 30 percent have been infected.
Auburn Gresham (60620) had the third highest with 1,306 residents tested. About 33 percent, or 436 of those who have been tested have been infected with the virus.
On Chicago’s West Side in the Austin neighborhood (60644), 1,000 residents have been tested and 349 of those tested have been infected, state data shows.
In North and South Lawndale (60623) which had the highest surge of COVID-19 cases last week, 991 people have been tested and 306 or 31 percent remain infected.
The neighborhood that had the highest number of residents to test positive for the virus is West Lawn and Chicago Lawn (60629). There, 38 percent of those tested, or 493, have been infected with the virus.
In Chicago’s outlying suburban townships with large Black populations, Waukegan (60085, 60087) had the highest number of tested residents with a total of 1,368. About 675 of them tested positive for the virus.
In Olympia Fields (60443), 516 people have been tested and 154 have been infected.
In Harvey (60426), 31 percent or 146 residents out of 473 tested positive for the virus. In Dolton (60409), 629 people have been tested and 191 have been infected. In Hazel Crest (60429), 98 people tested positive after 371 were tested. In Maywood (60153), 128 people learned they were infected where some 459 people tested positive for the virus.
North Chicago (60088, 60064) had the highest percentage of residents who tested positive. Some 171 residents or 50 percent of 339 tested positive for the coronavirus.
Located in Lake County 38 miles north of Chicago, segregation and economic disparities have for years been a problem in North Chicago, where residents are predominately white and Blacks make up 25 percent of the city’s 14,000 total population.
In North Chicago’s white 60088 zip code, just 17 people tested positive for the virus out of 40 people who were tested. In North Chicago’s predominately Black zip code of 60064, 154 residents out of 299 tested positive for the virus.