CHICAGO — Officials are urging more Black South Siders to get vaccinated against coronavirus, saying those communities are being hit hard by the virus but are lagging in getting shots.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot went to a mass vaccination site at Chicago State University to tour the facility and encourage neighbors to get their shots. She said the city has seen a surge in new cases and its positivity rate — but it’s even worse among Black people who live on the South Side.
The city’s test positivity is at 5.5 percent as of Tuesday, while that rises to 7.9 percent among Black Chicagoans. Recent hospitalizations “tell a similar story, and deaths are increasing in Black Chicago from COVID-19,” Lightfoot said.
“… Sadly, we continue to see the lack of vaccine uptake in Black Chicago, particularly on the South Side,” Lightfoot said. “We continue to make incredible progress in getting Chicagoans first doses of vaccine … . But there is a different and more disturbing trend in Black Chicago, especially on the South Side.”
While about 40 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot of a vaccine, that falls to just 25 percent among all Black Chicagoans, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health. At the same time, Black South Siders are getting more sick and dying more from COVID-19 than any other group in the city, Lightfoot said.
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“We can all turn these numbers around — the cases, the deaths, the hospitalizations. But we can only turn them around if Black South Siders get the vaccine,” Lightfoot said. “We must do this before it’s too late.
“… We need to send out the alarm to everyone that make sure that Black South Siders understand: ‘You must get the vaccine. It is safe. Come to Chicago State.'”
The city has opened several vaccination sites that cater to South Siders, including the Chicago State University site.
But advocates say more resources need to be sent to communities of color so residents know the vaccines are safe and know how to get them. They’ve also said doses need to be more readily available, suggesting more sites open up in hard-hit areas or more doses be provided to places people frequent, like through community organizations.
The city opened up vaccine eligibility to everyone 16 and over Monday, while Illinois opened eligibility April 12. There still aren’t enough doses to vaccinate everyone at once, officials have said, but they are trying to administer the shots as quickly as possible as new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations rise.
Current vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness and death among those more common variants, but the vast majority of Chicagoans have not yet been fully vaccinated.
At the same time, new cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates have been rising — though that growth has stalled recently.
People should avoid gathering, especially if all people at the gathering are not fully vaccinated or if there will be people present who would be at increased risk from coronavirus, Arwady previously said.
At the same time, the city has maintained its loosened rules on businesses, allowing for more people to gather at restaurants and bars. Chicago also recently loosened restrictions on outdoor activities in a bid to get people to spend more time outside, where it’s harder for the virus to spread.
Reopening is also stalled on a statewide level.
Another nine Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus since Monday. The most recent victims included four people from Cook County, including a woman in her 40s.
At least 21,694 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,295 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 2,587 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,306,787.
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Across Illinois, an average of 122,531 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 8,201,830 vaccine doses of the 10,162,155 provided to them.
City data shows 1,721,891 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans in the city, and 1,892,629 doses have been administered in the city overall. About 40.5 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot, while 25.4 percent have completed their vaccination. Among Chicagoans 65 and older, about 63.8 percent have gotten at least one dose, while 51.8 percent have finished their vaccination.
People are still at risk from COVID-19 and will have to continue taking precautions for much of 2021, officials have said. People should keep wearing a mask, staying socially distant, washing their hands frequently, not gathering, not traveling and not having people into their home, experts have said.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate fell to 3.8 percent Tuesday with 62,406 tests reported. It was at 4 percent Monday. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, fell to 4.5 percent Tuesday. It was at 4.7 percent Monday.
As of Monday night, 2,288 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 522 people in the ICU and 223 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, four deaths and 412 confirmed cases were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,110 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 269,992 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of five deaths per day, increased from an average of four per day the week prior.
An average of 657 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 6 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing is unchanged since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 5.5 percent, down from 5.7 percent the week before.
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