Coronavirus

This illustration reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

All Chicago adults are eligible for the Moderna vaccine and all Chicago residents aged 16 and older are eligible for the vaccine made by Pfizer-BioNTech, though the single-dose vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is still paused nationwide as of Monday.

The city’s COVID-19 positivity rate is still above the target of 5%, and the average number of cases are nearing 700. Weeks ago, Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s commissioner of public health, suggested that more than 400 average cases per day would be a cause for concern.

However, Arwady said on April 13 that increases in case rates, positivity, emergency department visits, hospitalizations and intensive-care unit beds in use are beginning to slow.

Arwady said the disproportionate increase of COVID-19 cases among White Chicagoans has stopped and that Black and Latino Chicagoans are acquiring the disease at the same rate now

"No matter who you are or where you are in Chicago, COVID is on the rise," she said. "We're vaccinating people as quickly as we can, but at the same time, we need people practicing caution."

She also said that the North Side is seeing a disproportionate number of cases, suggesting less natural immunity to the coronavirus in the area as it had been less hit by the disease in previous waves over the pandemic "and perhaps a little bit of misplaced vaccine confidence."

April 13 covid hotspots

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and the city's map of COVID-19 hotspots, April 13 

The Chicago Department of Public Health coronavirus hotspot side showed roughly the entire North Side as a hotspot and the South Side with disproportionately fewer cases of COVID-19. However, some South Side ZIP codes, including Greater Grand Crossing's 60619, have positivity rates as high as the highest on the North Side.

A CDPH spokesman said that the hot spots are figured by case counts within census tracts, with analysis showing the tracts where disproportionately high numbers of cases, compared to the rest of the city, are clustering together.

"Simply knowing where we're identifying the most cases through testing is of course useful to several of our mitigation activities," the spokesperson emailed. "Alternatively, the test positivity metric is driven by both case counts and total tests performed. So if testing utilization is very high in a given region over some time frame, it's possible that case counts there would be high (i.e., a hot spot, as defined above) but test positivity comparatively moderate/low during that period. And an area with high positivity may not meet the hot spot definition if the cumulative case count is not as high relative to other areas of the city."

At the press conference, Arwady noted that the COVID-19 outbreak in Chicago is and continues to be widespread: "When we show that we are disproportionately seeing more cases on the North Side, there is no part of the city that has not seen COVID and does not continue to see COVID."

As of the end of March, Black Chicagoans younger than 44 were the least likely demographic cohort to have received one dose of vaccine against COVID-19. Arwady said the J&J vaccine had been useful in settings that did not require an appointment and noted its efficiency in not requiring a second dose, saying "That kind of approach has been important for some of our predominantly Black neighborhoods."

"It is true that where we continue to see lags the most are in younger Black Chicagoans. There's a whole range of things we're doing to work on there," she said. She said the city will push other vaccines now that the one from J&J is paused and continue working with partners to "keep vaccine confidence high."

Arwady also encouraged people to continue keeping up good testing behavior, saying it is critical to keep abreast of the scale of Chicago's outbreak.

"I would encourage, again, people to remember the basics: wearing your masks, socially distancing, staying home when you're sick, getting your tests and then getting vaccinated when you can," she said. "And right now, that means getting vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer. It remains the best way to protect yourself, your family and Chicago from COVID."

Local COVID-19 information

As of April 19, the city's seven-day average positivity rate is 5.6%, above the target positivity rate (5%)

As of April 4-10, COVID-19 positivities remain below 5% in all four mid-South Side lakefront ZIP codes.

  • In 60653, covering North Kenwood and Bronzeville, there were 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19, compared to 48 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 4.7% positivity rate out of 1,228 tests performed, down from 4.9% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 25%. Out of the entire population, 31.8% has received a first dose of vaccine, and 20.3% is fully vaccinated.

  • In 60615, covering northern Hyde Park, southern Kenwood and northern Washington Park, there were 54 confirmed cases, up from 35 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 2.3% positivity rate out of 2,300 tests, up from 1.7% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 9%. Out of the entire population, 43.1% have received a first dose of vaccine, and 26.2% are fully vaccinated.

  • In 60637, covering southern Hyde Park, southern Washington Park and Woodlawn, there were 164 confirmed cases, up from 83 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 3.5% positivity rate out of 4,753 tests, up from 1.9% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 9%. Out of the entire population, 28.5% have received a first dose of vaccine, and 16.8% are fully vaccinated.

  • In 60649, South Shore, there were 88 confirmed cases, up from 60 the week before, and one death, up from zero the week before. There was a 4.8% positivity rate out of 1,837 tests, up from 4% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 22%. Out of the entire population, 25.5% have received a first dose of vaccine, and 17% are fully vaccinated.

The city’s figures are accurate as of April 19, recorded at chi.gov/coviddash, and change as additional past data comes in.

University of Chicago undergraduates are under a stay-at-home directive through April 21. Students are allowed to go for walks or leave their residences to buy groceries or meals.

From April 9-15, the university conducted 4,923 tests, of which 22 students tested positive. Since Sept. 18, the university has reported 1,075 total cases to the CDPH.

The administration reports that the B.1.1.7 and P.1 variants — which originated, respectively in the United Kingdom and Brazil — are circulating in the area and that "preliminary indicators" suggest they are driving the current outbreak of cases among students. New research from the CDPH and the university suggests that multiple clusters spread the coronavirus on campus.

The city's website for free COVID-19 testing is chicagocovidtesting.com; more information is available at chi.gov/covidtesting.

The city's website for vaccine information is chicago.gov/covidvax. The city's online platform for vaccine scheduling is zocdoc.com/vaccine. Seniors can also register over the phone at 312-746-4835.

Patient registration for the COVID-19 vaccine at the UCMC is not available at this time; vaccines are being offered to eligible patients through a lottery, with patients being notified when it is their turn to schedule an appointment.

Howard Brown Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to essential frontline workers and those aged 65 and older, with sign-up at 872-269-3600.

The Cook County government is offering sign-up for vaccines at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov.

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