CHICAGO (CBS) — An alarming jump in the coronavirus positivity rate has been seen in one specific Chicago ZIP code.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported Tuesday evening, the ZIP code 60629 is located on the Southwest Side between 55th and 75th streets and Western and Cicero avenues, just east of Midway International Airport. It includes Marquette Park, Chicago Lawn, West Lawn, and parts of West Elsdon and Gage Park.
“Well, positivity rate has consistently been among the most high in the city, and so it’s not a shock,” said Jessica Biggs.
In one week this month, the coronavirus positivity rate jumped from 10.8 percent to 14.1 percent.
We talked to Biggs and Elideth Hernandez of the Southwest Organizing Project, a community organization in 60629.
“We have a lot of families they work on restaurants and hotels, construction workers,” Hernandez said, “so it is easy to expose the families.”
Those working-class residents in service jobs are placed at greater risk.
Biggs and Hernandez also said the 60629 ZIP code has a large number of multi-generational families living together – and 90 percent people of color, including a large immigrant population. Many are reluctant, Hernandez and Biggs said, to provide personal information to healthcare providers.
“We need to make sure that families are aware and that testing feels safe for families to go to, so families feel safe to seek care,” Biggs said.
The Southwest Organizing Project is working to provide greater access to health care – coordinating efforts to offer housing assistance and asking people everywhere to do their parts to protect people in the 60629.
“Knowing that you’re putting families on the Southwest Side at risk when you choose to go outside and not wear a mask, when you’re at restaurants and not wearing a mask, or if you’re in hotels industries where our families work, and so making sure that you’re being accountable for yourself in all of those spaces is certainly a help to families and all places.”
To put that 14 percent positivity rate in context, the positivity rate in Chicago overall is 6.6 percent. In the state of Illinois, it’s 4.3 percent.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city addressing the high positivity rate in the 60629 with pop-up testing, greater community outreach, and what she calls a rapid response team. She said the city has already had success with that approach on the Southeast Side.