CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s top doc says the city is doing well with lowering its COVID case load, as well as getting people vaccinated.

But there’s still work to be done.

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Doctor Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Public Health Department (CDPH) said while the city is trending in the right direction, its numbers are not where they should be.

“We’re currently averaging 256 new cases per day. Remember, that’s still not quite where we want to be,” Arwady. “We want to get that number under 200 cases a day, but it’s down 17% just from a week ago when we were still over 300.”

As far as vaccination efforts are concerned, Arwady said at least 50% of city residents, of all ages, have gotten at least one COVID shot. And at least 40% are fully vaccinated, but she said there are notable racial disparities.

“Fifty-six percent of white Chicagoans have gotten that first dose and 56% of Asian Chicagoans while 42% of Latinx Chicagoan have gotten at least a first dose and 34% of Black Chicagoans,” Arwady said.

A calendar of Chicago pop-up events can be found here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/sites/covid19-vaccine/home/calendar-of-events.html.

According to the city’s health department, new events are added weekly. The events include include door-to-door canvassing, with trained “vaccine ambassadors” to go out to different communities.

“This hyper-local approach is the next stage in our vaccination strategy—bringing vaccine directly to communities and events where people are, even right to their homes,” said Arwady. “Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for Chicagoans who have not yet been vaccinated to get their vaccine.”

Arwady stressed the city’s outreach to those who are homebound or cannot get to a mass vaccination site. People can call 312-746-4835 and a city representative will help to get a COVID vaccine to them.

“There are about 200 people answering that phones We are open seven days a week, and we will handle whatever your problem is related to vaccine,” Arwady said. “If you’re a Chicago resident, and you want a particular kind of vaccine you have a question about your first versus your second dose, you want to know where vaccine is available near your house and when you want to help with an appointment you want to make sure there will be interpreter services available, we will get you over vaccine.”

The head of the CDPH said the city’s “vax bus” has been a popular option for many neighborhoods. The mobile vaccination site travels throughout the city to bring the vaccine to city residents.

“Please get on social media and use the hashtag #ProtectChicago to tell us where to bring the vaccination station,” Arwady said. “If you’ve got an idea where people are gathering, we’re looking at that we’re getting a lot of good leads, we want to send this bus where you are and where it’s going to be easy for you. So let us know if you’ve got a good idea and we’ll give you a shout out if we use your idea for the vaccination station.”

The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) is hosting dozens of COVID-19 vaccination pop-ups and special events throughout the city this week and into the Memorial Day weekend with a continued focus on communities where vaccine up-take remains low. Events are being held at parks, beaches, farmers markets, churches, food pantries and more, with the special  vaccine buses (the Vaccination Station) also appearing at convenient neighborhood settings so residents can easily access the vaccine right in their communities. 

Arwady said the conversation surrounding the vaccine is less about hesitancy and more about availability. The ability to go out and get the shot.

“They’re not talking about a lot about ‘you know, I was really scared to get the vaccine or I was really against it,” recalled Arwady said. “It’s more like, ‘you know, I had to work and I couldn’t get it or I wasn’t sure where to get it.”

She said people still ask about whether they have to pay for it (it’s free) or if you need health insurance (not necessary.)

“I’ve been very encouraged when I’ve been out at events all around the city, that there are still a whole lot of people out there who want to get that,” Arwady said. “But it’s just not first on their list of thing to do.”

However, there are still communities throughout the city where people are not getting their COVID shots. Arwady said despite concerns, it’s important that people get vaccinated. She said COVID may never go away. So it’s important that people get vaccinated as soon as they have an opportunity.

“While we’ve made great progress and more than half the city has now received at least a first dose of the vaccine, in too many communities those rates still lag far behind, and these are the same communities most impacted by COVID-19,” said Arwady. “This vaccine is safe and effective and it’s working to stem the spread of the virus, but we want to see better up-take throughout the entire city.”

Below is a list of COVID pop-up sites opening Tuesday and running through the weekend until May 30:

Tuesday May 25

*Hopewell Church Food Distribution, 2308 W Harrison 

*GAGDC Food Stability Pop Up, 7938 S Halsted 

Care For Real Food Pantry, 1545 W Morse 

NOBLE Johnson College Prep, 6350 S Stewart Ave 

Wednesday May 26

North Bethlehem Food Pantry, 8850 S Cottage Grove Ave 

Atlas Senior Center, 1767 E 79th St 

House of Vans Parking Lot, 113 N Elizabeth St 

Care for Real Food Pantry, 5339 N Sheridan 

Noble DRW College Prep, 931 S Homan Ave 

St. Florian: Svdp Food Pantry, 13115 S Houston Ave 

Andersonville Farmer’s Market, 1500 W Catalpa 

St Steven AME, 3042 W Washington Blvd 

Thursday May 27

Auburn-Gresham’s Health Fair, 1737 E 95th St Chicago 

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TSA: Midwest Corps Pantry, 20 S Campbell Ave 

Salvation Army Red Shield Center, 945 W 69th St 

St. Martin De Porres, 5112 W Washington Blvd 

GAGDC Auburn Gresham Health Fair on the Block, 7900 S Racine 

Evening Star MBC (Food Pantry), 2050 W 59th Street 

Chicago CRED, 519 W 103rd St 

NOBLE Gary Comer College Prep, 7131 S Chicago Ave 

 Friday May 28

North Austin Library, 5724 W North Ave 

Kingdom Baptist Church Food Pantry, 301 N Central Ave 

Crusaders Church Food Distribution, 7859 S Ashland 

Humboldt Park, 1301 N Humbolt Dr 

NOBLE Hansberry College Prep, 8748 S Aberdeen 

Rainbow Beach, 2873 E 75th St 

Saturday May 29

Fenger High School, 11220 S Wallace 

Englewood STEM High School, 6835 S Normal 

King High School, 4445 S Drexel 

Carver Military High School, 13100 S Doty 

Clark High School, 5101 W Harrison 

Gage Park, Garfield & Western Blvd 

Sherman Park community, 1301 W. 52nd St 

West Garfield Park community, 251 S. Kildare Ave 

New Bethlehem MB Church, 8850 S Cottage Grove Ave 

Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph 

63rd St Beach / Jackson Park, 6300 S Lake Shore Dr 

Sunday, May 30

95th St Farmers Market, 1827 W 95th St 

Logan Square Farmers Market, 3107 W Logan Blvd 

Montrose Beach, 4400 N Lake Shore Dr 

Douglas Park, 1401 S Sacramento Dr 

Marquette Park, 6743 S Kedzie Ave 

Washington Park, 5531 S King Dr 

Montclare community, 6814 W Wrightwood 

CBS 2 Chicago Staff