By Christopher Hacker
CHICAGO (CBS) — The numbers of new COVID-19 cases each week is on the rise in some parts of Chicago, along with similar increases in the share of tests that come back positive.
The number of new cases reported each week is still falling in most Chicago ZIP codes, but in a handful of areas, those numbers continue to rise, data analyzed by CBS 2 showed. In the 60614 zip code in Lakeview, there were 27 new cases reported last week, compared to just four new cases six weeks ago. In the neighboring 60657 zip code, the same trend has emerged: 38 new cases last week, up from just 8 during the first week of June.
Change in Weekly New Cases
At the same time, the share of COVID-19 tests that are positive — a key metric officials use in deciding whether to continue reopening — is also increasing in many of those same areas.
Change in Weekly Positivity Rate
The increase in new cases comes as the city has cracked down on businesses violating social distancing requirements and ordered bars and restaurants to close at midnight to try to further curb the spread of the virus.
In an email to constituents Tuesday morning, Ald. Michele Smith of the 43rd Ward, which covers the 60614 ZIP code, warned the numbers were creeping up. She said many residents aren’t regularly wearing masks.
Smith told CBS 2 the messaging on mask wearing has been inconsistent, leading people to take their masks off on crowded city sidewalks where they can still spread the virus.
“The message that you have to wear a mask if you can’t maintain six feet of distance is a problem,” Smith said. “It makes the person not wearing the mask think it’s not their fault if people are getting close to them. They think everyone should walk around them as if they had a bubble around them, but they don’t have any accountability for it.”
Smith said the rule should be more explicit: you can only take off your mask if you can guarantee you can be six feet from anyone else. She said the rules on mask wearing must be clearer — especially in bars and restaurants where the virus can be spread easily.
“I have too many friends in the business world who are heartbroken over this, who truly want to be responsible business owners,” Smith said. “I cannot believe a bunch of irresponsible people are essentially putting businesses out of business because they refuse to wear a mask.”
Smith said she’s considering reintroducing an ordinance she proposed in April that would require masks for anyone over age 2.
The number of new cases across Illinois has remained low compared to the high numbers the state was seeing in mid-April, although the number of new cases has ticked up slightly in recent days. In the Northeast “Reopen Illinois” region, which includes the Chicago area, the positivity rate sits at about 4 percent — well into phase four of the state’s reopening plan.
That isn’t the case in other states, where the numbers of new cases are growing rapidly, such as in Florida, which recently reported 15,000 new cases in a single day and had a statewide positivity rate of over 11 percent as of June 12.