Cook County COVID deaths from Omicron: Black Chicagoans, white suburbs over 60 die at high rates

The current record-breaking increase in COVID-19 cases in Illinois and the Chicago area in particular is being followed by a boom in deaths.

COVID-19 deaths have risen dramatically since last month’s arrival of the Omicron variant resulted in the pandemic’s highest level of infections – as they did after an initial increase in cases in the first few months of the pandemic and a subsequent wave last winter. And once again, COVID-19 demands the lives of black Chicagoans at staggering and disproportionately high prices.

Uneven deaths in Black Chicago

In the earliest weeks of the pandemic, Chicago’s black residents died of COVID-19 at alarming rates. Recently, in the few weeks since the arrival of the Omicron variant, black Chicagoans are dying again at much higher rates than their Asian, Latino and white counterparts, according to a WBEZ analysis of data on COVID-19-related deaths from Cook County Forensic Office.

A Flourish chart

Since December 7, 2021, the date the state’s first Omicron case was found in Chicago, the city’s black residents have been dying at rates four times higher than Asians, three times higher than Latinos and nearly twice as high as white residents, according to WBEZ’s analysis. A total of 97 black Chicago ancestors died of COVID-19 during the seven-day period ending January 9 – more than at any time since May 11, 2020.

Victims older – and vulnerable

Black Chicagoans are not the only demographic that has been particularly vulnerable since the arrival of omicron. Elderly residents of suburban Cook County have also seen their seven-day COVID-19 deaths reach levels not seen in more than a year. According to WBEZ’s analysis, a total of 181 suburbs in Cook County aged 60 and older died of COVID-19 during the week ending January 9th. This is the highest number of days for this group since December 24, 2020.

A Flourish chart

During the entire pandemic in the suburb of Cook County, elderly white residents have died at far higher rates than any other group. White residents aged 60 and over account for only 6.4% of the total population of the suburb of Cook County, but they account for 53.7% of all COVID-19 deaths among Cook County residents outside Chicago during the pandemic, according to WBEZ’s analysis.

Cook Countys hot spots

While several communities on the south and west sides of Chicago have been hit hard by COVID-19, the death toll from the pandemic has also weighed heavily in various parts of the Cook County suburb. WBEZ’s analysis finds some of the county’s highest COVID-19 death rates in parts of the northwest suburbs of Niles, Norridge and Lincolnwood; southwest suburbs Palos Heights, Chicago Ridge, Oak Lawn and Bridgeview; and the southern suburbs of Hazel Crest, Markham, Harvey, Robbins and Country Club Hills.

A flowering card

Vaccination effectively fights Omicron

While local, state, and federal officials have admitted that individuals considered fully vaccinated may still be infected with the highly contagious Omicron variant, they have asked individuals to be vaccinated to protect themselves from the most serious consequences of COVID. -19. A WBEZ analysis of data from the Illinois Department of Public Health on “breakthrough” COVID-19 deaths confirms this.

A Flourish chart

Breakthrough deaths are cases where people who are fully vaccinated die of COVID-19 or complications due to coronavirus. Pr. On January 12, IDPH reported 1,844 breakthrough deaths out of more than 7.8 million Illinois residents who have been vaccinated – a minimum of 0.024%. That leaves nearly 27,000 COVID-19 deaths among about 5 million Illinois residents who have not been fully vaccinated or 0.537% – a figure more than 22 times higher than for vaccinated residents.

The forensic doctor’s data suggest that increasing vaccinations may help reduce the death toll from COVID-19. WBEZ’s analysis shows an increase in vaccinations among Chicago’s black residents shortly after COVID-19 vaccines were introduced in late December 2020 coincided with a sharp drop in deaths among black Chicago residents. Recently, just around the time Omicron arrived, vaccinations among the city’s black residents began to decline, just as the group’s COVID-19 deaths increased dramatically.

Among Chicago’s four largest racial and ethnic groups, black Chicago residents remain the least vaccinated. About half of the city’s black population is unvaccinated.

Alden Loury is the Senior Editor of WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities Desk. Charmaine Runes is WBEZ’s data / visual reporter.

Trailers designed to store corpses in the middle of a COVID-19 wave are parked at the Cook County Institute of Forensic Medicine on Jan. 8 in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood.

Trailers designed to store corpses in the middle of a COVID-19 wave are parked at the Cook County Institute of Forensic Medicine on Jan. 8 in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times fil

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