Rush University System for Health has enacted a mandate requiring all staff, volunteers and contractors of Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush University Medical Center to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 1, as cases continue to rise across the United States, proving that the pandemic is not over in Oak Park, River Forest and elsewhere.
“Universal COVID-19 vaccination will strengthen our ability to protect the health and safety of our staff, help safeguard members of our community who are at the highest risk of developing serious disease from the coronavirus and bring us another step closer to resuming full operations,” reads the statement from Rush released July 26.
The village of Oak Park reported July 21 that there have been 16 new positive cases of COVID-19 since July 14. The previous week, it was reported that there had been 20 new cases. Since March 2020, Oak Park has had 3,247 residents test positive for COVID-19.
The increase stresses the need for people to get vaccinated, which the Oak Park Public Health Department is encouraging eligible residents to do, if they have not already. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that all authorized vaccinations are effective in thwarting all circulating mutations of the COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the most dominant strain.
Oak Park has a rolling seven-day average positivity rate of 2.84 percent while River Forest’s is at 2.59 percent, per Northwestern University’s Illinois COVID data dashboard.
Two-thirds of the eligible Oak Park population has gotten vaccinated – well below Evanston and other communities, according to the Oak Park Public Health Department. Of the roughly 30,000 residents who have gotten the vaccine, 29,103 are fully vaccinated and 29,962 have received at least one dose.
The Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) has reported 73.4 percent of River Forest’s population has received at least one vaccination dose with 61.2 percent having completed a full vaccination series. River Forest has had 838 positive cases cumulatively as of July 26, according to the CCDPH.
As Oak Park has its own health department, unlike River Forest, CCDPH does not track Oak Park’s infection rate. The Oak Public Health Department does not provide the information either.
Deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in both villages. Cook County Medical Examiner data indicates River Forest has had 3 deaths and Oak Park 62 cumulative since March 16, 2020.