COVID-19 is still going strong. The village of Oak Park announced Aug. 25 that one Oak Park person who previously tested positive for the virus has died. This is the first reported death since June, when two people died in the course of one week.
The fatality, a woman in her 60s, brings the number of COVID-19-related deaths of Oak Park residents to 63, according to records from the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Of the 63 deaths, the medical examiner reported that 28 have been Black residents and 32 have been white non-Latinx.
While the examiner’s number of deaths would appear on the surface to be fairly equal across racial lines, population data demonstrates otherwise. The U.S. 2020 Census found that Black residents make up 18.2 percent of Oak Park’s population while white residents account for 68.7 percent. That means the number of COVID-19-related deaths of Black residents is disproportionately higher than that of white-identifying residents.
Meanwhile, the village of Oak Park reports 53 as the total number of fatalities associated with the virus. Oak Park spokesman David Powers told Wednesday Journal the village’s health department did not have the racial breakout of the 53 deaths readily available. Powers said the inconsistency between the village’s number and the medical examiner’s is likely due to inconsistent revisions across different government databases.
“In the early days of the pandemic, some information attributed to Oak Park was related to the hospital address, rather than a village address,” Powers wrote in an email. “The health department was diligent in correcting its in-house information, but the county and state databases may not have been properly updated.”
The village’s number of new cases is falling since the Oak Park Public Health Department issued an indoor mask mandate Aug. 5, but cases are still high. The village reported Aug. 11 that 51 residents had tested positive since Aug. 4. The next week, on Aug. 18, it reported 48 new cases. Since then, 38 Oak Park residents have tested positive, according to the village’s most recent update on Aug. 25.