Ending the year on a high note is generally a good thing, except when it comes to COVID-19. Both Oak Park and River Forest are experiencing increasingly high rates of positivity, which is hardly encouraging news.

The Cook County Public Health Department (CCPHD) reported, Dec. 22, that River Forest had 64 new positive cases, double the number of new cases reported the previous Wednesday. River Forest has had a cumulative case total of 1,269 since March 2020, according to the county. CCPHD data indicates River Forest’s recent percentage change in new cases — which measures case numbers during the most recent two weeks against the prior two weeks — is up 140 percent.

Fortunately, River Forest has only had three COVID-19-related deaths, the most recent of which occurred on Jan. 6, 2021, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO).

CCDPH also reports that vaccination rates are high in River Forest, with 70.6 percent of residents fully vaccinated and more than 90 percent having had at least one dose. The number of people who have received a booster shot is not included in the available CCPHD vaccination data. 

As Oak Park has its own health department, it does not fall under the purview of county’s health department, but the Oak Park Public Health Department releases its updated COVID-19 data each Wednesday, as does CCPHD. The Oak Park Health Department announced on Dec. 22 that 333 more residents had tested positive. The case count more than doubled from the previous Wednesday, when the village reported 123 new cases.

Oak Park Public Health Director Theresa Chapple-McGruder told Wednesday Journal that the health department is “still considering appropriate mitigation approaches” to counter the rise in cases.

A total of 42,464 Oak Park residents have been fully vaccinated while 46,508 residents have had at least one dose as of Dec. 22. The Oak Park Public Health Department does not include booster shot information in its vaccination data.

Oak Park has had a total of 65 COVID-19-related deaths, according to the MEO. However, the village has not had any reported fatalities since Sept. 23, 2021.

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