In Illinois, no one has escaped the impact of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Every county, age group and racial demographic has experienced an explosion of COVID-19 cases since the first omicron case was reported in Chicago on Dec. 7, 2021.
But the cases have skyrocketed for some groups and geographic areas more than others, shows a WBEZ analysis of COVID-19 data from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the city of Chicago. The rapid growth of cases has even occurred in areas where the vast majority of residents have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Black Chicagoans are once again witnessing the highest and sharpest growing COVID-19 rates in the city. The seven-day case rate for Black Chicagoans has risen nearly sixfold since omicron’s arrival, the most among the city’s four largest racial or ethnic groups. And, as of Monday, the rate for Black Chicagoans was the highest — 26% more than the rate for white Chicagoans, the group with the second-highest figure.
Statewide, COVID-19 cases have increased the most among young adults — particularly individuals in their 20s and 30s — since the arrival of omicron. But the growth in cases for those groups has been even more pronounced in Chicago.
For instance, 20- to 29-year-olds in the city have seen COVID-19 cases increase by more than 500% between the four-week period before and after omicron was found in the city. In the four weeks since Dec. 7, 2021, individuals in their 20s and 30s, collectively, account for 45% of all COVID-19 cases reported in Chicago.