Just next door to Rogers Park, Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood has the second most confirmed COVID-19 cases of any neighborhood in the city, according to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).
Zip codes 60645 and 60659 — which make up most of West Ridge — have 285 and 134 cases, respectively. The only zip code with a higher count is 60620 in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood on the South Side with 292 cases, according to the IDPH data. The number of cases in the state hit 16,422 with 6,648 cases in Chicago as of April 9, according to the City of Chicago website.
The 50th Ward Alderwoman — which covers West Ridge — Debra Silverstein said the high numbers were a “call to action,” in an April 7 email to residents. Health officials haven’t provided a reason for the high number of cases and it’s unhelpful to speculate, she wrote in the email.
The email stressed social distancing and outlined steps Silverstein is taking to combat the virus. She reached out to police commanders from the 24th and 17th districts — which cover Rogers Park and Albany Park, respectively — to recommit to “strongly enforcing” social distancing in parks and public spaces, according to the email.
West Ridge could have more cases because it’s been conducting more tests, 49th Ward and Rogers Park Alderwoman Maria Hadden said. The email from Silverstein also noted that West Ridge accounts for less than just seven percent of the cases in Chicago.
West Ridge resident Megan Klein said she’s more concerned for others’ safety than her own, but said seeing people going against social distancing guidelines is still worrying.
“Knowing lots of people are affected in my zip code, and then looking out my window and seeing all four tennis courts full and people along the sidewalks is stressful,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom said.
As of April 8, Rogers Park (60626) has 98 cases, but Hadden said this shouldn’t lure residents into a false sense of security.
“It’s important to know we’ll see hotspots but we need to remain vigilant,” she said. “All aldermen are working together and sharing information.”
The 49th Ward office has been stressing social distancing and working remotely, so it doesn’t plan to make any changes to how it’s handling COVID-19, Hadden said. She said she’s worried about COVID-19, but the numbers from West Ridge are just part of the bigger pandemic.
“The numbers across the city concern me, the same way I’m concerned with the virus just being out there,” she said.
Silverstein and the Chicago Department of Public Health didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.