Cook County Public Health Department Now Uses 2020 Census for COVID-19 Vaccination Rates and Number of Cases

The Cook County Public Health Department has started using updated demographics from the 2020 census to analyze COVID-19 vaccination rates and the number of cases in the county.

Since the start of the pandemic, the county has relied on outdated 2010 census data to determine which communities were affected by the pandemic and efforts to get residents vaccinated.

The 2020 census figures, released in August, give a more accurate picture of demographic developments across the county over the past 10 years. Among the changes, Latinos for the first time overtook blacks as the county’s largest racial or ethnic group.

Dr Kiran Joshi and Dr Rachel Rubin, chief medical officers of the county health department, explained the importance of the data during a conference call with reporters.

Joshi said superimposing COVID-19 statistics with 2020 census figures will allow county health experts to determine where vaccination rates have fallen and among which racial or ethnic group

“As you can imagine, there were significant population changes between the 2010 census and the 2020 census which resulted in changes that will now be reflected in the data in our brilliant app,” Joshi said. “For example, it’s no surprise that we’ve seen a widespread increase in the number of Latinx individuals in suburban Cook County.”

Joshi said an influx of Latin American populations into some suburban areas had lowered the vaccination rate in some cases and increased in others. The new data allows them to target communities that were thought to have high vaccination rates at one point, but no longer have them.

Rubin said the overall changes were modest, but show the county’s vaccination rate in some demographics, such as with Latinos, has declined.

The new data also shows that the vaccination rate for the black population has remained about the same, while the vaccination rate for the white population in Cook County has increased. The number of cases among these demographic data had the same results with the new census data.

Rubin said the changes are only less than 5% of the original numbers, but some outlier communities have seen larger declines.

“It certainly helps us guide our approach to make sure our most under-vaccinated populations are okay and that we know where to target our efforts,” Rubin said.

Rubin said their goal is to have at least 70% of a community’s population immunized with at least the first dose.

Across the county, about 70 municipalities are below this vaccination rate.

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