Chicago's 60623 zip code, once the city's hardest-hit by COVID-19, reports no deaths in last 2 weeks

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On one end is North Lawndale, and on the other, Little Village. Both Chicago neighborhoods are in the 60623 zip code, the hardest hit during the first few months of the pandemic.

"The 60623 zip code had the highest raw number of COVID positive cases of any zip code in the state," said Ald. Michael Rodriguez, 22nd Ward.

"A bit later, we saw this zip code had the highest number of folks dying of the coronavirus," said Dr. Wayne Detmer, Chief Clinical Officer, Lawndale Christian Health Center.

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But today, 60623 is a much different place. With cases way down, for the first time in months, there have been no COVID deaths for two weeks in a row - and it didn't happen by accident.

"It was really like mobilizing for a war," Dr. Detmer said.

The Lawndale Christian Health Center coordinated together with several hospitals, community organizations, clergy, schools and public officials. 22nd Ward Alderman Michael Rodriguez said all stakeholders held meetings weekly.

"We unified to address the situation holistically, from delivering diapers to raising money to COVID testing to vaccinations," Rodriguez said.

But convincing people to take the vaccine was a big challenge.

"We are in a community where disparities are high and trust is low," said Pastor James Brooks, VP Mission & Community Engagement, Lawndale Christian Health Center.

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Lawndale Christian Health Center worked on messaging to change the narrative and gain trust.

With the help of The Protect Chicago Plus program, Rodriguez said close to 10,000 people have been vaccinated in 60623 and some surrounding wards.

North Lawndale resident Savonna Echols had COVID last summer and knew several others who were hospitalized with the virus. On Tuesday, she happily received her 2nd dose.

"I know firsthand what it's like to experience the illness," Echols said. "The vaccine provides an extra layer of protection."

While there has been a lot progress in this zip code, those who made it happen have to remind residents there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to getting everyone vaccinated.
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