Nurse Lashanda Turner administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Rosabella Manzanares on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, during a vaccination clinic at Betsy Ross School in Forest Park. Alex Rogals | Staff Photographer

The number of new COVID-19 cases detected in Forest Park is accelerating at an alarming rate, with a 155% increase in new cases in the village over the past 14 days, according to data compiled by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH).

Every available metric tells a similar story in Forest Park, where infections are rising, and the rate of positive tests is ticking closer to unsafe territory. The village’s rolling infection rate exceeded the countywide average on Dec. 4 for the first time since late August, and three times in the most recent four-day span before the Review went to print (Dec. 2-5), the case positivity rate in Forest Park exceeded 5 percent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) puts any positivity rate between 5 and 7.99 percent in the “moderate transmission” category, the first time Forest Park has reached that range in weeks if not months. As recently as late October, Forest Park’s positivity rate was just 0.62 percent, according to zip-code specific data compiled by Northwestern Medicine.

The total number of cases, meanwhile, represents even worse news, per the CDC. Forest Park is recording an average of 153 new cases per 100,000 people, according to the CCDPH, a number that puts the village well within the CDC’s definition of a “high transmission” area. That bar is just 100 new cases per 100,000 on a seven-day rolling average. Northwestern’s numbers also show that the village is averaging more than seven new cases per day as of Dec. 5, around seven times as many as in late October.

A graph of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Forest Park. Cook County Department of Public Health

The increase in prevalence in Forest Park is mostly in line with the countywide numbers compiled by the CCDPH, which includes most of suburban Cook County. As of Dec. 7, the CCDPH reports a 5.4% positivity rate in the last week and an average of 189 new cases per 100,000 people, also within the “high transmission” range.

There are no COVID-19 restrictions in place in Forest Park apart from the ones set by the state, including an indoor mask mandate. The CCDPH has likewise instituted no specific rules related to COVID-19.

A total of 1,621 Forest Parkers have contracted COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, an increase of 62 cases since Nov. 29, and 31 residents have died as a result of the virus.

Forest Park School District 91 has also been tracking COVID-19 cases this academic year and, like the rest of the community, transmission is on the rise among students. In the most recent data provided by the district, 22 students tested positive for the virus during the week of Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, more than twice as many as in any other week this year. There had been only 19 total cases among district students from Aug. 22 to Nov. 6. Since then, 42 new cases have been confirmed.

The delta variant remains the most common strain of COVID-19 currently circulating in Cook County, according to health officials, with 99.4% of cases in the last two weeks caused by that variant. The newly discovered omicron variant had not yet appeared in Illinois as of Dec. 7.

The one encouraging data point in Forest Park, however, remains the village’s strong vaccination rate, with 79.6% of residents having received at least one vaccine dose as of Dec. 6, and 61.3% immunized with a “complete vaccine series,” according to the CCDPH. Those numbers are well ahead of the county numbers, which are 74.6% and 57.8%, respectively.