Special Report

These Are the Counties In the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI Metro Area Where COVID-19 Is Growing the Fastest

After adding over 3,841,000 new cases throughout the last week, the U.S. now has more than 56.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 820,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a faster rate. In the past week, there were an average of 113.5 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — an increase from the week prior, when there were an average of 57.0 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While COVID-19 has spread to nearly every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

In the 50 largest metro areas, the incidence of coronavirus grew at an average rate of 139.8 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 31.2% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, metro area consists of Cook County, DuPage County, Lake County, and 11 other counties. In the past week, there were an average of 156.3 new coronavirus cases every day per 100,000 Chicago residents, greater than the national figure. The metro area’s average daily case growth in the most recent week is an increase from the week prior, when there was an average of 94.8 daily new cases per 100,000 Chicago residents.

The spread of coronavirus depends on a variety of factors and can vary even between neighboring counties. Within the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metro area, COVID-19 is growing the fastest in Kendall County. There were an average of 175.2 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in Kendall County during the past week, the most of the 14 counties in Chicago with available data.

Case growth in the Chicago metro area varies widely at the county level. In Newton County, for example, there were an average of 50.3 new cases per day per 100,000 residents in the past week — the least of any county in Chicago and far more than the case growth rate in Kendall County.

While Kendall County is driving the growth of COVID-19 in the Chicago area, it does not have the highest incidence of cases overall. As of January 6, there were a total of 18,302.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 residents in Kendall County, the fifth most of the 14 counties in the metro area. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 17,506.5 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In Kendall County, unemployment peaked at 16.4% in April 2020. As of June 2021, the county’s unemployment rate was 7.0%.

To determine the county in every metropolitan area where COVID-19 is growing the fastest, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked counties according to the average number of new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days ending January 6. To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data up from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is not seasonally adjusted.

These are all the counties in Illinois where COVID-19 is slowing (and where it’s still getting worse).

Rank in MSA County Population New daily cases per 100,000, week ending January 6 New daily cases per 100,000, week ending December 30 Cumulative cases per 100,000 Cumulative deaths per 100,000
1 Kendall County 126,054 175.2 97.7 18,302.5 100.8
2 Cook County 5,198,275 172.3 105.8 16,764.3 232.9
3 DuPage County 929,060 161.7 92.2 16,326.3 156.6
4 Will County 689,315 155.5 94.4 18,188.3 181.5
5 Lake County 485,707 155.3 81.2 18,389.1 282.7
6 Grundy County 50,666 133.2 89.1 20,100.3 201.3
7 Kane County 531,376 131.9 75.2 17,060.0 178.8
8 DeKalb County 104,366 117.9 70.7 16,044.5 151.4
9 McHenry County 307,714 114.9 77.1 15,963.2 119.9
10 Porter County 168,636 109.6 59.4 18,067.9 258.0
11 Jasper County 33,447 108.8 77.5 21,676.1 316.9
12 Lake County 701,473 106.0 62.4 15,141.9 164.7
13 Kenosha County 168,524 81.0 95.5 18,876.8 285.4
14 Newton County 13,992 50.3 45.5 14,922.8 407.4

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