CHICAGO — Another 145 Illinoisans were reported to have died from coronavirus during the past day, and the state is urging everyone to stay home as much as possible during the next three weeks.
That’s the highest number of deaths reported in a single day since May, when Illinois was just coming off its spring peak. In recent weeks, deaths have skyrocketed — as have the state’s number of new cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations.
By every metric, Illinois and Chicago are not in control of their coronavirus outbreaks, and the numbers are worsening by the day. The city and state are firmly in the midst of a second wave of COVID-19, officials have said.
To slow the spread, for the next three weeks, all Illinoisans should work from home if possible; stay at home as much as possible, leaving only for “necessary and essential activities,” like grocery shopping; and limit all travel and gatherings, even small ones, Illinois Department of Public Health officials recommended in a Wednesday news release.
The recommendations aren’t an official stay at home order, as the measures aren’t required and do not shut down businesses. But they mimic what officials advised at the start of the pandemic this spring.
Health department leaders hopes the advisory can slow the virus’s spread before Thanksgiving, Christmas and other major holidays. Officials have expressed concern that travel and family gatherings for the holidays could make the pandemic even worse.
“Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open,” state health leaders wrote in the news release.
This outbreak could prove even worse than what was seen in the spring because the surge is happening just as winter is hitting, and there might not be enough health care workers to care for all the people who will soon become ill, officials warned Tuesday.
“The virus is winning the war right now,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a news conference earlier this week.
Among the most recent victims in Illinois were 50 people in Cook County, including a man in his 20s and another man in his 30s.
At least 10,434 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 364 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 12,657 confirmed cases in the past day, a new record. That’s the 12th time in the past 27 days Illinois has broken a record for new cases in a single day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 523,840.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 12.4 percent with 93,464 tests reported. It was at 12 percent Tuesday. The figure represents total confirmed cases divided by total tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity, which measures how many tests were positive out of total tests, hit 13.6 percent. It was at 13.1 percent Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, 5,042 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 951 people in the ICU and 404 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 16 deaths and 1,860 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 3,169 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 123,900 confirmed cases, according to state data.
“We’ve had days with more than 2,200 cases on a single day,” and this weekend saw a day with more than 3,000 cases reported for Chicago, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday. “We cannot keep up with that volume of cases, period. … This is an outbreak that is in poor control in every part of the city.”
Up to 145,000 people currently have active COVID-19 right now, Arwady said.
An average of 1,784 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 38 percent increase from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 13.6 percent, up from 10.4 percent the week before — and also up from the 13 percent it was Tuesday.
The city is also seeing an average of seven deaths per day; for months, that number hadn’t risen above two or three per day, but it’s been going up the past several weeks.
To slow the virus’s spread and prevent hospitals from being overrun, people need to wear masks, social distance, cancel all non-essential travel, stop gathering and wash their hands, officials have said.
Pritzker said he’s spoken with health care administrators from across the state and heard their concerns about how quickly hospital beds are filling up.
“We must not let them become overrun,” Pritzker said. “… They have a message for everyone listening: They implore you to make sure everyone wears a mask and stops gathering with a large number of people in your homes. They need your help.”
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