CHICAGO — Illinois has broken its grim record for daily new coronavirus cases for the fourth time just since Saturday.
Chicago, Illinois and all of the United States are firmly in the midst of a second surge of COVID-19. The state saw 145 coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday, the most there’s been since May, when Illinois was just coming off its peak.
Local officials have said this one could prove even deadlier than the spring wave of coronavirus 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. Contact tracing corps are also being stretched thin trying to keep up with the surge in cases.
“The risk is huge as these numbers continue to climb,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday morning livestream. “And, unfortunately, as the numbers continue to climb, the response capacity has the potential to really get out-stripped. And we’re really feeling that at the health department already … .”
Hoping to slow the spread, the Illinois Department of Public Health has advised everyone to stay at home as much as possible and to stop gathering for the next three weeks.
It’s not a time for travel — or any activities outside the house unless they’re essential, Arwady said. People shouldn’t gather with people outside their household for Thanksgiving or for any other event.
“We’re just breaking records every day — not in the way we want to,” Arwady said.
The past day saw 43 more coronavirus deaths reported from across Illinois. The most recent victims included eight people from Cook County, three of whom were in their 50s.
At least 10,477 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 369 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 12,702 confirmed cases in the past day, a new record. That’s the 13th time in the past 28 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 536,542.
The surge in new cases in Chicago — and across Illinois — can only partially be explained by increased testing; in reality, there are more cases because coronavirus is spreading so much, officials have said. There’s evidence of that in the way COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have rapidly risen in recent weeks.
“I’m very concerned,” Arwady said. “You can see [Chicago’s] deaths here are up to eight per day on average … the fact those are up three times [as much as they were a month ago] is very concerning.
“I am very concerned about the way this is going.”
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 12.6 percent with 100,617 tests reported. It was at 12.4 percent Wednesday. 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 13.9 percent. It was at 13.6 percent Wednesday.
As of Wednesday night, 5,258 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 956 people in the ICU and 438 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, seven deaths and 2,699 confirmed cases were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 3,176 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 126,599 confirmed cases, according to state data.
Up to 145,000 Chicagoans currently have active COVID-19 right now, Arwady said.
An average of 1,920 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 36 percent increase from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate has risen to 14.1 percent, up from 10.9 percent the week before — and also up from the 13.6 percent it was Wednesday.
The city is also seeing an average of eight 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.
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