CHICAGO — Another 125 Illinoisans have died from coronavirus.
Among the most recent victims were 20 people in Cook County. At least 12,403 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 728 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 12,542 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 738,846.
The state’s number of new cases and its positivity rates have been dropping — but hospitalizations still remain worryingly high, Gov. JB Pritzker said during a Monday news conference. Hospitalizations are still 23 percent higher than they were during the peak in the spring.
That’s particularly concerning because officials expect there could be another spike in cases due to people gathering for Thanksgiving.
“We had hoped to see more progress in lowering hospitalizations by now,” Pritzker said. “The challenge we face was highlighted over the weekend by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who offered a bleak outlook and a warning that over the next two to three weeks we may see a surge upon a surge related to the holidays.”
Because of that, every region in Illinois will remain under Tier 3 restrictions for at least several more weeks, Pritzker said. The rules close museums, casinos and theaters; cut capacity at stores; stop indoor sports and put stricter rules in place at gyms and salons, among other things.
“I say this as we come off of a Thanksgiving holiday when many people may have dropped their guard and gathered with people from outside of their own households,” Pritzker said. “The hope now is that we can fend off the surge in the next few weeks to get to a healthier holiday time in the latter half of December. We’ll be watching the data closely to monitor for a Thanksgiving-related surge in our case count, our positivity rate,” hospitalizations and ICU admissions.
People who celebrated Thanksgiving with people outside their household should quarantine and get tested about seven days after the holiday, even if they don’t have symptoms, said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. They should get tested sooner if they have symptoms and should encourage the people they gathered with to get tested, as well, she said.
In the meantime, people should wear masks, practice social distancing, wash their hands and follow other safety measures, Ezike said.
Chicago is under a stay at home advisory. People are being asked to stay home as much as possible, leaving only for essential things like grocery shopping; to work from home if possible; to stop gathering with anyone outside their household; and to stop traveling.
At the same time, there is light at the end of the tunnel, Pritzker and Ezike said. Illinois could soon start distributing small amounts of vaccine to health care professionals; in coming months, that distribution will be widened so more people can get vaccinated.
But it will take a long time for that to happen, Ezike said, and people need to understand that and still take safety precautions, like wearing a mask and social distancing.
“We have been fighting this pandemic for so very long, and many of us have suffered in so many ways,” Ezike said. “But if we stay the course yet a while longer, we will end this pandemic soon.”
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 positivity rates and COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have rapidly risen in recent weeks.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 10.4 percent Tuesday with 116,081 tests reported. It was at 10.2 percent Monday. 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, was at 12.2 percent Tuesday, the same as it was Monday.
As of Monday night, 5,835 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,195 people in the ICU and 721 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 14 deaths and 1,965 confirmed cases were reported since Monday. There have been at least 3,492 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 163,741 confirmed cases, according to state data.
An average of 1,723 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 18 percent decrease from the prior week. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 11.6 percent, down from 13.4 percent the week before.
The city is seeing an average of 15 deaths per day, down from an average of 16 people dying per day the week prior.
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