CHICAGO — Coronavirus killed 284 Illinoisans over the weekend.
Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic for Illinois, with nearly 1,000 coronavirus victims. Saturday saw another 208 deaths reported, and Sunday had 76.
Among the most recent victims were 87 people in Cook County, including 10 men and women in their 50s. At least 13,255 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 861 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 17,485 confirmed cases over the weekend. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 787,573.
“It is devastating, it’s just devastating for the country, for the state of Illinois, for all of us who are very focused on trying to save people’s lives,” Gov. JB Pritzker said Thursday. “Some of those of the people who passed away, they probably went to the hospital at some point, then they became an ICU patient, some of them went on ventilators. I look at it and I say, ‘How can people not follow the mitigations?'”
Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, urged people to keep taking safety measures as the nation begins to look ahead to a vaccine. Health care workers and people in long-term care facilities could start getting vaccine in just two weeks in Illinois.
“Let’s not make this holiday season anyone’s last holiday season,” Ezike said. “Let’s stay the course and fight for everyone’s life.
“… Let’s make the holidays less harrowing, not just for the people who might end up sick and in the hospital with COVID or non-COVID illnesses, but also for the staff that will tend to all those COVID as well as non-COVID patients. … We’ve already lost too many lives. Yes, we’ve lost our normalcy, but we shouldn’t lose hope.”
Officials expect there could be another spike in cases — and, later, deaths — due to people gathering for Thanksgiving.
Because of that, every region in Illinois will remain under Tier 3 restrictions for at least several more weeks, Pritzker has 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.
Chicago is also 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.
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 rose rapidly and have stayed high.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity fell to 10.1 percent Sunday with 79,538 tests reported. It was at 10.3 percent Friday. 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, fell to 11.8 percent Sunday. It was at 12.1 percent Friday.
As of Saturday night, 5,160 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,103 people in the ICU and 643 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 43 deaths and 5,302 confirmed cases were reported since Friday. There have been at least 3,602 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 172,711 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of 16 deaths per day, down from an average of 17 people dying per day the week prior.
An average of 1,390 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 24 percent decrease from the prior week. But testing has also fallen 36 percent in the past week.
There was a large drop in testing over the holiday weekend, but city officials expect that to come back up, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday livestream.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 13.2 percent, up from 11.4 percent the week before.
Chicago’s made “nice progress” recently, Arwady said, but it still has far too many deaths and new cases of COVID-19.
It is “still not the time for gathering at all,” Arwady said. “Still the time for being careful.”
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