CHICAGO — Illinois saw 179 more people die from coronavirus during the past day.
The staggering toll adds on to recent heavy losses: Last week was the deadliest of the pandemic for Illinois, with nearly 1,000 coronavirus victims. And just since Friday, another 693 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois.
“Illinois is now averaging 152 deaths per day from COVID-19. That’s an average of 35 more individuals per day than the worst rate that we reached back in the spring,” Gov. JB Pritzker said during a Monday news conference. “Each of these individuals … survived for months during this pandemic. Some of them might have gotten tired and let their guard down. Others might have been trying their best to do all the right things and somehow, some way still got infected in this horrible pandemic that’s still ravaging our nation and taking more than 1,000 American lives in the last 24 hours.
“But even without knowing each of their pandemic stories, I can tell you this: Most of their deaths were preventable if everyone wore their masks.”
Among the most recent victims were 65 people in Cook County, including a woman and three men in their 40s. At least 13,666 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 947 deaths are considered to be probably related to coronavirus.
The state also reported 8,256 cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 812,430.
Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, have 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.
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Officials expect there could be another spike in cases — and, later, deaths — due to people gathering for Thanksgiving. It’s too early to tell if that surge is happening in Illinois, Ezike said.
“You’ll see the increase in the cases first,” Ezike said. “That will then be followed by the hospitalizations. … We still need more time. It’s too early to say.”
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 9.6 percent Wednesday with 92,737 tests reported. It was at 9.9 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, fell to 11.4 percent Wednesday. It was at 11.8 percent Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, 5,284 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,176 people in the ICU and 647 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 17 deaths and 1,309 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 3,662 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 177,061 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of 17 deaths per day, down from an average of 18 deaths per day the week prior.
An average of 1,654 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 11 percent increase from the prior week. But testing has also fallen 8 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 13.3 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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