CHICAGO — Another 242 Illinoisans were killed by coronavirus over the weekend.
Saturday saw 127 deaths, and 115 more were reported Sunday, according to state data. Fifty-nine of the weekend’s victims were from Cook County, including two men and a woman in their 20s and a man in his 30s.
The toll adds on to recent heavy losses: Last week saw a record-breaking 1,079 Illinoisans reported dead from COVID-19. The week before saw 953 victims, making it the second-deadliest of the pandemic for Illinois.
At least 14,291 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,048 deaths are probably related, according to the state.
The state also reported 15,953 cases over the weekend. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 848,904.
Gov. JB 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.
The city’s and state’s vaccination campaigns will begin this week. They’ll first focus on health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities. It will be months before vaccines are available to the general public.
In the meantime, people should keep wearing a mask, staying socially distant and washing their hands frequently, experts have said. People also should celebrate their holidays virtually and not see people outside their household, Ezike has said.
“I want you to call or video chat, as many of you did at Thanksgiving,” she said. “There is still time to change your holiday plans. If you haven’t made them, I hope you will take this to heart.
“Please, let’s give the gift of life, let’s give the gift of health this holiday season. Again, we’ve come too far to give up now.”
Officials expect there could be another spike in cases — and, later, deaths — due to people gathering for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays. Chicago is seeing its positivity rate and daily new cases climb, and that’s “clearly related to Thanksgiving,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has said.
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 9.1 percent Sunday with 63,648 tests reported. It was at 9.4 percent Friday. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, fell to 10.6 percent Sunday. It was at 11.1 percent Friday.
As of Saturday night, 5,073 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 1,080 people in the ICU and 612 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 13 deaths and 3,197 confirmed cases were reported since Friday. There have been at least 3,762 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 184,192 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of 22 deaths per day, up from an average of 19 deaths per day the week prior.
An average of 1,639 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 18 percent increase from the prior week.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 12.7 percent, down from 13.1 percent the week before.
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