CHICAGO — Another 135 coronavirus deaths were reported in Illinois during the past day.
The most recent victims included 49 people from Cook County, including three people in their 40s and a man in his 50s.
That’s on top of 401 COVID-19 deaths reported since Friday.
The toll adds on to recent heavy losses: Last week was the second-deadliest of the pandemic for Illinois, with at least 1,060 Illinoisans dead from COVID-19. The week before saw a record-breaking 1,079 Illinoisans reported dead from COVID-19, and 953 people died the week before that, making it the third-deadliest week.
At least 15,547 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,295 deaths are probably related, according to the state.
The state also reported 6,762 cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 918,070.
There is growing hope as the virus’s spread has slowed in Illinois, though new cases and positivity rates remain high. Last week also saw the first COVID-19 vaccinations being administered in Chicago and across the state. More than 100,000 people have been vaccinated in Illinois.
But officials have cautioned it will be months before vaccines are widely available.
That means people are still at risk and will have to take precautions, like staying socially distant and wearing a mask, for much of 2021, officials have said.
“This is a time where we still have a lot of COVID in Chicago,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Monday morning livestream. There is a “high risk in terms of gathering. If you can avoid going out — unless it’s for work or for school or for really essential reasons — please do.”
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, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, has said.
“I definitely look forward to the day when the vaccine is widely available to every single person in the state,” Ezike said last week. “Until that time, we still need to continue with our masking, avoiding crowds, watching our distance and washing hands. Let’s work to protect and not infect those that we love and those around us.”
Every region in Illinois remains under Tier 3 restrictions. 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.
In Chicago, 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 rose slightly to 7.4 percent Wednesday with 82,328 tests reported. It was at 7.4 percent Tuesday. 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, stayed the same at 9 percent.
As of Tuesday night, 4,593 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 953 people in the ICU and 536 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 27 deaths and 1,071 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 3,993 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 197,053 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of 18 deaths per day, down from an average of 23 deaths per day the week prior.
An average of 1,229 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 21 percent decrease from the previous week.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 10.2 percent, down from 12.1 percent the week before.
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