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178 More Illinoisans Killed By Coronavirus, But Chicago’s Top Doc Has Hope: ‘Everything Is Heading The Right Way’

Average daily deaths and the positivity rate have fallen in recent weeks in Chicago, but officials are waiting to see if there will be a bump after recent holidays.

Snow falls heavily during a winter storm Dec. 29, 2020 in McKinley Park.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Another 178 Illinoisans killed by coronavirus were reported in the past day, according to the state.

The most recent victims included 66 people from Cook County, including two people in their 40s and four men in their 50s.

At least 16,357 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,454 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to state health leaders.

The state also reported 7,374 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 955,380.

There is growing hope as the virus’s spread has slowed in Illinois, though new cases and positivity rates remain high.

“Everything is heading the right way right now,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Wednesday livestream.

Arwady said Chicago’s daily case average fell below 1,000 Wednesday — the first time that’s happened since early October, when the second wave of COVID-19 hit.

Average daily deaths and the positivity rate have also fallen in recent weeks in Chicago, but officials are waiting to see if there will be a bump after recent holidays. They’ll know “over the next week or two” how much of a spike the city could see, Arwady said.

The doctor urged people to keep taking precautions, though, and to stay home for New Year’s and only celebrate with members of their household.

More than 112,000 people have been vaccinated in Illinois and more than 20,000 vaccinations have been done in Chicago. The city has started vaccinating outpatient health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities.

“Every person, every vaccine that we give here in Chicago takes us one step closer to normal,” Arwady said during her public vaccination Tuesday. “It is a responsibility for people, for themselves, for their families, for society” to get vaccinated.

But officials have cautioned it will be months before vaccines are widely available to the public.

That means people are still at risk and will have to continue taking precautions for much of 2021, officials have said. People should keep wearing a mask, staying socially distant, washing their hands frequently, not gathering, not traveling and not having people into their home, experts have said.

RELATED: A Coronavirus Vaccine Is Coming. Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Getting One In Chicago

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.

Gov. JB Pritzker has said those mitigations will likely remain in place for some time into January as officials hope they can help prevent a post-holiday surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The city has a stay at home advisory that recommends everyone stay at home as much as possible, only leaving for essential activities such as work and to get groceries. Arwady has also said people should not travel to other states since COVID-19 is surging across the United States.

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rose to 7.6 percent Wednesday with 74,573 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, rose slightly to 8.9 percent Wednesday. It was at 8.8 percent Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, 4,244 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 882 people in the ICU and 496 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 36 deaths and 1,177 confirmed cases were reported in the past day. There have been at least 4,138 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 203,523 confirmed cases, according to state data.

Chicago has made improvement, with its number of daily new cases and its positivity rate falling steadily after a post-Thanksgiving spike. Officials are waiting to see if there will be a bump in cases after the winter holidays, Arwady said. The city’s goal is to get under 400 new cases per day — but, ideally, Chicago should have fewer than 200 new cases per day, Arwady said.

The city is seeing an average of 16 deaths per day, down from an average of 21 deaths per day the week prior.

An average of 971 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 21 percent decrease from the previous week.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 8.3 percent, down from 10.2 percent the week before.

The fact Chicago’s positivity rate is falling, as its number of daily new cases, “does let us know we are making real progress,” Arwady said.

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