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Coronavirus Kills 126 More Illinoisans — But Chicago Making ‘Good Progress,’ City’s Top Doc Says

If that progress continues, "We may be able to start on some more reopening of businesses," Dr. Allison Arwady said.

At Esperanza Health Center, 4700 S. California Avenue in Chicago, Lorena Perez, left, gets the new Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from registered nurse Roberto George on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020.
Terrence Antonio James/Chicago Tribune/pool
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CHICAGO — Another 126 Illinoisans killed by coronavirus were reported in the past day.

The most recent victims included 35 people from Cook County, including a woman in her 40s.

At least 16,959 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,603 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to state health leaders.

The state also reported 6,839 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 991,719.

Chicago has seen its positivity rate and daily new cases increase in recent days, but Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city’s Department of Public Health, said that’s due to dips in testing around the holidays. Officials are still waiting to see if there will be a post-holiday bump, but Arwady said she hasn’t seen any major concerns in the data thus far.

Deaths remain high in Chicago, Arwady said, but there are other promising signs — like the drop in the city’s positivity rate and daily new cases since they hit a peak in November.

“We are making pretty good progress here, broadly, I think,” Arwady said during a Tuesday morning livestream. If that progress continues, “We may be able to start on some more reopening of businesses.”

Arwady didn’t offer anymore details on possible business reopenings, and it’s unclear what rules the city could lift. Currently, it’s the state that’s imposed tighter restrictions on businesses and forced the shutdown of indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Gov. JB Pritzker has said those mitigations will likely remain in effect for some time into January.

More than 143,000 people have been vaccinated in Illinois, including more than 36,000 vaccinations done in Chicago. The city has started vaccinating outpatient health care workers and people living and working in long-term care facilities.

About 42 percent of Chicago’s doses have been administered to people who don’t live in the city, Arwady said. That would mean the city has administered about 62,000 vaccine doses so far.

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.

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 fell slightly to 8.5 percent Tuesday with 87,083 tests reported. It was at 8.6 percent Monday. 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, was at 9.8 percent Tuesday, unchanged from Monday.

As of Monday night, 3,905 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 800 people in the ICU and 457 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 17 deaths and 1,202 confirmed cases were reported in the past day. There have been at least 4,247 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 210,136 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 14 deaths per day, down from an average of 19 deaths per day the week prior.

An average of 942 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 13 percent decrease from the previous week. But testing has fallen by 34 percent over that time period.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 10.2 percent, up from 8.6 percent the week before.

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