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Coronavirus Kills 139 More In Illinois, Bringing Death Toll To 17,096

Illinois has now had 999,288 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

A health care worker walks into Loretto Hospital. Chicago's first COVID-19 vaccines were administered on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin neighborhood.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Another 139 Illinoisans killed by coronavirus were reported in the past day.

The most recent victims included 43 people from Cook County, including two men in their 40s and three people in their 50s.

At least 17,096 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,639 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to state health leaders.

The state also reported 7,569 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 999,288.

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.”

Similarly, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday the state will peel back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions Jan. 15 if regions continue to see progress in their fight against COVID-19. State officials are also waiting to see if there will be a post-holiday bump.

Pritzker also announced the state will start vaccinating people 65 and older — rather than the federally recommended 75 and older — during the next phase.

More than 207,100 people have been vaccinated in Illinois, including more than 36,000 Chicagoans. 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.

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 8.4 percent Wednesday with 80,974 tests reported. It was at 8.5 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, was at 9.9 percent Wednesday. It was at 9.8 percent Tuesday.

As of Tuesday night, 3,928 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 812 people in the ICU and 451 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, eight deaths and 1,192 confirmed cases were reported in the past day. There have been at least 4,255 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 211,328 confirmed cases, according to state data.

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 1,005 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 2 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has fallen by 24 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 10.6 percent, up from 8.3 percent the week before.

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