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Coronavirus Kills 53 More Illinoisans, Bringing Toll To At Least 17,627

The state also reported 4,776 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,033,526.

Cars line up at the COVID test site at Gately Park in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood on Dec. 9, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Another 53 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent victims included 43 people from Cook County, including one woman in her 30s and three people in their 40s.

At least 17,627 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,736 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state also reported 4,776 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,033,526. The state hit and surpassed the 1 million mark Thursday.

Over the weekend, the state reported 182 coronavirus deaths and 11,428 confirmed cases.

But there are signs of hope, officials have said: Chicago and Illinois are weeks into vaccinating people, and new cases, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped in the city and statewide since a mid-November peak.

“As this disease continues to wreak havoc on our nation — with the United States setting another record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a day just [Wednesday] — it is critical that we take extra caution today and in the months ahead to reduce the spread, bring down hospitalization rates, and save lives,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement Thursday. “Now that vaccine distribution has begun, we can see the light at the end of this difficult time. Let’s do everything we can to ensure all of our neighbors are able to be there as we cross that finish line, healthy as well.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a statement the state’s goal is see its new cases decrease every day as the vaccine rolls out.

“Reporting more than 1 million COVID-19 cases in Illinois seemed like an unlikely number at the beginning of the pandemic, and we’ve now all seen how devastating this disease can be,” Ezike said. “I urge everyone to continue to wear their mask, avoid social gatherings and get vaccinated when it’s your turn.”

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, 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.

More than 343,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout Illinois, including 60,000 doses of vaccine administered to Chicagoans. State vaccination data will be online beginning Tuesday, Pritzker said.

Pritzker said Monday he’ll announce this week when Illinois will move into Phase 1B, when people who are 65 or older and frontline essential workers can be vaccinated. Some parts of the state — but not Chicago — have already started vaccinating people in Phase 1B because they finished Phase 1A quickly, Pritzker said.

“Vaccination is essential to us moving forward, but it only works if we actually utilize this critical resource,” Ezike said at a Monday news conference.

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 rate fell to 7.6 Monday with 66,697 tests reported. It was at 7.9 percent Sunday. 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 8.9 percent Monday. It was at 9.1 percent Sunday.

As of Sunday night, 3,540 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 759 people in the ICU and 401 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 15 deaths and 830 confirmed cases were reported in the past day, on top of 45 deaths and 2,286 confirmed cases from the weekend. There have been at least 4,361 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 218,015 confirmed cases, according to state data.

The city is seeing an average of 13 deaths per day, down from an average of 18 deaths per day the week prior.

An average of 1,028 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 12 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has risen by 5 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 10.3 percent, up from 10.2 percent the week before.

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