COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black and Brown Chicagoans highlighted existing health disparities in our segregated city. Credit: Northwestern Memorial Hospital/Provided

CHICAGO — Another 159 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the weekend.

The weekend’s victims included 67 people from Cook County, including a man in his 20s and a woman in her 30s.

At least 18,208 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,842 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state also reported 9,505 confirmed cases during the weekend. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,068,829.

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.

And the state is peeling back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions as regions get their outbreaks more under control.

The state is administering an average of 23,546 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois has administered at least 487,040 vaccine doses and has been allocated 1,049,675 doses. More than 96,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.

The city has opened three mass vaccination sites for health care workers, and another three will open this week.

Illinois will start vaccinating people 65 and older and frontline workers when it moves into Phase 1B of vaccinations Jan. 25. People will be able to make appointments to get vaccinated at pharmacies, state-run mass vaccination sites and other places, Gov. JB Pritzker announced last week. The state will soon put up a website with information about how people can sign up to be vaccinated.

Chicago — which has its own, separate vaccination campaign — will allow health providers to start vaccinating people who are 65 and older and have underlying health conditions this week if the vaccine doses would otherwise be wasted, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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

And a more contagious variant of the virus from the United Kingdom has been found in Chicago.

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

Chicago remains under the state’s 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 6.1 Sunday with 96,845 tests reported. It was at 6.5 percent Friday. 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, fell to 7.1 percent Sunday. It was at 7.7 percent Friday.

As of Saturday night, 3,408 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 720 people in the ICU and 387 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 26 deaths and 1,849 confirmed cases were reported since Friday. There have been at least 4,436 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 224,814 confirmed cases, according to state data.

The city is seeing an average of 12 deaths per day, down from an average of 16 deaths per day the week prior.

An average of 1,008 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 3 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has risen by 15 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 8.5 percent, down from 10.3 percent the week before.

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