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Coronavirus Kills 95 More Illinoisans As Pritzker Warns We Shouldn’t ‘Let Our Guard Down’

Illinois is continuing to reopen — but Gov. JB Pritzker said people need to remain wary as a more contagious variant of coronavirus spreads.

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 95 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent victims included 44 people from Cook County, including a woman in her 30s and four people in their 50s.

At least 18,615 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 1,919 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state also reported 7,042 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,093,375.

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.

The state is administering an average of 24,190 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois has administered at least 522,994 vaccine doses out of the 922,325 it’s been allocated directly. More than 120,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.

Another 524,050 doses have been provided for long-term care facilities in Illinois, and 93,683 vaccines have been administered in those settings. Those vaccinations are done through a federal partnership with pharmacy chains.

All together, at least 616,677 vaccines have been administered in Illinois.

Illinois will start vaccinating people 65 and older and frontline workers when it moves into Phase 1B of vaccinations Monday. Illinoisans will be able to make appointments to get vaccinated at pharmacies, state-run mass vaccination sites and other places.

The state will soon put up a website with information about how people can sign up to be vaccinated, Gov. JB Pritzker said.

Chicago — which has a separate vaccination campaign — will also move into Phase 1B on Monday, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

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

The state is peeling back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions as regions get their outbreaks more under control. Chicago has been moved into Tier 2, allowing museums and sports to reopen.

The city will likely move into Tier 1 on Saturday, allowing indoor dining to resume at restaurants and bars that have food.

At the same time, a more contagious variant of the virus from the United Kingdom has been found in Chicago.

The state’s ability to have indoor service and youth sports “could be cut short if we aren’t extremely careful,” Pritzker said at a Friday news conference. “The CDC is already warning that the faster-spreading U.K. variant could become the dominant strain in the United States in March. And a virus that’s more contagious ultimately results in more cases, more hospitalizations and more deaths.

“I know none of us wants to see another wave of COVID that brings on more mitigations, so let’s not let our guard down.”

And officials have cautioned it will be months before vaccines are widely available to the public. Chicago’s plan tentatively predicts vaccines will be available to everyone 16 and older by late May.

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.

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate fell to 5 percent Friday with 125,831 tests reported. It was at 5.4 percent Thursday. 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 6.2 percent Friday. It was at 6.5 percent Thursday.

As of Thursday night, 3,179 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 661 people in the ICU and 348 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 35 deaths and 1,226 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 4,532 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 228,825 confirmed cases, according to state data.

The city is seeing an average of 12 deaths per day, down from an average of 13 deaths per day the week prior.

An average of 862 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 17 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has decreased by 4 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 7.7 percent, down from 9.7 percent the week before.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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