Jada Johnson receives her COVID-19 vaccine from Armando Ambriz, medical assistant, in Chicago's Gage Park neighborhood on Feb. 19, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — Another 34 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent victims included 24 people from Cook County, including two men in their 40s and a man in his 50s.

At least 20,303 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,203 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state reported 1,246 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,175,655.

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But there are signs of hope: Chicago and Illinois are weeks into vaccinating people, and new cases, deaths and positivity rates are falling. Chicago’s positivity rate its at lowest-ever point.

“This kind of progress has come because we have been doing the things that work here in Chicago,” like social distancing and wearing a mask, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Friday. “And we need people to keep doing this.”

The state is administering an average of 55,499 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois has administered at least 1,928,880 vaccine doses of the 2,256,975 provided to it.

More than 419,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.

Another 282,820 vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities, which have been provided with 445,200 doses. Those vaccinations are done through a federal partnership with pharmacy chains.

All together, at least 2,211,700 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois.

More than 11 percent of people in Illinois have gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday. Still, the state lags behind others.

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The city expects to get more vaccine doses soon. Last week, Chicago got 6,900 first doses from the federal government, but this week, the city will get more than 8,000 doses for the first time.

And more than 30 federally qualified health centers in Chicago will start getting an additional 100 doses per week directly from the federal government in coming weeks, Arwady said.

“We have more than 525 providers enrolled, ready to give vaccine,” Arwady said. “We’re just waiting for vaccine.”

The progress means one in 10 Chicagoans has now gotten their first shot of a vaccine, Arwady said; and that number rises to one in four Chicagoans among people 65 and older.

Illinois and Chicago are vaccinating people 65 and older and frontline workers as part of Phase 1B of the vaccination campaign. Illinoisans who are eligible are able to make appointments to get vaccinated at pharmacies, their health provider’s office, state-run mass vaccination sites and other places.

The state will also start vaccinating people with underlying conditions or disabilities Thursday. Chicago will not add people with underlying conditions or disabilities to its Phase 1B.

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The state is peeling back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions as regions get their outbreaks more under control. Chicago is now in Phase 4, the phase when the state’s restrictions are at their most relaxed before a full return to normalcy.

The city has released a roadmap detailing what metrics it will use to lift restrictions from businesses as it gets better control of its COVID-19 outbreak.

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 news conference in January. “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 rose slightly to 2.8 percent Monday with 37,361 tests reported. It was at 2.7 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, held at 3.1 percent Monday.

As of Sunday night, 1,504 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 377 people in the ICU and 169 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, five deaths and 233 confirmed cases were reported since Sunday. There have been at least 4,831 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 242,619 confirmed cases, according to state data.

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

An average of 273 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 25 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has decreased by 14 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at an all-time low of 3.4 percent, down from 3.7 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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