CHICAGO — Another 44 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.
The most recent victims included 16 people from Cook County, including four people in their 60s.
At least 20,374 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,201 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 2,022 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,179,342.
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 and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-like illnesses are at their lowest-ever points.
“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 58,141 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois has administered at least 2,019,656 vaccine doses of the 2,584,125 directly provided to it.
More than 438,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.
Another 291,273 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 2,310,929 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 3,029,325 doses provided to entities in the state.
About one in seven Illinoisans has received their first shot, Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday. Still, the state lags behind others — and Illinois is last in the nation for second doses administered.
But Pritzker said Illinois will get an average of 100,000 doses per day as early as mid-March, helping speed up vaccinations in the state.
“Things are getting better. This pandemic will end,” Pritzker said. “But, in the meantime, we have to mask up, we have to help each other out and we’ll get through this together.”
Chicago expects to get more vaccine doses soon, too. Last week, the city got about 7,000 first doses of vaccine per day; but this week, the city will get more than 8,300 first doses per day for the first time, Arwady said.
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.”
By the end of the week, Chicago will have received enough doses to vaccinate 31 percent of all people eligible under Phase 1B, Arwady said.
The progress means one in nine 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 vaccinate people with underlying conditions or disabilities starting Thursday. Chicago will not add people with underlying conditions or disabilities to its Phase 1B.
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.
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.
“We need to get closer to herd immunity for everybody to feel that we’re beyond on Phase 4 and for us to actually be able to reopen everything entirely,” Pritzker said Wednesday. “We’ll get there. But we have to get vaccines into people’s arms.”
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate fell to at 2.6 percent Wednesday with 82,976 tests reported. It was at 2.8 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, fell to 2.8 percent Wednesday. It was at 3 percent Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, 1,511 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 338 people in the ICU and 172 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, seven deaths and 412 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 4,850 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 243,252 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of five deaths per day, down from an average of nine deaths per day the week prior.
An average of 251 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 26 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has decreased by 13 percent.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at an all-time low of 3.1 percent, down from 3.6 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.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.