UChicago Medicine employee Lakeisha Stone gets a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: UChicago Medicine

CHICAGO — Another 55 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent victims included 27 people from Cook County, including five people in their 40s and two in their 50s.

At least 20,460 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,215 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state reported 2,441 confirmed cases during the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,183,667.

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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 and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-like illnesses are at their lowest-ever points.

The state is administering an average of 68,988 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 2,236,238 vaccine doses of the 2,726,745 directly provided to them.

More than 477,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.

Another 307,382 vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities, which have been provided with 445,500 doses. Those vaccinations are done through a federal partnership with pharmacy chains.

All together, at least 2,543,620 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 3,171,245 doses provided to entities in the state.

About one in seven Illinoisans has received their first shot, Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday. Still, the state lags behind others — and Illinois is last in the nation for second doses administered.

One in eight Chicagoans has now gotten their first shot of a vaccine, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Thursday; and that number rises to one in four Chicagoans among people 65 and older.

More doses are coming, too: 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.

And a mass vaccination site will open March 10 outside the United Center, with officials able to do 6,000 vaccinations a day there. Doses will be provided by the federal government and won’t come from the city’s or state’s supplies.

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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 is also vaccinating people with underlying conditions or disabilities. Chicago has not added 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.

Hopefully, restrictions will be raised during the next few months, Arwady said, “but we’re still at a point where we need to be careful.”

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.

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate held at 2.5 percent Friday with 92,256 tests reported. 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 2.7 percent Friday.

As of Thursday night, 1,393 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 336 people in the ICU and 174 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, 12 deaths and 587 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 4,871 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 244,070 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. That’s the lowest that figure has been in months, Arwady said Thursday. During the peak of the second, fall surge in the pandemic, nearly 25 people per day were being killed by COVID-19; during the peak of the first surge in the spring, nearly 50 people were killed per day.

An average of 261 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 20 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has decreased by 10 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at an all-time low of 3 percent, down from 3.5 percent the week before.

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