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Illinois Nearing ‘End Of This Pandemic,’ Pritzker Says, But 16 More Die From COVID-19

Deaths and new cases have fallen after a fall peak, and the state's and city's positivity rates are at their lowest-ever points.

People line up to get vaccinated at the United Center on March 9.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Sixteen Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent victims included four people from Cook County.

At least 20,781 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,258 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state reported 1,510 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,201,027.

Deaths and new cases have dropped after a fall peak, and the state’s and city’s positivity rates are at their lowest-ever points.

“We’re getting closer every single day to the end of this pandemic, but we’re not there yet,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Tuesday news conference.

And more good vaccine news came over the weekend, as the United Center mass vaccination site has filled about 50,000 appointments. More spots will open in the weeks to come. And, soon, Chicago and Illinois will have even more doses supplied to them.

Nearly one in five Illinoisans has gotten at least their first dose of vaccine so far, Pritzker said.

There’s still a shortage of vaccine around the United States, Pritzker previously said, but “vaccine availability is set to soar in the coming weeks.” Federal officials told state leaders they’d soon be able to provide 18 million doses per week, he said, and Illinois expects to get about 100,000 doses per day by mid-March.

The city’s health chief, Dr. Allison Arwady, made similar statements last week.

“By late spring, we are gonna be in a place where I think there will be plenty of vaccine,” Arwady said Wednesday.

RELATED: A Year Of Loss: COVID-19 Has Killed More Than 4,500 Chicagoans. For These Families, Life Will Never Be The Same

The state is administering an average of 92,180 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 3,114,521 vaccine doses of the 4,182,905 directly provided to them.

More than 624,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.

Another 348,629 vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities, which have been provided with 414,900 doses. Those vaccinations are done through a federal partnership with pharmacy chains.

All together, at least 3,463,150 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 4,597,805 doses provided to state entities.

Arwady said she’s pushing for the state to send more doses to Chicago and the surrounding area since 38 percent of the city’s doses have gone to non-residents. She said rural areas in the state are currently more vaccinated than parts of Chicago.

In comparison, about 21 percent of Chicago residents who have been vaccinated got their shot outside the city.

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, though Chicago has not added people with underlying conditions or disabilities to its current round of vaccinations.

RELATED: Here’s How You Can Get Vaccinated Against Coronavirus In Chicago

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.

Pritzker said he and the state’s experts are looking at what restrictions they can roll back, but they need to judge that against the continuing risks of the pandemic — especially since more contagious variants of the virus have been found in Illinois.

“… We’re gonna try to make sure we’re moving the economy forward as we’re bringing down the caseload,” Pritzker said. “The first thing that comes to mind for me when I reflect on this year, it’s the safety and health of the people of Illinois that has weighed on me every day … and then the financial health of people who have lost their jobs.

“… Now, we need to take care of people’s financial situations.”

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 previously said, “but we’re still at a point where we need to be careful.”

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.

“If you’re gonna be out, please just wear the mask, keep practicing caution,” Arwady said Thursday. “The risk gets lower with every additional person who gets vaccinated.”

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate held at 2.3 percent Tuesday with 53,445 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, fell slightly to 2.7 Tuesday. It was at 2.8 percent Monday.

As of Monday night, 1,177 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 263 people in the ICU and 132 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, one death and 244 confirmed cases were reported since Monday. There have been at least 4,925 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 247,754 confirmed cases, according to state data.

The city is seeing an average of four deaths per day, down from an average of seven deaths per day the week prior. That’s the lowest that figure has been in months, Arwady previously said. 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 274 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 5 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has decreased by 2 percent.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at an all-time low of 2.8 percent, down from 2.9 percent the week before.

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