CHICAGO — Gov. JB Pritzker said he is concerned about recent upticks in coronavirus cases in Illinois — mirroring worries from Chicago officials — though the state has now surpassed more than 5 million vaccine doses administered.
Illinois and Chicago have seen bumps in their daily new cases and positivity rates, with elected leaders say they fear it could mean another wave of COVID-19 is coming.
“I’ve been to this movie before and seen the rising positivity rates, and I’m concerned about it,” Pritzker said at a Wednesday news conference.
Chicago has seen a 23 percent rise in daily new cases compared to a week ago — and the uptick resembles what the city saw in the fall as the second COVID-19 surge began, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.
Over that week, testing has only risen by 6 percent, meaning the rise in new cases can’t be attributed solely to testing.
Arwady said she is “more optimistic” the city can avoid another wave of COVID-19 because people in their 70s and 80s are staying home and getting vaccinated, so their age groups have not yet seen rises in case rates. She hopes the recent rise in younger people does not mean Chicago is in the beginning of a third surge.
“I certainly hope not. I am concerned, and I hope everybody is concerned when they look at this data,” she said.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot saying the rise is being seen among people in the 18-29 and 30-39 age groups. Lightfoot said the city will bring back tighter coronavirus safety restrictions if there’s another surge.
“COVID-19 is still here, folks. It is still real. It is still deadly,” Lightfoot said at a news conference Monday. “And, unfortunately, it is still sending people to the hospital very single day.
“We will step back and have to close back down if we are not diligent, particularly that 18-to-40-year-old cohort. It’s critically important that those folks and everyone remain diligent.”
Another 20 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day. The most recent victims included three people from Cook County.
At least 21,136 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,272 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 2,793 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,227,708.
Pritzker announced Thursday all Illinoisans 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations starting April 12 as more doses are coming into the state. He also detailed how the state will reopen in coming weeks — as long as more people are vaccinated and COVID-19 cases and deaths don’t surge.
“It’s time to begin to cautiously move to normalcy, and it’s imperative that we do so in a way that maintains all of the progress that we’ve made to date,” he said at a news conference. Later, he said, “Folks, this is an exciting day. Although we still are in the midsts of a global pandemic, the end seems truly to be in sight.”
More doses are coming to the city, too. April and May will be especially big for vaccinations, Arwady said last week. The city start 1C vaccinations on March 29.
Across Illinois, an average of 97,680 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 4,672,653 vaccine doses of the 5,853,915 directly provided to them.
More than 954,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans, and 1,122,459 doses have been administered in the city overall.
Another 363,711 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 5,036,364 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 6,268,815 doses provided to state entities.
Arwady previously said she’s pushing for the state to send more doses to Chicago and the surrounding area since 35-40 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, as well as people who work in higher education, government and media.
The state is peeling back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions as regions get their outbreaks more under control. Chicago is in Phase 4.
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.
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 earlier this month. “The risk gets lower with every additional person who gets vaccinated.”
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose to 2.8 percent Wednesday with 79,381 tests reported. It was at 2.5 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, rose to 3.1 percent Wednesday. It was at 2.9 percent Tuesday.
As of Tuesday night, 1,261 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 269 people in the ICU and 130 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, three deaths and 523 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,000 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 252,886 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of three deaths per day, down from four 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 360 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 23 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has risen by 4 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 3.3 percent, up from 2.9 percent the week before.
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