CHICAGO — Another 33 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.
Chicago will move into 1C vaccinations on Monday, greatly expanding eligibility. Essential workers and everyone 16 and older with a qualifying underlying condition will be able to get vaccinated — and that amounts to an estimated 84 percent of the city’s adult population.
At the same time, city and state officials have said they’re concerned about a rise in daily cases and positivity rates in Chicago and throughout Illinois. The rise resembles what was seen before the second surge in the fall — meaning a third wave could be on the way, they’ve said.
Chicago has halted its reopening plans for now, instead loosening restrictions on outdoor activities in a bid to get people to spend more time outside, where it’s harder for the virus to spread.
The most recent Illinois victims included 12 people from Cook County, including a teen and a man in his 40s.
At least 21,203 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,269 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 3,002 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,232,900.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she is “ringing the alarm bells” over Chicago’s quick rise in new coronavirus cases and its positivity rate.
“The bottom line here is we’re seeing a very disturbing trend that could significantly impact our ability to move forward with reopening,” Lightfoot said during a Thursday call with reporters. Later, she said, “The last thing in the world that we want to do is shut everything back down” like in Europe.
The increase in new cases is being seen among people in the 18-29 and 30-39 age groups, and it’s particularly evident in the Lincoln Park, Old Town and Portage Park neighborhoods, Lightfoot said. The city will target its messages at that group in hopes of preventing a third surge.
Chicago has seen a 24 percent rise in daily new cases compared to a week ago. Over that week, testing has only risen by 6 percent, meaning the rise in new cases can’t be attributed solely to testing.
Gov. JB Pritzker has expressed concerns about upticks across the state.
“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.
Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, 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.
Lightfoot said she will bring back tighter restrictions if the rise continues.
Pritzker announced last week 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.
More doses are coming to the city, too. April and May will be especially big for vaccinations, Arwady said last week.
Across Illinois, an average of 99,449 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 4,917,316 vaccine doses of the 6,146,815 directly provided to them.
More than 1 million doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans, and 1,177,527 doses have been administered in the city overall.
Another 364,302 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 5,281,618 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 6,561,715 doses provided to state entities.
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.
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 rose to 2.9 percent Friday with 76,774 tests reported. It was at 2.7 percent Thursday. 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 3.3 percent Friday. It was at 3.2 percent Thursday.
As of Thursday night, 1,302 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 264 people in the ICU and 120 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, nine deaths and 745 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,012 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 254,068 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of four deaths per day, unchanged from 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 370 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 24 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has risen by 3 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 3.4 percent, up from 2.9 percent the week before.
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