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Chicago Moves Into Phase 1C Vaccinations For Coronavirus — But New Cases, Hospitalizations Going Up

Chicago has halted its reopening plans as the city's positivity rate, daily new cases and number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 rise.

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CHICAGO — The city has moved into 1C vaccinations, making most adults in Chicago eligible for coronavirus vaccinations.

About 84 percent of Chicago adults are now eligible, as Phase 1C includes people with underlying conditions and essential workers. It will still be some time before there are enough doses for everyone to get an appointment, but officials have said they expect everyone who wants to get vaccinated will be able to do so by some point in May.

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 state has also delayed moving into the “Bridge Phase,” as the number of people admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 has increased.

Another five Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.

The most recent Illinois victims included one person from Cook County. Over the weekend, 48 people were reported dead from coronavirus.

At least 21,256 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,271 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state reported 1,761 confirmed cases over the past day and 4,928 cases over the weekend. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,239,589.

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 28 percent rise in daily new cases compared to a week ago. Over that week, testing has fallen by 3 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.

All Illinoisans 16 and older will be eligible for vaccinations starting April 12 as more doses are coming into the state. Pritzker 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.

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

Across Illinois, an average of 103,769 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 5,210,184 vaccine doses of the 6,277,895 directly provided to them.

About 1,080,957 million doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans, and 1,256,658 doses have been administered in the city overall.

Another 367,430 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 5,577,614 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 6,692,795 doses provided to state entities.

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

People are still at risk from COVID-19 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 3.3 percent Monday with 49,449 tests reported. It was at 2.9 percent Friday. 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 3.8 percent Monday. It was at 3.3 percent Friday.

As of Sunday night, 1,352 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 280 people in the ICU and 128 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, five deaths and 1,685 confirmed cases were reported since Friday. There have been at least 5,017 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 255,753 confirmed cases, according to state data.

The city is seeing an average of three deaths per day, down from an average of four 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 438 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 28 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has fallen by 3 percent since a week ago.

The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 4 percent, up from 3.1 percent the week before.

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