CHICAGO — Daily new cases of coronavirus are rising quickly in Chicago as officials worry about a possible third surge.
On March 1, the city was seeing an average of 295 confirmed cases per day. But as of Tuesday, an average of 473 confirmed cases are being reported each day — a 60 percent increase since the start of the month. Just since a week ago, daily new cases are up 34 percent.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across Illinois and Chicago’s positivity rate are also rising. Deaths remain low, with an average of four per day in Chicago; but officials have previously said those losses lag behind other figures.
State and city officials have said they’re deeply worried another surge of COVID-19 is forming. The uptick in resembles what was seen before the second surge in the fall — meaning a third wave could be on the way, they’ve said.
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.
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.
Officials do have hope a third wave can still be averted. They’ve said people should keep taking steps to protect themselves and others, like wearing a mask and staying socially distant.
And the rise in new cases is being seen among people 18-29 and 30-39, particularly in the Lincoln Park, Old Town and Portage Park neighborhoods. Older people, who have had greater access to vaccines so far, are not seeing significant upticks. The city is targeting its warnings at younger people.
Chicago moved into Phase 1C of vaccinations on Monday, which means essential workers and people 16 and older with qualifying underlying conditions can get the shots. About 84 percent of Chicago adults are eligible with the change.
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.
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. Lightfoot said she will bring back tighter restrictions if the rise in cases continues.
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 17 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day. The most recent Illinois victims included nine people from Cook County.
At least 21,273 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 2,404 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,241,993.
Across Illinois, an average of 105,040 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 5,296,720 vaccine doses of the 6,638,865 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 367,706 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 5,664,426 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 7,053,765 doses provided to state entities.
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.
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 3.4 percent Tuesday with 51,579 tests reported. It was at 3.3 percent Monday. 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 3.9 percent Tuesday. It was at 3.8 percent Monday.
As of Monday night, 1,396 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 308 people in the ICU and 121 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, seven deaths and 490 confirmed cases were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,024 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 256,243 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 473 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 34 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 4.2 percent, up from 3.2 percent the week before.
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