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Coronavirus Hospitalizations Rising Across Illinois As Officials Rush To Prevent 3rd Wave

COVID cases are rising quickly, but just 21.1 percent — or 549,447 people — of all Chicago residents are completely vaccinated.

A woman is vaccinated at Rush University System for Health
Rush University System for Health
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CHICAGO — The number of people hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois has risen sharply from just a month ago as officials warn of a third surge.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus have been on the rise for weeks, with hospitalizations coming up, too. A month ago, on March 3, 1,673 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including people in the ICU and those using ventilators. As of Tuesday, there are now 2,679 such people in the hospital.

Chicagoans 18-29 years old are seeing the most new cases, but every age group younger than 60 is on the rise, said Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

“Broadly, no matter who you are or where you are in Chicago, COVID is on the rise,” Arwady said during a Tuesday news conference. “We’re vaccinating people as quickly as we can. But in the meantime, we need people practicing caution.”

Most of the people who are being hospitalized now are younger than 50, which is very different than what Chicago saw during the rest of the pandemic, Arwady said. She said that could be due to the fact older people are more widely vaccinated — and said older Chicagoans might also be taking more care than younger people.

Officials are rushing to vaccinate people as a third surge forms in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

The city and state faced a hiccup Tuesday, as they decided to temporarily stop using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine based on a federal recommendation. But the state said it will send 50,000 doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to Chicago to help fill the gap.

Chicago recently sped up its vaccination timeline, with Mayor Lori Lightfoot announcing all Chicago adults will be eligible for the shots come Monday. But Gov. JB Pritzker said Chicagoans who will still be ineligible in the city can instead go to state-run sites in the suburbs.

Current vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness and death among those more common variants, but the vast majority of Chicagoans have not yet been fully vaccinated.

Just 21.1 percent — or 549,447 people — of all Chicago residents are completely vaccinated. Among Chicagoans 65 and older, who are among the most at risk from COVID-19, only 47.4 percent are completely vaccinated.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the city and Chicago’s and Illinois’ positivity rates 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.

“The question is going to be: With vaccine in the mix, if we can get a lot of the highest-risk folks vaccinated quickly, will we see the impact on these severe outcomes?” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, previously said.

Arwady said, as of now, she does not have a “major concern” about overwhelming the health care system and seeing a “huge number of deaths … but the increase in cases really has the potential to cause significant illness, hospitalizations and potentially some increase in death again.”

People should avoid gathering, especially if all people at the gathering are not fully vaccinated or if there will be people present who would be at increased risk from coronavirus, Arwady said.

At the same time, the city has maintained its loosened rules on businesses, allowing for more people to gather at restaurants and bars. Chicago also recently 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.

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

Reopening is also stalled on a statewide level. Though more than 70 percent of Illinoisans 65 and older have now gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, the rising number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 means the state can’t move into its “Bridge Phase.”

Another 17 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus since Monday. The most recent victims included five people from Cook County, including a man in his 60s.

At least 21,540 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,286 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

The state reported 3,193 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,285,398.

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 132,979 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 7,344,112 vaccine doses of the 9,343,775 provided to them.

City data shows 1,515,517 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans in the city, and 1,695,979 doses have been administered in the city overall.

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.

Illinois’ seven-day positivity fell slightly to 4.3 percent Tuesday with 58,248 tests reported. It was at 4.4 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 5 percent Tuesday. It was at 4.9 percent Monday.

As of Monday night, 2,028 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 466 people in the ICU and 185 people using ventilators.

In Chicago, four deaths and 578 confirmed cases were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,078 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 265,683 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 691 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 15 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 5.7 percent, up from 5.1 percent the week before.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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