CHICAGO — A local woman in her 20s and a woman in her 30s are among the most recent victims of coronavirus in Illinois.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Chicago and across Illinois have been on the rise for weeks, with hospitalizations coming up, too. 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.
A month ago, on March 15, Chicago was seeing an average of 276 confirmed cases per day. Now, it’s reporting an average of 706 cases per day — a 156 percent increase.
“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, Arwady said Tuesday. 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?” Arwady 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.
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 31 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus since Tuesday. The most recent victims included 16 people from Cook County, including a woman in her 20s and a woman in her 30s.
At least 21,570 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,295 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 3,536 confirmed cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,288,934.
Across Illinois, an average of 138,538 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 7,482,650 vaccine doses of the 9,386,135 provided to them.
City data shows 1,548,383 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans in the city, and 1,728,023 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 4.2 percent Wednesday with 88,390 tests reported. It was at 4.3 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, held at 5 percent Wednesday.
As of Tuesday night, 2,076 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 453 people in the ICU and 198 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, five deaths and 687 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,083 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 266,370 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of four deaths per day, up from an average of three 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 706 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 16 percent increase from the previous week. At the same time, testing has risen by 6 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 5.7 percent, up from 5.2 percent the week before.
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