CHICAGO — Another 59 Illinoisans were reported dead by coronavirus during the weekend, pushing Illinois past 22,000 victims.
At the same time, vaccinations that protect people from COVID-19 are falling quickly in the state.
Cases, hospitalizations and Chicago’s positivity rate climbed for weeks in March. But those numbers have recently begun to stabilize and fall, and people are getting vaccinated, making it possible to reopen — though it must be done slowly, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a Thursday news conference.
“This is happening, make no mistake, because people are getting vaccinated,” Arwady said. “Things are heading the right way, but we are not done; and our ability to continue to move ahead is most dependent on people continuing to get vaccinated.
“… Talk to everybody you know and say, ‘Have you gotten this vaccine yet? And if not, let me help you.'”
Still, the number of cases being reported per day is too high, Arwady said.
At the same time, the average number of vaccine doses being administered per day has dropped recently. That change has come even though the vast majority of Illinoisans are not fully vaccinated, though everyone 16 and older is now eligible for the shots in Chicago and across the state.
Arwady and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have said they won’t require Chicagoans to get vaccinated, and there won’t be a “vaccine passport” that people will have to present to get into restaurants or events.
But they are looking at ways to incentivize people to get vaccinated — and that does mean they’ll host events where vaccinated people can get concert tickets, or vaccinated people might get preferential spots at sports events and concerts, the officials said. The city also doesn’t require fully vaccinated people to quarantine or get tested when they travel, nor are vaccinated people included in capacity limits for private events.
Officials will continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated and take safety precautions — like wearing a mask and staying socially distant — as there’s still a high risk for spreading COVID-19 among unvaccinated people.
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.
The most recent victims included 18 people from Cook County, including a man in his 20s and two people in their 40s.
At least 22,019 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,339 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 4,673 cases over the weekend. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,339,728.
Across Illinois, 83,239 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 9,393,137 vaccine doses of the 11,802,395 provided to them.
City data shows 2,011,597 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans in the city, and 2,166,799 doses have been administered in the city overall. About 45 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot, while 31.6 percent have completed their vaccination. Among Chicagoans 65 and older, about 66.5 percent have gotten at least one dose, while 55.8 percent have finished their vaccination.
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 rate held at 3.4 percent Sunday with 73,159 tests reported. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, rose slightly to 4.1 percent Sunday. It was at 4 percent Friday.
As of Saturday night, 1,916 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 472 people in the ICU and 225 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 11 deaths and 931 confirmed cases were reported since Friday. There have been at least 5,184 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 276,333 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of five deaths per day, down from an average of six per day the week prior.
An average of 513 confirmed cases are being reported per day, an 8 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has fallen 2 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 4.6 percent, down from 4.9 percent the week before.
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