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Chicago’s Top Doc Says City ‘Not Done’ With COVID As Officials Worry About Potential Surges In Less-Vaccinated Areas

The vast majority of new coronavirus cases have been in people who aren't vaccinated. Officials are worried about possible surges in the fall or winter.

The Chicago skyline as seen from the rooftop at 1315 N North Branch Street on Goose Island on June 23, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city’s top doctor said she stands by her decision to reopen Chicago as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to fall.

Chicago — and the rest of Illinois — reopened June 11, with officials lifting the final capacity limits on businesses. But the city and state had effectively been open for weeks, as COVID-19 restrictions had been gradually lifted.

The move was made because COVID-19 cases and deaths had fallen significantly after vaccines became widespread.

Now, about two weeks later, those numbers continue to decline. The vast majority of new cases and deaths are in people who weren’t vaccinated, officials have said.

On June 11, Chicago was seeing an average of 79 confirmed cases and five deaths per day. As of Thursday, it’s seeing an average of 42 new cases and two deaths per day.

“I’m so pleased to be at a point in this outbreak where we are as well-controlled as we are,” Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday livestream. “It is absolutely appropriate for Chicago to be fully open right now … .”

But Arwady said there could be surges in the fall and winter, especially in communities where fewer people have gotten vaccinated.

The AP reported Thursday the vast majority of COVID-related deaths in May were among unvaccinated people. So-called “breakthrough” infections in fully vaccinated people accounted for fewer than 1,200 of more than 853,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations, government data showed. That’s about 0.1 percent.

On Tuesday, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the vaccine is so effective that “nearly every death, especially among adults, due to COVID-19, is, at this point, entirely preventable.”

The city is focusing on getting doses to South and West side communities where fewer people have gotten their shots, hoping to protect them from more contagious variants — like the Delta variant — and prevent new waves of COVID-19.

“We are not done with COVID,” Arwady said. “We continue to monitor. … But we make decisions based on what is happening right now.”

New:

• There will be no fireworks show at Navy Pier for the Fourth of July. The pandemic meant the pier didn’t have enough time to prepare.

• A mass vaccination site is reopening at Malcolm X College.

• All Chicagoans can now get vaccinated at home for free, and they’ll get $50 gift cards for doing so.

• The United Center mass vaccination site will close after Thursday.

• Chicago State University’s drive-thru vaccinations are over, but it’s still accepting walk-ups.

• Illinois has a vaccine lottery. People who get shots can win up to $1 million.

Families can get reimbursed for funeral costs if they lost a loved one to COVID-19.

• Vaccinations are now available outside some “L” stations Mondays and Fridays.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6 million people of all ages — or 47.09 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccination shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 30,205 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 12,319,784 vaccine doses of the 14,116,565 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.29 million Chicagoans — or 48.2 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 54.8 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.

The numbers:

• Eighteen Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 23,191 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,439 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 248 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,390,140.

• Since Wednesday, 47,743 tests were reported statewide. In all, 25,583,377 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at .6 percent. 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, was at .8 percent.

• As of Wednesday night, 107 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 50 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, five deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,460 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of two deaths per day, down from an average of four per day the week prior.

• Chicago has had 38 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 285,776 confirmed cases. An average of 42 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 33 percent decrease from the previous week.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 9 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at .5 percent, down from .7 percent the week prior.

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