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COVID Cases Rising Throughout US In People Who Haven’t Gotten Shots, With Feds Warning Of ‘Pandemic Of The Unvaccinated’

About 97 percent of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States aren't fully vaccinated. That mimics what's being seen in Chicago.

Lakeview Pantry client Eustorgia Alcarav receives her first dose of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at the vaccination site next to Wrigley Field on April 5, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Federal officials are sounding the alarm bells over what they’re calling a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise around the United States — largely in unvaccinated people.

About 97 of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the United States are unvaccinated, Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a Friday morning news conference. And cases are on the rise in every state.

That mimics what Chicago is seeing, as 98 percent of new cases have been in people who aren’t fully vaccinated.

And cases are also rising in Chicago — there’s been a 56 percent jump in the past week, with an average of 64 cases being reported daily as of Friday.

But Chicago, and the rest of Illinois, aren’t seeing as significant upticks as some other parts of the country. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said there have been local upticks, but people don’t need to be alarmed yet.

“The news here in Chicago continues to be relatively good from a COVID perspective,” Arwady sad during a Thursday livestream. At another point, she said, “I do expect it will probably continue to increase — hopefully slowly, hopefully staying in control. But it’s why we’re working on vaccinations so hard.”

Illinois’ biggest spikes have been in downstate counties close to the Missouri border, which tend to be less vaccinated, Arwady said.

People shouldn’t be alarmed, but “the risk is ever so slightly higher than it was a week ago,” Arwady said. She said the risk to fully vaccinated people is still “very, very low,” though it’s only “low to moderate” for people who haven’t gotten all their shots.

People can get protected by getting fully vaccinated, Arwady said. A person is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after the second shot in a two-dose vaccine, like Pfizer and Moderna, or two weeks after the only shot of a one-dose vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson.

Officials have closed down mass vaccination sites and tried to ramp up vaccinations directly in neighborhoods, hoping that bringing the shots to people will boost Chicago’s slumping vaccine numbers. The number of vaccinations done daily has gone slightly up lately: An average of 4,130 are being done per day in Chicago as of Thursday.

Still, more than two-thirds of Chicago’s cases over the past month were in people younger than 40, who tend to be less vaccinated than older people, Arwady said. And nearly one-third of cases that led to a person being hospitalized were in people younger than 40.

Daily new cases are highest among Chicagoans 0-39 years old, Arwady said.

“Things are moving not in the direction we would like, but they’re moving slowly,” Arwady said.


• In Illinois, about 6.3 million people of all ages — or 49.77 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 21,317 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 12,917,362 vaccine doses of the 14,429,485 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.37 million Chicagoans — or 51.1 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 57.1 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:

• Seven Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Thursday.

• At least 23,357 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,463 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 667 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,399,946.

• Since Thursday, 33,502 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,292,979 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 1.9 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was also at 1.9 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.3 percent. It was also at 2.3 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 94 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 28 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,488 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of one death per day, a 17 percent increase from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 80 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 286,982 confirmed cases. An average of 64 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 56 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing is unchanged since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.2 percent, up from .8 percent the week prior.

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