A woman is vaccinated at Rush University System for Health Credit: Rush University System for Health

CHICAGO — Officials are ringing alarm bells about a resurgence of coronavirus in Chicago driven by the Delta variant — and not enough people being vaccinated.

Chicago is seeing an average of 90 cases reported per day, a jump from the low of 34 cases per day seen just a few weeks ago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a Tuesday news conference.

“We wanted to sound this alarm today so that people understand: It’s still here. It’s still real. It’s still deadly,” Lightfoot said. “And it’s really attacking people who aren’t vaccinated.”

This latest wave of COVID-19 is stemming from the more contagious Delta variant, the officials said. And the wave is particularly targeting people who aren’t fully vaccinated: More than 95 percent of locals who are hospitalized or who have recently died from COVID-19 didn’t have all their shots, Lightfoot said.

“Vaccine isn’t just a feel-good thing,” Lightfoot said. “It’s about protecting you from sickness and death.”

The Delta variant is far more contagious than the original COVID-19 virus, and it’s spreading rapidly. In Chicago, officials estimate about 44 percent of current cases come from Delta — and it’ll be responsible for the majority of cases as soon as next month, Arwady said.

Nationwide, the Delta variant accounts for 83 percent of cases, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. All 50 states are seeing increases in daily COVID-19 cases and their positivity rates.

And surges are popping up all across the country. Arkansas and Missouri were put on Chicago’s travel advisory last week, and Florida, Louisiana, Nevada and the U.S. Virgin Islands are being added to the list this week. Unvaccinated people coming from those places to Chicago are asked to get a negative COVID-19 test or quarantine, and Arwady said Chicagoans who aren’t fully vaccinated shouldn’t go to those places.

Officials said they fear that quick spread means another surge of COVID-19 could hit the city hard — especially in South and West side communities and in younger people, groups in which the vaccination rate is lower.

“We can’t allow it to spread further or faster than it already has, and it already has incredible momentum,” Lightfoot said. “If we don’t stall this, we’ll have to wait this much longer to be able to formally turn the page and put this pandemic in the past, in the rearview mirror.”

More people getting vaccinated would mean those people are better protected against COVID-19; in turn, their families and communities would also be less at risk, Arwady said. It would also decrease the chances of another variant developing — which worries officials since vaccinations could offer less protection against future variants.

Just more than half of all Illinoisans are now fully vaccinated. Chicago is slightly ahead, with about 51 percent of residents having gotten all their shots.

Illinois is seeing a small surge, but it’s been worse in downstate counties, which tend to be less vaccinated, Arwady previously said. The state’s positivity rate has climbed to 2.6 percent.

Chicago’s positivity rate has risen to 1.5 percent — not high, but climbing, which is the concern, Arwady said.

“What we are seeing now is a real increase,” Arwady said. “It is still an increase that is in reasonable control … but what we want is to have people hear this and decide to take preventative action now.”

In Chicago, hospitalizations and deaths remain low, but those numbers have tended to lag behind daily new cases during the pandemic.

“We want to get ahead of this before we see, truly, [another] surge,” Lightfoot said.

People should also continue to take safety precautions, like wearing masks in public spaces and avoiding large gatherings if they’re not fully vaccinated, officials said.

“I know many of you are enjoying summer in Chicago … but that doesn’t mean this is a free for all and people can skip out on being fully vaccinated and not following commonsense” advice on gatherings, Lightfoot said.

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. They also have canvassers going door to door in poorly vaccinated areas to encourage people to get the shots.

The city has a free online calendar showing events, pop-ups and more where people can go to get vaccinated.

Chicagoans can also get vaccinated at home for free. Sign up online at Chicago.gov/athome or by calling 312-746-4835.


• In Illinois, about 6.3 million people of all ages — or 50.04 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 19,569 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 12,987,990 vaccine doses of the 14,492,405 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.38 million Chicagoans — or 51.4 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 57.4 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:

• Six Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Monday.

• At least 23,383 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,462 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 745 cases since Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,403,508.

• Since Monday, 24,953 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,411,240 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 2.6 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.4 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.9 percent. It was at 2.8 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 116 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 43 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,495 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of one death per day, a 13 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 64 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 287,469 confirmed cases. An average of 90 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 69 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has increased 4 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.5 percent, up from 1 percent the week prior.

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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