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US At ‘Pivotal Point’ In Pandemic As Delta Variant Rips Through Unvaccinated Communities

Local and national officials have warned multiple times this week the Delta variant is creating a new wave of COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines are administered by Jewel-Osco pharmacists to union workers at the IUOE Local 399 union hall ahead of Vice President Kamala Harris's visit to discuss vaccine rollouts and union work in Chicago on April 6, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The United States is at a “pivotal point” in the coronavirus pandemic as the Delta variant rapidly spreads, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Thursday.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the country is “not out of the woods yet” when it comes to COVID-19. Locally, officials have warned multiple times this week the Delta variant is fueling a new wave in cases nationwide — and numbers are rising in Chicago.

The wave is being driven by the more contagious Delta variant — as well as by people who think they can live normally and “forget about COVID” even if they’re not fully vaccinated, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city health department, said during a Thursday livestream.

“Unfortunately, that’s just not true,” Arwady said, noting cases have risen significantly just since a week ago.

Chicago’s outbreak is still relatively under control, though, Arwady said.

Many places are “jealous” of where Chicago’s numbers are right now — particularly when it comes to hospitalizations and deaths, which remain at all-time lows during the pandemic, Arwady said.

“Fifty out of 50 states are seeing increases like this. We remain broadly in control at this point,” Arwady said.

Officials have urged people to get fully vaccinated so they can be protected against all variants of COVID-19, including Delta. The three vaccines being used in the United States have all been shown to be largely effective at preventing severe illness and death from the Delta variant, Arwady said.

The surge in Delta cases has had the biggest impact on unvaccinated people: More than 95 percent of locals who are hospitalized or who have recently died from COVID-19 didn’t have all their vaccine shots, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.

“We first see the rises in cases, and then it takes some time for some of those folks to be getting sicker, to get hospitalized, et cetera,” Arwady said. “I remain very confident that with the current variants, our current level of vaccine protection — this isn’t like the first two really bad surges where we were concerned about overwhelming the health system. It’s more of an increase we are seeing landing in unvaccinated conditions, by and large.”

But Chicago can expect to see its numbers keep rising, Arwady said.

“We’re increasing fairly quickly,” Arwady said. “I expect this, unfortunately, to keep going up.”

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 6.4 million people of all ages — or 50.29 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 19,928 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,056,857 vaccine doses of the 14,610,385 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.39 million Chicagoans — or 51.7 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 57.7 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:

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

• At least 23,401 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,466 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 1,470 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,407,929.

• Since Thursday, 36,928 tests were reported statewide. In all, 26,534,129 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 3.3 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 3 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 3.5 percent. It was at 3.3 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 135 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 44 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,496 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of less than one death per day, a 56 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 301 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 288,199 confirmed cases. An average of 115 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 69 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 10 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 1.9 percent, up from 1.1 percent the week prior.

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