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Chicago’s COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Deaths Likely To Rise, Top Doc Says — But People Can Be Protected By Getting Vaccinated

Chicago doesn't expect to see as many deaths and people hospitalized as it did during past surges, though.

Doses of COVID-19 vaccines sit on a table at the mass vaccination site in the Jones Convocation Center on the campus of Chicago State University on April 7, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

CHICAGO — The spread of Delta means Chicago’s cases, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to rise, the city’s top doctor said Tuesday.

But there are reasons to be optimistic, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during her Tuesday livestream.

Coronavirus is surging across the United States, including in Chicago, with officials blaming the latest wave on the more contagious Delta variant, not enough people getting vaccinated and people letting down their guard.

Chicago’s positivity rate has climbed to 3.3 percent, up from .5 percent about a month ago, on July 6. It’s also reporting an average of 243 cases per day — and saw 340 confirmed cases just in the past day. In comparison, on July 6, the city reported an average of 33 cases per day.

Because the city is now seeing a “substantial” amount of community transmission, it’s recommended everyone 2 and older wear a mask when indoors in public.

But hospitalizations remain low, with an average of nine to 10 people being hospitalized per day with COVID-19, Arwady said. That’s “much, much better than we had seen” in past surges, she said.

And at the peak of the first surge, in spring 2020, the city saw an average of 50 people dying per day from COVID-19 — but that’s now at about one person day, Arwady said.

“As cases go up, that probably will go up,” Arwady said. “But, again, [we’re] not expecting something similar to what we’ve seen in the pre-vaccine surges.”

The lower numbers of people being hospitalized and dying from the latest wave of COVID are due to the vaccines, Arwady said. The vaccines being used in the United States have been shown to largely prevent severe illness and death.

Thanks to the vaccines, Chicago has “seen dramatically fewer hospitalizations and deaths” during this latest surge than it saw in the past, Arwady said.

Officials have said about 97 percent of people who have been hospitalized with or died from COVID-19 since January were not fully vaccinated.

“Certainly, we are seeing this Delta come, but it is especially landing on people who are unvaccinated,” Arwady said.

And more than 99.9 percent of Chicagoans who are vaccinated have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 since getting their shots, Arwady said.

Other countries that have seen Delta-fueled surges, like the United Kingdom, are already starting to see their daily number of cases drop, Arwady said. Chicago is several weeks behind those places in terms of where it’s at with its outbreak, but she said she expects to see drops here in time.

“I expect the Delta surge to come back down just as we’re seeing in many of the European countries,” Arwady said.

But this wave is still having the biggest impact on unvaccinated people, she said.

People should wear their masks, get vaccinated and only gather when outdoors to be best protected against the Delta variant, Arwady said.

“While we’re getting through this surge: Indoors, please, put a mask on,” Arwady said.


• In Illinois, about 6.5 million people of all ages — or 51.13 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 28,250 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,310,174 vaccine doses of the 14,963,155 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.4 million Chicagoans — or 52.5 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 58.9 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 Monday.

• At least 23,458 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,482 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,682 cases since Monday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,427,901.

• Since Monday, 44,565 tests were reported statewide. In all, 27,005,486 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 4.4 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.3 percent Monday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5 percent. It was at 4.9 percent Monday.

• As of Monday night, 243 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 103 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, four deaths were reported since Monday. There have been at least 5,510 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than one death per day, a 60 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 340 confirmed cases reported since Monday. It’s had a total of 290,906 confirmed cases. An average of 234 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 40 percent increase from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has increased 14 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 3.3 percent, up from 2.6 percent the week prior.

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