Skip to contents

Could Chicago’s Delta Surge Be Flattening? Officials See Signs For Hope — But Need More Data

New cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths remain higher than they were earlier this summer — but their growth has slowed recently.

Pedestrians wear masks and walk across Fullerton Avenue in Logan Square on April 7, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

CHICAGO — There are signs Chicago and Illinois’ latest coronavirus wave could be flattening, officials said Thursday.

But it’s still too early to tell for certain.

Chicago and the rest of the state saw its coronavirus positivity rate, number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths rise this summer as the highly contagious Delta variant swept through the United States.

Those numbers still remain higher than they were in the spring and early summer, but they’ve stopped growing as quickly and may even be flattening, state and city officials have said.

The real test will be if those metrics stay stagnant for a prolonged period and fall.

“A few days strung together in a row could give you hope, but not necessarily tell you what the trend is,” Gov. JB Pritzker said at a Thursday news conference. “And so we’re watching these numbers closely; certainly, over the last few days, when put together and averaged, it seems like things are flattening. And that’s a really good piece of news for all of us.

“[We’ll] watch the numbers over the next few days to see whether we can string together a week and two weeks of numbers not just flattening but heading down.”

Chicago has seen its metrics rise with the Delta surge, but it hasn’t been impacted as strongly as less-vaccinated parts of the state, like central and southern Illinois. Those parts of Illinois are starting to see hospitals fill up, while Chicago’s health system remains “stable,” the city health department has said.

RELATED: Get Vaccinated And You’ll Get $100 If You Do It At Home Or At City Events, Health Department Says

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said this week that Chicago’s numbers are also starting to stabilize. She’s said the city’s mask mandate, which returned Aug. 20, could be helping with that.

The number of new cases being reported per day is about the same as it was a week ago, Arwady said Thursday. That’s a change after weeks of growth in that category. But the number of people being hospitalized with COVID-19 per day is slightly up, and there is still an average of three Chicagoans per day dying from the virus.

“If we can stay flat, I’d be very happy, given what’s going on around us,” Arwady said Tuesday, alluding to the surge happening across the United States. Every state save Vermont is on Chicago’s travel advisory because of their COVID-19 outbreaks.

But it’ll take several weeks to determine if Chicago’s curve has truly flattened — and if the city will see a decrease or another increase in its metrics, she said.

A small victory for the city: Vaccinations are up, with the city now administering more than 5,000 shots per day, on average. Arwady said she is “really happy about that.”

But Arwady has warned there are still too few people fully vaccinated in Chicago, which means there could be an even worse surge in the fall and winter. The doctor urged people to get their shots to prevent that.

“I am concerned, for sure, heading into the winter,” she said. “There’s the potential for it to get much worse [here], as we’ve seen in the rest of the country.”

The vaccines have been shown to be safe and to largely prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19, officials have said.


• In Illinois, about 6.7 million people — or 53.09 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 40,046 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 13,978,485 vaccine doses of the 16,409,305 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.49 million Chicagoans — or 55.7 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated. About 61 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:

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

• At least 24,030 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,542 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 4,224 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,532,344.

• Since Wednesday, 102,791 tests were reported statewide. In all, 29,068,354 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 4.8 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 5.1 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.5 percent. It was at 5.6 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 527 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 289 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, twenty-six deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,652 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of three deaths per day, a 5 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Chicago has had 564 confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 304,768 confirmed cases. An average of 460 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 2 percent decrease from the week prior.

• At the same time, testing has decreased 1 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.3 percent, down from 4.4 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.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Already subscribe? Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: