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What Could Halloween, Thanksgiving And Other Holidays Look Like This Pandemic Year? Answers Coming Soon, Officials Say

People have begun asking officials what they'll be able to safely do for the holiday season now that vaccines are available. Here's what they're saying.

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CHICAGO — Halloween, Thanksgiving and other beloved holidays could look very different this year than they did during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Last year, coronavirus cases skyrocketed in October and stayed high for months. Officials urged people not to gather for the holidays — and that meant many went without seeing family members and friends during traditional times of coming together.

But COVID-19 vaccines mean fully vaccinated people are now much better protected against the virus. People have begun asking officials what they’ll be able to safely do for the holiday season.

City officials have said they’ll release guidance this week on how people can safely celebrate Halloween.

Last year, events were canceled, many parents didn’t let their kids trick or treat and leaders told people to stay home and avoid gatherings. But that’s expected to be at least somewhat different this October, as the city has already announced a schedule of Halloween events, including two parades.

It’s not yet clear what will happen for holidays further away, like Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Though Chicago’s COVID-19 metrics — including new cases per day and its positivity rate — have fallen in recent weeks, they remain higher than they were before Delta hit.

And Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Tuesday livestream that last year’s surge came at the end of October. That makes it difficult to predict what could be coming.

“I’m not anticipating seeing an enormous surge like that, but I am a little worried,” Arwady said.

If Chicago continues to see lower case rates like how it is now, and if people are fully vaccinated, then people can “go for it” when it comes to the later holidays, Arwady said. She said if Thanksgiving were in two weeks, rather than more than a month, she’d be telling people there’s “no problem” with gathering and talking to them about how to limit their risks.

But many factors play into whether a gathering will be safe, she said: For example, it’d be safer to gather in Chicago, where the outbreak is better under control, than in other places with worse holds over COVID-19.

“We’ll have a better sense in early November of kinda where things are, where things are going,” Arwady said.

If things are “relatively calm” by mid-November, Arwady said she is “way more optimistic about the ability to have safe gatherings” this year than last year.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7 million people — or 55.65 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 30,623 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,742,283 vaccine doses of the 17,454,735 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.56 million Chicagoans — or 58.1 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 63.3 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

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-four Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Tuesday.

• At least 25,153 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,725 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 2,932 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,643,993.

• Since Tuesday, 124,578 tests were reported statewide. In all, 32,629,332 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 2.1 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.2 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.6 percent. It was at 2.6 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 425 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 223 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 5,803 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, down 19 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 396 had confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 319,350 confirmed cases. An average of 355 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 3 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is up 3 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.2 percent, down from 2.4 percent the week prior.

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