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Chicago’s COVID Deaths Are At Their Highest Point In Months As City Hit By Another Winter Surge

COVID-19 hospitalizations have crept up to their highest point since the winter 2020-21 wave, and deaths are rising in Chicago.

Faith leaders and families of those lost to COVID-19 listen at a memorial service to honor those who have lost their lives to COVID-19 at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Hyde Park on Thursday, September 3, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in Chicago as cases have surged in the city — and unvaccinated people make up the vast majority of victims, the city’s health chief said.

The virus is killing an average of seven to eight Chicagoans per day as of Thursday, a 53 percent increase from just a week ago, according to health department data. It’s the highest daily deaths have been in months as coronavirus once again surges in Chicago; over the summer, the city typically saw just one to two people dying per day.

The vast majority of Chicago’s cases, hospitalizations and deaths are in people who are not fully vaccinated, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the city Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday livestream.

“Absolutely, the huge majority of people both being hospitalized and dying from COVID in Chicago right now are people who are not vaccinated,” Arwady said.

Ninety-eight percent of Chicagoans who have died from COVID-19 were not fully vaccinated, Arwady said. She said 99.997 percent of fully vaccinated Chicagoans have not died from the virus.

Cases have been on the rise for weeks, with a particular uptick coming as the weather has cooled and people gathered for Thanksgiving.

Now, hospitalizations have crept up to their highest point since the winter 2020-21 wave, and deaths are rising.

The latest surge has been fueled by the Delta variant, officials have said.

But the Omicron variant, which is thought to be extremely contagious, has been found in Chicago and its suburbs. Officials have said they’re concerned there could be more breakthrough cases and reinfections due to the Omicron variant, though being fully vaccinated and getting a booster appears to provide protection from severe illness and death.

“I remain very worried about the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans” who are still not vaccinated, Arwady said. At another point, she said, “We are very much in a Delta surge.”

With COVID-19 once again surging, people can still gather for the holidays — but they should take safety steps, Arwady said. People should only gather if they’ve been vaccinated and gotten a booster shot; if you don’t know the status of other guests, you can use rapid tests to ensure people don’t have COVID-19, she said.

“I strongly remain in support of gatherings for holidays, end of the year, etc.,” Arwady said. “But I do want you to be careful.”


• In Illinois, about 7.6 million people — or 59.71 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 67,956 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 18,403,106 vaccine doses of the 21,069,525 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 63.3 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 70.1 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 5 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-two Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 27,065 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,070 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 11,858 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,933,291.

• Since Wednesday, 191,311 tests were reported statewide. In all, 41,823,332 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 4.7 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 4.5 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 5.9 percent. It was at 5.8 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 772 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 391 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, six deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 6,121 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than seven people dying per day, a 53 percent increase from last week.

• Chicago has had 2,534 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 362,089 confirmed cases. An average of 969 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 1 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is down 7 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 4.4 percent, up from 4 percent the week prior.

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