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Everyone Should Get A COVID-19 Test Before Gathering For New Year’s Eve, Officials Say

People who don't get COVID-19 test results before New Year's Eve should act as if they are positive and stay home, said the city's health commissioner.

Chicagoans set off fireworks across the city last year on the Fourth of July.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — People need to take precautions for New Year’s Eve as COVID-19 surges in Chicago — and that should include staying home for many people, officials said Wednesday.

New Year’s Eve, which falls on Friday this year, is traditionally celebrated with gatherings of loved ones, parties and fireworks. But Chicago is in the midst of a fifth wave of COVID-19 that has seen cases, hospitalizations, deaths and positivity rates skyrocket in recent weeks.

It’s “vital” that people be fully vaccinated, boosted and get tested so they know their COVID-19 status before gathering for the holiday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said at a Wednesday news conference.

“We are recommending to everyone, even those who are vaccinated, to consider getting a COVID-19 test before gathering indoors with a large group,” and people should encourage other attendees to get tested, Lightfoot said.

But the demand for tests has surged in recent weeks, meaning many have been unable to land appointments or have had to wait days for results.

People who don’t get COVID-19 test results before New Year’s Eve should act as if they are positive and stay home, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at the news conference.

“I have bad news when we look at our COVID case rates in Chicago: Our case rates are rising sharply, just like nationally, just like across the state of Illinois,” Arwady said, adding the city was averaging 3,825 new confirmed cases per day. “We are significantly higher than we’ve ever been. … Don’t kid yourself that things are in good control from a COVID perspective.”

Anyone who is sick and thinks they have a cold or the flu should assume they have COVID-19 and stay home, Arwady said.

“This is the New Year’s, if you are not well, to stay home,” Arwady said.

What’s different this New Year’s Eve is vaccines and booster shots are now widely available, and they do prevent infections — even from the Omicron variant — and do a “beautiful” job of protecting people from severe illness and death, Arwady said.

Arwady’s and Lightfoot’s tips for a safer New Year’s Eve:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • If you’re going to gather indoors with people, only do so if people are vaccinated, boosted and have gotten a recent negative COVID-19 test.
  • Keep gatherings small.
  • Wear a mask around other people. You can add to your protection by wearing a cloth mask on top of a surgical mask and using masks like KN95s and KN94s, Arwady said.Social distance.
  • Don’t travel if you’re not vaccinated.
  • If you’re sick, stay home and isolate.
  • If you get a test but don’t get the results before New Year’s Eve, stay home and assume your test is positive until the results come in.
  • If you get a positive COVID-19 test at home, treat it as a positive. You do not need to get another test to “confirm” the result, Arwady said.


• In Illinois, about 7.6 million people — or 60.42 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 47,302 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 19,106,181 vaccine doses of the 21,322,215 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 64.1 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 71.1 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:

• Since Tuesday, 50 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 27,734 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,174 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 21,098 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,119,162.

• Since Tuesday, 220,841 tests were reported statewide. In all, 44,273,181 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 9.1 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 8.9 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 13.2 percent. It was at 12.4 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 984 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 556 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, seven deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 6,259 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of 10 people dying per day, up 3 percent from a week prior.

• Chicago has had 4,911 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 411,348 confirmed cases. An average of 3,825 confirmed cases are being reported per day, up 63 percent from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is down 17 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 16.2 percent, up from 8.2 percent the week prior.

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