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Chicago And Illinois Past Their Omicron Peaks, But Leaders Urge Caution: ‘Not Out Of The Woods’

People should not drop their guard, as average cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain high, officials said.

People, some wearing masks, pack into Daley Plaza for the annual Christkindlmarket four days before Christmas on Dec. 21, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Illinois and Chicago are coming down from their Omicron peaks of COVID-19 cases, state and city leaders said Wednesday.

But people should not drop their guard, as average cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain high, officials said.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Chicago is seeing declines — but it’s “not out of the woods.” She urged people to continue to get vaccinated and get a booster shot, get tested and wear a mask.

Chicago’s average number of new cases per day is definitely decreasing, as is its positivity rate. But those metrics remain high.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 and Chicagoans dying from the virus also remain high. The city on Wednesday saw a pandemic record of 99 Chicagoans reported dead from COVID-19 in 24 hours.

The city’s average new number of cases per day peaked Jan. 4, when there were 8,553 cases reported in 24 hours — “so much higher” than the city saw during any previous peak, Arwady said at a Wednesday news conference. Since then, the average daily number of cases has fallen.

And Chicago’s test positivity peaked Jan. 1 at 19.6 percent and has fallen since then.

“Our hospitals are still stretched; make no doubt about that,” Arwady said, noting the number of people in ICU beds with COVID-19 has “plateaued.”

The risk remains high, but Chicago is heading in the right direction, Arwady said.

“The threat is in no way over,” Arwady said. “More important than masking, more important than testing, getting vaccinated is thee most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family and get us through this.”

The city will maintain its safety restrictions for now, but those rules could be dropped once Chicago is in good control of its outbreak, Arwady said.

Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said Illinois has similarly passed its Omicron peak.

The state saw a peak in people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Jan. 13, when there were 7,380 in Illinois hospitals with the virus. That was 1,145 more people than the previous peak — Nov. 21 — and that number has fallen by more than 870 patients, Pritzker said. COVID-19 patients in the ICU and using ventilators has also fallen.

“I am cautiously optimistic about this decline,” Pritzker said. “But there are an awful lot of people still battling for their lives in hospitals across Illinois.”

Illinois is still struggling with the “sheer volume” of people with COVID-19, and especially of people hospitalized with the virus, Ezike said.

“But the good news is the trend is downward,” Ezike said.


• In Illinois, about 7.8 million people — or 61.56 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 46,866 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 20,110,501 vaccine doses of the 22,656,765 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 65.8 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 73.7 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, 160 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 29,510 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,542 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 26,491 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,709,474.

• Since Tuesday, 194,306 tests were reported statewide. In all, 48,960,282 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 12 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 12.2 percent Tuesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 15 percent. It was at 15.4 percent Tuesday.

• As of Tuesday night, 1,085 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 608 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, 99 deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 6,654 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of 14 people dying per day, down 21 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 2,758 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 514,938 confirmed cases. An average of 2,903 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 46 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is down 20 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 12.6 percent, down from 17.2 percent a week ago.

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