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It’s Been 2 Years Since COVID Was Labeled A Pandemic. People Should Remain Cautious, WHO Says

COVID-19 cases might have dropped locally, but the virus' Omicron variant is still wreaking havoc in other parts of the world, officials have cautioned.

Marco Reyes, a Medical Assistant with Esperanza Health Centers, extracts vaccine from a vial at Esperanza Health Centers, 6057 S. Western Ave., on Nov. 4, 2021.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — People shouldn’t be so quick to think the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to the World Heath Organization.

Friday marks two years since the agency recognized the spread of COVID-19 as a pandemic. The virus has killed more than 6 million people worldwide, including more than 965,000 Americans and 37,000 people in Illinois.

But cases, hospitalizations and deaths have come down in recent weeks, leading to city and state officials ending the mask and vaccine card mandates and some people feeling more comfortable returning to work and social activities. Events with large crowds — like this weekend’s St. Patrick’s Day parades — are also being allowed. Chicago’s health commissioner said the city is now in a “new phase” of the pandemic.

But WHO officials and other experts advised this week that people should continue to remain cautious, according to The New York Times.

“The pandemic is far from over,” said WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, according to the Times. “And it will not be over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.”

Though Chicago’s outbreak has come under greater control recently, the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, has said she still worries about people who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and have not been exposed to it, as they’re more vulnerable to the virus.

Arwady has said Chicago could bring back past safety rules — like requiring masking in public — if COVID-19 numbers rise again or if a worrisome variant develops.

Arwady’s said officials will likely start focusing more on tracking severe cases of COVID-19, rather than every case, but people need to be concerned about what’s happening with the pandemic around the world — not just here. Earlier this week, she said some countries are still in the throes of their Omicron surge.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 8.1 million people — or 64.03 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.

• Across the state, 9,522 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 21,217,198 vaccine doses of the 23,961,345 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.8 million Chicagoans — or 69.6 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 76.9 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 Thursday, 23 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.

• At least 33,075 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 4,235 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 1,825 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 3,045,718.

• Since Thursday, 129,991 tests were reported statewide. In all, 55,731,994 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 1.3 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 1.2 percent Thursday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 1.5 percent. It was at 1.3 percent Thursday.

• As of Thursday night, 108 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 51 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, two deaths were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 7,299 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of two people dying per day, down 56 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has had 603 confirmed cases reported since Thursday. It’s had a total of 561,140 confirmed cases. An average of 138 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 30 percent from a week ago.

• Testing in Chicago is down 3 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at .7 percent, down from 1 percent a week ago.

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