After months of decline, COVID-19 cases have risen again nationwide and in Illinois, where state data shows the number of daily new cases has doubled in a period of nine days.
Meanwhile, as COVID metrics rise in Chicago, Lollapalooza is set to return next weekend with new health protocols. Are city officials concerned?
And more than 150 people have died and nearly 600 have been hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19 in "breakthrough" cases after they were fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
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Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Coronavirus Straing Causing a Surge in COVID Cases
Public health officials are sounding alarm bells throughout the United States, as the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has led to a massive surge in cases in recent weeks.
According to research from Johns Hopkins University, the average number of daily COVID cases in the U.S. has gone up 66% in just the last week, and is up 145% from two weeks ago. Hospitalizations are also up during that time, leading officials to warn of potential mitigations in some locations.
So what exactly is the delta variant? What makes it different from previous strains of the COVID-19 virus? Do vaccines protect you against it?
Here's an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.
New Illinois COVID Cases Double in Under 2 Weeks, Data Shows
After months of decline, COVID-19 cases have risen again nationwide and in Illinois where, according to state data, the number of new cases recently doubled in a period of nine days.
Illinois saw 460 new cases on July 12, and by Wednesday, the number of new daily cases was reported to be 958, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Generated by the fast-spreading delta variant, climbing COVID metrics have even prompted some U.S. municipalities and governments to bring back mitigations like indoor mask mandates.
Chicago Officials Predict Delta Variant Will Become City's Dominant COVID Strain by August
Chicago public health officials say that COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant are rapidly increasing in the city, and that by next month the strain will likely be the dominant form of the virus in the city.
During a press availability on Tuesday, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said that the delta variant is causing approximately 44% of the COVID cases in the city, and that officials expect that the variant will surpass the 50% mark next month.
“One thing that we are seeing with the major surges (is that) it is being driven by the delta variant,” she said.
University of Illinois to Require COVID Vaccine for Faculty and Staff This Fall
COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for faculty and staff members at all three University of Illinois campuses before the beginning of the fall semester, the university system’s president announced in an email Wednesday.
Outlining the vaccination requirements, University of Illinois System President Tim Killeen explained faculty and staff at the Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses should be vaccinated “if they are able to do so.”
"We fully support this decision and believe that widespread COVID-19 vaccinations at our university provide the best opportunity to maximize the safety of our entire community," the president stated.
Those who aren’t vaccinated will be required to wear face coverings and participate in the on-campus testing program, which requires tests two times a week.
As COVID Cases Rise in Chicago, is Lollapalooza Still Safe? City Officials Weigh In
Lollapalooza, one of Chicago's biggest summer events, is set to return next weekend with new health protocols due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but as Chicago's COVID numbers rise again, are city officials concerned?
The city's largest music festival will be held at full capacity from July 29 to Aug. 1. It comes at a time when the city is seeing its average daily number of new cases more than double in a matter of weeks.
Still, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top doctor both doubled down on their support of the event during a coronavirus update Tuesday.
"As you know from the time that it was first announced, we were really pleased to partner with Lollapalooza with their decision to require vaccination or negative tests for attendees and that certainly adds a level of complexity to the situation, but we want people to have a good time and we want this to be as safe as it can be," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And so certainly we'll be watching that just as we do any other gathering, but I am more concerned about the many people who have not chosen the COVID vaccine."
Monday Marks Last Day for CPS Students to Get First Dose of COVID Vaccine to Be Fully Vaccinated for School Year
Monday marks the last day for eligible Chicago Public Schools students to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in order to be fully vaccinated by the time the school year begins in August.
Students return to CPS classrooms on Aug. 30 this year, per the district's academic calendar.
A person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after receiving the second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The only one of the three vaccines currently authorized for emergency use on anyone younger than 18 is the Pfizer vaccine, which is currently available for ages 12 and up.
The two Pfizer doses are administered 21 days apart, so in order to be fully vaccinated by the first day of school, any CPS students between the ages of 12 and 17 would need to get their second dose no later than Aug. 16, after a first dose on July 26.
Chicago's top doctor reminded CPS families of this deadline in a news conference on Tuesday, warning that the city has seen average daily case rates double in the past two weeks and advising anyone who's eligible to get vaccinated but hasn't yet to do so as soon as possible to help prevent further spread of the pandemic.
159 Dead, 593 Hospitalized in Illinois Breakthrough COVID Cases
More than 150 people have died and nearly 600 have been hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19 in "breakthrough" cases after they were fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.
According to data updated Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 159 people in Illinois have died due to COVID-19 or complications after being fully vaccinated. That figure equates to 2.3% of COVID-19 deaths in the state since Jan. 1, officials said.
At least 593 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized in Illinois, IDPH said. The state only reports breakthrough infections among those who have been hospitalized or died, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH said.
Those totals mean eight more fully vaccinated individuals have died and 30 more have been hospitalized in the past week since the state last updated its reported numbers.
The state does not publicize the number of residents who tested positive after being fully vaccinated but did not die or require hospitalization in order to "help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance," IDPH's website reads.
‘Sounding the Alarm': Chicago Mayor Warns of Rise in COVID Cases
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she was "sounding the alarm" Tuesday due to a recent uptick in coronavirus cases across the city.
Citing a rise in both average daily cases and test positivity in Chicago largely attributed to the delta variant, Lightfoot said that while numbers are still well below the spikes seen during the peak of the pandemic, "it's still a concerning development that we want to not only stay ahead of, but to quash completely."
"If we allow the virus to continue to linger here in Chicago we will likely see further mutations, some of which our current vaccines may not be able to protect against and have to reinforce some of the restrictions that have come to infamously define much of 2020, and part of 2021," Lightfoot said during a coronavirus update alongside city health officials. "The reality is this scenario - the worst case - is entirely preventable, and that's because we have three different vaccines readily available to all of our residents, which offer very good protection against delta, and other new variants."
Gov. Pritzker on Rising COVID Cases: ‘If We Need to Take Stricter Mitigations We Will'
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Tuesday that stricter mitigations could return for areas seeing a rise in COVID cases.
"I believe strongly that we will impose mitigations as it's appropriate, where it's appropriate," Pritzker said in a one-on-one interview with NBC Chicago's Mary Ann Ahern Tuesday.
Calling on anyone who is unvaccinated to get vaccinated, Pritzker said the state continues to monitor COVID metrics like positivity rate, case numbers and hospitalizations.
"It is always a difficult thing for me," he said. "I wake up every morning and I look at those numbers and when they're rising, you know, that's a bad day, and I want to do whatever I can to mitigate that. So that's included making sure testing is widely available, making sure that the vaccines are widely available, and I'll continue to do that and if we need to take stricter mitigations we will."
Chicago Travel Advisory: City Adds 3 More States Back to List as COVID Cases Rise
Chicago updated its travel advisory Tuesday, adding three more states - for a total of five states and one territory - back to the list advising anyone entering the city from those areas to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.
Florida, Louisiana and Nevada, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands were added to the advisory as all 50 states see a rise in coronavirus cases, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Last week, Missouri and Arkansas were both added to the travel advisory after several weeks with no states on the list. Both states remain on the advisory, which CDPH said would now be updated weekly moving forward.
Recent increases in COVID metrics pushed those newly added states over the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people to get onto the "orange" list. Any below that mark are on the "yellow" list, with public health officials still warning against non-essential travel.
CDPH shared the rates in each state on the list, as well as Illinois and Chicago, as of Tuesday and from the previous week:
|State||Rate per 100K Residents – 7/20/21||Rate per 100K Residents – 7/13/21|
|City of Chicago||3.3||2.7|
"Unvaccinated individuals traveling from the states or territories on the Orange list are advised – not required – to obtain a negative COVID-19 test result no more than 72 hours prior to arrival in Chicago or quarantine for a 10-day period upon arrival," CDPH said. "Vaccinated individuals are exempt from the Advisory, which will be updated weekly going forward."
Cook County Mass Vaccination Sites Close
The three remaining mass COVID vaccination sites in suburban Cook County closed this week as public health officials move to a more hyperlocal model to get shots in arms.
County officials say the sites have seen a sharp decline in attendance and therefore, the vaccination effort will move toward a model of meeting people where they congregate.
There have been more than 600,000 shots given at the Cook County mass vaccination sites. Providing more than 4,000 doses per day at their peak, the number has now fallen to fewer than 100.
The locations in Forest Park and Des Plaines closed Tuesday, while the site in south suburban Matteson closed Wednesday.
With concerns about the more transmissible delta variant on the rise, vaccinations are not being halted, just shifted to a more hyperlocal strategy with clinics to be held at places like forest preserves, neighborhood festivals and back-to-school gatherings.
Upcoming events can be found on Cook County's vaccine website here.
$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen, From Berwyn, Chicago, Joliet
Three winners were chosen Monday during the second $100,000 drawing of Illinois' COVID vaccine lottery.
The winners, located in Berwyn, Chicago and Joliet, will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone or email starting Monday afternoon. Each will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize.
"Illinoisans from those cities and counties should keep their phones on and check their emails regularly to find out if they’ve won," IDPH said in a statement.
Health officials will call from 312-814-3524 and/or email from DPH.firstname.lastname@example.org.
COVID Vaccine Pop-Ups: Here's Where to Get an Appointment in Chicago
Several new COVID-19 vaccination spots are popping up across Chicago as cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again.
All COVID vaccines are free of cost with no insurance or ID required, CDPH reminded. Residents over the age of 12 are eligible for the vaccine, according to federal guidance.
Here's where to get a vaccine in Chicago this week:
Thursday, July 22
- CPS: Michele Clark High School: 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- After School Matters at Lutz Family Center: 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Vaccination Station (Vax Bus)– Salvation Army: 1:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Metra Station – 93rd Street: 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Back Of The Yard Neighborhood Council: 4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
- Movies in the Park – Wentworth Park: 5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- SWOP Chicago: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Friday, July 23
- North Austin Public Library: 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- CTA Stop – Brown Line/Kimball: 3:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- CTA Stop – 35th/Archer Orange Line: 3:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
For those who cannot leave their homes, CDPH can provide in-home vaccinations. Appointments can be made by calling (312) 746-4835 or visit this website.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 4,449 New COVID Cases, 62 Deaths, 148K Vaccinations in the Past Week
Illinois health officials on Friday reported 4,449 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 62 additional deaths and more than 148,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,399,946 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,357 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 228,430 tests since last Friday, officials said, bringing the total to more than 26 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests rose to 1.9% from 1.5% the week before, and the seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested rose from 1.7% to 2.3%, officials said.
Over the past seven days, a total of 148,520 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents. That brings the state’s average to 21,217 daily vaccination doses over the last week, both metrics an increase from the week before according to IDPH data.
State officials say more than 12.9 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois since vaccinations began in December. More than 57% of adult residents in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 73% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight, 476 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 94 are in intensive care units, and 28 are on ventilators.