Could the delta variant spark a surge in coronavirus cases in Chicago? Chicago's top doc weighed in on the topic.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
COVID Metrics: Positivity Rates Surge in Illinois Healthcare Regions Along Missouri Border
While most of Illinois is continuing to see historically-low coronavirus positivity rates, areas in the southwestern portion of the state that share a border with hard-hit Missouri are seeing rapid increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.
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Region 4, which borders St. Louis, has seen a massive jump in positivity rates in recent weeks. According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the region had a 1.5% positivity rate on all tests on June 6. Less than a month later, that positivity rate has now more than tripled, currently standing at 5.1%.
Hospitalizations have also risen dramatically in the region, increasing for 13 consecutive days according to IDPH data.
In Region 3, which includes Springfield and several counties that border Missouri, positivity rates have nearly quadrupled in a matter of weeks. On June 16, the positivity rate was at 1%, and as of July 3, it is now at 3.7%.
In Region 5, comprised of counties in the far southern tip of Illinois, positivity rates have nearly quadrupled from 1% on June 1 to 3.7% as of July 3. Hospitalizations have also increased each of the last five days.
Illinois Reports Zero New COVID Deaths Monday for First Time in Nearly 500 Days
The state of Illinois hit a significant milestone on Monday, with officials announcing that zero new COVID deaths had been reported for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began last spring.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were no new COVID-related fatalities on Monday, marking the first day with zero recorded deaths since March 16, 2020.
That number continues a downward trend in deaths that has been observed by officials since mid-May, when there was a brief upswing in fatalities statewide.
During the month of June, the number of new daily COVID fatalities had regularly remained in the single digits, but the number hadn’t hit zero until Monday.
There were 16 new deaths reported on Tuesday, the highest number recorded in a day since June 24, according to IDPH data.
Chicago's City Hall Reopens to Public for First Time in 16 Months
For the first time in 16 months, Chicago’s City Hall has reopened to the public, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office.
City Hall was closed in March 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic began to spread across the United States, and Lightfoot says the decision to reopen the facility to the public is a testament to how far the city, and the country, have come in the fight against the virus.
What Are Your Chances of Catching the Delta Variant If You're Fully Vaccinated? Chicago's Top Doc Weighs In
If you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, how likely is it that you could contract the rising delta variant that experts warn is more transmissible? Chicago's top doctor weighed in Tuesday.
"So this is where, again, luckily, the vaccines have continued to perform well and we shared some data, Pfizer Moderna and J&J have now put some data out showing that their vaccines do remain protective against the delta variant, though you lose a little bit," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,120 New COVID Cases, 54 Deaths, 288K Vaccinations Over Past Week
Health officials in Illinois reported 2,120 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus since last Friday, along with 54 additional deaths and more than 288,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,392,552 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,245 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 234,527 tests since last Friday, bringing the total to more than 25.8 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
Could Delta Variant Lead to Another Surge in Chicago? Here's What City's Top Doc Thinks
As concerns surrounding the delta variant rise globally, with the new variant believed to be behind multiple surges, could it lead to another surge in Chicago?
The city's top doc says it's possible, but due to vaccinations, she doesn't believe a potential rise in cases will be like the surges seen in 2020.
"The good news is with vaccine here, you know, I'm not expecting the major surges like we saw in one or two because they remain protective against variants," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
While Arwady and other officials have predicted the delta variant will become the dominant variant in Chicago and Illinois in the coming months, "that in and of itself is not necessarily a cause for alarm," she said.
"My worry is if we see a surge it would very much [be] concentrated in unvaccinated portions of Chicago, but I don't think, unless we see a new variant, we would be set up for the kind of major surge that threatens to overwhelm the health system where we need to do the big major shutdowns," she said. "You know, the hope is that we would be able to control it and really keep pushing vaccine. I'd of course rather avoid that and just try to get folks vaccinated now, but that's where I think we're headed."
Arwady noted, however, that new variants continue to emerge and could threaten vaccine efficacy.
More on the delta variant and Chicago.
Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Version of Coronavirus Sparking Concern
Concerns surrounding the delta coronavirus variant are rising in both Chicago and Illinois, but what is it about the new variant that has some worried?
Here's an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.
Chicago Laboratory Keeping Close Tabs on Spread of Delta Variant COVID Cases
As concerns grow over the delta coronavirus variant, which is spreading rapidly across the United States, a Chicago laboratory is tracking cases in the city and providing a glimpse into just how quickly the variant has taken hold.
Scientists at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab at Rush have been contracted by the city of Chicago to analyze coronavirus samples, tasked with finding out which strains of coronavirus are spreading in the city.
“We just need to know what’s in the city, (to examine) if there is a change in the dominant strains that are here,” Dr. Stefan Green, director of Genomics and Microbiome Core Facility at Rush, said.