Cook County officials are warning that cases of the delta coronavirus variant are surging, asking residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots in an effort to prevent spread.
Meanwhile, Chicago's coronavirus cases are up slightly over the last couple weeks, and the city's top doctor said one age group is seeing a majority of the latest increase.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
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.
‘No Plan' for More COVID Mitigations in Illinois as Cases Rise, IDPH Says
There's "no plan" in place currently to bring back any statewide mitigations to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Illinois as cases continue to rise and experts warn about the more transmissible delta variant, state health officials said Friday.
"Restore Illinois mitigations that were enacted during the height of the pandemic allowed for safe and proven infection prevention measures since no vaccine was available," an Illinois Department of Public Health spokesman said in a statement.
"Currently there is no plan to implement any additional statewide mitigations now that there is an abundance of vaccine available and accessible across Illinois, but local municipalities continue to have the ability to put more stringent mitigations in place in their communities," the statement continued. "We encourage all Illinoisans ages 12+ to get vaccinated as soon as possible. The COVID-19 vaccines are a proven and effective measure of protection against a deadly virus that has taken the lives of thousands of Illinoisans."
IDPH's statement came as some municipalities and governments have chosen to bring back things like indoor mask mandates.
Public health officials in Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the nation, announced this week that they will reinstate the county's indoor mask mandate for everyone regardless of vaccination status beginning late Saturday.
That change was sparked by the spread of the delta variant, officials said, weeks after federal health officials released updated guidance that dropped masking requirements for those who are fully vaccinated.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late given what we’re seeing now,” LA County's health officer said Thursday during a news briefing. "This is an all-hands-on-deck moment."
This Age Group is Contracting COVID Most in Chicago Right Now, According to City's Top Doc
Chicago's coronavirus cases are up slightly over the last couple weeks, and the city's top doctor said one age group is seeing a majority of the latest increase.
The city is now averaging 57 coronavirus cases per day. That number is up from the average daily case rate of 41 seen one week earlier, but significantly lower than the more than 200 cases per day the city was seeing just over a year ago.
"It's showing that with some new variants here, with some additional spread, you know, the risk is ever so slightly higher than it was a week ago," Arwady said. "But the difference is that for people who are fully vaccinated, that risk is very, very low. Whereas for people who are not vaccinated, especially as these case numbers go up, you know, that risk can increase from sort of a low to a moderate to a higher risk. So we're keeping an eye on it. I do expect it will probably continue to increase, hopefully slowly, hopefully staying in control, but it's why we're working on vaccinations so hard."
Arwady noted that two thirds of the city's cases in the last month have been in people under the age of 40 and one-third of hospitalizations during that time were in people in that same age group.
"And these are people who are unvaccinated," she said.
In the last week, increases were seen particularly in people in their 30s, Arwady said.
"The case rates that have been increasing just over the last week or two are in people first in their 30s, then in their 20s and then in the kids zero to 17," she said.
According to the city's latest data, 30- to 39-year-olds saw the highest average daily case rate in the last week compared to other age groups.
Vaccinated Chicago Man Who Got COVID After Vacation Warns Others
Robert Coy has been fully vaccinated for months and was ready to enjoy a vacation with friends after more than a year of uncertainty during the coronavirus pandemic.
"It was one of those things where, you know, we've been going out to places now at that point, maybe for a week or two, but we were able to take off masks, rejoin society, the CDC guidelines kept getting looser and looser and looser," Coy told NBC Chicago. "So I signed up to go [on a trip], it sounded like a great idea after especially, you know, a year and a half of what we all went through together."
So, Coy and five other friends traveled to Provincetown, Massachusetts, where they enjoyed a memorable vacation.
"We were able to go out, have a great time, make a lot of new friends and had really a blast of a trip," he said.
But as they returned, things changed.
"On Sunday night, all of a sudden, texts started pouring in saying that people who had been fully vaccinated as much as I had were testing positive for COVID," he said, including several members of his group of friends.
So on Monday, Coy got a test of his own. Positive.
‘A Perilous Time': Cook County Officials Warn of Delta Variant Surge, Urge Vaccinations
Cook County officials warned Thursday that cases of the delta coronavirus variant are surging, asking residents who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots in an effort to prevent spread.
"The variant continues to surge and while research suggests that vaccinated individuals are generally protected, we know that there are still large segments of our population that are unvaccinated and high risk this infectious variant," Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said during a coronavirus update alongside health officials.
It's a trend being reported across the state in recent weeks, particularly in parts of the state that have lower vaccination rates.
"There is a very clear connection between where those case rates are growing the fastest and how well that area is vaccinated," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "I.e. the more highly vaccinated areas are having lower case rates."
Preckwinkle noted that just under 60% of Cook County residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
"However 70-80% is needed to reach herd immunity," she added. "So we're a ways from that."
Health officials have said the delta variant has a higher transmissibility that impacts more people at a time than previous variants. Within weeks, Ezike said Illinois has seen COVID cases double statewide.
2% of COVID Deaths in Illinois This Year Have Been Fully Vaccinated Residents
Just over 2% of COVID-19 deaths in Illinois so far this year have been among fully vaccinated residents, known as "breakthrough" cases, according to state health officials.
A total of 151 people in Illinois have died due to COVID-19 or complications after being fully vaccinated, according to data updated Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health. That figure equates to 2.2% of COVID-19 deaths in the state since Jan. 1, officials said.
At least 563 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized in Illinois, IDPH said. The state only reports breakthrough infections among those who have been hospitalized or died, IDPH said.
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 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.
Illinois' top doctor said Tuesday that breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated residents are a "unicorn" as she again urged those who have not yet gotten vaccinated to do so.
"These vaccines are truly effective," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "You know, everyone has heard of a case or two of someone who had a breakthrough infection or breakthrough hospitalization, but it is, that is so far the unicorn, that you need to focus on the people who are not vaccinated, they're the ones filling up the hospital as COVID patients."
COVID by the Numbers: Illinois Region Sees Positivity Rate Quadruple in Last Month
Areas of western and southern Illinois are seeing increases in positivity rates and coronavirus-related hospitalizations in recent weeks, continuing a recent trend that’s seeing COVID metrics slowly on the rise in many areas.
In Region 4, located near St. Louis in southwestern Illinois, the positivity rate has more than quadrupled in the last month, rising from 1.8% on June 11 to 7.5% on July 10, according to metrics from IDPH.
A recent trend of increases in COVID hospitalizations has eased in recent days, with the number of hospitalizations remaining steady or decreasing on four of the previous five days, and ICU bed availability has also steadied after a decline earlier this month, with 31% of the region’s ICU beds currently available.
Region 3, located in western Illinois and comprised of an area that includes Springfield, is also seeing elevated positivity rates, with that number now at 5%. Hospitalizations have increased on eight of the last 10 days in the region, with ICU bed availability at 29%.
Chicago Travel Advisory: City Adds 2 States Back to List as COVID Cases Rise
Chicago updated its travel advisory Tuesday, adding two states back to the list advising anyone entering the city to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival, as the U.S. continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.
Missouri and Arkansas were both added to the travel advisory after several weeks with no states on the list, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Recent increases in COVID metrics in the states pushed both over the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people to get onto the list.
"We are doing very well right now here in Chicago but across the whole U.S., you know, cases actually are up a little bit, right, they're up 5 to 10% across the whole country," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live broadcast last Tuesday.
Arwady's comments came exactly one week after Chicago turned its emergency coronavirus travel order into an advisory after no states were on the list requiring travel restrictions for the third consecutive update.
CDPH announced on June 29 that in more than a month, no state had reached the 15 cases per day per 100,000 residents threshold, which would be the "orange" tier in which unvaccinated travelers are required to quarantine or provide a negative COVID test upon arrival in the city.
The last time a state had reached the orange tier was May 18, the department said, and all U.S. states and territories remained in the less restrictive "yellow" tier of the travel order.
The travel order shifted to an advisory as a result, but it will continue to be reevaluated every other Tuesday and the city said the emergency guidelines can be reinstated at any time "if significant surges are seen in any state."
$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen, From Chicago, Quincy and Springfield
Three winners were chosen Monday during the first $100,000 drawing of Illinois' COVID vaccine lottery.
The winners, located in Quincy, Springfield and Chicago, 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.
First $1M Winner For Illinois Vaccine Lottery Announced, From Chicago
The first winner of the Illinois vaccine lottery's $1 million prize was announced Thursday, as well as three winners of $150,000 scholarships.
The winner of $1 million is from Chicago, according to Illinois officials. Three young people from DeKalb, suburban Cook County and Chicago won the scholarship money.
The "All In for the Win" lottery will give out the $10 million in the form of $7 million in cash prizes for adults and $3 million in scholarships for youth, all distributed through weekly drawings, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
Delta Variant: What We Know About the Efficacy of COVID Vaccines
As concern grows about the rapid spread of the delta COVID-19 variant, experts are continuing to urge Americans to get their coronavirus vaccines as a way of staving off a surge in new cases.
According to researchers, the delta variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States. Outbreaks have been reported in several states, mostly in areas with low vaccination rates.
Studies have shown that the delta variant spreads approximately 225% faster than the original strain of the virus. Studies have also shown that once a person catches the delta variant, they likely become infectious sooner, and that the virus grows more rapidly inside a person’s respiratory tract.
As the delta variant continues to spread, experts are continuing to push for more Americans to get the COVID vaccine. All three of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have shown to be largely effective against preventing serious illness and death due to COVID, and all three companies say that their vaccines are showing promise in preventing those outcomes with the delta variant as well.
Just how effective are the three different vaccines against the delta variant? What steps are being taken to ensure the safety and health of those who get the treatments? Here are the latest details.
Are COVID Vaccines FDA Approved? Here's the Latest
It's a question many are asking as coronavirus vaccinations continue across the U.S.: are the COVID vaccines FDA approved?
Currently, no coronavirus vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but three were given emergency use authorization by the agency: one each from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, though Moderna filed for such approval on last month.
Emergency use authorization allows a vaccine to become available prior to full approval in the case of public health emergencies. The FDA can revoke the EUA at any time.
"The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website.
But Chicago's top doctor expects full FDA approval could be granted as early as the fall.
"I expect that these vaccines will get what's called the full FDA approval soon," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday. "I would guess this will probably be in the maybe September range."
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.
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.
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