COVID vaccine

COVID-19 Positivity Rate Lowest Since Pandemic Began, Chicago's Top Doc Says

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Chicago's coronavirus positivity rate is the lowest it's been since the pandemic began, the city's top doctor announced Friday.

"I'm also happy to announce today, we are at a 3.5% positivity in the city of Chicago," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "That is the lowest positivity that the city of Chicago has seen from COVID, since COVID came to Chicago."

Arwady noted that over the summer, Chicago's positivity rate dropped below 4%, but never to the level the city is recording as of Friday.

Chicago's is averaging 323 new COVID-19 cases per day, Arwady said, which is down from the over 3,000 cases a day recorded at the peak of the virus. The city's daily case count is also below the cutoff that marks a "high-risk area," according to Chicago guidance.

The city currently sits at a "low" or "moderate" risk in all four metrics health officials designated earlier this month to determine indoor dining capacity. Those metrics, and where the city stands currently, are as follows:

  • COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently averaging 344. This number must be below 400 new cases per day to reach the “Moderate-Risk” level.
  • COVID test positivity: currently averaging 3.6%, in the “Low-Risk” level 
  • Emergency Departments visits for COVID-like illness: currently averaging 62 per day, in the “Moderate-Risk” level 
  • ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently averaging 117, in the “Moderate-Risk” level 

As of Tuesday, Chicago restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 40% capacity or to a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower. Prior to Tuesday, indoor dining was limited to the lesser of 35% capacity or 50 people per room or floor.

In a press conference Friday, the city said at least 50% of vaccine doses administered last week went to Black or Latinx residents, after early data painted a "disturbing" picture surrounding racial equity and the coronavirus vaccine in Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot discusses the latest data surrounding racial equity and the coronavirus vaccine in the city.

The number nearly triples the statistics reported less than a month ago, when the city said just 18% of doses administered early on in the vaccine rollout were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans, despite them making up 59% of the city's population. 

Still, according to data since vaccinations began, Black and Latinx residents make up less than 40% of the city's total first doses administered.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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