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Cold weather, cold facts: COVID-19 spreading across Illinois, bringing worst daily caseload this fall

The weekly caseload is a 25% increase over last week’s seven-day total, marking the third consecutive week to see rising cases. Public health experts are concerned, but not surprised since winter is approaching, forcing people to retreat inside, often without masks.

A staff member of Community Organized Relief Effort’s (CORE) teaches a person how to administer a COVID-19 mouth swab test in Little Village in October of 2020.
A staff member of Community Organized Relief Effort’s (CORE) teaches a person how to administer a COVID-19 mouth swab test in Little Village in October of 2020.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

The state’s latest COVID-19 surge worsened on Friday with the week’s tally of new infections rising yet again, and public health officials reporting the worst single daily caseload since late summer.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday announced another 28,280 new coronavirus cases over the past week.

That weekly caseload is a 25% increase over last week’s seven-day total, marking the third consecutive week to see rising cases.

On Friday alone public health officials reported 5,720 new COVID-19 cases and 37 deaths, continuing a harrowing trend as the state weathers its fifth major resurgence of the deadly virus.

Friday’s number of new cases surpasses the Thursday caseload as the most reported in a single day since Sept. 3.

The latest weekly total averages out to 4,040 cases per day. Last week’s seven-day total broke down to about 3,228 cases per day.

As of Thursday night, 1,759 COVID-19 patients were reported to be in hospitals across Illinois – the most since Sept. 30. Of that number, 350 people were in intensive care units and 152 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators.

A patient is wheeled out of the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last December.
A patient is wheeled out of the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last December.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The state’s preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 3.8%.

Once again, the state’s color-coded COVID-19 community transmission map is largely a sea of red.

Only eight of the state’s 102 counties are not in the red category, the color that signifies a high rate of transmission of the virus. Brown, Cass, Mason, Morgan and Scott counties in west-central Illinois and White and Pulaski counties in southern Illinois are currently colored orange, a step just below red that indicates “substantial transmission.”

Pope in far southern Illinois is the only county marked yellow for “moderate transmission.”

The map uses date provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The COVID-19 transmission map for Illinois as of Nov. 18, 2021.
The COVID-19 transmission map for Illinois as of Nov. 18, 2021.
The Illinois Department of Public Health

Public health officials warned last week the state could be in the midst of another surge. And Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady confirmed that during an online Q&A Thursday, saying “the numbers are not good.”

“We are in a surge,” she said.

She added it’s not surprising since winter is approaching, forcing people to retreat inside, often without masks.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, shows off her “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” sticker in January.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, shows off her “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” sticker in January.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Arwady and other public health officials urge city and state residents to get vaccinated to help protect them from the virus.

Roughly 67% of the state’s total population have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and nearly 61% of the state is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since last Friday, 434,995 shots with COVID-19 vaccine dosages went into arms across Illinois.