Daily Illinois COVID-19 deaths up 46% since last week

COVID-19 deaths can be expected to keep rising because hospitals are treating the most coronavirus patients they’ve seen since late January.

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Roseland Community Hospital’s COVID-19 unit, pictured last year. Average daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Illinois are at the highest levels seen in about 10 months.

Roseland Community Hospital’s COVID-19 unit, pictured last year. Average daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Illinois are at the highest levels seen in about 10 months.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

COVID-19 deaths jumped 46% across Illinois over the last week as the state weathers its latest surge of the pandemic.

The coronavirus claimed 266 lives over the past week, up from 182 the previous week, according to figures released Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The state is losing an average of 38 lives to the virus each day — a rate that has more than doubled over the past month. Illinois’ overall death toll is up to 26,801.

COVID-19 deaths can be expected to keep rising in the near term because hospitals are treating the most coronavirus patients they’ve seen since late January. A total of 3,257 beds were occupied Thursday night, a figure that has jumped 26% in a week and doubled over the last month.

It’s the brutal result of a case surge that started in late October and has hardly slowed down. The state logged an average of nearly 7,100 new cases each day over the past week, up 17% from last week and 120% from last month.

New COVID-19 deaths by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

The seven-day-average statewide case positivity rate has fallen from 4.7% to 4.3% since last week, suggesting the post-Thanksgiving uptick in transmission could be slowing a bit.

But most of the numbers haven’t been worse since last fall’s surge, which was the worst of the pandemic. More than 6,000 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in the darkest days of November 2020, while upwards of 150 residents were dying of the virus each day.

The difference this year is three life-saving vaccines are readily available to residents as young as 5. Average daily vaccinations have jumped about 34% since last week, but a quarter of eligible residents are still unvaccinated.

“I sound like a broken record, but if you are not vaccinated, please get vaccinated. Please, please get vaccinated,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at an unrelated South Side news conference. “And if you have not been boosted with a booster, please go get boosted. It’s literally multiple times the protection that you got from the original vaccination.”

About 70% of Illinois’ total population have received at least one dose, and about 62% are considered fully vaccinated. About 41% of adults have gotten a booster.

The vaccines are still expected to provide protection against the more transmissible Omicron variant, which was detected in a Chicagoan earlier this week. That’s still Illinois’ only confirmed case so far.

The vaccines are free at pharmacies nationwide. The city also offers free in-home vaccination appointments. For more information, visit chicago.gov/covidvax or call (312) 746-4835.

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