Illinois sees new high in daily COVID-19 cases for the year

It’s the second yearly high set in less than a week as cases surge in the state.

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A COVID-19 vaccine is administered in January at Norwegian American Hospital. Officials are urging more people to get vaccinated and boosted as Omicron arrives.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

Illinois saw the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases of 2021 reported Monday with a total of 12,328 who tested positive.

The last time a higher daily total was reported was little over a year ago, when on Dec. 1, 2020, the state reported 12,542 cases.

The main difference is that 11 deaths were reported Monday compared to the 125 deaths that were reported on the first day of December last year — two weeks before the first life-saving vaccinations were administered in Illinois.

It’s the second time in less than a week that a new record daily case count was set for the year. On Thursday a total of 11,858 cases were reported.

The new high comes amid growing concern over a winter surge that could climb even more as people travel for the holidays.

According to figures released by the Illinois Department of Public Health hospitalizations, cases and deaths have more than doubled since last month.

The state has added cases at an average clip of nearly 8,600 per day — a number that’s been ballooning since late October and resulted in more hospital beds filling and more families dealing with tragedy.

Illinois hospitals were treating 3,960 COVID-19 patients as of Sunday night. Intensive care units are at nearly 88% capacity statewide.

The virus claimed an average of 46 lives each day over the past week, the worst it’s been since mid-February.

The spike has occurred even before the more transmissible — but potentially less potent, according to early research — Omicron variant takes hold in the state. Seventeen cases have been confirmed statewide, but many more are suspected, and the total is “likely to escalate quickly,” according to the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said her office is considering “a comprehensive set of new mitigations” but wouldn’t say if the city will institute a vaccination requirement for indoor dining, a mandate that has been put in place in a handful of other large cities.

A message left with a Lightfoot spokesperson was not immediately returned Monday.

The state’s numbers continue to show that the unvaccinated are most at-risk: less than a tenth of a percent of fully vaccinated residents have ended up in a hospital with COVID, and an even tinier percentage have died.

About a quarter of Illinois residents 5 or older remain unvaccinated. Almost half of eligible adults have gotten a booster, which is needed to provide the most protection against Omicron, experts say.

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

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