Illinois COVID-19 cases spike nearly 50% in a week, 150% since last month

Coronavirus positivity rates and hospitalizations have also more than doubled over the past month during the fifth surge of the pandemic.

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A health care worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose on the West Side in February of 2021.

A health care worker prepares a COVID-19 vaccine dose in February on the West Side. Cases are higher in Illinois now than they were 10 months ago.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

New cases of COVID-19 jumped by nearly 50% in Illinois over the past week and have climbed nearly 150% since last month, according to figures released by health officials Friday. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 42,559 cases throughout the week, an average of 6,080 per day — and a rate not seen since mid-January, when vaccines were scarce and the state was coming down from its worst surge of the pandemic. 

Last week, the state was detecting new cases at a clip of about 4,093 per day, and in early November the daily case rate was just 2,495. That’s roughly when the state entered its latest COVID-19 surge, its fifth of the pandemic. 

New COVID-19 cases by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health

Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

Since then, the average statewide case positivity rate has more than doubled to 4.7% along with the number of hospitalized coronavirus patients, up to 2,582 occupied beds as of Thursday night — the highest total seen since late January. 

The number of COVID-19 deaths has held relatively steady recently, but experts agree that a rise in cases and hospitalizations is typically followed by a rise in deaths within a few weeks. The virus claimed 182 Illinois lives over the last week, and has killed at least 26,535 residents overall. In comparison, the state was averaging more than 150 deaths per day last December, before vaccines were widely available.

Meanwhile, about 74% of eligible residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and about 66% are considered fully vaccinated. More than a third of Illinois adults have gotten a booster shot. 

Officials say it’s critical for vaccination rates to increase, especially with the potentially more transmissible Omicron variant looming. 

“We should act as if it is in Illinois or Cook County already. It will undoubtedly arrive soon enough,” Cook County Department of Public Health co-lead Dr. Rachel Rubin said at a Thursday news conference. “Aside from getting that first dose or booster shots for those eligible, the best thing we can do is to keep our masks on, particularly inside.”

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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