Illinois now a red state? COVID-19 cases hit four-month high as much of state slips into CDC’s red ‘high risk’ category

The state is now averaging nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 diagnoses each day, a rate that has multiplied by eight since the first week of July.

SHARE Illinois now a red state? COVID-19 cases hit four-month high as much of state slips into CDC’s red ‘high risk’ category
A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this summer in Chinatown. Infections are at a four-month high across Illinois.

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine earlier this summer in Chinatown. Infections are at a four-month high across Illinois.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Federal public health officials say COVID-19 is now spreading at a high rate across nearly all of Illinois as the Delta-fueled surge lifts infections to the highest level seen statewide in four months.

Transmission is considered high in all but 13 of Illinois’ 102 counties, including the entire Chicago area except for northwest suburban McHenry County, according to metrics set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the spread is still labeled “substantial” in McHenry and nine of the other remaining counties.

The CDC laid out the sobering color-coded state map Wednesday as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,933 new cases of the disease, the most in a day since April 9.

COVID-19 transmission is considered high in counties marked red.

COVID-19 transmission is considered high in counties marked red.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The state is now averaging nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 diagnoses each day, a rate that has multiplied by eight since the first week of July.

The seven-day average statewide positivity rate is up to 5.1%, which marks a seven-month high, while the total of 1,558 hospitalized coronavirus patients is the greatest burden facing Illinois care centers since May 15.

Daily death tolls have risen slightly, too. With nine more COVID-19 fatalities reported Wednesday, Illinois is averaging 11 per day over the last week, compared to eight per day in early July.

Cases have been on the rise in the state since about two weeks after Gov. J.B. Pritzker allowed the state to fully reopen in mid-June — not long after the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19 emerged in the United States.

The latest suffering is overwhelmingly concentrated in unvaccinated communities. Only 899 fully vaccinated residents have ended up in a hospital with COVID-19 all year, according to state data — about 0.01% of the 6.5 million-plus Illinoisans who have completed their vaccine series.

Just over 74% of residents have gotten at least one shot. About 57% are fully vaccinated.

Last week, Pritzker issued a vaccination mandate for some state workers, and he’s said he’s considering expanding that to more employee groups.

On Wednesday, the governor applauded small music venues that are requiring concertgoers to show proof of vaccination.

“We must take the utmost precautions in crowded indoor spaces — and that means getting vaccinated,” Pritzker said in a tweet.

State public health officials launched a new online portal in an effort to make it easier for residents to obtain their vaccination records in case they lose their CDC-issued cards. The “Vax Verify” system uses the credit reporting company Experian as an “identity verification service provider” before providing access to vaccine records.

“With the current surge in cases, more people are making the decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and this new tool will aid residents in confirming their vaccination where needed,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.

Residents can access the system at idphportal.illinois.gov.


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