Illinois COVID case rise ramps up — but ‘different than what we were seeing earlier,’ officials say

Illinois is now averaging 2,560 cases per day over the past week, a rate that has shot up 138% in the past month. Hospital admissions have also been creeping up. About 39 COVID-positive Illinoisans have checked into hospital beds each day over the past week, a 30% increase since April 1.

SHARE Illinois COVID case rise ramps up — but ‘different than what we were seeing earlier,’ officials say
Passengers walk off a train at the Clark and Lake CTA station on Tuesday, before Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifted the mask mandate. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the state.

Passengers walk off a train at the Clark and Lake CTA station on Tuesday, before Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifted the mask mandate. COVID-19 cases are on the rise across the state.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker fell in line with a federal court decision lifting mask mandates on public transit, Illinois public health officials on Wednesday reported the state’s highest COVID-19 caseload since shortly before Valentine’s Day.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,931 positive tests, the most in a day since Feb. 11. The state is now averaging 2,560 cases per day over the past week, a rate that has shot up 138% in the past month.

Actual case numbers are likely significantly higher, because those figures don’t include at-home test results.

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.

With almost three-quarters of the state population fully vaccinated and more than half boosted, officials have largely downplayed the steady case rise that’s unfolding across most of the nation, shifting the emphasis to coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths.

But COVID hospital admissions have been creeping up statewide this month. About 39 COVID-positive Illinoisans have checked into hospital beds each day over the past week, a 30% increase since April 1.

A total of 568 COVID patients were hospitalized Tuesday night — still low compared to the pandemic peak of more than 7,300, but the highest figure reported since March 15.

Deaths remain near a pandemic low, with roughly seven Illinois lives lost each day in the past week — but they typically don’t rise until a few weeks after a case spike.

In Chicago, cases have jumped 12% since last week while hospitalizations and deaths remain at pandemic lows.

“We are seeing more of these very mild cases, especially some breakthrough cases where people are asymptomatic or very mildly symptomatic, and different than what we were seeing earlier in COVID,” Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during an online Q&A Tuesday.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, pictured at a news conference last November.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, pictured at a news conference last November.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

The city’s top doctor pointed to exploding case numbers in parts of Asia, Europe and Australia, saying “even though they are breaking records … they’re not seeing these major increases in hospitalizations or deaths, and that is because they generally have very good vaccination rates.”

While mask mandates are a thing of the pandemic past in nearly all settings, Arwady encouraged Chicagoans to cover up, or at least show respect to those who do.

“Please remember there are a lot of reasons people might be doing that: autoimmune conditions, high-risk loved ones, unvaccinated children, or they themselves may be unvaccinated [and] may prefer to wear a mask,” she said.

“When people wear a mask, it does help decrease risk for everybody.”

For help finding a shot, visit chi.gov/covidvax or call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 312-746-4835.

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