COVID-19 Update: IL reports 1,496 new cases, 11 deaths as COVID cases climb in Chicago

As COVID cases rise, Chicago poised to avoid a big surge: Arwady
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 1,496 new COVID cases and 11 related deaths Thursday as COVID cases continue to rise steadily in Chicago.

There have been at least 3,078,124 total COVID cases, including at least 33,454 related deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is at 2.2%.

WATCH | Dr. Arwady gives Chicago COVID update
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Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gives a Chicago COVID-19 update.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 110334 new specimens for a total of 57,681,343 since the pandemic began.

As of Wednesday night, 517 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 57 patients were in the ICU, and 22 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 21,487,432 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Wednesday, and 64.47% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 19,597.

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As workers return to their Loop offices anxious to put COVID behind them, the BA.2 variant continues to be a threat as cases are creeping up again.

In Chicago, there are now 304 new cases per day, on average, not including anyone who tests at home and doesn't report the results. Last week, the city was averaging 238 cases per day.

Yet, Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady remains hopeful the city is poised to avoid a big surge.

"With every passing day, I'm more confident than in the very short term, we will avoid a major increase like we saw the omicron surge," Arwady said.

Arwady is confident Chicago will remain low risk because so many people were infected with omicron in January. She said the original strain, BA.1, provides over 90% protection against the new variant.

In addition, an uptick in vaccinations, especially among groups who have been hesitant, is helping.

"The good news is Black, non-Latinx Chicagoans are leading in first and second dose vaccination uptake since the beginning of March," Arwady added.

But, Arwady said the city is not doing well with boosters. Less than half of people eligible have gotten one. Data has shown the third shot provides a huge increase in antibodies.

As for a fourth dose, Arwady encourages older Chicagoans, high-risk people over 50 and the immunocompromised to get one.

"There is no concern that getting another dose in any way makes your immune system less responsive to a future vaccine," Arwady said.

Others, especially vaccinated people who have recently had COVID, may want to wait for a variant-specific vaccine. Moderna said it expects its new booster to be ready in a couple of months.

"We are ready to advance it, we know that that's the future," said Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer at Moderna.

But Burton is worried about the country getting through the BA.2 wave first. Arwady is expecting the case numbers to rise, but she's hopeful they won't rise to the point where the city shifts back to mask mandates.
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