Illinois COVID Update: IL reports 2,304 new coronavirus cases, 47 deaths; Cook County could enters Phase 4

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois health officials reported 2,304 new COVID-19 cases and 47 deaths Tuesday and restrictions have now been rolled back to Phase 4 for suburban Cook County.

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 1,130,917, with a total of 19,306 deaths, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 60,899 specimens for a total of 16,161,454.

RELATED: Illinois COVID vaccine map shows how many residents vaccinated by county

As of Monday night, 2,447 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 533 patients were in the ICU and 265 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Jan. 26-Feb. 1 is 4.9%.

RELATED: Illinois coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area

The test positivity rate is a metric the state began providing in late October. It is calculated by using the total number of positive tests over the total number of tests. This is the metric being used to by state health officials to make decisions about mitigations.

A total of 1,455,825 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, with an additional 496,100 doses allocated to federal government partners for long-term care facilities, bringing the total number delivered in Illinois to 1,951,925.

IDPH reports that a total of 1,028,969 vaccine doses have been administered, including 163,592 at long-term facilities. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered is 44,139.

The IDPH says that vaccine distribution numbers are reported in real-time and vaccine administration numbers lag by as much as 72 hours.

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Walmart launched its COVID vaccine clinics on Friday and already thousands of appointments have been snapped up by pretty much anyone who could get their hands on one.

Several Walmart COVID vaccine clinics started Friday in Chicago, and are likely to vaccinate 3,000 people by Sunday. But appointments were taken by people from all over the city and suburbs, snapping up the first appointment they could find regardless of where they live.

Caregiver Lolita Collier brought her client from the North Side to the Walmart in Austin so they could both get vaccinated.

"I deal with the elderly every day, and I didn't want to be the person to bring something to her and she is 84, so I wanted to be safe," Collier said.

Some came in from the suburbs, like Wheaton residents Ben Steele and his pregnant wife, who said they qualify as educators and found appointments at separate Walmarts.

"I would have gone to Wisconsin if that's where it was," Steele said.

Glenview Special Ed teacher Danielle Chalfie described it as almost being like "Hunger Games" as she got her shot in Austin. She said she used to work in the West Side neighborhood and understands the digital and economic divide.

"We all have to work together to find alternative ways to reach people who otherwise wouldn't have access," she said.

A spokesperson for Walmart said in part, "The company is also looking at alternate scheduling procedures for customers wishing to use them...We are continuing to support the communities we serve through our vaccination clinics/events in partnership with the city and state."

While Walmart encourages signing up online, the pharmacies can assist people with making appointments for those who cannot access the internet.

Suburban Cook County returns to Phase 4

Suburban Cook County had restrictions rolled back to Phase 4 Tuesday morning.

The Phase 4 guidelines mean indoor dining and drinking are now permitted for parties of up to 10 people. All tables should be 6 feet apart, but barriers can be installed to help safely separate seating. Museums are capped at 25 percent capacity. Also, seated theaters, cinemas, and performing art centers can welcome back up to 50 customers.

"It's just very hard to stay alive, so we are hoping that the 10 person capacity will encourage customers to come out with their families and friends," said Kelly Stathopulous, co-owner of Rainbow Café in Elmhurst.

For meetings and social events, there is a limit of 50 people 50% of room capacity, whichever is lesser. Multiple groups can meet at the same facility if they are socially distanced and in separate rooms. For more information on guidlelines, visit the state's website.

State health officials said COVID-positive cases and hospitalizations have decreased enough to allow more customers in places like recreational facilities and museums in four more suburban counties starting Wednesday, but they know that's a moving target.

"I am worried about another surge if people don't maintain those safe behaviors, but it's more than just the individual behavior, it's how we set up mitigation strategies within our communities," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medial officer at the Cook County Department of Public Health.

It's welcome news for the owners of Ovo Frito Café in Evanston. More eased restrictions means more customers inside their quaint spot.

"That's excellent news, cause then we'll start maybe rehiring again," said owner Zinnia Iglesias.

Iglesias had to lay off several employees since the shutdown. She and her husband now do most of the work, coming in seven days a week to keep things running.

"We were actually at 14 or 15 employees," Iglesias said. "We came down to five."

The easing of restrictions means more customers can come in and dine and shop, and spend time in establishments.

Customers, like Max Magna plan to take advantage of the new rules, but still keep safety top of mind.

Magna plans to take advantage of the new rules, but still keep safety top of mind.

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"Most restaurants seem like they are trying hard to make sure everyone is wearing a mask and everyone is as safe as possible, so I am definitely not opposed to going back to restaurants as long as it's generally considered safe and people are making an effort," he said.

Will and Kankakee counties eased their restrictions Monday. Seven of the state's 11 regions are now in the eased Phase 4.

Cook County is now officially into the next phase- but doctors warn that does not mean people should let our guard down and to continue to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

"But I am worried about another surge if people don't maintain those safe behaviors but it's more than just the individual behavior. It's how we set up mitigation strategies within our communities," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, senior medical officer of the Cook County Department of Public Health.

The deaths reported Tuesday include:
- Boone County: 1 female 70s
- Champaign County: 2 females 80s
- Clinton County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 90s
- Cook County: 2 males 50s, 1 female 60s, 5 males 60s, 3 females 70s, 4 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 5 males 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
- Lake County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 50s
- Madison County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s
- McHenry County: 1 male 70s
- Monroe County: 1 male 70s
- Montgomery County: 1 female 70s
- Saline County: 1 female 70s
- St. Clair County: 1 male 50s
- Stephenson County: 1 female 70s
- Will County: 2 females 70s, 1 female 90s
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