Chicago's top doctor issues Easter weekend warning as COVID cases climb
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago's top doctor issued a warning about Easter weekend as Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 3,526 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, the largest one-day increase in nearly two months.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from March 25-31 is 4.0%, the highest it's been since February 10. The state also reported 25 more COVID-19 deaths.
Test positivity in also on the rise for all Chicago area regions. State data, last updated on Monday, shows that Region 8, DuPage and Kane counties, has the highest number locally at 5.6%.
The second-highest rate is in Region 10, suburban Cook County, which is at 5%. Looking just at the city of Chicago, test positivity for the city is at 4.6%. Region 7, Will and Kankakee counties, is at 4.3% percent. And Region 9, Lake and McHenry counties, is slightly lower at 4.2%.
Every single one of those numbers is above the state's rate of 4%.
At Rush University Medical Center, the rate of positive tests has tripled since last week.
"We're seeing this more positive tests, more people getting infected, more people ending up hospitalized with severe symptoms," said Dr. Edward Ward, Emergency Dept. Vice Chair, Rush Univ. Medical Center.
In Chicago, at least three factors are driving the recent uptick. Officials say cell phone location data confirms more people in recent weeks have been gathering with others in the evening.
More contagious variants, officials say, are becoming more prevalent. And as more people get vaccinated, some may be letting down their guard.
"We have quite a number of patients who are admitted in between dose one and two, who got symptomatic between dose one and two, so it's still a vulnerable period," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital Medical Dir. of Infection Control.
The warning comes days before Easter, as many are planning their first family get-togethers since getting their first vaccine doses.
Officials recommend outdoor gatherings with distance, masks and a small number of guests.
"You don't want your Easter celebration to turn into a contact tracing event, you really don't," said Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner, Chicago Dept. of Public Health. "Unless you've got a fully vaccinated group gathering, there still is a fair bit of risk."
And there are more concerns about vaccine supply after Johnson & Johnson reported a mix-up at a plant in Baltimore.
Chicago is still expecting nearly 40,000 doses to arrive next week, but afterward.
"I am concerned that potentially for the next couple weeks we may get very little," Arwady said. "I don't know yet."
A total of 7,095,305 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, with an additional 448,830 doses allocated to federal government partners for long-term care facilities, bringing the total number delivered in Illinois to 7,544,135.
A total of 5,918,422 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Wednesday night, including 367,823 for long-term care facilities. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 109,073 doses. There were 116,551 doses reported administered in Illinois Wednesday.
Illinois has administered doses to 70% of residents 65 and older, reaching the threshold needed to move into the Bridge Phase of reopening. However, IDPH said rising hospitalization rates will prevent Illinois from moving into the Bridge Phase. IDPH epidemiologists will continue to focus on the most recent 10 days to monitor any acute trends that prevent the state from reaching the Bridge Phase.
The deaths reported Thursday include:
-Cook County: 1 female 40s, 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s
-DuPage County: 2 females 70s
-LaSalle County: 1 male 90s
-Lee County: 1 female 70s
-Macon County: 1 male 60s
-Madison County: 1 male 30s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
-McLean County: 1 male 80s
-St. Clair County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 70s
-Tazewell County: 1 male 90s
-Warren County: 1 female 50s
-Will County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s