CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 4,589 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 17 related deaths Tuesday.
There have been 1,779,842 total COVID cases, including 26,294 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
The seven-day statewide test positivity rate from Nov. 16-Nov. 22 is 4.1%.
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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 109,919 new specimens for a total of 38,388,520 since the pandemic began.
As of Monday night, 1,958 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 365 patients were in the ICU and 154 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
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A total of 16,956,232 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Tuesday, and 57.64% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 63,199.
With Illinois now in the midst of another surge in COVID cases that's worse than the last time cases spiked at the end of the summer, doctors are concerned about what could be ahead after the holidays.
The holidays are a time when doctors are watching the number of COVID cases very closely because there is always that lag between the reported cases and then how it impacts hospitals with more severely sick people. Right now, the numbers are not looking good.
"Right now, what we're seeing predominantly is that first part of the rise or what we fear is going to be that first part of the rise for general admissions. And certainly, our main concern is, does this mean that we're going to progress into a full surge again, where our ICU becomes overwhelmed," said Dr. Justin Fiala, Pulmonary and Critical Care Specialist , Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
The reason for concern, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, is that the statewide seven-day average number of COVID cases has risen to 4,618, higher than the peak on September 4.
The last time the seven-day average was this high was back in January, when that number surged to 4,649 cases. Doctors attribute the surge to several factors. As the weather gets colder, people are gathering more inside. And now that vaccines are widely available, some people are becoming more lax about wearing masks.
"And so what we really worry about is, with this kind of dropping of our guard kind of across the board as a society, are we opening up the door for another really devastating surge," Fiala said.
Chicago is also in the middle of a surge. The current daily COVID case average is 567, up 15% from the past week. The last time it was that high was in April of this year.
Dr. Fiala said families planning to get together need to be open and honest with one another.
"So I think the best thing that people can do is be very forthright with family. Ask the, you know, seemingly difficult questions of how have you been vaccinated and have those conversations," Dr. Fiala said.
The other option for those who are not vaccinated is to ask them to get tested for COVID before getting together for that holiday gathering, Fiala said.