Illinois COVID Update: IL reports 4,590 cases, 8 deaths; Chicago doctors tracking omicron

BySarah Schulte, John Garcia, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
IL COVID cases rising as new omicron variant becomes concern
There are no cass of the new omicron COVID variant in the U.S. yet, but Illinois health officials said vaccination is needed to combat rising cases the state is seeing.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 4,590 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and eight related deaths Monday.

There have been 1,804,161 total COVID cases, including 26,391 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate from Nov. 23-28 is 5.2%.

A local doctor discussed holiday travel and vaccinations as COVID continues to spread.

Health officials said the COVID numbers have been going in the wrong direction for several weeks, before the new omicron variant has even been detected anywhere in the United States.

"We're seeing an increase because of delta," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital infectious disease specialist. "It's still out there and still not enough people have been vaccinated."

Pinsky said the high levels of antibodies the vaccine helps create should be effective in fighting the new variant as well.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 61,922 new specimens for a total of 38,990,369 since the pandemic began.

As of Sunday night, 2,287 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 446 patients were in the ICU and 212 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

SEE ALSO: All vaccinated adults should get COVID-19 booster shot because of omicron variant, CDC says

A total of 17,234,911 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Monday, and 57.9% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 48,456.

On Thursday, there were 5,430 cases and 30 deaths; on Friday, there were 2,186 cases and 10 deaths; on Saturday, there were 3,957 cases and 19 deaths and on Sunday there were 2,097 cases and 11 deaths.

Chicago doctors tracking new omicron variant

With the new omicron variant spreading, the CDC is urging everyone 18 and older to get a booster shot. Doctors in Chicago are already tracking the new omicron variant's movement.

Throughout the pandemic, researchers at a Rush University Medical Center lab have taken random samples of COVID from all over Chicago in order to sequence the genome of the virus.

"When we get the samples back, we can see what mutations the virus has and what variant they are," said Hannah Barbian, a genomic virologist at Rush.

So far, the new omicron variant has not been detected in Chicago or anywhere in the United States, but researchers are preparing to find it soon. The new variant discovered in South Africa is the cause of great concern among infectious disease doctors.

SEE ALSO: Chicago couple, unvaccinated and together for years, die from COVID weeks before wedding

"The early going suggests it could turn out to be fairly contagious and it also could evade immune response," said UIC Infectious Disease Director Dr. Richard Novak.

The concern is how fast it popped up and spread from South Africa to other countries.

"I have a graphic that is flat, flat, flat, and then all of the sudden, out of the blue, I have a number that's up in the danger zone," said Lori Post, who tracks COVID cases worldwide at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine.

Two days before the World Health Organization alerted the world about the new variant, Post noticed a huge jump of cases in South Africa to the point where she thought it was a data error.

"I've never seen anything like that in my entire time of tracking COVID since March of 2020," Post said.

While omicron may have already made its way to the U.S., the Biden administration and doctors are urging people to wear masks, get vaccinated and boosters sooner than later. Drug companies are already working on tweaking the vaccine for the new variant.