CHICAGO — While the number of COVID-19 cases reported on average is beginning to decline in Illinois, infections continue to surge in other states as the U.S. sees the deadliest period of the pandemic to date.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 5,862 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases as well as 97 additional deaths Wednesday.
While the state’s 7-day average of cases is beginning to decline, reaching 6,700 as of Wednesday, Illinois continues to see a high number of deaths with the state reporting more than 100 lives lost each day on average.
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. hit another one-day high of over 4,300 on Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, as the country’s attention is focused largely on the fallout from the deadly uprising at the Capitol.
Deaths have been rising sharply over the past 2.5 months and the country is now in the most lethal phase of the outbreak yet, even as the vaccine is being rolled out.
CDC data shows the 7-day average of deaths in the U.S. surpassed the highest levels seen in the spring on Friday and has continued to rise, reaching 3,321 as of Tuesday.
There have been positive signs in Illinois in recent days, with the number of new cases and test positivity rates flat or declining in regions across the state.
A majority of regions now qualify for moving to less-restrictive “Tier 2” coronavirus mitigation measures on Friday, while every region is reporting test positivity rates below the 12% threshold needed to move down.
The regions that do not qualify are mostly on the threshold, needing a small rise in the availability of hospital beds or decline in the number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
Hospitalizations statewide have been trending down, with IDPH reporting 3,642 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday night including 749 in intensive care and 386 on ventilators.
Testing has climbed to levels seen before the Thanksgiving holiday, with Illinois reporting more than 90,000 tests on average, while the weekly case positivity rate continued to decline to reach 7.3% as of Wednesday.
Vaccination efforts are starting to ramp up in Chicago and across the country as the federal government urged states to stop holding back half of their doses in order to speed up distribution Tuesday.
Illinois health officials said the state has received 703,525 doses of COVID-19 vaccine to date, while 384,658 of those doses have been administered.
Health officials in Indiana announced Wednesday residents 70 and older can now register to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will start requiring all international air travelers to to test negative for COVID-19 before entering the U.S. starting January 26.
Travelers coming to Chicago from any other U.S. state can avoid a 10-day self-quarantine by getting a negative COVID-19 test prior to their arrival starting Friday, after the city updated its Emergency Travel Order Tuesday.