CHICAGO — The city of Chicago is making changes to its list of high-risk states as new numbers show COVID-19 cases trending the wrong way in Illinois and across the Midwest.
Dr. Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, expanded the city’s travel advisory to 38 states in the US on Tuesday but the city’s top doctor stressed the urgency of vaccinations.
“The Midwest is seeing the highest average daily COVID case rate in the US. All Midwest states continue to increase, including Illinois,” Arwady said. “Michigan and Minnesota now have the highest COVID case rates per population in the country.”
Arwady stated that if a child or adult receives their first dose by Saturday, they can be fully vaccinated by Christmas.
As it stands now, there is an average of 445 new cases per day and a 2.5% infection rate, up from 2% last week. There are 235 people currently hospitalized and 60 in the ICU.
“As community numbers go up for COVID, we see those same numbers go up in every setting. At Chicago Public Schools, we’ve seen a 30% increase in COVID cases since late October,” Arwady said.
Dr. Arwady says the highest case rate in Chicago right now is among unvaccinated 12-17-year-olds, where the chance of infection is 10 times as high compared to vaccinated teens. Dr. Arwady stressed that breakthrough Covid cases and hospitalizations are primarily among those 60 and older with underlying conditions, many of whom are cancer patients.
Last Friday, Chicago Public Schools closed for Vaccination Awareness Day so that students could get shots. New CPS CEO Pedro Martinez praised the turnout.
“We were very excited that on the [Nov. 12.] we had almost 6,700 students vaccinated. Over 5,800 were 5-11-year-olds when you count through Sunday, 13,000 CPS students got vaccinated.”
CPS says it plans to hold more than 100 vaccination events through the end of the year.
Health officials say there is still a big push to vaccinate communities of color in all age groups.
In Chicago, 51% of eligible Black residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to the 61% of Latinos, 68% of white Chicagoans and 72% of Asians.
“To all my brothers and sisters, I urge you, implore you, beg you to protect our children, our adults, our community,” said Dr. Horace Smith/Lurie Children’s Hospital.