Illinois Covid Numbers Drop Heavily; When Will Pritzker Drop Mask Mandate?
Illinois covid numbers slid down heavily, but officials say restrictions will still remain and the mask mandate is staying in place, prompting some Illinois residents to wonder when the restrictions will finally be lifted.
On the side of good news, the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities is continuing to move downwards, although to put things into perspective, the numbers remain high overall.
Illinois Department of Public Health reported 9,462 new COVID cases — down heavily from last week’s averages over 20,000 a day — and 81 related deaths Monday. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 15.2 percent — up slightly from last week’s averages around 13 percent.
There are 5,238 patients in Illinois in the hospital with covid, 905 patients are in the ICU and 541 patients with covid are on ventilators. All of those numbers are moving down.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 120,584 new specimens for a total of 50,091,035 since the pandemic began. There have been 2,837,861 total COVID cases, including 30,155 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.
A total of 20,305,950 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Sunday and 61.8 percent of the state’s population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 40,211.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said in his latest press conference that he’s encouraged by the numbers.
“You don’t know when a surge has reached its peak until you’re on the other side of it,” Pritzker said.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the key metric they are watching now is not the number of cases, but hospitalizations.
“They are decreasing, but those numbers are still high,” Ezike said. “The numbers of people in the hospital with covid are still higher now than they have been in any other surge or any other part of the pandemic. But the good news is the trend is downward.”
Hospitalizations are down 9 percent, and ICU patients are down 4.8 percent. Good news, but, again, the numbers are still relatively high.
Officials are offering cautious optimism, happy that the numbers are going down, but still reminding people that the numbers are relatively high, especially when compared to just a month or two ago.
“I am very, very pleased to say that we have formally passed the omicron peak here in the city of Chicago,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
Arwady said the city will be lifting restrictions “at some point,” but said it depended on the numbers continuing to go down.
“When we get back down into that sort of moderate-low risk, we will not have the vaccination requirements in place because the vaccination requirement is in place in high risk settings and that setting is especially high risk when the numbers are high, etc., etc.,” Arwady said. “However, the timing of that? I don’t know yet.”
“I want to be clear, I am cautiously optimistic, but there are an awful lot of people battling for their lives in hospitals across Illinois,” Pritzker said.
Despite the speculation, which is perhaps wishful thinking on the part of many, both the Governor and Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the mandates will likely remain for the near future. Both said, during the press conference, that it was “still far too early” to roll back restrictions, including mask mandates and the city of Chicago’s vaccine mandate.
However, they did both say they will continue to monitor data to determine when it will be safe to do so.
“It’s really important over these next few weeks and months that we continue to work hard on getting folks vaccinated, getting folks tested, continuing to wear our masks, because there is a long way to come down,” Arwady said. “However, I’m really pleased to have seen this turnaround.”
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