An average of 223 Chicagoans have tested positive each day over the past week, a 34% increase from the previous week, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health. That’s also a 16% jump compared to the end of February, when Mayor Lori Lightfoot lifted the city’s indoor mask requirement.
While case counts so far have remained relatively flat across the rest of Illinois, the seven-day average statewide positivity rate has bounced back up to 1.7%, as high as it’s been since March 1 — the day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate was lifted.
Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady noted all the metrics are still far below the peak levels seen in early January, saying she’d expected an uptick in cases especially as the more infectious BA.2 subvariant of the coronavirus gains traction nationwide.
"I am pleased that one month after lifting the universal mask mandate and vaccine requirement for certain indoor public settings here in Chicago, the city remains in good control," Arwady said in a statement. "It is not surprising to see a slight increase in cases as behavior changes, but we continue to monitor this closely.
"If the increase in cases does concern people, the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from severe outcomes remains the same: ensure you are up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations," she said.
Chicago’s regional positivity rate has risen from 0.9% last week up to 1.3%, still minuscule compared to the height of the initial Omicron variant surge after the holidays when the positivity rate topped 20%.
Transmission is still considered low in all 102 Illinois counties under standards set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state was logging an average of 1,831 new cases per day when Pritzker lifted his mask mandate. That figure fell to just 1,066 early last week, but now it’s back up to a rate of 1,208 per day.
COVID hospital admissions and deaths remain near pandemic lows, but it typically takes a few weeks for those figures to catch up with rising case numbers — a pattern that has played out through five major surges since March of 2020.
Hospitals were treating 470 coronavirus patients statewide as of Tuesday night, compared to 951 on March 1. Admissions have inched upward slightly in the city, with an average of 11 new admissions per day over the last week, compared to 10 the previous week.
COVID deaths across the state have continued to plummet, from an average of 53 per day when the mask mandate was lifted down to 11 per day as of Wednesday. The city is averaging less than one viral death per day.
About 72% of eligible Illinoisans have completed their initial vaccine series. Chicago is outpacing that rate, with about 75% of residents 5 or older finishing at least their first round of shots.
For help finding a shot, visit chi.gov/covidvax or call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at (312) 746-4835.