There's hope for COVID-19 'flattening' in Illinois, but are neighboring states safe?
While recent trends indicate COVID-19 infections are leveling, Gov. J.B. Pritzker cautioned Illinoisans not to let down their guards.
"The fact is we've all lived through this long enough to not jump the gun and say, 'Oh, gosh, it's flattened out and everything is so much better," Pritzker said at an event in Decatur.
"We've got to really see the curve head downward. I'm very hopeful about that," Pritzker said, adding he's still concerned about hospitalizations.
Chicago's top public health official Tuesday noted the city is seeing an average of 473 daily cases compared to 463 last week.
"What I'm pleased about is we're seeing some real flattening here. I think that is largely a result of putting the masks back on indoors," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said at her weekly briefing.
The city required face masks in public settings indoors Aug. 20, and a similar statewide order went into effect Monday.
Meanwhile numerous public and private vaccination mandates are going into effect that include teachers, certain state employees, city of Chicago workers, health care workers in most metro hospital systems, and United Airlines staff members, among others.
Across Illinois, daily caseloads during the last seven days have ping-ponged from a high of 4,942 Friday to a low of 2,395 Monday to Tuesday's tally of 4,871.
The average number of daily COVID-19 infections reached 3,847.7 this week compared to 3,546.7 last week.
For perspective, new infections hit 457 on July 1, but that number had spiraled to 2,180 by July 31, nearly five times the initial count. In contrast, new cases hit 1,741 on Aug. 1; the Tuesday total of 4,871 was closer to three times the original.
In the suburbs, DuPage and Kane, Lake and McHenry, and suburban Cook counties all tripped an Illinois Department of Public Health alert for consecutive increases in hospitalizations.
But for those planning a road trip during the Labor Day holiday, Illinois has the second lowest rate of COVID-19 transmissions per capita among its neighboring states, federal data showed Tuesday.
Michigan had just 154.1 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, while Illinois totaled 209 cases per 100,000 people, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
In comparison, Kentucky had 660 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, Indiana had 437.9 cases, Missouri measured 258.7 cases, Iowa had 229, and Wisconsin counted 231.8, the CDC reported.
The nationwide rate is 314.7 per 100,000 people.
In terms of vaccination rates, Illinois led the pack with 76.8% of residents 12 and older receiving at least one dose of vaccine, the CDC said. Children 11 and under are not eligible for shots yet.
Vaccination rankings elsewhere came to 68.2% in Wisconsin with at least one dose for those 12 and older, 66.8% in Kentucky, 66.1% in Iowa, 64.1% in Michigan, 61.7% in Missouri and 59.1% in Indiana.
Also Tuesday, 26 more Illinois residents died from the respiratory disease, the IDPH reported.
On Monday, 22,976 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 39,802.
The federal government has delivered 16,223,775 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 13,921,400 shots have been administered.
So far in Illinois, 6,739,688 people have been fully vaccinated, or 52.9% of the 12.7 million population. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses several weeks apart.
Patients in the hospital with COVID-19 came to 2,266 as of Monday night.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 5.1% based on a seven-day average.
Total cases statewide stands at 1,522,942, and 23,953 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 94,016 virus tests in the last 24 hours.
IDPH typically posts COVID-19 updates at noon, but technical issues delayed that information Tuesday.