2,839 new COVID-19 cases in Illinois as Cook County faces ‘the beginning of another surge’

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A troubling rise in COVID-19 cases across the Chicago area and the rest of Illinois means another coronavirus “clamp-down” could soon be in store for businesses in suburban Cook County, officials warned Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,839 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease were diagnosed across the state, raising Illinois’ average testing positivity rate to 3.8%. That figure has almost doubled in just three weeks.

Hospitals statewide have seen a 32% increase in COVID-19 patients over that period, with 1,426 beds occupied Friday night.

And with about 600 people testing positive in Cook County each day — most of them young adults — suburban cases have more than doubled over the past month, according to Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health.

“We are in the beginnings of another surge now,” Rubin said during a virtual news conference. “Maybe this is as high as we’ll go, and maybe it’ll level out and go down. We can’t say. It’s very very hard to predict. But that’s one of the reasons we’re pushing out vaccine as quickly as we get it.”

The state reported its second-most productive vaccination day yet with 145,315 doses administered Friday. At a rolling average of 110,057 shots given per day, Illinois is vaccinating more people than ever — but still, only 18.2% of the population have been fully immunized.

Read the full story from Mitchell Armentrout here.


9:05 a.m. From child care to COVID-19, rising job market faces obstacles

WASHINGTON — A surge in hiring in the United States last month — 916,000 added jobs, the most since August — coincides with growing confidence that a blistering pace of job growth will continue as vaccinations increase and federal aid fuels economic growth.

The most optimistic economists even predict that between now and year’s end, the nation could produce as many as 10 million more jobs and restore the labor market to its pre-pandemic level.

Maybe so. Yet even in normal times, it would be hard to regain all those jobs so quickly. And these aren’t normal times.

Many people who’ve been thrown out of the labor force remain fearful of the coronavirus and reluctant to take face-to-face service jobs. Millions of women are still caring for children attending school online — and can’t take jobs because they can’t find or afford child care.

Extended unemployment aid has meant that some employers might have to pay more to attract workers, which they may feel unable to do. And some people will need new skills before they can land a job to replace the one they lost.

While few doubt that the trillions in federal money flowing through the economy will help accelerate hiring, the challenges are sure to endure. Here’s a look at some of them:

Read more here.

New Cases & Vaccination Numbers

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,839 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease were diagnosed across the state.
  • The state reported 13 more COVID-19 deaths, including that of a Cook County woman in her 40s.
  • Illinois’ pandemic death toll is up to 21,361, among almost 1.3 million who have tested positive over the past year.
  • Public health officials announced Friday that more than 6 million COVID-19 vaccinations have now gone into Illinois arms.

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