Stay ‘vigilant,’ but no ‘need to be terrified:’ Pre-holiday COVID-19 caseload offers mixed news, simple message

People walk on the University of Chicago campus in March.

People walk on the University of Chicago campus in March. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file

Because of the shortened holiday work week, the Illinois Department of Public Health released the five-day figures instead of the typical seven-day statistics, complicating comparisons.

State public health officials on Wednesday reported 21,034 new coronavirus cases over the past five days, showing a slight dip in the caseload over the previous five days — but a jump compared to the comparable period last week.

Because of the shortened holiday work week, the Illinois Department of Public Health released the five-day figures instead of the typical seven-day statistics, complicating comparisons.

The five-day tally, from Saturday through Wednesday, is 3% lower than the 21,715 cases reported over the five-day period immediately before it, spanning from Nov. 15 through Friday.

But it’s 24% higher than the 16,916 cases reported from Nov. 13 to Nov. 17, the most recent five-day period spanning the same days of the week, Saturday through Wednesday.

Either way, Dr. Emily Landon, the executive medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medicine, said it’s “probably unwise to be too granular” when looking at the numbers.

That’s because changes to people’s behavior — and their testing habits — around the holidays potentially cause spikes and dips in caseload totals.

While the five-day caseload released Wednesday is high, Illinois is doing better than other states in terms of its tally of COVID-19 cases, Landon said. She’d still recommend people take precautions, but there’s no “need to be terrified,” the University of Chicago epidemiologist said.

“We knew the numbers were going to go up because they always do when people are indoors more, and they’re not skyrocketing like they are in other states, so that’s great news, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t,” Landon said, urging vaccinated people to remain “somewhat vigilant” about who is in their circles and who they’re spending close, unmasked time with.

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With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health released the five-day coronavirus case figures on Wednesday. It will not provide its typical seven-day weekly coronavirus caseload data on Friday but will resume that schedule next week, a spokeswoman said.

Along with the 21,034 new cases, the public health department announced another 87 deaths due to the virus in the Saturday through Wednesday timeframe. The state’s seven-day case positivity rate is 3.3%.

As of Tuesday night, 1,982 Illinoisans who are positive for the virus were reported to be in hospitals statewide. Of that number, 384 patients were in the ICU and 150 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators.

New coronavirus cases have risen sharply during November after a month of declines, prompting public health officials to warn that the state is in yet another surge.

Last week, the state saw another 28,280 new coronavirus cases over the past seven days. That total was a 25% increase over the previous week’s seven day total marking a third consecutive week in the troubling trend of rising cases as the state weathers a fifth major resurgence of the deadly virus.

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Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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