For the first time during the pandemic, the daily average number of new statewide COVID-19 cases exceeded 16,000and, late last week, Chicago had the highest infection rate in Illinois, according to The Chicago Tribune.
The surge has prompted officials to caution the public about participating in large New Year's Eve gatherings. In addition, the number of COVID-related hospitalizations has risen dramatically.
The daily average of new cases reached 16,040 through Dec. 28, largely due to a record number of infections for a single day on Christmas Eve21,131and 20,804 more cases recorded the same day, per the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The 96 COVID-19 deaths on Dec. 28 were the most recorded in Illinois this month, the statistics also show. However, they are far from daily records since the start of the pandemic in March 2020a sign vaccines have been effective at preventing fatal cases.