Illinois coronavirus: Bump in hospitalizations, 97 more deaths, 5,862 new cases

A total of 384,658 coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered across the state since the first shots went into Illinois arms last month.

That includes just over 83,000 people who have been fully vaccinated with the required two doses, according to the latest data released Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Nearly 74,000 doses have been administered in Chicago, with 16,406 people fully vaccinated. In suburban Cook County, 70,201 shots have been given, including 16,653 people who have gotten both doses.

On average, about 25,409 doses have been administered each day across the state over the last week.

Health care workers are first in line for shots along with nursing home residents and workers. About 13% of all doses so far have gone to people in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

The progress the state has made since the first shots were given Dec. 15 barely scratches the surface of the unprecedented campaign to vaccinate at least 80% of the state’s 12.7 million residents. The 83,065 people who are fully vaccinated represent 0.65% of the population.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said about 3.2 million essential workers and people over 65 can begin receiving shots within a few weeks as supply allows. The state has received about 972,000 doses from the federal government so far.

The vaccine data came as the state’s COVID-19 infection rate fell for a fifth consecutive day with officials reporting 5,862 new cases of the disease and 97 more deaths attributed to it.

The cases were diagnosed among 76,107 tests, lowering the statewide average positivity rate over the last week to 7.3%. That key metric has gradually declined from 8.6% on Jan. 4.

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But coronavirus patients occupied 3,642 hospital beds across the state as of Tuesday night, an increase of 89 from the previous night. The number of those receiving intensive care fell slightly to 749, as did the number on ventilators, down to 386.

Hospitalizations are still down more than 40% overall compared to the late November peak.

The daily death total of 97 is slightly below the state’s average of 107 COVID-19 fatalities per day over the last week. The virus has already claimed almost 1,400 Illinois lives this year.

A Cook County man in his 40s was among the 45 latest Chicago-area residents to die with the virus.

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More than a million people have carried the virus in Illinois at some point over the last 10 months, and 17,840 of them have died.

More infectious variant still not seen in Illinois

Illinois health officials are still on the lookout for the more infectious variant of COVID-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom last month and has since spread to about a dozen states. It has yet to show up in this state, though Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said “it’s only a matter of time” before it does.

That time could be coming soon, though, as Wisconsin health officials announced Wednesday it had been detected there, a day after it was found in Indiana.

Despite that, Pritzker has said he’s cautiously optimistic the state has turned the corner after a devastating fall resurgence, and previously announced he’ll allow some regions of the state to begin loosening — but not lifting — business restrictions starting Friday if they keep hitting his health team’s benchmarks.

Seven of the state’s 11 designated regions are currently poised to move down from Tier 3 mitigations to Tier 2, including many of Chicago’s far south and western suburbs — but not Chicago or suburban Cook County. Going down to Tier 2 allows casinos and museums to reopen, and expands retail store capacity limits.

Full reopening won’t happen under Pritzker’s watch until coronavirus vaccine doses are widely available, and that’s still several months away.