COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations continue to see an uptick

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By GRACE BARBIC

Capitol News Illinois

gbarbic@capitolnewsillinois.com

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued to rise in Illinois as the statewide seven-day rolling case positivity rate reached 3.8 percent for the third consecutive day Monday.

The case positivity rate had not been near 3.8 percent since the beginning of February, when it hit 3.9 percent on Feb. 1, and then continued to decline throughout the month and into March.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported as of Sunday night, 1,581 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital, an increase of 229 from the previous Sunday. Of those, 358 patients were in intensive care unit beds, an increase of 78 from last Sunday, and 159 COVID-19 patients were reported to be on ventilators, an increase of 31 from last Sunday.

IDPH reported 2,102 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 out of 59,586 test results reported on Monday, with an additional 11 virus-related deaths.

Gov. JB Pritzker said in an unrelated news conference Monday in Champaign that Illinois could be approaching a third surge that many other areas of the nation have already seen.

“But these things come in waves,” Pritzker said. “I am hopeful that with the rising number of vaccinations we're doing – we’re averaging over 100,000 a day – the increasing number of people who are fully vaccinated at the same time that we're dealing with a surge, ...that we can sort of overcome the surge for the very first time.”

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Approximately 6.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, representing about 40 percent of residents 16 years or older having received their first dose. About 2.3 million people, or nearly 18.7 percent of the state’s population, are now fully vaccinated.

More than 80 of Illinois’ 102 counties have expanded COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all Illinois residents 16 and older. Vaccine eligibility will be open statewide starting April 12.

Pritzker’s administration also announced Monday it will be deploying rural vaccination teams to six counties this week with the capacity to fully vaccinate about 8,000 people.

The mobile teams, operated by members of the Illinois National Guard, will be deployed to Kanakee, Vermilion, Livingston, Coles, DeWitt, and White counties. The teams will be supplied with the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Although a majority of the state’s counties have already expanded vaccine eligibility to those 16 or older, under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Emergency Use Authorization only those 18 or older can receive the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“Our Rural Vaccination Program is seeing extraordinary results in its first weeks and I’m thrilled to see this program expand to additional counties,” Pritzker said in a news release. “These sites bring thousands of doses directly into the community, reducing transportation barriers and ensuring residents in all corners of Illinois have access to this life-saving vaccine.”

The rural vaccination program has vaccinated approximately 4,700 people in its first two weeks of operation, according to a news release. Of the state’s 900 vaccine locations, 43 of them are operated by more than 1,480 Illinois National Guard Troops. To date, these locations have administered more than 734,114 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccine can be found at https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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