COVID Metrics: Positivity Rates Surge in Illinois Healthcare Regions Along Missouri Border

Missouri is seeing one of the worst outbreaks in the country, according to published data

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While most of Illinois is continuing to see historically-low coronavirus positivity rates, areas in the southwestern portion of the state that share a border with hard-hit Missouri are seeing rapid increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.

Region 4, which borders St. Louis, has seen a massive jump in positivity rates in recent weeks. According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the region had a 1.5% positivity rate on all tests on June 6. Less than a month later, that positivity rate has now more than tripled, currently standing at 5.1%.

Hospitalizations have also risen dramatically in the region, increasing for 13 consecutive days according to IDPH data.

In Region 3, which includes Springfield and several counties that border Missouri, positivity rates have nearly quadrupled in a matter of weeks. On June 16, the positivity rate was at 1%, and as of July 3, it is now at 3.7%.

In Region 5, comprised of counties in the far southern tip of Illinois, positivity rates have nearly quadrupled from 1% on June 1 to 3.7% as of July 3. Hospitalizations have also increased each of the last five days.

Those dramatic increases come as Missouri sees some of the highest COVID case rates in the nation. According to the state’s latest numbers, published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, less than 40% of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated, and in some rural counties, that number is less than 20%.

As a whole, the state is averaging 865 new COVID cases per day and 14 new cases per 100,000 residents, which ranks third in the nation. The increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations has largely been attributed to low vaccination rates and the rapid spread of the so-called “delta” variant, which has been fueling outbreaks of the virus throughout the United States.

The rapid increase in hospitalizations has forced some hospitals to borrow ventilators from other facilities, with areas in the southwestern portion of the state experiencing bed shortages because of the surge in cases.

As major hospitals across the country struggle with a rising flood of COVID-19 patients, small-town hospitals with limited staff, equipment and resources are increasingly forced to cope without the help of those larger facilities. Dr. Shane Wilson, who works in a small Missouri hospital, joined LX News to describe their day-to-day reality.

In response, officials in Missouri are looking to potentially offer vaccination incentives for residents, including the potential for cash prizes, which has already been approved by the St. Louis County Council, according to the Post-Dispatch.

Some parts of Illinois are seeing similar issues in terms of lagging vaccinations. In Alexander County, located in the far southwestern tip of Illinois and bordering Missouri and Kentucky, just 14.6% of the population is fully vaccinated against COVID. In nearby Pulaski County, 22.2% of residents are vaccinated.

Pike and Greene counties, both of which are located in Region 3, have seen vaccination rates of under 30%, while Calhoun County, which borders Missouri, has seen a vaccination rate of 33%.

All of those numbers are far below the state’s total, with 49% of all Illinois residents now fully vaccinated against COVID.

Here are the latest numbers from Illinois’ 11 health care regions:  

Region 1 (Northwest Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 1.5% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 20% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 10/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 2 (West-Central Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 1.4% (increasing)

Hospital Bed Availability: 31% (decreasing)

Hospitalizations: 7/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 3 (West Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 3.7% (increasing)

Hospital Bed Availability: 28% (decreasing)

Hospitalizations: 7/10 days increasing

Region 4 (Southwest Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 5.1% (increasing)

Hospital Bed Availability: 33% (decreasing)

Hospitalizations: 10/10 days increasing

Region 5 (South Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 4.1% (increasing)

Hospital Bed Availability: 26% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 5 straight days increasing

Region 6 (East-Central Illinois):

Positivity Rate: 1.4% (increasing)

Hospital Bed Availability: 44% (decreasing)

Hospitalizations: 9/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 7 (Will, Kankakee counties):

Positivity Rate: 1.2% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 34% (increasing)

Hospitalizations: 8/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 8 (Kane, DuPage counties):

Positivity Rate: 1.1% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 35% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 9/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 9 (McHenry, Lake counties):

Positivity Rate: 1% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 28% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 7/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 10 (Suburban Cook County):

Positivity Rate: 0.8% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 22% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 9/10 days decreasing or stable

Region 11 (Chicago):

Positivity Rate: 0.5% (steady)

Hospital Bed Availability: 22% (steady)

Hospitalizations: 10/10 days decreasing or stable

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