illinois coronavirus

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Wide Vaccine Availability ‘Months Away,' Ezike Says

Here are the latest COVID headlines from around the state

Sergio Perez | Reuters

Since coronavirus vaccinations began in Chicago, 1 in 10 residents have received the first dose of the vaccine, the city's top doctor said.

Meanwhile, Chicago's positivity rate is the lowest it's been since the coronavirus arrived in the city.

Here are the latest COVID headlines from around the state:

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,585 New Cases, 35 Additional Deaths Reported Sunday

Health officials in Illinois are reporting 1,585 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, along with 35 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Sunday’s new cases bring the state to 1,174,409 cases of the virus since the pandemic began last year. A total of 20,269 deaths have been reported as a result of the virus.

The seven-day positivity rate continues to drop, with 2.7% of all tests coming back with positive results, according to IDPH. The positivity rate on individuals tested is at 3.1%.

Over the last 24 hours, state laboratories received 75,269 test specimens, with 17,622,800 tests performed during the pandemic in all.

Hospitalizations in the state continue to drop, with 1,468 patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those patients, 365 are currently in intensive care units, while 170 are on ventilators.

Illinois' Top Doc Says Wide Vaccine Availability Months Away

Illinois’ top doctor vowed wide availability of the COVID-19 vaccine to the state's residents, but said it’ll take months for supply to meet demand.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike’s comments in a weekend Chicago Tribune opinion piece come amid complaints of shortages and difficulties in obtaining appointments. The recent blast of winter weather also delayed shipments, leading to canceled appointments.

“It will be months before our supply comfortably outpaces demand — an obstacle we always expected, and the very reason we have devoted so much time and thought to the phases of prioritization,” Ezike wrote. “Everyone deserves their turn to get the vaccine, and it’s my promise to Illinois that we will get there — as efficiently, quickly and equitably as we can.”

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,922 New Cases, 42 Deaths, 77K Vaccinations Reported Saturday

Health officials in Illinois reported 1,922 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, along with 42 additional deaths and more than 77,000 doses of vaccine administered the day before, though severe weather has delayed the number of doses delivered to the state.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Saturday's new confirmed and probable case numbers lifted the statewide total to 1,172,824 cases since the pandemic began.

The death toll now stands at 20,234, according to IDPH.

Over the last 24 hours, 73,212 tests have been administered to Illinois residents, bringing the state total to 17,547,531 since the pandemic began.

The rolling positivity rate on all tests conducted in the last seven days stands at 2.8%, health officials said. The positivity rate on individuals tested was at 3.2%.

As of Friday night, 1,551 people were in Illinois hospitals with coronavirus. Of those, 351 patients were in the ICU and 171 patients were on ventilators.

A total of 77,813 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Illinois over the last 24 hours, health officials said Saturday. That lifted the statewide total number of vaccinations to 2,138,519 doses given thus far, including 278,605 administered at long-term care facilities.

A total of 2,256,975 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, state health officials said, plus 445,200 doses allocated to the federal government’s program for long-term care facilities.

The rolling seven-day daily average of vaccinations stands at 59,190 doses per day, according to IDPH.

1 in 10 Chicagoans Have Received the First Dose of COVID Vaccine: Arwady

Since beginning coronavirus vaccinations throughout the city, 1 in 10 Chicagoans have received the first dose of the vaccine, health officials said this week.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference Friday that 10% of Chicago residents have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"As more vaccine gets here, we can roll out as quickly as we can, keeping always efficiency and equity at the center of our planning," Arwady said. "It's the right thing to do, and it's what helps Chicago get past COVID."

As more residents in long-term care facilities become vaccinated from the virus, Arwady added that 1 in 4 Chicago residents over the age of 65 have received at least the first dose of the vaccine.

Read more here.

COVID-19 Positivity Rate Lowest Since Pandemic Began, Chicago's Top Doc Says

Chicago's coronavirus positivity rate is the lowest it's been since the pandemic began, the city's top doctor announced Friday.

"I'm also happy to announce today, we are at a 3.5% positivity in the city of Chicago," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "That is the lowest positivity that the city of Chicago has seen from COVID, since COVID came to Chicago."

Arwady noted that over the summer, Chicago's positivity rate dropped below 4%, but never to the level the city is recording as of Friday.

Chicago's is averaging 323 new COVID-19 cases per day, Arwady said, which is down from the over 3,000 cases a day recorded at the peak of the virus. The city's daily case count is also below the cutoff that marks a "high-risk area," according to Chicago guidance.

Lyft Teams Up With CVS to Increase Transportation to Vaccinations

Lyft ride share service has teamed up with CVS Health to bring the more "vulnerable populations" receive the coronavirus vaccine, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities.

Opening in March and April for the nearly 10,000 CVS locations nationwide, a driver will take the patient to either a mobile vaccination van or community-based clinic.

"We are committed to reaching people of color and underserved communities to ensure health equity as we work to vaccinate all Americans," Karen S. Lynch, CEO of CVS Health, said. "Our presence in communities across the country uniquely positions CVS Health to educate vulnerable populations and connect them with vaccine administration services."

Lyft is providing rides at a discounted rate to "those in need," along with starting a campaign to provide access to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Half of COVID Vaccine Doses Administered in Last Week Went to Black, Latinx Residents, Chicago Says

After early data painted a "disturbing" picture surrounding racial equity and the coronavirus vaccine in Chicago, the city says at least 50% of doses administered in the last week went to Black or Latinx residents.

The number nearly triples the statistics reported less than a month ago, when the city said just 18% of doses administered early on in the vaccine rollout were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans, despite them making up 59% of the city's population. 

Still, according to city data since vaccinations began, Black and Latinx residents make up less than 40% of the city's total first doses administered.

"Just over two months ago, we finally began to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel we've been in since COVID-19 first came to our city. This light came in the form of long awaited vaccines," Lightfoot said during a news conference Friday. "And while it gave us a glimpse of what a post-COVID Chicago could look like, it also illuminated the significant challenges that we have struggled with throughout this pandemic."

Similar trends were reported across the country.

An early look at 17 states and two cities that released racial breakdowns through Jan. 25 found that Black people in all places were getting inoculated at levels below their share of the general population, in some cases significantly below.

That is true even though they constitute an oversize percentage of the nation's health care workers, who were put at the front of the line for shots when the campaign began in mid-December.

The gap is deeply troubling to some, given that Black, Hispanic and Native American people are dying from COVID-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, according to the CDC.

In December, Chicago reported that 9.8% of first doses went to Latinx residents, 8.1% went to Black residents, 59.4% to white residents and 15.1% went to Asian, non-Latinx residents.

For doses administered in the most recent week the numbers climbed to 26.2% to Latinx residents, 23.6% to Black residents, 41.4% to White residents, and 5.6% to Asian residents.

Read more here.

Can You Socialize Once You're Fully Vaccinated? Experts Answer

After receiving the coronavirus vaccine, when is it safe to expand your social circles or see loved ones?

According to experts on NBC 5's "Vaccinated State" panel, the answer is a bit complicated.

"One thing we don't know about the vaccine is whether or not people will continue to shed virus if they get infected," said Dr. Richard Novak, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases for UI Health. "The vaccine is very effective in preventing people from getting sick, but that doesn't mean they didn't get infection. We don't know you know that yet. And if they do get the infection, we don't know the amount of virus that that they're shedding that's coming out of their body is decreased."

According to Novak, the length of immunity given by the vaccine remains unclear.

"What we do know is that actually an immunity lasts for at least the three months that we've had in the study and actually if you look at the levels of antibodies produced by the vaccines, first, it's higher than a natural infection," Novak said. "And the antibodies the vaccine induces are more potent than the natural infection, and the trajectory of the declining antibodies is quite slow so it's expected that the level of antibodies is going to continue to last for at least a year or more but we don't, we won't, know that until we complete the studies which are still ongoing."

Similarly, grandparents have asked when they can see young grandkids after receiving their vaccination, noting that children have been reported to be less susceptible to severe infections from the virus.

"We don't want to risk the possibility of quietly, silently, unwittingly transferring the virus to the baby," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "The baby could transmit to the parents and other people in the home. So we still need to exercise precautions when we're mixing households."

But what if both people have been fully vaccinated?

Complete vaccination is said to be two weeks after a person receives their second dose of the vaccine.

"To be honest with you, I think it's pretty safe for two completely vaccinated - that means two weeks after their second dose - completely vaccinated people to expand their friends circle to include other completely vaccinated people, and in a moderate way," said Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at University of Chicago Medicine. "I think that's probably pretty reasonable. But I do think it's really important to, for the most part, continue wearing our masks."

Read more here.

For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.

Suburban Counties to Focus on Second Vaccine Doses During Supply Shortage

If you are eligible for the COVID vaccine there may be some bumps in the road over the next few weeks, as several Chicago area county health departments told NBC 5 they are facing a vaccine shortage.

“There’s frustration because we want to get more people get vaccinated and do the best we can,” said Will County Public Health Department spokesperson Steve Brandy.

Brandy said only about 55,000 doses of the originally scheduled 365,000 doses will arrive this week.

As a result, the Will County Health Department and the DuPage County Health Department said they will focus on people getting their second vaccine doses.

“I think it’s particularly unfortunate because we have a very large group of individuals in front of us, even in the original Phase 1B population, who are ready, willing and very able to, to be vaccinated,” said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.

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