With the U.S. experiencing a rapid rise in the more transmissible delta variant, portions of Illinois are seeing increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.
According to statewide data, most of Illinois continues to see historically-low coronavirus positivity rates, however, upticks in COVID metrics have been reported in the state's health care regions that border hard-hit Missouri.
Region 4, which borders St. Louis, has seen a huge 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. Approximately one month later, that positivity rate has now more than quadrupled, currently standing at 6.1%.
Hospitalizations have also risen dramatically in the region, increasing for 13 consecutive days, according to IDPH data.
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In Region 3, which includes Springfield and several counties that border Missouri, positivity rates have also quadrupled in a matter of weeks. On June 16, the positivity rate was at 1%, and as of July 3, it is now at 4.5%.
In Region 5, comprised of counties in the far southern tip of Illinois, positivity rates have nearly gone up by five times, from 1% on June 1 to 5.2% as of July 6. Hospitalizations have also increased each of the last eight 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%.
This week, the state's health department predicted three Lake of the Ozarks-area counties could be the next to get hit hard with the delta variant because of spread from the southwest Missouri region. Outbreaks have been reported in several states, mostly in areas with low vaccination rates.
Studies have shown that the delta variant spreads approximately 225% faster than the original strain of the virus. Studies have also shown that once a person catches the delta variant, they likely become infectious sooner, and that the virus grows more rapidly inside a person’s respiratory tract.
As the delta variant continues to spread, experts are continuing to push for more Americans to get the COVID vaccine. All three of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have shown to be largely effective against preventing serious illness and death due to COVID, and all three companies say that their vaccines are showing promise in preventing those outcomes with the delta variant as well.