Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike confirmed Thursday that residents' personal information, including immigration status, will be protected when officials begin rolling out the coronavirus vaccine.
When asked if individuals' immigration statuses would be required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Ezike responded saying the health department would "protect information of all people" who get the vaccine.
"We need to make sure we get numbers for how many people are immunized to know which areas and ethnic groups [receive the vaccine]," Ezike said. "But we will do all we can to protect the status of everyone."
Ezike added that she doesn't want people to be discouraged to receive the vaccine and that the health department will push a message to all communities once a vaccine is approved.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker expressed cautious optimism Thursday saying the state has not yet seen coronavirus metrics head back in the wrong direction.
During his daily coronavirus briefing, Pritzker said the state has not yet seen a reverse in progress, but that the Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge may still come.
"At the beginning of the week, I said that I was hopeful that some of the recent early improvement in our COVID leading indicators will continue; I’m glad to say that we have yet to see a reversal in our progress that would dash that hope, though again, we are not out of the Thanksgiving surge period yet," Pritzker said.
Pritzker added that Illinois continues to have hundreds more Illinoisans in the hospital fighting COVID-19 than in the spring, but also seeing hundreds below the overall pandemic record set Nov. 25.
As of midnight, 5,138 coronavirus patients are hospitalized in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Of those patients, 1,081 are currently in intensive care units, and 606 are on ventilators.
Though Pritzker said the state has made progress, he reminded that he cannot overstate how prelimiary the progress has been.
"We are at a time of year where traditional gatherings are usually abundant – and
because of the severity of this pandemic, it’s really never been more important not to do so," Pritzker said.
Ezike also reminded people to not gather this year for holiday parties and end of the year celebrations. Instead, she said people should begin planning for an "end of the pandemic party" for next year.