COVID-19 cases among Illinois youngsters spiking

Illinois health officials are reporting a spike in the number of new COVID-19 cases among young children just as many have become eligible for the vaccine.

More than 16% of the new cases reported Thursday were in children ages 5 to 11, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records. Federal regulators this week approved use of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for that age group.

There were 4,267 new COVID-19 cases reported Thursday, the most in a single day since early September and the first time more than 4,000 new cases were reported in a day in more than a month. However, the state also reported more than 150,000 new test results, the most in a single day since Oct. 1.

A week ago, the state was averaging 2,134 new cases a day. Now, the state is averaging 2,453 new cases a day over the past seven days, which is a 15% increase.

The state has recorded 1,710,044 cases of COVID-19 since the outset of the pandemic.

Despite the large number of cases, the volume of test results tempered the growth in the state's seven-day case positivity rate, which climbed to 2.2% after being below 2% for much of the past two weeks.

Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of test results. A seven-day average is used to account for any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.

IDPH officials also reported 28 more Illinois residents have died of COVID-19, bringing the state's death toll to 25,926.

Hospitals throughout Illinois were treating 1,246 COVID-19 patients, as well, 32 fewer than the day before.

Of those hospitalized, 278 are in intensive care, the fewest since early August.

Younger Illinoisans appear to be driving the increase in new cases statewide. IDPH records show nearly 40% of Thursday's new cases were in Illinois residents 22 or younger.

Of the 4,267 new cases diagnosed, 687 were among the newly vaccine-eligible age group of children ages 5 to 11, according to IDPH data. That accounts for 16.1% of all the new cases Thursday. Some Illinois children in that age group have already begun receiving their inoculations.

The 5-to-11 age group has been seeing a faster rise in case counts than other younger age groups, as well. Two weeks ago, that age group was averaging 268 new cases a day but now is averaging 362 new cases a day over the past week, IDPH records show. That's a 35.1% increase.

By comparison, vaccine-eligible age groups like youngsters ages 12 to 17 saw only a 15.5% increase in the average number of new cases from two weeks ago. For those who are 18 to 22, the average number of cases increased 21% during that same time period, IDPH data shows.

The youngest Illinoisans, newborns to 4 years old and not yet eligible for the vaccine, saw a 19.8% increase in the average daily number of new cases, according to the most recent IDPH figures.

As for vaccinations, 37,216 more doses have been administered statewide, IDPH officials reported.

Providers have now administered 15,858,720 doses of the vaccine since they became available nearly a year ago.

IDPH is also reporting 57.4% of the state's 12.7 million residents are fully vaccinated.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.