17,000 health workers vaccinated so far; nursing homes could get shots Dec. 28
Deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 15,000 Friday, officials reported, as more than 17,000 health care workers in the suburbs and beyond have been vaccinated against the respiratory disease so far.
Also, seniors in Illinois long-term care facilities should begin receiving shots to combat the virus the week of Dec. 28, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said.
Illinois' current supply of the Pfizer Inc. vaccine should be supplemented by a Moderna Inc. version in the coming days, after the Food and Drug Administration approved it Friday night, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a briefing.
The Modern vaccine is "more than 94% effective after two doses, and it's proven very safe in clinical trials," Pritzker said.
"Based on the federal government's likely delivery schedule, Illinois hospitals can expect their Moderna shipments sometime early next week."
Pritzker noted that as of Friday morning, more than 17,000 health care workers in the suburbs and elsewhere in Illinois had been vaccinated. Chicago has a separate tally.
New cases of COVID-19 came to 7,377, with 181 additional deaths, the IDPH reported.
The state is partnering with Walgreens and CVS to administer the vaccines at nursing homes.
Deerfield-based Walgreens started giving COVID-19 vaccines at long-term care facilities in Ohio and Connecticut on Friday.
"With more than a decade of experience administering various vaccines, we have the deep expertise to support this unprecedented effort," Walgreens President John Standley said in a statement.
Asked about lifting strict "Tier 3" restrictions that include closing movie theaters and banquet halls, and banning indoor dining and fitness classes, Pritzker said he would wait until after the holidays and review COVID-19 metrics in the state's 11 public health regions.
"I am very glad things are moving in the right direction. I'm also concerned the numbers have not come down as precipitously as we would have liked to have seen," he said. "It's of great concern to us. We're still seeing 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, cases every day."
The seven-day average for new cases is 7,615.
IDPH rules state Tier 3 restrictions will be eased if a region's positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is less than 12% for three days, more than 20% of general and ICU hospital beds are available for three days, and the number of COVID-19 patients decreases for seven out of 10 days. Test positivity is measured by dividing positive COVID-19 tests by total tests.
On Tuesday, suburban Cook (Region 10) recorded its first day since Dec. 6 under the 12% positivity threshold, according to the latest IDPH data. As of Thursday, hospitalizations had declined for 10 days, but bed availability hovered at 17%.
Lake and McHenry counties (Region 9) have stayed under 12% positivity and shown decreases in patients for six days. But general bed availability was 18% on Thursday.
DuPage and Kane counties (Region 8) have measured below 12% positivity for five days, with patient numbers dropping for nine days. But general bed availability was 16% on Thursday.
Will and Kankakee counties (Region 7) fell under 12% positivity Tuesday with 10 days of lower patient numbers. But bed availability was under 20% as of Thursday.
Statewide, there were 4,690 COVID-19 patients in hospitals as of Thursday night compared with the seven-day average of 4,896.
The case positivity rate for COVID-19 cases reached 8% based on a seven-day average.
Labs processed 112,292 tests in the last 24 hours.
Total virus cases since the pandemic began stand at 886,805 and fatalities are 15,015.