Suburban COVID-19 cases rise at long-term-care facilities even as vaccines begin

  • Nursing home residents and workers throughout the country continue their COVID-19 vaccinations that some national pharmacy chain officials say is going "smoother" than expected.

    Nursing home residents and workers throughout the country continue their COVID-19 vaccinations that some national pharmacy chain officials say is going "smoother" than expected. Associated Press File Photo/Dec. 16, 2020

 
 
Updated 1/9/2021 2:02 PM

Of the nearly 750 Illinois residents who died from COVID-19 over the past week, almost half were residents of the state's long-term care facilities.

That's according to the most recent data released Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health regarding outbreaks of the virus throughout the state's nursing homes, assisted living centers and other congregate care facilities.

 

This week's deaths came even as vaccinations are underway for long-term care residents and staff members in the hope of dramatically curtailing outbreaks.

Friday's figures mirror what the state has experienced throughout the pandemic, with slightly less than half the state's 17,395 COVID-19 deaths attributed to residents of such facilities.

The deaths in the past week include 140 people from Chicago and the suburbs. Another 663 more long-term care residents in Chicago and suburbs were diagnosed with the respiratory disease, according to IDPH figures.

Health experts are optimistic vaccinations of residents and workers will soon cut caseloads at long-term care facilities, where national pharmacy chains have been contracted by the federal government to provide inoculations.

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"One of my field colleagues had mentioned the vaccination clinics are going 'much smoother than I would have anticipated,'" CVS Pharmacy spokesman Charlie Rice-Minoso said.

IDPH officials have not provided data on how many residents of long-term care facilities have received one or both doses of the vaccine. Roughly half the state's allotment of vaccine goes to pharmacies that provide the shots.

According to the most recent figures for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Illinois has received 769,700 doses of the first two types of vaccines, and 234,051 people have received the first of two doses.

On Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and several other Midwestern governors wrote the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "demanding" the federal government release more doses to the states.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Up to now, this vaccine has only been offered to a very specific group of people at very specific locations," Pritzker said. "Our states are ready to work alongside the federal government to expand vaccine distribution so that we can protect the well-being of all our residents, families, small businesses and our economy."

Illinois recorded 126 more COVID-19 deaths and another 9,277 new cases of the disease Friday, according to IDPH figures.

More than 1 million residents of the state have been infected with the virus since the beginning of the pandemic, or nearly one in every 12 Illinoisans.

Hospitals statewide reported treating 3,777 patients for COVID-19 Thursday, down almost 150 patients from the day before. Of those hospitalized, 780 were in intensive care.

While the state's seven-day average case positivity rate remained at 8.5% for the second day in a row Friday, similar rates in Chicago and the suburbs rose once again. Will County is now reporting a 12% case positivity rate, based on a seven-day average. It's been nearly a month since Will County's rate was that high, according to IDPH records.

However, Will County was one of the few bright spots among the new data released on long-term care facilities Friday. It was the only suburban county to report fewer cases than the week before and fewer facilities with active outbreaks.

There are 30 Will County long-term care facilities with active COVID-19 cases this week, down from 33 the week before. There are also 1,866 active cases there, down 46 cases from a week ago. However, seven more residents of Will County long-term care facilities died last week.

Since the outset of the pandemic, 304 residents of care facilities in Will County have died, 39% of the county's total number of COVID-19 deaths.

IDPH reports the following figures for long-term care facilities in other areas:

• In Chicago and the rest of suburban Cook County, 492 more cases and 86 more deaths over the past week, and 3,097 or 37% of the county's total deaths have been long-term care residents.

• In DuPage County, 2 new cases, 11 more deaths last week, 594 of the county's 1,020 total deaths, or 58%, have been long-term care residents.

• In Kane County, 78 new cases, 11 more deaths last week, 303 or 50% of the county's deaths have been long-term care residents.

• In Lake County, 74 new cases and 18 more deaths last week, 482 or 61% of county's total deaths have been long-term care residents.

• In McHenry County, 63 new cases last week, 7 more deaths, 138 or 64% of the county's total deaths have been long-term care residents.

Combined, 4,918 residents at long-term care facilities in Chicago and the suburbs have died since the outset of the pandemic. That's nearly 57% of the 8,670 long-term care facility residents' deaths statewide, according to IDPH records.

Staff Writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.

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