Illinois reports 117 more COVID-19 deaths, 6,642 new cases
Saying she was taking the COVID-19 vaccine in hopes she could soon hug her mother again, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike received her first dose today at a Cook County Public Health Department clinic.
"I waited to let my physician colleagues and other health care workers receive the vaccine first because they did have a higher risk of getting infected by going into the hospital every day; going into the clinic every day where they were taking care of people with known COVID and suspected COVID diagnoses," Ezike said before receiving the shot. "But we all now know hundreds, if not now thousands, of individuals that didn't end up in a hospital, that don't work in a hospital and also contracted this deadly virus."
An emotional Ezike said she was taking the vaccine for her family's well-being and to eventually again hug her mother, whom she hasn't been able to embrace since her father's funeral in February. She also urged others to be inoculated as well when the vaccine is made available to them.
"I can't wait until we have enough for every single person so we can put this nightmare behind us," she said.
IDPH officials announced today that 117 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19, while 6,642 new cases were diagnosed.
That brings the state's death toll from the respiratory disease to 17,743, while 1,040,168 residents of the state have been infected throughout the pandemic.
The state's seven-day average case positivity rate is at 7.5%, the fourth straight day it has declined. The rate is used to determine the level of spread throughout a specific population, and health officials use a seven-day average to smooth out any daily anomalies in new cases and test results.
For the second day in a row, the state is averaging fewer new cases of the virus, based on a seven-day average as well. IDPH figures show the state is averaging 6,921 new cases a day over the past week. That figure had been on the rise since just after Christmas, peaking Sunday at an average of 6,990 new cases a day.
Throughout the state, 3,553 patients are hospitalized with the virus, and 757 are in intensive care, according to IDPH records. The hospitalization figures are increasing slightly for two consecutive days, which was expected after the state experienced the rise in cases beginning a couple weeks ago. That's because hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, which means it can take a week or two before new cases of the virus result in hospitalizations, medical experts have said throughout the pandemic.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports on its vaccine distribution tracking website covid.cdc.gov, that Illinois has received 903,000 doses of the vaccine and the most recent figures show 347,005 people have received at least one dose of the two-dose vaccines.
Currently, residents and workers of long-term care facilities are eligible for vaccination, as well as hospital workers and other health care professionals, such as Ezike.
Ezike's inoculation took about six minutes to perform. Before taking the shot, patients must acknowledge they understand the risk of possible side effects, which takes about two minutes to go through. Then, patients are asked a series of questions about their medical history, which takes about two minutes more. An additional two minutes is needed to prep the vaccine and needle for injection and sterilize the patient's arm.
In a moment of levity at Ezike's inoculation, after acknowledging she was aware of the side effects and answering the medical history questions, the IDPH director joked, "Now do I get to kiss the vaccine?"
Ezike will receive her second vaccine dose in 21 days. She noted Monday that roughly 12,000 people who were inoculated with their first dose three weeks ago have received the second dose. She is hopeful those who might be skeptical of the vaccine will see how well those who were vaccinated are doing and get inoculated as well.
"You will continue to see people who have gotten their doses and are doing well, and I hope that will help move that needle, pun intended," Ezike said.