Illinois data shows long-term care vaccinations lag behind health care worker inoculations

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health is allowing indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Will and Kankakee counties to resume with capacity limits after easing some COVID-19 restrictions.

    The Illinois Department of Public Health is allowing indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Will and Kankakee counties to resume with capacity limits after easing some COVID-19 restrictions. Associated Press file photo

 
 
Updated 1/29/2021 3:17 PM
To correct a number, 524,050 COVID-19 vaccine doses were sent to long-term care facilities.

COVID-19 vaccinations at long-term care facilities lag behind the rest of Illinois with just 17.3% of doses going into arms under a federal program, compared with 53.5% for health care workers getting inoculated through state and local efforts.

As of Thursday, Illinois has received 1,425,075 doses of the desperately needed COVID-19 virus vaccine. Of those, 901,025 doses were channeled through state and local agencies and 481,637 shots were given to health care workers, Illinois Department of Public Health data showed. The remainder -- 524,050 doses -- went to long-term care sites, with 90,752 shots administered by pharmacies including Walgreens and CVS working for the federal government.

 

"Pharmacy partners are working to increase their staffing so that available doses can be administered more quickly," said Jordan Abudayyeh, spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The state communicates with the pharmacies "and will continue to offer our assistance with all available resources to complete this work." She noted federal numbers are just updated twice a week, not daily.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said, "we continue to work with Illinois' health departments, the participating pharmacies, and long-term facilities in order to ensure they have the resources, information sharing, and capacity to swiftly vaccinate our long-term care residents."

State officials also announced easing certain COVID-19 restrictions in Will and Kankakee counties (Region 7) that will allow restaurants and bars to start serving indoors with capacity limits.

"We're all thrilled with where we are right now with our mitigation efforts to bring the region back into Tier 1, which loosens restrictions on businesses," Will County Chief Epidemiologist Alpesh Patel said.

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Suburban Cook (Region 10), Lake and McHenry (Region 9), and DuPage and Kane (Region 8) plus Chicago remain in Tier 2, under stricter activity limits that ban indoor service at restaurants and bars.

That leaves Naperville, bisected by Will and DuPage counties, with relieved and frustrated restaurateurs.

"It is odd that the health regions would break up a city," Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico said, adding the opposite occurred in 2020 when the Will portion of Naperville was under tighter restrictions than the DuPage section.

"As a result, a restaurant that was one block south of the county line could not open but restaurants a couple of blocks to the north could," Chirico noted.

"It's not surprising to see their numbers (Will and Kankakee) coming down at a more rapid pace than the higher-populated areas," said state Sen. Don DeWitte, a St. Charles Republican. Region 8 "has a little more work to do but it's not very far from Tier 1."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

For Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties to move into Tier 1, it will require a positivity rate on COVID-19 tests of below 8% for three consecutive days, 20% or higher of ICU beds available for three consecutive days, and no sustained increase in COVID-19 hospital patients for seven out of 10 days.

Suburban Cook meets bed and hospitalization metrics but has just one day at 7.9% positivity. Lake and McHenry are in a similar situation with an 8.1% positivity rate. DuPage and Kane meet the ICU bed threshold but have only one day at 7.9% and six days of patient decreases.

Region 7's move into Tier 1 will also allow gatherings of up to 25 people. Restaurants in Tier 1 can have up to 25 guests or serve at 25% capacity, whichever is less.

IDPH officials also said 34,649 more vaccine doses were given as of Wednesday, and the seven-day inoculation average is 22,585. Vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. require two doses, several weeks apart.

New cases of COVID-19 reached 4,979 with 123 more deaths. The number of COVID-19 patients in Illinois hospitals came to 3,281 as of Wednesday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases stands at 5.4% based on a seven-day average.

Total virus infections since the pandemic began are 1,086,333 with 18,520 deaths.

Labs processed 99,036 tests in the last 24 hours.

Regarding the Tier 1 actions, "This does not mean we can let our guard down," IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "We must continue to practice actions to protect ourselves from the virus -- wear our masks, avoid large gatherings, and get the vaccine when it is our turn."

The state's restrictions are intended to reduce the spread of COVID-19 but it doesn't mean all bars and restaurants are following the rules. The Lake County Health Department recently filed complaints against four Gurnee-area restaurants that defied the indoor service ban.

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