Where are Illinois' vaccines? Congressmen want to know why doses for state are lagging

  • Teacher Adam Gryglak of LaGrange prepared for his COVID-19 vaccine last week in Arlington Heights.

    Teacher Adam Gryglak of LaGrange prepared for his COVID-19 vaccine last week in Arlington Heights. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/2/2021 11:56 AM

As Illinois approaches its millionth COVID-19 vaccination, federal data shows it is in the bottom 10 of 50 states both for doses received from the federal government and shots in arms per capita, prompting two members of Congress to ask the White House for a briefing on the supply disconnect.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced some COVID-19 restrictions are expected to ease Tuesday in suburban Cook County.

 

The new rules, known as Phase 4, would allow gatherings of up to 50 people, greater capacity in retail stores and fitness centers, and all youth sports to resume, although with different levels of play depending on the risk for spreading infection. Will and Kankakee counties officially moved into Phase 4 Monday.

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The state has received 1,829,575 doses of vaccine since distribution began in mid-December and 996,410 people have been inoculated, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

But Illinois ranks as the 44th state for administering COVID-19 inoculations and 42nd for receiving doses of the lifesaving vaccine per capita, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data as of Sunday.

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Alabama, Idaho, Iowa, Ohio and Nevada also ranked in the bottom 10 states in both categories.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Bill Foster of Naperville and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg on Monday asked President Joe Biden's COVID-19 coordinator, Jeffrey Zientz, to explain how Illinois can be assured of getting its share.

Alaska is No. 1 with 26,403 doses received per 100,000, while South Carolina is last with 10,879 per 100,000 people.

Illinois received 13,389 doses per 100,000 people compared to 15,442 per 100,000 in Pennsylvania; both states' populations are around 12.7 million.

"We do not understand why there would be sizable geographic differences in per capita vaccine distribution across the country," Foster and Krishnamoorthi wrote, blaming the Trump administration. "It is imperative that this lag in distribution to Illinois be rectified," the two said.

In the last 24 hours, 14,422 people received COVID-19 shots compared to the seven-day average of 43,278, but those numbers were affected by the weekend's heavy snow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

New cases of COVID-19 totaled 2,312 Monday, with 16 more people dying from the respiratory disease.

That's the fewest fatalities since Nov. 9, when 14 deaths were reported, and the lowest caseload since 1,617 infections were recorded on Oct. 6. But experts said delayed data collection could account for the low numbers.

"Snow could be a factor if people were unable to make it into work to report," state health department spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said.

So far, 219,367 people -- or 1.72% of Illinois' population -- have been fully vaccinated.

Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.

Illinois hospitals were treating 2,387 patients with COVID-19 as of Sunday night, the lowest tally since Oct. 20.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.9% based on a seven-day average.

To move into Phase 4, regions must have a positivity rate for COVID-19 tests of 6.5% for three consecutive days, hospital ICU beds must be at 20% availability for three consecutive days, and there must be no sustained increase in COVID-19 patients for seven out of 10 days.

Suburban Cook is on track to meet those metrics Tuesday, officials said. Masking and social distancing are still required and youth sports must follow some complex rules.

For example, low-risk sports like gymnastics can return to out-of-state tournaments and championships, as can moderate-risk outdoor sports like soccer. But indoor moderate-risk sports like volleyball or high-risk sports like basketball will be limited to intraconference or intraleague play.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,128,613, and 19,259 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

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