State sees largest shipment of vaccines as COVID-19 hospitalizations spike

  • More and more doses of COVID-19 vaccine are arriving at mass vaccination sites throughout the state, like the one at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake.

    More and more doses of COVID-19 vaccine are arriving at mass vaccination sites throughout the state, like the one at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 3/24/2021 6:18 AM

While Illinois health officials reported the largest single-day increase to the state's COVID-19 vaccine supply Tuesday, they also noted a significant spike in hospitalizations from the respiratory disease.

Another 454,410 doses of the vaccine were added to Illinois' supply, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures.


But hospitalizations also increased by more than 7.4% from the previous day, concerning many public health officials.

"Even as we're getting more and more vaccine doses, we cannot let our guard down, especially with these virulent new strains circulating," IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike said.

Since the vaccine rollout began in mid-December, Illinois has received 6,211,205 doses of the three types of approved vaccines. In that time, 77.6% of those doses have gone into the arms of Illinois residents and workers, according to state figures.

IDPH officials reported 70,252 more COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered throughout Illinois over the past 24 hours.

That brings the total number of inoculations performed statewide to 4,818,097. Vaccine providers are averaging 91,000 inoculations a day.

Hospitals statewide reported they are treating 1,270 patients for COVID-19 infections. Of those hospitalized, 272 are in intensive care. Both figures are notably higher than the previous day's totals.

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The state's hospitals reported 88 new COVID-19 patients from the previous day. Hospitals have added 138 COVID-19 patients over the past two days. That's the largest two-day growth in hospitalizations since early January.

There were also 39 more COVID-19 patients in ICU beds than the day before, according to state figures. That's the largest single-day increase since Dec. 8. But at that time there were nearly 1,200 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds compared to the fewer than 300 being treated in ICUs today.

The uptick in hospitalizations did not go unnoticed by state health officials.

"We've come so far and are so close to a more normal time, but we're already seeing some concerning plateaus and even increases in hospitalizations and cases," Ezike said. "We're not out of the woods yet, so continue to wear your masks, avoid large crowds, and keep six feet of distance."

It's been nearly a month since there were this many COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide, according to IDPH figures.

The state is broken into 11 health regions that help health officials determine the need for mitigation initiatives if cases and hospitalizations grow above set levels.


Suburban Cook County's Region 10 has seen increases to the seven-day rolling average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in nine of the past 10 days. Hospitals in suburban Cook County are now averaging 356 patients a day being treated for COVID-19 infections. A week ago, the region's seven-day average was 322 patients.

Region 9, which contains Lake and McHenry counties, has seen increases to that hospitalization rate for the past four days. Hospitals in those two counties are treating 55 COVID-19 patients daily, up from 49 on March 18.

Regions 1 and 2, which comprise more than two dozen counties in the northwest part of the state, have also seen spikes in hospitalizations over the past few weeks, according to IDPH records.

IDPH officials also reported Tuesday that 13 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19, while the daily count of new cases was 1,832.

The state's death toll from the respiratory disease is now 21,116, and 1,224,915 have been infected since the pandemic began.

Chicago public health officials updated travel orders, which require people arriving from certain states to provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test or a mandated quarantine for 10 days. Michigan is now on that list.

Dr. Alison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Public Health Department, said all public health departments are looking at not just raw numbers but the growth rates of all metrics.

"Those are things that are predictive of some potential trouble," she said. "If we see a big increase in cases not accompanied by an increase in hospitalization or death, I don't worry about that as much."

The state's seven-day case positivity rate is now at 2.5%. That's down slightly from the previous day but still higher than it had been just a week ago. Case positivity shows the percentage of tests that resulted in new cases of the disease. A seven-day average is used to smooth any anomalies in the daily reporting of new cases and tests.

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