As cases rise, health authorities urge younger people to get vaccinated
With everyone 16 and older now eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, Cook County leaders on Saturday urged younger people to sign up for a shot as soon as possible.
Dr. Kiran Joshi, senior medical officer and co-lead of the Cook County Department of Public Health, said infections among young adults are driving the recent uptick in cases across the region.
"We're at a critical time in this pandemic," he said. "COVID-19 cases have continued to increase over the last month and we're very concerned about the potential for another surge.
"This rise in cases has been fueled by individuals who are in their 20s, 30s and 40s," Joshi added. "So I do urge young people in particular to go out and get vaccinated."
Joshi's remarks came as he, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other leaders visited a vaccination event hosted by the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove. About 1,000 people were expected to receive their first shot of vaccine during the one-day event.
The event took place as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported another 3,194 new confirmed and probable cases of the coronavirus Saturday, along with 23 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19. It's the fifth consecutive day of more than 3,000 new cases, a mark reached just once in all of March.
Among those dead are 12 Cook County residents, along with one each in DuPage, Kane and Will counties.
Hospitalizations also remain high. As of Friday night, 2,160 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Illinois. The previous week's daily average was 1,452 patients in the hospital with the coronavirus.
Of 2,160 hospitalized Friday, 496 were in intensive care and 217 were on ventilators.
Despite the rising number of cases, vaccinations continue at a rapid pace. On Friday, state officials said, 160,014 more dozes of COVID-19 vaccine were given, well above the seven-day rolling average of 127,425 shots. According to IDPH data, 3,269,153 Illinois residents -- more than a quarter of the state's population -- is now fully vaccinated, including about 1.28 million people over the age of 65.
Officials hope to accelerate the pace even further with more events like the one held Saturday in Morton Grove.
"What today represents is something I've been advocating for three or four months, and that is to get it to a local level, especially for the senior population," said Morton Grove Village President Dan DiMaria. "It's not so easy to get in a car and drive 40 miles away to get a shot, and then go back on two or three weeks and do it again."