Suburban COVID-19 caseload down by nearly 11% from last week
Illinois and the suburbs have experienced a weeklong decline in COVID-19 cases, signaling to some public health experts that a recent surge might have subsided.
"We've seen stabilization or just a little bit of decline, and that's exactly what we want to see," Chicago Public Health Director Dr. Alison Arwady said Tuesday. "Hopefully we're seeing a true stabilization of the outbreak here. If we can consistently see continued drops, we're going to be a little more confident about taking more steps to reopening."
Since April 13, the state's seven-day rolling average number of cases has declined by nearly 10%. In the suburbs, which includes suburban Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties, that figure is down nearly 11% during the same weeklong period.
The state's seven-day case positivity rate is also continuing its steady decline over the past week, dropping from 4.4% a week ago to 3.8% Tuesday. Case positivity shows the percentage of new cases derived from all test results returned. A seven-day window is used to smooth any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.
Vaccinations and continued safety practices of social distancing and wearing masks are being lauded for the shift in caseloads.
"If you want us open and Chicago fully back to the way we were, getting everybody vaccinated is the way to do that," Arwady said. "Assuming we don't see a new emergence of variants, we are going to get to a point later this year."
However, the state is expecting a 15% decline in the number of vaccine doses this week from the previous week.
While providers around the state are set to receive 466,870 doses, that's almost 85,000 fewer doses than the state received last week from the federal government, according to Illinois Department of Public Health figures.
"Some of the decrease is due to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but also because there was a one-time bump of Pfizer (doses) a couple weeks back, which then resulted in a lot of second doses last week," said Melaney Arnold, an IDPH spokeswoman.
Last week, federal regulators halted the use of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it was discovered six women who had received that vaccine developed rare intracranial blood clots.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has slated a Friday hearing to determine the fate of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine's future use. Many experts believe it will return to circulation with some level of additional warning or limitations on who can receive it.
So far, 10,162,155 vaccine doses have been delivered to Illinois since the immunization process began in mid-December.
Of the new vaccine doses arriving in Illinois this week, 225,960 are earmarked for use in suburban Cook County as well as the DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will, according to IDPH figures.
The suburbs will receive enough vaccine to administer 145,360 first doses this week and 80,600 second doses.
A total of 8,201,830 vaccines have been administered in Illinois, state officials said. That includes 81,963 more on Monday.
IDPH officials noted the number of vaccines administered at Walgreens stores Monday were not included because of a "technical issue." Those figures will be updated Wednesday, officials said.
State officials also reported 3,416,113 people are now fully vaccinated in Illinois.
And while cases have been declining, hospitalizations continue to increase. Health experts note this is not unexpected as hospitalizations are a lagging indicator of infection levels in a pandemic. It could take two weeks or longer once cases begin to decline to see the effect on hospitalizations. Currently, hospitals throughout the state are treating 2,288 COVID-19 patients, with 522 of them in intensive care beds, according to IDPH records.
IDPH figures Tuesday showed nine more residents have died and 2,587 new cases were diagnosed.
That brings the state's death toll from COVID-19 to 21,694, with 1,306,787 residents infected since the outset of the pandemic.