COVID-19 hospitalizations reach new low as Illinois moves to full reopening
With Illinois set to fully reopen Friday, COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to another pandemic low.
The number of virus patients has steadily fallen since topping 1,000 at the start of the month. As of Wednesday night, hospitals were treating 764 patients for COVID-19.
"Everyone who has not been vaccinated yet should go out and get vaccinated," said Danny Chun, a spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association. "The primary reason why the hospitalizations rates have gone down, and that is very good news, is because of the vaccinations. And anecdotally, we're hearing from our hospitals that the people who are being hospitalized now are not vaccinated."
The decline comes as Illinois prepares to take a leap forward with the move into Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan, allowing businesses to lift capacity restrictions and fully vaccinated people to ditch their masks in most settings.
"A strong economy requires that people not only feel safe, but truly be safe, as they go about their lives as workers, neighbors, consumers, and friends," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. "And thanks to the lifesaving power of vaccinations, that day is finally here for Illinois."
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago on Thursday announced churches will celebrate Mass at 100% capacity much like before the pandemic.
Parishioners can make the sign of peace according to their comfort levels. Choirs and congregations can resume singing. Holy water fonts can be filled. And vaccinated people are no longer required to wear a mask with one exception: priests baptizing infants.
In grocery stores, meanwhile, Jewel-Osco said fully vaccinated customers won't need to wear a mask. The chain also is removing floor decals reminding shoppers to adhere to social distancing, but sneeze guards will remain in place.
Overall, more than 5.6 million people in Illinois are fully vaccinated, or nearly 44.6% of the state's population.
More than 68% of individuals ages 18 and older are partially vaccinated against COVID-19, state health officials said. That puts Illinois well within reach of matching President Joe Biden's target of having 70% of U.S. adults receiving at least one shot by July 4.
At the current pace, vaccine providers statewide are averaging 49,572 inoculations a day. Health officials on Thursday reported 62,268 shots were administered in the last 24 hours.
Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna require two doses several weeks apart.
Health officials also logged 366 new cases of COVID-19, while 18 more Illinois residents died from the disease, bringing the state's total death toll to 23,014.
At least 1,386,628 people have been infected statewide since the onset of the pandemic.
The state's seven-day positivity rate for cases as a percentage of tests held steady at 1%.