COVID-19 cases continue climb, but so do vaccinations

  • Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 136,998 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given statewide since Friday.

    Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 136,998 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given statewide since Friday. Associated Press File Photo/March 2020

 
 
Updated 8/17/2021 6:34 AM

Another 9,126 cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed last weekend, including more than 4,000 Saturday, the highest single-day caseload since early April.

Other metrics continue to rise as well, with hospitalizations up 35% from a week ago.

 

But vaccinations also are up, with 136,998 more doses given statewide since Friday, Illinois Department of Public Health officials said Monday.

The surge in cases does not appear to be slowing down, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

"We're going to be in this a little while longer," he said, speaking at a bill-signing ceremony in Springfield. "We're going to deal with this for some time, it's clear, because there are many people who aren't yet vaccinated."

The state's COVID-19 death toll stands at 23,624, and 1,466,813 residents have been infected. Thirty died last weekend.

Meanwhile, the total number of vaccine doses administered in Illinois is at 13,647,871, with 58% of the vaccine-eligible population of residents 12 and older fully vaccinated, according to IDPH figures. Providers are averaging 38,840 shots a day in the past week, a 53% increase in the number of shots given each day from a week ago.

State Senate President Don Harmon experienced a breakthrough infection last week, though he is fully vaccinated, according to his representatives.

Harmon said he had mild symptoms and credited the vaccination he received in the spring for his symptoms not getting worse.

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"I'm even more grateful to be vaccinated, given how mild my symptoms have been," the Oak Park Democrat said. "I encourage everyone to get vaccinated and also to not let their guard down as we try to get back to normal."

Medical experts say while COVID-19 vaccines are intended to prevent infection, the immunizations also act to minimize the effects of the virus when breakthrough infections do occur. Health officials say the majority of Americans hospitalized or dying from COVID-19 these days are unvaccinated.

Cook County Department of Public Health leaders on Monday urged vaccination mandates for all health care workers, contractors and volunteers.

"It is an obligation for health care workers to protect themselves from contracting diseases they could pass on to their patients," said Dr. Rachel Rubin, the agency's colead and senior medical officer. "As the delta variant storms through Cook County, we must make sure that all people, especially the most vulnerable, are fully protected, and that starts by protecting our health care workers with vaccinations."

On the heels of that plea, Cook County Health Systems issued a notice that employees of the county-run hospital and health care program risk losing their jobs if they aren't fully vaccinated by Oct. 1. Exemptions will be made for religious or medical reasons, said Israel Rocha, the agency's CEO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect the well-being of our patients, visitors, staff and the communities we serve," he said. "As an entity entrusted with the health of the residents of Cook County, this is simply the right thing to do."

NorthShore University Health System followed suit, requiring full vaccination by Oct. 31.

While the state has mandated all schools require masks for students, faculty and staff indoors to start the school year, officials stopped short of mandating vaccinations for those eligible in education settings.

"I'm certainly encouraging people to get vaccinated, but school districts who feel it's important, that's up to them," Pritzker said. "In regards to masks and how long mask requirements may go, you all have seen this virus tends to have cycles to it and its variants. It is part of the process of keeping people safe and healthy in our schools, especially young people under 12 who don't have a vaccine available to them. We're going to be in this a little while longer."

IDPH officials reported 1,862 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized statewide, with 423 in intensive care. Hospitals across the state are treating 35% more COVID-19 patients now than just one week ago, records show.

Largely due to the growth of delta variant cases, the state's seven-day average case positivity rate is at 5.3%, according to IDPH records. Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests and allows health officials to monitor the growth or decline of infections within a certain population. A seven-day average is used to smooth any anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.

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