More than 250,000 Kane County residents have been vaccinated for COVID-19
With COVID-19 infection numbers continuing to climb, Kane County public health officials muted their celebration of reaching the achievement of having more than 50% of county residents fully vaccinated Wednesday.
More than 250,000 Kane County residents are fully vaccinated. That represents about 52% of the total county population, including residents too young to receive the vaccine at this time.
Public health committee Chairman Jarett Sanchez applauded the milestone and the effectiveness of the vaccine in preventing more deaths than otherwise may have occurred.
"On the other hand, we are still a long way from the goal," Sanchez said. "We want to hit 70%."
That 70% mark would represent a level where health officials believe the evolution of COVID-19 into versions of the virus that are more deadly and easier to catch would slow from the pace that has seen the delta variant become the dominant strain.
The delta variant spreads twice as easily as previous strains. That's manifesting in a nearly sevenfold increase in infections for Region 8 (Kane and DuPage counties) between the first week of July, which averaged 39 cases per day, and the first week of August, which averaged 257 cases per day in the region. Likewise, the rate for COVID-19 tests returning positive in the region was 1% to start July. It is now nearly 7%. A pandemic patient is occupying roughly one of every four local ICU hospital beds.
Add all of that together, and Kane County is now a "high transmission" area.
Uche Onwuta, the county's director of health protection, said the push for vaccines and masking everyone, including vaccinated people, is key to preventing the COVID-19 resurgence some Southern states are seeing.
"To maximize protection from COVID-19 and, in particular, the delta variant, and prevent possibly spreading it to others, everyone regardless of vaccination status should wear a mask indoors when in public," Onwuta said. "We know now that vaccinated people infected with the delta variation can transmit this to others."
County officials said they are already administering booster shots to people with compromised immune systems. Booster shots for other people may become available as soon as the end of September, pending a formal CDC recommendation and approval by the FDA. Local health officials did not rule out reopening satellite mass vaccination sites if needed to meet the demand for boosters.