Cook measures lowest COVID-19 transmission rate in state, but it's not out of the woods

This story has been updated to correct the seven-day case positivity rate.

Cook County maintains the lowest COVID-19 transmissibility rate in Illinois per capita, followed by Carroll, Kane and DuPage counties, Illinois Department of Public Health data showed Tuesday.

Cook, which is also Illinois' largest county, measured a transmission rate of 130.6 new cases of COVID-19 over seven days per 100,000 people. Kane stands at 145.6 new cases per capita and DuPage recorded 148.6 between Sept. 13 and Sunday.

McHenry County had a transmission rate of 162.1, Lake County hit 165.3 and Will County was at 171.3.

Locations with 100 cases or more are categorized as "high" transmission rates for the virus.

Transmissibility scores don't necessarily align with vaccination rates, however.

DuPage has the highest number of fully vaccinated people in the metro region with 64%, according to the IDPH. Cook comes next registering 60% of its residents as fully inoculated, followed by Lake with 57%, then Kane, McHenry and Will all hovering at 55% levels.

"There may be various factors that influence the slightly higher case activity in DuPage County when compared to Cook and Kane counties," DuPage County Health Department spokeswoman Stephanie Calvillo said. "However, with COVID-19 case activity at a high level in DuPage and surrounding counties, DCHD, along with our partners, continues to encourage anyone 12 years and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19."

The latest data came as total COVID-19 infections in Illinois surpassed 1.6 million Tuesday.

On Wednesday, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control panel will consider whether to approve use of a Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot. The meeting follows a surprise Friday when U.S. Food and Drug Administration experts rejected giving Pfizer boosters to the general public but recommended them for people 65 and older.

"I'm glad that a decision was made and that people 65 and older will be able to get booster shots," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at an event in Palatine. "We have prepared for this, so people will have it available for them (at various locations)."

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady broke it down further. "I think it's appropriate they're thinking about boosters for older people, especially those in nursing homes," Arwady said, adding that population is more vulnerable for serious breakthrough cases. "It could be over time as we have more data there could be additional groups added."

In the meantime, "don't start trying to do mixing and matching (boosters) yourself at this point," she said. "If you got Moderna or Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, and you're like 'oh, I'm over 65 - should I go get a dose of Pfizer right now?' - that is not something you should do."

Instead, wait for official updates from the CDC likely coming at the end of the week, Arwady said. The government also may expand boosters to health care workers, she noted.

IDPH reported 3,002 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, along with 23 more deaths from the respiratory disease.

On Monday, 13,799 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 19,366.

The federal government has delivered 17,131,065 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December and 14,354,101 shots have been administered.

So far, 6,953,193 people have been fully vaccinated, or 54.6% of Illinois' 12.7 million population. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. require two doses several weeks apart.

Illinois hospitals were treating 2,039 COVID-19 patients on Monday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.4% based on a seven-day average, down from Monday's 3.6% mark.

The death toll from COVID-19 now stands at 24,661 people since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 73,732 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

As of Sept. 1, the state's total COVID-19 case count includes breakthrough infections.

• Daily Herald reporter Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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