Nursing home staffs continue to lag residents for COVID-19 vaccinations

An expected COVID-19 vaccination pep talk by President Joe Biden Wednesday in Chicago coincides with average shot tallies in Illinois flattening despite mandates and broad differences among nursing homes in inoculation of employees.

Although 86.8% of nursing homes residents in Illinois have been vaccinated against the deadly virus, just 65.7% of the people who care for them have received shots, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported Monday.

The highest staff inoculation rate in the U.S. is 90.5% in Hawaii, and the lowest is Louisiana with 50.4%, according to CDC data as of Sept. 12.

Out of 705 Illinois nursing homes, there are 257 locations where employee COVID-19 vaccination rates are 75% or higher, more than one-third of the total.

However, at 163 locations, nearly one-quarter of the tally, staff inoculation rates are 50% or lower.

Covenant Living's Windsor Park facility in Carol Stream is in the upper tier with 77.6% of workers vaccinated and expects to meet Gov. J.B. Pritzker's deadline for all teachers and health care workers to be fully vaccinated or else undergo regular testing. Those employees had a Sept. 19 deadline for a first shot, with a second dose up to 30 days later.

“Covenant Living will be in compliance with the state's mandate for health care workers,” Director of Public Relations Randy Eilts stated.

Meanwhile, 168 nursing home employees across Illinois contracted COVID-19 in the week ending Sept. 12, the CDC reported.

Biden is expected to “highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses” during his visit, the White House said.

Despite various Illinois vaccination mandates, including for certain state workers such as prison guards, the seven-day average of daily COVID-19 shots mostly has hovered in the 19,000 to 20,000 range for the last two weeks.

So far, 7,014,721 Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated, or 55% of the state's 12.7 million population, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Monday.

From Friday through Sunday, 66,204 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 20,827 per day.

New COVID-19 infection averages, however, have dropped by 22% in two weeks.

As of Monday, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases per day average was 2,863. From Sept. 7 to 13, that average was 3,679.

On Saturday, 2,500 new COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths were recorded. On Sunday there were 2,142 cases and 20 deaths, and on Monday 2,029 new cases and five deaths were counted, the IDPH reported. The state does not update its COVID-19 data over the weekend.

Illinois hospitals were treating 1,893 COVID-19 patients Sunday night.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 2.5% based on a seven-day average.

Total cases statewide stand at 1,618,800, and 24,860 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 317,474 virus tests in the last 72 hours.

The federal government has delivered 17,212,225 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 14,486,090 shots have been administered. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses several weeks apart.

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