As new Illinois COVID-19 cases jump 30% in two weeks, doctors urge boosters to fight omicron
The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases jumped by 30% in two weeks, state data showed Monday, as the tally of Illinoisans getting booster shots, a crucial tool against the virus, lagged.
From Dec. 15 to Monday, daily infections averaged 10,179, compared to 7,153 from Dec. 7 to 13.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases rose from 4.9% Friday to 5.5% based on a seven-day average, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported. That's the highest rate since Jan. 20.
More cases have meant busy hospitals, with patient averages growing by 16% in two weeks.
"It's really disappointing especially with the holiday season to see everything turn south," said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, Edward Hospital's medical director of infection control and prevention.
Of those in the hospital, "we're not seeing too many breakthrough cases this round. I would say that there's an even higher percentage of unvaccinated patients requiring hospitalization compared to previously. ... About 85% of admissions are unvaccinated."
Along with vaccinations for first-timers, health authorities are pushing booster shots for fully vaccinated people ages 16 and older as the best way to protect against the delta variant of COVID-19 and the emerging omicron strain.
Recently, the state reported about 40% of eligible Illinoisans had boosters.
"We need to do a lot better because, first of all, you need a booster to get the best protection against the delta variant; with a booster you're 95% more protected than you are with two doses," Pinsky said.
"The bigger reason is omicron is a threat, and that is coming soon," he said. "With a booster, you can get 70% to 80% protection against omicron. With two doses you may only have a 30% protection."
The omicron variant accounted for 73% of new coronavirus cases in the United States from Dec. 12 to 18, according to projections from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New cases of COVID-19 totaled 31,459 over the weekend with 111 more people dying from the respiratory disease, the IDPH reported Monday.
Patients in the hospital with COVID-19 came to 3,960 Sunday night, the highest since Dec. 31, 2020. The seven-day average of COVID-19 patients totaled 3,774.6 from Dec. 13 to Sunday compared to 3,249 from Dec. 6 to 12.
On Sunday, 40,866 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 65,382.
On Monday, 12,328 new virus cases were reported, the most since Nov. 7, 2020.
Daily infections were 7,705 on Sunday and 11,426 on Saturday. Eleven people died from COVID-19 on Monday, 26 on Sunday and 74 on Saturday. The state does not release pandemic data on the weekend.
So far, 7,636,657 Illinoisans have been fully vaccinated, or about 60% of the state's 12.7 million population, according to the IDPH. The CDC reports a higher percentage. That means two doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or one of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
There have been 2,711,478 booster doses administered in the state.
The federal government has delivered 21,061,135 doses of the vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December, and 18,638,831 shots have been administered.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,975,515, and 27,228 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.
Labs processed 191,218 virus tests in the last 24 hours.