COVID-19 death rates rise but still below pre-vaccine levels

The daily average of Illinoisans dying from COVID-19 edged up in January compared to December but is still below highs seen in the first year of the pandemic.

Most vulnerable to the virus are the elderly, Illinois Department of Public Health data showed Thursday.

The average daily number of COVID-19 deaths in January as of Thursday is 79 compared to about 48 people in December. However, in December 2020 amid a virus surge before vaccines were available to the general public, deaths averaged nearly 136 people a day.

Omicron, the super-contagious variant of COVID-19, typically causes milder symptoms in those who are vaccinated but still poses a serious risk for people who are unvaccinated, seniors and people with serious medical conditions, health experts explained.

Of 585 Illinoisans who died from COVID-19 in the last week, 234 or 40% of the total were age 80 and older. Individuals in their 70s represented nearly 22% of the tally, or 127 residents, from Jan. 7 through Thursday.

Additional deaths in the seven-day period included: 118 people in their 60s, 20% of the total; 64 people in their 50s or about 11%; and 28 people in their 40s, or 4.8%.

Illinoisans 30 and younger constituted 2.4% of the total deaths, with seven people in their 30s, six in their 20s, and one person aged 19 or younger succumbing to the virus in the last seven days.

New cases of COVID-19 totaled 37,048 Thursday with 142 more deaths, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

Patients in the hospital with COVID-19 came to 7,380 as of Wednesday night, the highest count since the pandemic began.

On Wednesday, 58,899 more COVID-19 shots were administered. The seven-day average is 51,776.

The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 11.5% based on a seven-day average.

So far, 8,237,535 people have been fully vaccinated, which is 65% of Illinois' 12.7 million population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC defines fully vaccinated as having two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of Johnson & Johnson's shot.

Of those people who are fully vaccinated, 42.5% have received a booster shot.

The federal government has delivered 22,464,505 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December 2020, and 19,838,302 shots have been administered.

Total cases statewide stand at 2,560,001, and 28,946 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.

Labs processed 257,206 virus tests in the last 24 hours.

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