Monthly COVID deaths drop to an all-time low in Illinois

Hospitalization figures also keep dropping in Illinois

Just 41 Illinois residents died of COVID in June, an all-time monthly low since the outset of the pandemic in March 2020.

That follows a similar trend that shows shrinking hospitalization figures statewide as well, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records show.

The CDC's most recent figures show hospitals throughout Illinois were treating an average of 128 COVID-19 patients a day.

“We are definitely at low levels,” said Dr. Jonathan Pinsky, medical director of infection control and prevention at Edward Hospital in Naperville. “There was one week, at the end of June, where we had no new COVID admissions.”

At its peak, Illinois hospitals were treating an average of nearly 6,700 COVID patients a day in January 2022, thousands of which were in ICU beds.

The highest monthly death toll in Illinois came in December 2020, when 4,237 deaths were recorded.

According to CDC figures, Illinois has recorded 40,279 total COVID deaths since the pandemic began.

When the federal government ended its COVID emergency declaration in mid-May, the Illinois Department of Public Health stopped providing weekly updates on COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations. Even the CDC stopped providing regularly updated data. The most recent federal figures haven't been updated since mid-July.

But that doesn't mean the virus still doesn't pose a threat, medical experts warn. “We've seen a little bit of an uptick of patients testing positive recently on the outpatient side,” Pinsky said.

The predominant strain currently circulating — XBB.1.5 — is a subvariant of the omicron strain that emerged internationally in late 2021. The current vaccine doses are configured to fight multiple strains of omicron.

However, Pinsky said, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with vaccine manufacturers to update boosters for the fall to combat the XBB strain.

“It's similar to the flu where they have to update the vaccine periodically,” Pinsky said.

IDPH officials are urging parents to update their children's' vaccinations for all types of preventable diseases ahead of the start of school. But there is no guidance related to COVID just yet, they noted.

“The CDC has not yet released its recommendations for COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters for this fall,” IDPH officials said in a Friday news release.

Many childhood vaccinations are required for children to attend school, but a COVID vaccination is not one of them.

According to CDC data, 23% of Cook County residents have received the most recent bivalent booster targeted for omicron strains. In DuPage County, 24.7% have received that same booster.

In Lake County, 25.1% of its residents have received the bivalent booster, while 19.4% of McHenry County residents have received it also.

Will County has the lowest uptake among suburban residents at just 17.1%. In Kane County, 18% of the population has received the most recent vaccine booster available.

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