COVID-19 vaccination, testing efforts hampered by huge snowfall

Vaccine shipments from the federal government are expected to be disrupted this week due to the severe weather blanketing the Midwest.

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Melissa Kelly, 64, a special education classroom assistant at Albany Park Multicultural Academy in Albany Park, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Weiss Memorial Hospital on the North Side.

Melissa Kelly, 64, a special education classroom assistant at Albany Park Multicultural Academy in Albany Park, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine Monday at Weiss Memorial Hospital on the North Side.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The severe winter weather wreaking havoc on sidewalks and roadways across Illinois will disrupt COVID-19 vaccination and testing efforts statewide for the rest of the week, officials said Tuesday.

Shots and swabs were put on hold at city-run sites after more than a foot of snow blanketed parts of Chicago, and the brutal conditions gripping the entire Midwest will also delay vaccine shipments coming from the federal government “over the upcoming days,” according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

That goes for city-run vaccination sites as well as other private providers, so officials say anyone with a coveted appointment scheduled for this week should confirm or reschedule.

Vaccine shipments are requested on an overnight basis, so the supply is expected to “catch up quickly.” City officials say they’ll decide on operations “on a day-to-day basis.”

“While there is currently no estimated time of arrival on the orders, we anticipate daily updates from CDC,” the city’s Public Health Department said in a statement.

Statewide, only 40,354 shots went into arms Monday as the sloppy weather pummeled the area. That was just a few hundred more than the number of doses administered Sunday; both marked the state’s least-productive vaccination days in a week.

That dip has sent Illinois’ rolling average of shots doled out per day over the past week down to 63,772. The state set a record with more than 95,000 shots administered Feb. 11.

“Weather will most likely contribute to reduced vaccinations over the next several days,” the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement.

Almost 2.5 million vaccine doses have been shipped to Illinois overall. About 1.9 million doses have been administered but only 430,489 people have received both required doses — not even 3.4% of the population.


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Illinois labs processed 46,630 coronavirus tests Monday, the fewest in a day since the New Year’s Day holiday weekend. The state averaged 85,000-plus tests per day over the first week of the month.

That’s one reason the state logged only 1,348 new cases of the disease Tuesday, the lowest single-day case count for Illinois in five months; 1,337 cases were reported Sept. 9.

But it still lowered the state’s average testing positivity rate over the past week to 2.8%, suggesting the virus is at its lowest transmission rate in Illinois since July 9.

COVID-19 hospital admissions are at less than a third of peak levels too, with 1,726 beds occupied as of Monday night.

Officials also reported another 32 coronavirus deaths statewide, including a Cook County man in his 40s. But Illinois’ average fatality rate of about 50 per day over the past week is down by about half compared to last month.

Eleven months into the pandemic, COVID-19 has infected almost 1.2 million residents and killed 20,034.


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