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Snow days pile up for Illinois’ COVID-19 vaccinations — shots now down by a third

The state’s rolling average of shots administered per day has fallen to 60,552, and delayed vaccine shipments could mean low numbers for the rest of the week.

Weiss Memorial Hospital doctors and nurses administered these doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week at the North Side hospital.
Weiss Memorial Hospital doctors and nurses administered these doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this week at the North Side hospital.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Heavy snow led to a third straight day of relatively low COVID-19 vaccination numbers across Illinois, public health officials said Wednesday.

Only 40,380 shots went into arms Tuesday as most regions of the state dug out from up to a foot and a half of snow, and as Chicago vaccination sites were closed, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

That’s a 35% decline compared to the state’s vaccine output on the previous Tuesday, when nearly 63,000 doses were administered Feb. 9.

The state set a record with more than 95,000 shots doled out Feb. 11, but now the state hasn’t topped 41,000 shots in a day since Saturday, sending the state’s seven-day rolling average tumbling down again to 60,552 daily doses.

The weather-related slowdown is expected to drag down vaccine numbers the rest of the week since snow blanketing the Midwest has delayed vaccine shipments from the federal government. Illinois had been lined up to receive 365,000 doses this week, but has only gotten 55,000 so far, according to the state.

Since mid-December, 2.5 million shots have been shipped to Illinois, and about 1.9 million have been administered.

About 11% of the state’s 12.7 million residents have received at least one dose, but only 3.5% have been fully immunized with both required doses — just over 446,000 people.

In the ongoing ramp-up effort, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced three more mass vaccination sites were launched in southern and central Illinois. There are now more than 850 locations across the state to get a shot, though appointments remain incredibly hard to come by.

“While supply remains limited across the nation, here in Illinois we are building out a robust vaccine infrastructure to ensure we can reach all of our residents as quickly as possible,” Pritzker said in a statement.

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The huge snowfall has also tamped down coronavirus testing, as the latest 49,937 tests submitted to the state revealed 1,795 new infections.

Daily testing counts routinely topped 90,000 earlier this month. Still, the statewide rate of positive diagnoses is as low as it’s been since early July, with an average seven-day positivity rate of 2.8%.

The state also reported 24 more COVID-19 deaths, including a DuPage County woman in her 30s. The virus is still claiming an average of 46 lives per day, but that rate has fallen from 91 daily deaths in mid-January.

In 11 months since the pandemic gripped Illinois, almost 1.2 million residents have been infected, and 20,057 have died.

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