Coronavirus live blog, Feb. 21, 2021: Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate below 3% for an entire week, first time in seven months

Here’s Sunday’s news on how COVID-19 impacted Chicago and Illinois.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Feb. 21, 2021: Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate below 3% for an entire week, first time in seven months

State health officials on Sunday announced 1,585 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases and an additional 35 virus-related deaths.

Here’s what else happened in coronavirus-related news.


5:00 p.m. Illinois reports 1,585 new COVID-19 cases, additional 35 virus-related deaths

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate has remained below 3% for an entire week for the first time in seven months.

State health officials on Sunday announced 1,585 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases and an additional 35 virus-related deaths.

The cases were detected among the 75,269 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last day for a daily test positivity rate of about 2.1%. That lowered the statewide seven-day positivity rate to 2.7%, marking the first time since July that metric has been below 3% for seven consecutive days.

State health officials also announced 13,433 coronavirus vaccines were administered Saturday, the fewest shots injected in a day in nearly a month. On Friday, 73,212 vaccines were injected into the arms of Illinoisans, marking the fourth-highest single day total.

Illinois saw a drop in vaccine distribution over the last week in part due to heavy snow and delayed vaccine shipments from the federal government. Over the last week, the state averaged 52,658 doses administered each day — a 16.3% decrease from the previous week. During the span of Feb. 8-14, Illinois issued an average of 62,927 shots per day.

In total, more than 2.15 million vaccines have been administered in Illinois. About 13.1% of those shots were given to people at long-term care facilities.

Read the full story from Madeline Kenney here.

3:45 p.m. 73K more Illinoisans vaccinated against coronavirus, 1,922 more infected


Weiss Memorial Hospital doctors and nurses administer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the North Side hospital, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Another 73,212 COVID-19 vaccine doses went into Illinois arms as public health officials on Saturday reported 1,922 new infections and 42 more deaths attributed to the virus.

Friday’s vaccination figure marked the fourth-highest one-day total Illinois has seen so far, but it closed out a week of shot administration that was bogged down statewide by heavy snow and delayed vaccine shipments from the federal government.

About 414,000 doses were doled over the past week, compared to about 430,000 given the week of Feb. 6-12.

That’s the first week-to-week decline the state has seen roughly two months into the historic vaccination effort, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he expects numbers to rebound next week with expected shipments of a half-million doses to providers across the state.

Read the full story from Mitchell Armentrout here.

1:21 p.m. Biden team on to more ambitious goal of vaccinating all eligible adults by end of summer

WASHINGTON — It sounded so ambitious at first blush: 100 million vaccination shots in 100 days.

Now, one month into his presidency, Joe Biden is on a glide path to attain that goal and pitching well beyond it to the far more ambitious and daunting mission of vaccinating all eligible adults against the coronavirus by the end of the summer.

Limited supply of the two approved COVID-19 vaccines has hampered the pace of vaccinations — and that was before extreme winter weather delayed the delivery of about 6 million doses this past week. But the United States is on the verge of a supply breakthrough as manufacturing ramps up and with the expectation of a third vaccine becoming available in the coming weeks.

That means the act of delivering injections will soon be the dominant constraint, and it’s prompting the Biden administration to push to dramatically expand the universe of those who will deliver injections and where Americans will meet them to get their shots.

“It’s one thing to have the vaccine, and it’s very different to get it in someone’s arms,” Biden said Friday as he toured Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Portage, Michigan. The company is set to double its pace of vaccine deliveries in the coming weeks.

Read the full story here.

12:59 p.m. Companies are marketing cabins as pandemic-safe escapes for city dwellers

After spending nearly a year cooped up by the pandemic, many of us have thought about getting away from home.

But what do you do if vacations that require boarding a plane, checking into a hotel or navigating crowded spaces scare you? An entire outdoor hospitality industry is blossoming to meet this need.

Getaway has opened its first Chicago-area outpost, offering those in the city a chance to escape safely into nature.

Bordered by woods and a small lake, Getaway Barber Creek is in Grand Junction, Michigan, just over two hours from Chicago and will have 41 socially distant cabins available beginning in April.

Other enterprises offering an isolated experience in Illinois include Glamping Hub, a global luxury outdoor accommodations company, and Hawk Valley Retreat & Cottages in Galena.

Jon Staff, the founder and CEO of Getaway, said a lot of guests in the past year have wanted to get out of their houses and apartments to go somewhere safe without a lobby, restaurant, other people, or the pressures of work and staring at a Zoom screen.

In 2020, the company experienced nearly 100% occupancy in its existing locations and a 150% increase in bookings from 2019.

“Nature is really good for reducing our stress and anxiety, which I think we need now more than ever,” Staff said.

Read the full story here.

9:07 a.m. What’s safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don’t shed masks yet

You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away.

That’s going to be a disappointment, if not a shock, to many people.

In Miami, 81-year-old Noemi Caraballo got her second dose on Tuesday and is looking forward to seeing friends, resuming fitness classes and running errands after nearly a year of being extremely cautious, even ordering groceries online.

“Her line is, ‘I’m tired of talking to the cats and the parrots,’” said her daughter Susan Caraballo. “She wants to do things and talk to people.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet changed its guidelines: At least for now, people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second vaccine dose.

Vaccines in use so far require two doses, and experts say especially don’t let your guard down after the first dose.

“You’re asking a very logical question,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, responded when a 91-year-old California woman recently asked if she and her vaccinated friends could resume their mah-jongg games.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

9:11 a.m. COVID-19 and America’s dismal slump in life expectancy

Our country is fast approaching the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, more evidence to all but the most fact-resistant of just how deadly the pandemic has been.

The coronavirus is not “just like the flu,” as some on the right, eager to downplay the seriousness of it all, have claimed.

Thursday brought yet more alarming evidence of that truth. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that COVID-19 has been deadly enough to drive down U.S. life expectancy by a full year, a decline experts say America hasn’t experienced in decades.

That’s how serious this pandemic has been, generating a lethal impact approaching that of World War II, when life expectancy fell by 2.9 years. We cannot afford to dismiss that truth even as we see a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine availability.

Due to the extraordinary number of excess deaths from COVID-19, the average American now can expect to live 77.8 years, down from 78.8 in 2019, the CDC’s National Center on Health Statistic found. Its analysis is based on mortality data from the first six months of 2020, so the full impact of the pandemic’s death toll has yet to be seen.

Read more from the CST Editorial Board here.

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