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83K more COVID-19 shots given in Illinois as positivity rate nears all-time low

The state’s rolling average of COVID-19 vaccines administered per day is at a new high while daily case tallies have fallen by about half over the last month.

Araceli Martel, 49, a teacher at James B. McPherson Elementary School in Ravenswood, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month at Weiss Memorial Hospital.
Araceli Martel, 49, a teacher at James B. McPherson Elementary School in Ravenswood, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month at Weiss Memorial Hospital. More than 2.5 million shots have been administered so far in Illinois.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Saturday announced 1,780 more Illinoisans were diagnosed with COVID-19 as more than 83,000 vaccine doses went into arms across the state.

A total of 83,048 shots were administered Friday, breaking a two-day streak of six-figure vaccination totals, including Illinois’ all-time high of more than 130,000 doled out Wednesday.

But the state’s rolling average of shots given per day has climbed to a new high of 69,736 over the past week. As that rate steadily rises, daily tallies of new infections have fallen precipitously. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported roughly 1,800 positive coronavirus tests each day over the last week, down from an average of about 3,500 new daily cases at the end of January.

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The latest cases were diagnosed among 81,668 to lower the average statewide positivity rate to 2.4%. That suggests the virus is spreading at its slowest rate since at least June, at less than a fifth of the pace it was during the worst days of the pandemic in November. Chicago’s regional positivity rate of 2.9% is an all-time low.

More serious cases of the disease have declined as well. COVID-19 hospital admissions are back to summertime levels, with 1,353 beds occupied as of Friday night.

Still, officials reported 34 additional deaths, including those of two Cook County men in their 40s. That one-day death total is roughly average for Illinois this month, another key metric that has shrunk by about half compared to January.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, about 1.2 million residents have been confirmed to carry the virus, and 20,494 of them have died.

A little over 2.6 million COVID-19 shots have been administered since the rollout began in December, but so far, only 772,410 people have received both required doses — barely 6% of the population. Experts say that number needs to hit about 80% to achieve herd immunity.

With vaccine supply still low, appointments remain hard to come by for most residents. Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he expects larger shipments from the federal government in the weeks ahead — and on Saturday, the FDA cleared Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot vaccine.

For more information on finding a provider, visit https://coronavirus.illinois.gov/s/.