2 million Illinois residents now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — but cases keep rising

Since the state’s average positivity rate hit an all-time low two weeks ago, it has jumped 43% even as more than 99,000 shots go into arms each day.

SHARE 2 million Illinois residents now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — but cases keep rising
A pharmacist administers the Moderna vaccine to a patient at a CPS vaccination site last month at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western Ave. More than 2 million Illinois residents have now been fully vaccinated.

A pharmacist administers the Moderna vaccine to a patient at a CPS vaccination site last month at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western Ave. More than 2 million Illinois residents have now been fully vaccinated.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

As public health officials on Saturday announced Illinois’ second most productive COVID-19 vaccination day yet, the state reported more than 2 million residents are now fully immunized against the deadly virus.

But the latest batch of 2,678 new coronavirus cases logged by the Illinois Department of Public Health continued the state’s troubling two-week rise in infections — one that could throw off Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to loosen more business restrictions over the next few weeks.

A total of 136,593 vaccine doses were administered statewide Friday, trailing only the 152,388 shots that went into arms March 12.

That was about when the state’s rolling average testing positivity rate hit an all-time low of 2.1%, suggesting COVID-19 was spreading as slowly as it ever had since first reaching Illinois.

With the newest cases diagnosed among 96,175 tests, the positivity rate has now hit 3% for the first time since mid-February — marking a net increase of 43% in just two weeks.

New COVID-19 cases by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health


Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

The positivity rate is still far below peak levels when it soared to the double digits during the worst days of the pandemic last fall, but Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have noted that the rising cases — mostly traced to young people — match the pattern Illinois saw on the way to a record-breaking resurgence.

Hospitalizations have inched upward over the past two weeks, too, with 1,335 beds occupied Friday night by COVID-19 patients.

Officials also reported 25 more COVID-19 deaths, including six Cook County residents. The fatality rate has fallen steadily for two months, but experts say a rise in cases typically results in a rise in deaths weeks later.

Pritzker said the “significant move upward” prompted him to allow local health officials to open vaccine eligibility to people 16 and up in areas where vaccine demand has “waned,” mostly downstate and outside the Chicago area.

The governor said it’s also forcing him to rethink his “bridge phase” to a full reopening, which had been on pace to start next week.

“This is very concerning to us, and it makes us take a pause here to evaluate these numbers,” Pritzker said Friday.

Demand is still far outpacing vaccine supply in the city and the rest of Cook County. Starting Monday, people 16 and older with chronic health conditions, plus additional essential worker groups, will be able to try to snag appointments in Chicago.

Illinois is now vaccinating an average of 99,936 people per day, with 2,016,639 residents fully vaccinated.That’s 15.8% of the population.

Over the past year, COVID-19 has infected at least 1.2 million residents and killed 21,228 of them.

COVID-19 vaccine doses administered by day

Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times

Source: Illinois Department of Public Health


Graph not displaying properly? Click here.

The Latest
Since being traumatized by a violent assault, woman has put her mate through a lot, and she feels bad that she’s no longer interested in a physical relationship.
Thinking ahead to your next few meals? Here are some main dishes and sides to try.
The fatal shooting occurred in McKinley Park on the Southwest Side.