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Delta spurs spike in vaccinations — but even more so in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths

The state’s daily shot average has almost doubled since early July — but cases have multiplied by 10 since then.

People line up for COVID-19 vaccinations in Ukrainian Village in May. Total vaccinations increased by 22% last week across Illinois.
People line up for COVID-19 vaccinations in Ukrainian Village in May. Total vaccinations increased by 22% last week across Illinois.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

With the Delta variant raging, Illinois’ COVID-19 numbers are up across the board — including for vaccinations.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday reported more than 215,000 shots were administered over the past week, a 22% increase compared to the previous week.

That’s the biggest week-to-week increase the state has seen in shots since early July, when the state’s seven-day average vaccination rate bottomed out below 16,000 per day. The shot average has nearly doubled since then, back above 30,000 for the first time since July 2.

But new COVID-19 cases have multiplied by a factor of 10, with Delta causing upwards of 90% of the latest infections, officials have estimated.

The state reported more than 21,000 cases over the past week, a 27% jump compared to the previous week and a 167% spike from late July.

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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations are skyrocketing, too. The 1,652 hospital beds occupied Thursday night were the most the state has seen in four months, marking a 38% increase in a week.

And more of those serious infections are ending in tragedy. The virus has claimed 92 lives since last week, a 44% jump from the previous one. The statewide death toll is up to 23,594 dating back to March 2020.

A patient is wheeled out of the Intensive Care Unit at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last December.
A patient is wheeled out of the intensive care unit at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side last December.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

COVID-19 transmission is now considered high in 94 of Illinois’ 102 counties, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s still substantial in the six remaining counties. State public health officials say 70 counties have hit a coronavirus warning level, including most of the Chicago area.

The new infections are concentrated among the quarter of the eligible state population that remains unvaccinated, officials have said, especially in downstate regions. All the vaccines are still considered highly effective against Delta.

Statewide, 74% of residents 12 or older have gotten at least one shot, and almost 58% are fully immunized.

Rates lag in the upper 30-40% range in some South and West side Chicago neighborhoods. It’s worse in southern Illinois, where intensive care unit beds are 90% full. Not even 16% of residents are fully immunized at the southern tip of the state in Alexander County.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker pushed a statewide vaccine lottery program as an incentive for residents to roll up their sleeves, and numbers have risen slowly since the first winners were announced July 8. The state’s seven-day shot average was at 16,432 back then. It’s now up to 30,737.

Pritzker’s office, which touts Illinois as “the vaccination leader of the Midwest,” announced the latest 22 winners of $100,000 prizes on Friday, including two from Chicago, eight from the suburbs and 12 from downstate regions.

Winners are contacted by the state by phone or email. None of the state’s previous winners has chosen to be publicly identified.

Residents have until Aug. 18 to get a shot for a shot in the final lottery drawings for two $1 million drawings and 17 scholarships. That drawing takes place Aug. 26.

Chicagoans can request an in-home shot by calling (312) 746-4835. For help finding a dose in suburban Cook County, visit cookcountypublichealth.org or call (833) 308-1988. To find other Illinois providers, visit coronavirus.illinois.gov or call (833) 621-1284.