COVID-19 deaths are still occurring at an alarming rate, with an average
of 150 fatalities per day so far this month.
The coronavirus has killed an additional 117 Illinoisans and spread to
7,359 more, public health officials announced Tuesday, as the state embarked
on an unprecedented vaccination campaign.
The new cases were diagnosed among 92,922 tests, lowering the state’s
average positivity rate for an eighth straight day down to 8.6%. It marked
the fifth straight day — and the ninth of the last 11 — that
the Illinois Department of Public Health has reported fewer than 10,000
COVID-19 hospital admissions also continued on a promising downward trend
since vaulting to record highs in late November. As of Monday night, 4,965
beds were occupied by coronavirus patients, with 1,057 receiving intensive
care and 598 on ventilators. That’s the first time nightly ventilator
usage has dipped below 600 since Nov. 21.
“We are starting to head in the right direction,” Illinois
Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “So many of you have
sacrificed and employed all of the public health mitigations… We
still do have many more months to go, but let’s continue toward
that light at the end of the tunnel.”
But the state is still reeling from an alarming daily rate of COVID-19
fatalities as a result of the autumn case surge. Illinois has reported
at least 100 deaths for all but two days so far this month, for an average
of 150 deaths per day.
The latest victims included 13 Cook County residents and 37 more from across
the Chicago area. The virus has claimed at least 14,509 lives while spreading
to more than 863,000 people in Illinois since March.
The state’s first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were administered
Tuesday morning almost nine months to the day after Chicagoan Patricia
the state’s first known resident to die of the virus that has turned life upside down around the globe.
A total of 10 health care workers lifted their sleeves up for the cameras
at hospitals in Chicago and Peoria to receive the historic inoculations.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said about 109,000 frontline hospital workers should
take up the state’s first vaccine shipment by the end of the week.
The challenge for public health officials now is to persuade skeptical
residents to get the shot when they have access, and to keep following
masking and social distancing guidelines over the next several months
before vaccines are widely available. A second vaccine developed by Moderna
vaccine is expected to receive federal approval later this week, meaning
hundreds of thousands more doses could soon be headed to Illinois.
“It’s an important step, but there’s still absolutely
another step, as well as the continued mitigations that have to continue,”
Ezike said. “I think everyone has reason to be excited that we are
at the beginning of the end.”
Note: On Nov. 6, the Illinois Department of Public Health announced it
will combine confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in reporting going
forward. Probable cases are those diagnosed by antigen tests, rather than
molecular PCR tests.