CHICAGO — All Illinois adults could be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine before May, Gov. JB Pritzker said Friday.
Pritzker’s announcement came on the heels of President Joe Biden saying he’d direct states to make all adults eligible no later than May 1. Pritzker, speaking at an unrelated news conference, said he’s confident Illinois can do that — and the state might even expand eligibility sooner.
“I am very, very pleased at what President Biden announced last night,” Pritzker said. “I feel very confident moving forward that supplies are increasing.
“… I’m confident that not just by May 1 but maybe even a little bit earlier we could open up to everyone in the state, everyone that’s eligible.”
Biden’s promise would presumably also apply to Chicago, which has its own vaccination campaign separate from Illinois’ efforts.
That would significantly speed up Chicago’s vaccine timeline, as the city planned to limit vaccinations to certain groups of people until the end of May due to the limited supply of doses. But city officials said they’re “excited” about Biden’s announcement and will do more vaccinations — as soon as more doses get to Chicago.
“We were excited to hear the president’s ambitious plan to push up the timeline for vaccinating the nation and will be ready for whenever more vaccine makes it to Chicago,” the Department of Public Health said in a statement. “As we have said all along, the one thing holding us back from more fully vaccinating the city is the very limited supply of vaccine.”
There’s still a shortage of vaccine around the United States, Pritzker previously said, but “vaccine availability is set to soar in the coming weeks.” Federal officials told state leaders they’d soon be able to provide 18 million doses per week.
Illinois officials were told they’d get 100,000 doses per day by mid-March — and that is now happening, Pritzker said Friday.
“I am confident, as we have promised here in Illinois and as we have been promised by the federal government, that we would reach 100,000 doses per day by the middle of March — we’ve arrived,” Pritzker said. “… They’ve delivered on those promises.”
More doses are coming to the city, too. April will be “much bigger” for Chicago in terms of vaccinations — and May will see even more than that, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Thursday livestream.
The state is administering an average of 95,121 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 3,437,618 vaccine doses of the 4,501,155 directly provided to them.
More than 692,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Chicago.
Another 353,655 vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities, which have been provided with 414,900 doses. Those vaccinations are done through a federal partnership with pharmacy chains.
All together, at least 3,791,273 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois out of 4,916,055 doses provided to state entities.
Arwady said she’s pushing for the state to send more doses to Chicago and the surrounding area since 35-40 percent of the city’s doses have gone to non-residents. She said rural areas in the state are currently more vaccinated than parts of Chicago.
In comparison, about 21 percent of Chicago residents who have been vaccinated got their shot outside the city.
Illinois and Chicago are vaccinating people 65 and older and frontline workers as part of Phase 1B of the vaccination campaign. Illinoisans who are eligible are able to make appointments to get vaccinated at pharmacies, their health provider’s office, state-run mass vaccination sites and other places.
The state is also vaccinating people with underlying conditions or disabilities, though Chicago has not added people with underlying conditions or disabilities to its current round of vaccinations.
But the pandemic’s impact continues: Another 39 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus during the past day.
The most recent victims included two people from Cook County.
At least 20,901 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,262 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 1,763 confirmed cases in the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,206,172.
Deaths and new cases have dropped after a fall peak, and the state’s and city’s positivity rates are at their lowest-ever points. Arwady said the city’s metrics are dropping, though she’s still concerned about the number of cases per day being reported in Chicago.
“But, generally, the numbers are looking really good,” Arwady said. Deaths are “heading in the right direction.”
And more good vaccine news came over the weekend, as the United Center mass vaccination site has filled more than 50,000 appointments. More spots will open in the weeks to come.
The state is peeling back some of its coronavirus safety restrictions as regions get their outbreaks more under control. Chicago is now in Phase 4, the phase when the state’s restrictions are at their most relaxed before a full return to normalcy.
Pritzker said he and the state’s experts are looking at what restrictions they can roll back, but they need to judge that against the continuing risks of the pandemic — especially since more contagious variants of the virus have been found in Illinois.
“We’re getting closer every single day to the end of this pandemic, but we’re not there yet,” Pritzker said Tuesday.
The city has released a roadmap detailing what metrics it will use to lift restrictions from businesses as it gets better control of its COVID-19 outbreak.
People are still at risk and will have to continue taking precautions for much of 2021, officials have said. People should keep wearing a mask, staying socially distant, washing their hands frequently, not gathering, not traveling and not having people into their home, experts have said.
“If you’re gonna be out, please just wear the mask, keep practicing caution,” Arwady said last week. “The risk gets lower with every additional person who gets vaccinated.”
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose slightly to 2.3 percent Friday with 93,913 tests reported. It was at 2.2 percent Thursday. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, rose slightly to 2.6 Friday. It was at 2.5 percent Thursday.
As of Thursday night, 1,128 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 240 people in the ICU and 108 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, zero deaths and 301 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 4,938 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 248,584 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of four deaths per day, down from an average of six deaths per day the week prior. That’s the lowest that figure has been in months, Arwady previously said. During the peak of the second, fall surge in the pandemic, nearly 25 people per day were being killed by COVID-19; during the peak of the first surge in the spring, nearly 50 people were killed per day.
An average of 275 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 4 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has stayed flat since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 2.8 percent, down from 2.9 percent the week before.
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