SPRINGFIELD – The first COVID-19 vaccinations have arrived in Illinois as virus metrics continued to trend in a direction that indicates the spread of the virus is slowing.
Approximately 43,000 doses of the vaccine manufactured by the drug company Pfizer were delivered to the state’s Strategic National Stockpile. Chicago also received a direct shipment from the federal government Monday, while health departments in Cook, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties will receive shipments this week as well, according to the governor’s office.
Together, the shipments account for the roughly 100,000 doses the state was expecting in the initial phase of rollout. Gov. JB Pritzker’s office distributed video of him examining the vaccine shipments and consulting with health professionals at the stockpile site Monday.
“Today marks a momentous occasion – not just this year, but in American history,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Eleven months after scientists the world over first got their hands on the genetic sequence of this virus – and we are seeing the beginning of the end of this pandemic.”
Pritzker’s office said the “vast majority” of doses in this shipment will be delivered from the stockpile to 10 hospitals around the state serving as regional coordinators. Those hospitals will serve as “pick up locations” for local health departments to begin distribution to health care workers in their jurisdictions. The remaining portion will go directly to predetermined local health departments.
The governor’s office said more shipments are expected in the coming weeks.
But while the vaccine will be distributed in a limited supply initially to health care workers and long-term care facility residents, it could still take several months to be distributed to the general population, meaning social distancing, masking and other virus mitigation measures remain important lifesaving precautions.
The virus also remains prevalent in Illinois communities ahead of the holidays, although numbers are decreasing. The state’s COVID-19 case positivity rate continued to decline through the weekend as the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 345 deaths from Saturday through Monday.
The rolling seven-day average case positivity rate fell to 8.7 percent as the state reported an average of 7,722 cases among 94,264 test results each day from Saturday through Monday. That made for a three-day positivity rate of 8.2 percent.
Hospitalizations for the virus fell below 5,000 for the first time in more than 30 days, with 4,951 COVID-19-positive individuals occupying hospital beds as of Sunday night. On a weekly basis, the number of beds used for COVID-19 patients on average last week was 5,119, a decrease of 365, or 6.6 percent, from the one-week period prior. Approximately 28.7 percent of beds were available statewide.
There were 1,070 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, while 23.2 percent of ICU beds were available statewide. COVID-19 patients used 621 ventilators at the end of Sunday, with 71.7 percent of the machines remaining unused statewide.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.