Some counties entering next phase of vaccine distribution
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike takes questions during a COVID-19 briefing Monday at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. She gave an update on the state’s vaccination plan. (Capitol News Illinois photo by Jerry Nowicki)
State prepares for loosened COVID-19 restrictions as rolling positivity remains below 8 percent
By GRACE BARBIC
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Some regions of the state could see loosened COVID-19 restrictions as early as Friday as some counties have already transitioned to the next phase of vaccine distribution, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday.
Although the state remains in Phase 1A of its vaccine distribution plan, some communities which have substantially completed Phase 1A have moved to the early stages of Phase 1B.
“We want to make sure any available vaccine is administered quickly to the priority groups that we’ve laid out,” Pritzker said. “Let’s get those out to Phase 1B people. ... Even though we haven’t moved everybody into the next phase, we don’t want any of these vaccines sitting around.”
Those in Phase 1A, who are receiving vaccines, include health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1B would extend vaccine priority to non-health-care essential workers and residents age 65 or older.
This early transition has been authorized by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but local health departments determine the phase transition on a county-by-county basis, depending on Phase 1A progress. It is not clear which counties have already started Phase 1B.
Pritzker said he expects to make a formal announcement later this week regarding when the entire state will move into Phase 1B.
“But I want to urge patience,” Pritzker said. “Phase 1B will take many weeks to complete.”
If the next phase is not yet available in certain areas, it is because many counties have not administered enough vaccines in Phase 1A to move forward with the current pace of the national vaccine development pipeline, Pritzker said.
Even when the entire state transitions into Phase 1B, those who were eligible for Phase 1A who have not yet been vaccinated, are still authorized to receive the vaccine in its next phase.
As of Sunday night, approximately 587,900 doses of Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to the state.
Approximately 478,175 doses have been delivered to public and private health care providers, outside the city of Chicago, and 109,725 doses to providers in the city of Chicago.
The federally mandated pharmacy partnership program has administered approximately 334,939 vaccinations as of Sunday night; 36,867 by pharmacy partners CVS and Walgreens, and 298,072 by the state’s public and private health care providers.
Yet, Pritzker said the state is still not receiving enough vaccine doses.
“We don’t even have a million doses and there are 12.7 million people in the state of Illinois,” he said.
Pritzker recently joined eight other governors in urging President-elect Joe Biden to release more available vaccine doses, noting that the federal government, under President Donald Trump’s administration, has been holding back enormous stores of vaccines.
The Biden administration has agreed to release nearly all available vaccines upon taking office.
Tier 3 mitigations will begin to be lifted come Friday in regions that meet certain metrics. The timeline represents a 14-day incubation period following New Year’s Day.
In order to transition from Tier 3 to Tier 2, a region must experience a positivity rate below 12 percent for three consecutive days. It must also have greater than 20 percent available intensive care unit and hospital bed availability and declining COVID hospitalizations for 7 of the 10 days.
Regions began hitting Tier 2 restrictions in November, with statewide Tier 3 mitigations announced on Nov. 20. No region has been able to move back to Tier 1 restrictions after reaching Tier 2.
According to an IDPH document detailing Tier 2 restrictions, “IDPH will continue to track the positivity rate in regions requiring additional mitigations over a 14-day monitoring period to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place. If the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5 percent over a 3-day period, the region will return to Phase 4 mitigations under the Restore Illinois Plan.”
The statewide COVID-19 rolling positivity rate remained below 8 percent for the second consecutive day Monday at 7.6 percent. Illinois reported 4,776 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with 53 additional virus-related deaths.
The state is reporting a total of 1,033,526 cases for a total of 17,627 deaths across the state’s 102 counties.
A total of 66,697 test results have been reported Monday. Over 14.1 million test results in the state have been reported since the pandemic began.
As of Sunday night, 3,540 people in Illinois were reported to be in hospital beds for COVID-19, an increase of 13 from the day prior, and 759 COVID-19 patients were in intensive care unit beds, an increase of 19 from the day prior. There were 401 patients reported to be on ventilators, an increase of 10 from the day prior.
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.