Decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations, positivity rates in Illinois may not be enough to ease restrictions

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — Hospitalizations are trending down in Illinois and the COVID-19 positivity rate has plummeted in recent weeks, but it may not be enough to allow businesses to start operating normally again.

With the holidays over and metrics moving in the right direction in many regions of Illinois, they’re now waiting to hear whether Governor JB Pritzker will relax any restrictions. Neither he nor Mayor Lori Lightfoot have COVID-19 news briefings scheduled for Monday.

The state’s positivity rate and the number of people hospitalized have fallen since late fall when stricter “Tier 3” restrictions took effect. Some counties in our area, except suburban Cook, Lake and McHenry, meet the state’s metrics for moving to less-restrictive mitigation measures.

But Pritzker said previously he wanted to wait until after New Years to decide whether to increase capacity in stores, gyms, and to allow indoor restaurant dining again.

The national vaccine roll-out of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines got off to a slow, chaotic start — falling far short of goals.

While 14 million doses have been distributed, only 4 million people have received shots so far. The goal was 20 million doses given by the end of December.

Illinois has received 400,000 doses, but about 170,000 have gotten into people’s arms.

Lightfoot said on Twitter over the weekend that Chicago already distributed more than 95% of the vaccine it received from the federal government, but suggested the rollout can’t continue at its current pace.

“However, at the current rate of dose allocation from the federal government, it would take 71 weeks—nearly one and a half years—to fully vaccinate the entire city. We need more vaccine. Now,” she tweeted.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says Operation Warp Speed is picking up the pace and points to 1.5 million people who were vaccinated in the last three days.

“We are not where we want to be no doubt. I think we can get there if we really accerla, get some momentum going and see what happens as we get into the first few weeks of January,” Fauci said.

“The goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days is a realistic goal. We can do one million people a day. We’ve done mass vaccinations in the past. There’s no reason we can’t do it right now,” said Fauci.

Complex vaccine storage requirements, uncertainty about supply and miscommunication between the federal government and states are cited as reasons from vaccination delays.

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