Rise in COVID cases in Illinois corresponds to vaccination rates, says the state’s top doc – NBC Chicago


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The recent spike in COVID-19 cases, particularly the Delta variant, has been seen in areas with lower vaccination rates, according to Illinois top physician.

“There is a very clear link between the places where these case numbers are growing fastest and the vaccination in that area,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Health. “In other words, the higher vaccinated areas have lower case numbers.”

She found that the delta variant has higher transferability, affecting more people at the same time than previous variants. Within weeks, Ezike said that Illinois COVID cases had doubled nationwide.

Studies have shown that the Delta variant spreads about 225% faster than the original strain of the virus. Studies have also shown that a person infected with the Delta variant is more likely to become infectious earlier and that the virus grows faster in a person’s airways.

In areas of western and southern Illinois, coronavirus-related positivity rates and hospital admissions have risen in recent weeks, continuing a recent trend where COVID metrics are slowly rising in many areas.

In Region 4, near St. Louis in southwest Illinois, the positivity rate more than quadrupled in the last month, from 1.8% on June 11 to 7.5% on July 10, according to IDPH metrics gone up.

A recent trend in the increase in COVID hospital admissions has slowed in the past few days, with hospital admissions staying constant or decreasing for four of the last five days, and intensive care bed availability increasing after a decline earlier this month with 31% of the region’s currently available intensive care beds.

Region 3, located in western Illinois and made up of an area that includes Springfield, also has increased positivity rates, with that number now standing at 5%. The number of hospitalizations has increased in eight of the last 10 days in the region, with bed availability in the intensive care unit standing at 29%.

Southern Illinois Region 5 is also grappling with a surge in COVID cases, with a positivity rate of 5.4% over the past week. Intensive care bed availability has decreased to 22% and the number of hospitalizations for COVID has increased for each of the past 10 days.

In areas of northeast Illinois, the positivity rate has increased slightly, but none of the five health regions that comprise the NBC 5 viewing area have a positivity rate greater than 1.5%. Hospital stays are largely declining in these regions, although Region 8, comprising the counties of Kane and DuPage, and Region 11, the city of Chicago, increased hospital stays due to COVID on six of the previous 10 days.

Click here to view the latest Illinois COVID metrics.

These dramatic increases are due to the fact that Missouri has some of the highest COVID case rates in the nation. According to the latest state numbers released by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, less than 40% of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated, and less than 20% in some rural counties.

This week, the state health department predicted that three counties in the Lake of the Ozarks area could be the next to be hard hit by the Delta variant due to spreading from the southwestern Missouri region. Outbreaks have been reported in several states, particularly in areas with low vaccination rates.

As the Delta variant continues to spread, experts continue to urge more Americans to get the COVID vaccine. All three vaccines currently FDA approved for emergency use, including Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, have been shown to be largely effective against serious illness and death from COVID, and all three companies say their vaccines show promise in preventing these results also with the delta variant.

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