* Hospitalizations are down 28 percent from last week’s report and are at their lowest number since August 3rd of last year. The case positivity rate is down 25 percent, to less than 2 percent. Deaths are down 14.9 percent. IDPH…
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today reported 13,028 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including an increase of 355 deaths since February 18, 2022.
Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 3,026,737 cases, including 32,654 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Since February 18, 2022, laboratories have reported 716,997 specimens for a total of 54,338,979. As of last night, 1,143 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 211 patients were in the ICU and 103 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from February 18-24, 2022 is 1.8%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from February 18- 24, 2022 is 2.4%.
A total of 21,070,546 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of last midnight. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 16,309 doses. Since February 18, 2022, 114,160 doses were reported administered in Illinois. Of Illinois’ total population, 76% has received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, more than 67% of Illinois’ total population is fully vaccinated, and almost 49% boosted according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
All data are provisional and will change. Additional information and COVID-19 data can be found at https://dph.illinois.gov/covid19.html.
Vaccination is the key to ending this pandemic. To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, go to www.vaccines.gov.
* From the governor’s office…
Due to the continued decrease in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, and increase in available ICU beds, the Illinois indoor mask requirement will end Monday, February 28, 2022, at 12:01 a.m. Since the Governor announced his plan to lift the indoor mask requirement, the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 has been cut in half and the number of ICU beds available increased by 24%. Illinois’ weekly COVID-19 case rate has also decreased by 70%,
More than 8 million people in Illinois are fully vaccinated with an average of approximately 16,000 COVID-19 vaccines administered each day, including more than 4,600 first doses daily.
“Throughout this pandemic, we’ve taken action to save lives and keep our economy open – and I’m proud that Illinoisans have done the hard work that has our made our state a leader in the Midwest,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Today, our hospitals are much better positioned to handle emergencies and more than half of all eligible adults have been boosted; this is the progress we needed to make to remove our state indoor masking requirements. As individuals, I encourage everyone to make the best choices going forward to protect your health, along with that of your family and community – and most importantly to treat each other with kindness and compassion.”
“We are now entering the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and while our focus continues to be on preventing severe illness and ensuring our health care systems aren’t overwhelmed, we are also looking forward to how we will coexist with COVID-19,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We each have a role to play in staying healthy and we have many tools that can help protect us from severe illness due to COVID-19. Our tools include readily available safe and effective vaccines, monoclonal antibody and oral antiviral treatments, at-home testing, as well as the personal health actions people can take such as avoiding crowds, hand washing, and continued mask wearing as may be recommended.”
Masks will still be required where federally mandated (including on public transit), health care facilities, congregate settings, long term care facilities, and daycare settings. Additionally, private businesses and municipalities may choose to implement their own masking requirements. Schools are urged to continue following state and federal guidance to help keep students and staff safe in the classroom. The Governor will review the results of lifting the indoor mask mandate before making any announcement regarding the school mask mandate.
In the last four months of 2021 following the reinstatement of Illinois’ mask mandate on August 30, 2021, Illinois had fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations per capita and fewer COVID-19 deaths per capita than the entire Great Lakes region. In the same period, Illinois out-tested the entire Midwest on a per capita basis, providing residents with significantly better access to testing than any of its neighbors. Even with a much greater testing capacity, Illinois saw fewer reported COVID-19 cases per capita during this time than neighbors such as Iowa and Missouri.
Illinois remains a standout in the Midwest for its vaccination rates. Illinois is home to the highest percentage of residents who have received a COVID-19 vaccine as well as the highest percentage of vaccinated and fully vaccinated 5–17-year-olds.
Vaccines continue to be readily available at pharmacies across the state, many local health departments, doctor offices, federally qualified health centers, and other locations. To find a COVID-19 vaccination location near you, go to www.vaccines.gov.
* Sam Adler-Bell in New York Magazine…
The pandemic briefly widened our aperture for reckoning with the pain and vulnerability of others, many of whom were suffering long before COVID-19 struck. Epidemiologists, meanwhile, encouraged us to take some responsibility for protecting them. But this created a problem. Such thinking chafes with American moral common sense. To maintain sanity in a country as bafflingly unequal as ours, you must convince yourself that your own comfort is causally (and morally) unrelated to the suffering of less fortunate strangers. The alternative is an acknowledgment of our interdependence that is, frankly, incompatible with our social order. In this sense, people who continue to insist on safeguarding the medically vulnerable are irrational, beset by a kind of madness.
* Some info on the BA.2 subvariant…
It’s not really new.
Scientists learned soon after the Omicron variant was first detected in November that it came in three genetically distinct varieties. They focused on BA.1, because it was about 1,000 times as prevalent as BA.2 in the early going; the third subvariant was rarer still. It was BA.1 that first broke out and raced around the world, while BA.2 took longer to become significant, but both have been on scientists’ radar from the outset.
It seems to be easier to catch.
All kinds of Omicron are highly contagious, which is why Omicron swiftly crowded out earlier variants like Delta and caused an immense global surge. But preliminary studies suggest that BA.2 is even more transmissible than BA.1. It has already become the dominant form of Omicron in a few countries and is gaining ground in others. Its potentially greater transmissibility has raised some concerns that BA.2 could cause a fresh spike or could lengthen the current one, but the jury is still out on whether that is likely to happen.
* More from NPR…
BA.2 has now been found from coast to coast and accounts for an estimated 3.9% all new infections nationally, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It appears to be doubling fast.
“If it doubles again to 8%, that means we’re into the exponential growth phase and we may be staring at another wave of COVID-19 coming in the U.S.,” says Samuel Scarpino, the manager director of pathogen surveillance at the Rockefeller Foundation.
“And that’s of course the one we’re really worried about. We’re all on the edge of our seats,” he says.
Some experts think it’s unlikely BA.2 will trigger a massive new surge because so many people have immunity from prior infections and vaccination at this point.
* Rep. Dan Caulkins (R-Decatur) was asked yesterday if his anti-mask protests on the House floor “takes away from doing the people’s business, that it’s a distraction and it doesn’t allow for real work to be done”…
Well, I don’t think it’s interfered, what we’ve done is interfered with the real work being done at all. We haven’t seen any bills called for Third Reading. We’re going through a whole list of bills today. Just checking off the box. There’s nothing being voted on today on the House floor. There wasn’t anything of substance that’s being proposed. You know, Illinois is going down the tubes. We’ve got people that are leaving, what 100-plus thousand people every year abandon this state. And you know, we’re not doing the work of the people so that that argument doesn’t hold anymore.
Without the distractions from anti-mask drama addicts like Rep. Caulkins, the House passed 19 bills yesterday and 14 the day before.
*** UPDATE 1 *** US Rep. Underwood…
Today, Rep. Lauren Underwood (IL-14) released the following statement:
“Today, upon returning from an official trip overseas, I tested positive for COVID-19. I was tested throughout my trip and tested negative. I will be following guidelines from the CDC and House Attending Physician to isolate and keep others safe.”
“Thankfully, my symptoms are mild so far and I am grateful to have the protection of a safe vaccine and booster. I encourage everyone who hasn’t yet to get a vaccine and booster shot to help protect yourself and others from severe illness.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** Dave Druker with the Secretary of State’s office just called to say that, as of Monday, the public will not be required to wear masks when entering the Statehouse. That will not apply to offices and spaces controlled by the General Assembly and executive officers. But, the area around the rail on the 3rd Floor, for example, will be mask optional. Organized large group gatherings, however, are still not allowed. The same rules will apply to the Stratton Building.