Illinois will expand vaccine eligibility ahead of the April 12 goalBy Peter Hancock Capitol News Illinois — March 19, 2021
SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Friday, March 19 that more groups of people will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations ahead of April 12 when everyone over age 16 will become eligible.
Starting Monday, March 22, higher education staff, government workers and members of the media will be eligible to receive shots.
A week later, on March 29, restaurant staff, construction trade workers and religious leaders will become eligible.
“As more vaccine becomes available in the coming weeks and months, we will continue to make sure we are reaching people who are at greater risk of exposure to the virus or from suffering severe illness due to COVID-19,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a news release. “While we will continue to prioritize individuals who are 65 years and older, as well as health care workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions, we want to maintain our momentum going forward and continue to increase our march towards herd immunity.”
Vaccines first became available in Illinois on Dec. 15. At that time, only frontline health care workers and the staff and residents of long-term care facilities were eligible.
That list was expanded Jan. 25 to include all individuals over age 65 as well as frontline essential workers, including first responders, K-12 teachers and other public-facing industries. It was expanded again on Feb. 25 to include anyone age 16 and over with certain high-risk conditions or disabilities.
As of March 18, according to IDPH, a little more than 4.5 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Illinois, including 359,850 for long-term care facilities.
During a news conference in Belleville on March 19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said a little more than 60 percent of seniors age 65 and over had received at least one vaccine dose. Under a plan announced earlier in the week, when that number reaches 70 percent, and as long as certain other metrics are met, the state will enter what he is calling a “bridge phase” to full reopening of the economy that will allow for larger capacity limits in public gatherings.
IDPH reported Friday that 2,380 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 had been recorded over the previous 24 hours out of 92,161 tests performed. The seven-day rolling average positivity rate of new cases as a percent of total tests stood at 2.5 percent, up one tenth of a point from the day before.
As of Thursday, 1,132 patients were reported hospitalized with COVID-19 while 29 percent of the state’s hospital beds remained available. Of those, 242 were being treated in intensive care units, while nearly 27 percent of the state’s ICU beds were available. There were 105 COVID-19 patients on ventilators.
IDPH also reported Friday that 12 additional residents had died of COVID-19 over the previous 24 hours, bringing the statewide death total since the pandemic began to 21,034 out of a total of just over 1.2 million cases of the disease.