COVID transmission raised to 'medium' risk level in Cook County, some surrounding counties.
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 3,467 new COVID cases and 8 new deaths Friday.
The Illinois Dept. of Public Health says "daily deaths reported on weekends and at the beginning of the week may be low" and "those deaths will be captured in subsequent days."
COVID-19 transmission has been raised to a "medium" risk level in Cook County as well as Lake, DuPage and McHenry counties, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been at least 3,906,801 total COVID cases in the state since the start of the pandemic and at least 35,550 related deaths.
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As of Thursday night, 1,582 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 188 patients were in the ICU, and 69 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
The daily case rate per 100,000 population is at 23.8.
Only 1 in 3 Chicagoans over 65 have gotten booster shot
Chicago's top doctor says she is very concerned that residents 65 and older are not protected against COVID-19.
The latest data shows just about 34% of Chicagoans in that age group are up to date on their shots. But those are also the people who face some of the greatest risks.
Edward Walker, 67, took advantage of a regularly scheduled doctor's appointment to get all the vaccines: flu, pneumonia and the COVID bivalent booster.
"I want to live, I want to live to be 87 instead of 67, so that why I'm here getting my shots," he said.
While the bivalent booster has been available for people over 65 for months, seniors have been slow to get it. According to Chicago Department of Public Health, only 1 in 3 of Chicagoans over 65 have received the shot - and it's the same group that is driving an increase in COVID hospitalizations.
"They are still considered one of the highest risk populations for getting COVID," said Dr. Rene Roberts, Oak Street Health.
Weaker immune systems combined with underlying conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure put older adults at risk. Yet Dr. Roberts says it's been an uphill battle to convince some patients to get it, even for some who were first in line when the original vaccine came out.
"A lot of patients will say you know I did pretty good, I managed to get through the pandemic and I didn't get COVID, so why do I still need to get the COVID booster," Dr. Roberts said.
Dr. Roberts said some patients are eager to get the flu and pneumonia vaccines, but stop short of the COVID booster. She says convincing patients to get all the shots is about multiple one-on-one conversations.
"We really pride ourselves on building trust with our patients and within the communities where clinics are located," she said.
Oak Street's patients are primary older and minority. The booster rate in Chicago remains below 20% for both Black and Latino residents. Dr. Roberts hopes holiday get togethers will push more of their patients to get the booster - it's one of many reasons Edward Walker got his.
"If I get mine, I know I'm secure and my family is secure," Walker said.
Since Thanksgiving, COVID cases and hospitalizations have increased slightly. While the region remains at medium risk, waste water surveillance is now showing high risk, which could be a sign of what is to come.
A total of 8,407,830, or about 65.99%, Illinoisians have been fully vaccinated. The seven-day daily average is at 16,008.