Illinois COVID: IL reports 29,639 new cases, 153 deaths

Chicago pastors push vaccines in neighborhoods with low vaccination rates

BySarah Schulte and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, January 15, 2022
Chicago pastors working to get more people vaccinated
Some Chicago churches and pastors are playing a role in getting more people vaccinated in predominately Black neighborhoods where vaccination rates remain lower.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 29,639 new COVID cases and 153 related deaths Friday.

The video in the player above is from a previous report.

There have been 2,589,640 total COVID cases, including 29,099 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 15.6%.

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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 279,901 new specimens for a total of 47,949,094 since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday night, 7,320 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 1,148 patients were in the ICU and 657 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 19,893,424 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Thursday, and 61.3% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 51,070.

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Illinosi Governor JB Pritzker outlined steps to help give relief to healthcare workers and expand hospital beds amid a surge in COVID cases.

Some Chicago churches and pastors are playing a role in getting more people vaccinated in predominately Black neighborhoods where vaccination rates remain lower.

Auburn Gresham's Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church has opened its doors to several one-day vaccination clinics during the past few months. For Pastor Charles Rogers, increasing rates among African Americans has been his personal mission.

"We got involved in this zip code when the vaccine rate was 34% - for me that was a call to action," Rogers said.

While progress has been made, rates among Chicago's African American residents continues to lag behind.

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Just over 50% (50.4%) of Black residents are fully vaccinated compared to 61.2% of Latinx Chicagoans, 68.6% of White residents and 73.5% Asian Chicagoans.

"The number one reason for hesitation in the African American Community is misinformation," said Rev. Darrel Griffin, Oakdale Covenant Church.

Pastors say fear is also reason people are not getting the vaccine. All of it factored into Lee Townsell holding back until the 43-year-old finally made the decision to get his first dose on Friday.

"There was a lot going on and I wanted to do a lot of research before I put something in my body," Townsell said.

Because the church is a trusted institution within the Black community, Rev. Rogers and others say they are using every opportunity to push the vaccine.

"We have set aside our bible study, we have set aside during our sermons to correct the misinformation and tell the truth about it," Griffin said.

Their efforts have gone beyond the pulpit and church doors; pastors have conducted phone banks and gone door-to-door. But Rogers said if the Black vaccination rates are going to reach the percentages of other ethnicities, more help is needed.