Illinois COVID Update: IL reports 15,453 new cases, 120 deaths

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 15,453 new COVID cases and 120 related deaths Friday.

There have been 2,897,174 total COVID cases, including 30,688 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

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Dr. Juanita Mora, an allergy and immunology specialist, discusses how concerned we should be about the new omicron subvariant.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 12%, down from 13.8%. One week ago the statewide test positivity rate was 15.3%.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 215,068 new specimens for a total of 50,798,837 since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday night, 4,533 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 800 patients were in the ICU and 460 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

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A total of 23,092,645 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Wednesday and 62% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 36,787.

While thousands of people remain in Illinois hospitals with COVID, hospitalizations and ICU numbers are flattening and case numbers are decreasing as omicron has hit its peak.

Yet, drug companies are beginning trials for a tweaked vaccine that targets the variant.

"Timing is everything, you obviously can't have the vaccine the day a variant comes out, so by the time it is available omicron might be in the rear view mirror," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Dept. of Public Health.

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Or, omicron continues to circulate and a new adapted vaccine will give us a leg up on the next variant. A new one labeled "stealth omicron" has been detected in the United States.

"It's certainly worth a try to have vaccines ready and have then tested in the event we have to deal with further omicron infections or a variant of omicron that becomes dominant," UIC Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Richard Novak said.

Novak says it is how vaccine development for the flu has worked for years.

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"We don't know for sure which flu viruses will circulate, but the vaccines are made well in advance of the flu season in order to have the vaccine ready," he said.

And while flu shot rates are not great, there is concern there may be some vaccine fatigue if people need to take yet another COVID dose.

"We don't know what is in store, but we are grateful the current vaccines have been able to do the job and keep fully vaccinated people out of the hospital," Ezike said.

While Pfizer and Moderna work on a tweaked vaccine for Omicron, the U.S. government is aggressively pushing drug companies to come up with a universal vaccine that would work well against any COVID variant.

Please note: The video in this story is from a previous, related report.
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