Chicago area residents urged to get COVID booster, flu shot ahead of holidays
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 2,711 new COVID cases and 9 new deaths Wednesday.
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 was raised to a "medium" risk level across the Chicago area earlier this month, but was reduced to the "low" transmission category on Friday, as determined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There have been at least 3,860,866 total COVID cases in the state since the start of the pandemic and at least 35,423 related deaths.
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As of Tuesday night, 1,147 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 122 patients were in the ICU, and 36 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
The daily case rate per 100,000 population is at 16.7.
Chicago's top doctor pleads with residents to get flu shot, COVID booster ahead of holidays
With the flu surging in Chicago and in the suburbs, the city's top doctor is pushing everyone 6 months and older to get their COVID and flu vaccines ahead of the holidays.
Chicago Dept. of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady received her fall 2022 COVID-19 booster just before Thanksgiving.
She said she's aware there's COVID vaccine fatigue, but said COVID and the flu aren't going anywhere - and you should protect yourself from both regularly.
In DuPage County, health leaders say there's been a dramatic increase in pediatric hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses.
The DuPage County Health System says at times, there are no hospital beds available anywhere in the county.
Advocate Aurora Health is also limiting hospital visitors because there's so much flu going around.
At Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago, one of the only community hospitals in the area with its own pediatric unit, the beds are full. So is the emergency room. RSV, COVID and now a rising number of flu cases are pushing the small hospital back into disaster planning.
"We went from one crisis to another," said Raquel Prendkowski, chief nursing officer at St. Anthony. "It's hard to navigate that."
St. Anthony sits on the border of Little Village and North Lawndale. It serves a minority, Medicaid population, and like many hospitals, it is also struggling with staffing shortages.
"You have the bigger hospitals that have the bells and whistles and they are unable to staff," Prendkowski said. "What does that say for smaller hospitals?"
To avoid becoming overwhelmed during the next few weeks, hospital officials are pushing to get more of its population vaccinated for the flu and COVID. Booster rates among Black and Latino residents remain low. As it did during various COVID surges, the hospital partners with community organizations like churches to convince people to get vaccinated.
"Just like the word of God to us, it's part of our sermons every Sunday," said Rev. Robin Hood, at Greater Rock MB Church.
St. Anthony officials say its community partnerships are critical because they say people have vaccine fatigue and need to hear the importance of the shots from people they trust.
"I think there might be an overburdening of messaging, they almost stop listening to a point," said James Sifuentes, senior VP mission & community development at St. Anthony.
While St. Anthony is preparing for worst, in the short term, they are hoping to get as many people as they can in this weekend to get vaccinated. Its clinic for the public is open all day on Friday and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday.