Underreported COVID number concerns rise as testing slow
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 601 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 16 related deaths Tuesday.
There have been 1,393,773 total COVID cases, including 23,272 deaths in the state since the pandemic began. The update comes as the state reported zero COVID deaths on Monday.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 39,627 specimens for a total of 25,962,476 since the pandemic began.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from June 30 to July 6 is at 1.4 %.
As of Monday night, 421 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 98 patients were in the ICU and 41 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
A total of 12,705,445 vaccines have been administered in Illinois as of Monday. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 20,182. There were 1,359 vaccines administered in Illinois Monday.
The Latino organization Healthy Hood has recruited several youth leaders to go knock on doors to educate residents in low vaccination neighborhoods about the importance of the vaccine and testing, especially with rising delta variant cases.
"We know in the Black and Brown communities, when that virus lets loose, it's our people who die," said Tanya Lozano, CEO of Healthy Hood.
Vaccination rates among the Chicago's LatinX and African American residents remain lower than other ethnic groups. That's why Lozano is calling on the city to not only provide more resources for vaccine education, but to keep and reopen closed free city testing sites.
"Nobody is talking about testing right now, nobody is pushing the importance of it," she said.
Lozano fears COVID rates are actually higher than what is being reported because people aren't getting tested.
Testing numbers have dropped city and state wide. According to the Illinois Dept. of Public Health, in May, almost 2 million (1,949,754 tests) tests were done statewide. By June, it dropped to just over a million (1,181,013 tests).
"If you don't test, you don't find," said Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora, an infectious disease specialist at St. Anthony Hospital. "I think ultimately, testing it's important. It's probably in our responsibility to seek testing and to make sure our guard doesn't go down."
Dr. Lora pointed out 30-40% of COVID patients don't have symptoms and are infectious before they develop them. He said with a more contagious Delta variant, testing is equally as important as vaccinations.
"There is some good news about the Delta variant. In the UK where the strain has caused a surge of cases, it has not resulted in a surge of hospitalizations and deaths," the doctor said.
But, Lozano and her army of volunteers worry that may not be the case here in minority communities with higher rates of health problems and continued low vaccination rates.