COVID Illinois Update: IL reports 753 new cases, 0 deaths

BySarah Schulte and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, March 21, 2022
New omicron BA.2 subvariant continues to increase in Illinois
The new omicron BA.2 subvariant first showed up in Illinois in January and continues to increase.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois reported 753 new COVID cases and no related deaths Monday.

Illinois Dept. of Public Health officials also reported 519 new COVID cases on Sunday and 1,179 on Saturday. No confirmed deaths were reported for Sunday, and 18 deaths were reported on Saturday.

IDPH notes that "daily deaths reported on weekends and at the beginning of the week may be low as IDPH and local health departments move away from reviewing and processing COVID-19 death records over the weekend. Those deaths will be captured in subsequent days."

There have been at least 3,055,636 total COVID cases, including 33,216 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

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The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 1.3%, which is up from 1.2% on Friday.

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Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 49,929 new specimens for a total of 56,555,095 since the pandemic began.

As of Sunday night, 529 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 97 patients were in the ICU, and 41 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 21,294,461 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Sunday, and 64.2% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 7,954.

New omicron BA.2 subvariant continues to increase in Illinois

When new variants emerge in the Chicago area, they often are first detected in a Rush University Medical Center lab where COVID samples are sequenced. The new omicron BA.2 sub variant first showed up in January and continues to increase.

"What we know so far is it might be more transmissible than omicron," said Dr. John Segreti, director, infection control & prevention at Rush University Medical. "It's about 30% more transmissible."

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According to the CDC, the BA.2 sub variant accounts for over 20% of the cases in Midwestern states, including Illinois. It is already causing a resurgence of cases in Europe, specifically the UK.

"We can expect since we generally follow the UK by a few weeks, of what goes on in the UK generally happens here," Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

While the sub variant appears to be more contagious than Omicron, experts say the good news is BA.2 is not causing severe illness.

"There is a possibility a vaccinated individual would get it, but ultimately they are protected against severe disease, hospitalizations and death," said Dr. Alfredo Mena Lora, an infectious disease specialist at St. Anthony Hospital.

But protection does wane, which is why both Pfizer and now Moderna are seeking FDA approval for a 2nd booster. Pfizer is recommending another shot for people 65 and above, and Moderna for people 18 and over.

"It seems to be 4-6 months when the antibodies start to wane," Segreti said.

But, a 4th shot could be a tough sell. Boosters have been around for months and the rates remain low. Only 29% of Americans are boosted in Illinois. In Chicago, the rate is slightly higher, at 33%. With masks coming off and a new variant moving here quickly, doctors are urging people to get protected.