Illinois COVID-19 Update: IL reports 7,569 new coronavirus cases, 139 deaths; Gov. Pritzker lowers age for vaccine in Phase 1B

IL regions can move out of Tier 3 mitigations starting January 15 if they meet metrics
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Governor JB Pritzker gave an update on the COVID-19 vaccine policy Wednesday as health officials reported 7,569 new cases and 139 deaths.

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Governor JB Pritzker announces that Illinois is lowering tha age to get a COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1B of the state's distribution plan.

The total number of cases in Illinois now stands at 999,288, with a total of 17,096 deaths, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the CDC has recommended that people 75 and older be vaccinated next, Illinois is expanding that group to people 65 and older.

"While the highest count of COVID-19 deaths is among those 75 and older, the majority of our Black and brown populations are dying well before that," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health.

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At his press conference on Wednesday, Governor Pritzker provided updated guidelines of Phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Anyone over the age of 65, as well as frontline essential workers, will be able to get the vaccine in that phase. Those frontline essential workers include: first responders, teachers and those who work in childcare, grocery store workers, public transit employees and more.

"ACIP's guidance serves as the foundational blueprint for Illinois' Phase 1B plan, with one key adjustment: here in Illinois we are more strongly pursuing equity in the distribution of our vaccinations," said Governor JB Pritzker. "For people of color, multi-generational institutional racism in the provision of healthcare has reduced access to care, caused higher rates of environmental and social risk, and increased co-morbidities. I believe our exit plan for this pandemic must, on balance, overcome structural inequalities that has allowed COVID-19 to rage through our most vulnerable communities."

There are approximately 3.2 million people in Illinois that can get a vaccine during Phase 1B.

"With limited amounts of vaccine available at this time, it is important to prioritize individuals who are at greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19 and those at greatest risk of severe illness or death," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "Generally, Latinx and Black populations have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with data showing related deaths at younger ages. We are hopeful that by lowering the eligibility age to 65 years we can help reduce this disparity."

Officials say the vaccine rollout has been sluggish because of the amount of supply coming from the federal government, as well as some vaccine hesitancy - even among healthcare workers - but they expect things to accelerate in the next few weeks.

With vaccinations in their fourth week at long term care facilities and hospitals, officials say one-third of Illinois' healthcare workers outside of Chicago have received at least one dose in a slower-than-expected rollout.

"The good news is that the incoming Biden administration has pledged to invoke the Defense Production Act, so that we expect the vaccine production will grow significantly in the coming month," Gov. JB Pritzker said.

To administer shots to the more than 3 million Illinoisans in that next phase, officials plan to rely on the National Guard, which was instrumental in staffing large testing sites.

"They'll be assisting others and doing it themselves, depending on their expertise, of course, and using arenas as you're describing all across the state," Gov. JB Pritzker said.

With infection rates generally trending in the right direction, Gov. Pritzker said on January 15 - after the impact of holiday travel is known - regions that meet the metrics can exit Tier 3 mitigation.

That would not necessarily allow indoor dining to resume, but would reopen some businesses.

Right now, Will and Kankakee Counties, as well as suburban Cook, and the city of Chicago are among the regions that meet the criteria to exit Tier 3 mitigation.

"My prayer for the new year is that everyone stays healthy and all of our regions continue to move in the right direction and I ask this from all Illinoisans to join me in making that possible by wearing a mask," he said.

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Dr. Robert Citronberg of Advocate Aurora Health answers COVID-19 questions.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 80,974 specimens for a total 13,698,428.

As of Tuesday night, 3,928 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 812 patients were in the ICU and 451 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

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The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from Dec. 30 - Jan. 5 is 9.9%.

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The impact of vaccinations may not have a positive impact on the daily COVID-19 numbers until spring, Dr. Jen Ashton says.

The test positivity rate is a metric the state began providing in late October. It is calculated by using the total number of positive tests over the total number of tests. This is the metric being used to by state health officials to make decisions about mitigations.

See where COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered

The deaths reported Wednesday include:

- Bond County: 1 male 70s
- Boone County: 1 male 40s
- Bureau County: 1 female 80s
- Champaign County: 1 male 70s
- Clark County: 1 male 90s

- Clinton County: 1 female 70s
- Coles County: 1 female 80s
- Cook County: 2 males 40s, 1 female 50s, 2 males 50s, 1 female 60s, 7 males 60s, 4 females 70s, 5 males 70s, 6 females 80s, 4 males 80s, 7 females 90s, 3 males 90s, 1 male 100+
- DeKalb County: 1 female 80s
- Douglas County: 1 male 80s
- DuPage County: 1 female 60s, 2 males 60s, 1 female 80s, 2 males 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
- Edgar County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s
- Franklin County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
- Fulton County: 1 female 80s
- Grundy County: 1 female 80s
- Hancock County: 1 male 80s
- Jefferson County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- Kane County: 1 female 30s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s
- Kankakee County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 60s
- Lake County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s
- LaSalle County: 1 female 80s
- Lee County: 1 male 80s
- Livingston County: 1 female 90s

- Macon County: 1 male 60s
- Macoupin County: 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
- Madison County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 2 males 80s, 1 male 90s
- Marion County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
- McLean County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 males 90s
- Peoria County: 1 male 70s
- Randolph County: 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 100+
- Rock Island County: 3 males 70s, 2 females 90s, 1 male 90s
- Saline County: 2 males 80s
- Sangamon County: 1 male 70s
- St. Clair County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s, 4 females 80s, 1 female 90s
- Tazewell County: 2 males 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 90s
- White County: 1 male 60s
- Whiteside County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s
- Will County: 1 male 40s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 2 males 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
- Williamson County: 1 female 80s
- Winnebago County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 female 80s
- Woodford County: 1 female 90s
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