Illinois COVID cases: IL reports 10,264 new cases, 63 deaths; tests sold out at many stores

60% of Illinois population now fully vaccinated, health officials say

ByMichelle Gallardo, Sarah Schulte, Leah Hope, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Health care workers resume vaccination encouragement amid surge
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Worn down and weary by a nearly 2-year-old pandemic, health care workers are continuing to ask the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois public health officials reported 10,264 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and 63 related deaths, a day after marking the largest one-day increase in 2021.

There have been 1,985,779 total COVID cases, including 27,291 deaths in the state since the pandemic began.

The seven-day statewide test positivity rate is 7.6%, a jump up from 7.1% on Monday.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 179,269 new specimens for a total of 42,786,764 since the pandemic began.

Saturday, IDPH reported the largest one-day increase in tests on record with 256,765 completed tests.

COVID testing lines throughout the Chicago area have been extremely long as many are seeking tests before the holidays. Stores in Chicago including CVS are reporting that they are completely sold out of take-home COVID tests, and do not know when they'll have them back in stock.

"Hospital bed availability has reached a critically low level. Demand on resources is high," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director, Illinois Department of Public Health. "This is setting up to be a very deadly COVID Christmas and New Year's."

As of Monday night, 4,008 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 845 patients were in the ICU and 432 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

A total of 18,697,629 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois as of Monday, and 60.02% of the state's population is fully vaccinated. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 65,165.

RELATED: Omicron variant sweeps across nation, now 73% of US COVID-19 cases

Healthcare and front line workers, weary and worn down by nearly two years of this pandemic, fear what's ahead if more people don't get vaccinated.

"If you don't want to get vaccinated, think of your parents or the people that don't have an immune system," said Ashly Dillon, an ICU nurse at Loyola Medicine. "We have a lot of patients going through chemotherapy and their family, who had COVID, went to see them and now they are not doing well."

Dillon said she has sat with dozens of COVID patients as they took their last breaths, and they are increasingly younger.

"I have patients in their 30s, they are so close to my age, and I'm like why didn't you just get vaccinated? You would not have to in this situation," she said.

Loyola University Medical Center reported ICU COVID cases increased 42% this week compared to the previous week, and an increase of 249% compared to the first week over November.

"Think of others, not just yourself," Dillon advised.

She said she won't be celebrating the holidays with her family this year to keep them safe. Instead, she will be working. And she hopes other will consider doing what they can to protect their loved ones.

Long Lines For Testing Ahead of Holiday

Kevin Barron and his friend were on a mission Monday, looking for a COVID testing site that doesn't require an appointment and one, hopefully, without a long line.

"I tried three different places," Barron said. "The one that is close was temporarily closed, [so] we walked to this [and] they turned us away at the door."

From sites in the city to the suburbs, the need to be tested has exploded during the past week.

With about an hour wait, one line at a Lincoln Park location wrapped down the sidewalk into the alley.

"I was not surprised," said one person waiting to get tested. "I actually looked at other locations, but they were busy."

"I think everybody is doing their best to stay safe and protected," said another. "I thinks that why we are all in line right now before we see our families for the holidays."

Traveling home to Iowa for the holidays is why Barron wants a test as soon as possible.

"There have been a lot of scares at work with the best variant," he said. "Trying to make sure everybody is ok and healthy, and not damaging anyone."

Traveling, family gatherings and the threat of Omicron is producing long testing lines.

Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care locations have also been extremely busy, especially with symptomatic patients.

"We've seen our positivity rate increase at Northwestern Medicine, kind of in conjunction with what we are seeing in the state of Illinois," said Heather Keirnan, vice president of operations at Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care. "We are seeing lots of people come in who don't feel well."

Innovative Express Care is seeing similar patients. The facility is so busy, COVID test appointments are booked for the next few days.

According to Innovative, its positivity rate has tripled during the past few days. Among symptomatic patients, the rate is up to 25%.

Home testing kits have been flying off the shelves. Both CVS and Walgreens say they are doing their best to keep a variety of brands in stock through this very busy time.

Dr. Fauci speaks one-on-one with ABC7's Sarah Schulte

The nation's top infectious disease expert issued a stern warning as we head into the holidays.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7's Sarah Schulte, Dr. Anthony Fauci talked about the new omicron variant and what he says worries him the most.

As people head into the holidays hoping for a sense of normalcy, Fauci warns Americans the next few weeks could be anything but with the very contagious Omicron variant beginning to take hold in the United States.

SEE ALSO | 1 year since 1st COVID vaccine given in Chicago, hospitalizations surge again amid new variants

"I have concern there are so many people still who are unvaccinated," Fauci said. "I thought the country would have embraced vaccines better than they did, rather than a year later still have having 50-60 million people unvaccinated. That is the big disappointment."

There are over 50 million unvaccinated people in the United States. In Illinois, over 5 million not fully vaccinated, with 650,000 in Chicago.

"Some of those people are going to get seriously ill, some of those people will be in the hospital and some are going to die, which is going to stress our healthcare and hospital system," Fauci warned.

While politically unpopular, Fauci said more vaccine mandates are necessary to get more people vaccinated. He is also appealing to the vaccinated to get booster shots, as less than 30% of those eligible have been boosted.

"You may not prevent infection, because there will be breakthrough infections, but you will have a good deal of protection against the disease," Fauci said.

SEE ALSO | COVID's surge, omicron's threat, boosters' protection: What to know about next chapter in pandemic

Fauci also said it's time for drug companies to develop a universal vaccine.

"There is an urgent need to get a universal coronavirus vaccine, namely a vaccine that would be against all variants and all kinds of coronaviruses," Fauci said.

The omicron variant has caused New York City's positivity rate to double in three days, resulting in several Broadway cancellations. Fauci said this is just the beginning.

"What is happening in New York is happening everywhere in the country," Fauci said. "They are just the leader in the pack, unfortunately."

Despite the warnings about the surge, Fauci does not anticipate any new guidance from the CDC. His advice for gathering and traveling during the holidays is to assess your own risk depending on where you will be.

Free community COVID testing

The group "Shield Illinois" is offering free COVID testing at 20 sites statewide so people can get tested before they visit friends and family for the holidays. Residents will get results within 48 hours.

Local sites in include Joliet Junior College, DePaul University's DePaul Center in the Loop, Northeastern Illinois University , and Lockport Township High School East Campus...

Also Elgin Community College, Jane Addams Elementary School in Palatine, and Woodland Elementary in Gages Lake.

- 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Joliet Junior College (1215 Houbalt Rd in Joliet)

-- 2 p.m.-7 p m. at Depaul University Depaul Center (1 E Jackson St in Chicago,entrance is at 333 S State St.

-- 2 p.m.-8 p.m. at Northeastern Illinois University (5500 N St. Louis Ave. in Chicago

-- 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at Lockport Township HS East campus (1333 E 7th St in Lockport)

-- 2 p.m.-7 p.m. at Elgin Community College (1700 Spartan Dr in Elgin)

-- 3:30 p.m.-7 p.m. at Jane Addams Elementary (1020 E. Sayles Dr in Palatine)

-- 3;30 p.m.-8 p.m. at Woodland Elementary (17261 W. Gages Lake Rd in Gages Lake)