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Illinois Leading Nation In COVID-19 Vaccinations, With Nearly 101,000 Doses Given So Far

CHICAGO (CBS) -- More than 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Illinois so far, the most of any state in the nation, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday afternoon.

As of Tuesday night, a total of 100,991 vaccine doses have been administered in Chicago and the rest of Illinois. The city oversees its own vaccination program, while the state manages vaccine distribution for the rest of the state.

Pritzker said allocations from the federal government arriving this week include 23,400 Pfizer vaccine doses outside of Chicago, 15,600 Pfizer doses in Chicago, and another 37,050 Pfizer doses set aside specifically for long-term care facility residents and staff outside Chicago.

Illinois also expects 174,600 doses of the Moderna vaccine this week, with another 48,000 doses expected for the city of Chicago.

Meantime, the Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported 6,762 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, as well as 135 additional deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 918,070 coronavirus cases, including 15,547 deaths.

The statewide seven-day average case positivity rate in Illinois now stands at 7.5%, up slightly from one day earlier, but still lower than any point in November. The state's positivity rate has been steadily declining over the past month, after reaching as high as 13.2% on Nov. 13. However it's still more than double the 3.5% positivity rate reported at the start of October.

As of Tuesday night, 4,593 coronavirus patients were being treated in Illinois hospitals, including 953 in the ICU and 536 on ventilators.

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois have now gone up three days in a row, after seeing a largely steady decline since peaking at 6,175 on Nov. 20.

Pritzker said the recent upticks in hospitalizations is concerning, and part of the reason he is waiting at least until after the holidays to consider lifting current COVID-19 regulations across Illinois, even though some regions of the state already meet the requirements to move from Tier 3 to Tier 2 restrictions.

"Even if we brought the entire state or specific regions from Tier 3 to Tier 2, that would not open bars and restaurants for indoor service yet. We need to bring it down even further, and for a longer period of time," Pritzker said. "We'll get there, I believe, shortly, and we want to see how the Christmas and New Year's holidays go."

The governor also noted that too many COVID-19 patients are still taking up ICU beds, with approximately 20.5% of ICU beds currently available statewide. The state's threshold for lifting current virus restrictions includes maintaining at least 20% ICU bed capacity for 10 days in a row, and Pritzker said he's concerned the holidays could bring another surge of cases in the coming weeks, and send hospitalizations up again.

"The challenge that we have is that we don't want to swing back and forth between mitigations and not having mitigations within days or a week or two of another," Pritzker said.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike again urged Illinois residents to avoid spreading the virus over the holidays by avoiding travel or gathering with people outside their own household.

"The best way to avoid another surge in hospitalizations, another surge in deaths, another surge in new infections is to celebrate the holidays at home with the family that you currently live with," she said.

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