CHICAGO (WLS) — Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday the state is working to improve Illinois healthcare equity.
He visited Loretto Hospital in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood — a community hit especially hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pritzker signed a “transformation” bill, but some local medical experts are hoping to hear more specifics on how to get people vaccinated in a more efficient way.
A doctor with Metro Infectious Disease Consultants, one of the largest infectious disease groups in the country, is looking for the governor to talk specifics on how to get shots to people at their homes, churches and where they do their errands.
Dr. Vishnu Chundi said many people who work two jobs and others may live in pharmacy deserts or have a hard time getting to places like hospitals or the United Center.
“The science is clear on how to achieve equity, and that’s to go to the people,” Chundi said. “Having it go to brick-and-mortar areas like hospitals is very difficult for poor people. A lot of them are working two jobs, a lot of them are between shifts. Their lives are different than people who work 9-to-5, and so to really achieve equity, you have to go to the churches, you have to go to the community areas.”
Officials said they are targeting 30 suburban Cook County communities for some of the remaining United Center appointments. That list is reportedly still being compiled.
Officials said Thursday the the appointments will be prioritized for areas with high infection rates and low vaccine uptake, determined, in part, by the county’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index.
That shows the highest-ranking suburbs are clustered in the western and southern parts of Cook County.
“Our measures and principles are always to do this equitably, efficiently, and geographically to make sure that everyone throughout our jurisdiction has an availability to get the vaccine,” said Israel Rocha, with Cook County Health.
Supply continues to increase, but only modestly. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show Illinois and Chicago are set to receive a combined 606,000 Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson doses from the federal government next week.
It’s a bit shy of the 700,000 – or 100,000 per day – Pritzker announced would be received by mid-March.
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“My team is allocating what we receive from the federal government across the state as soon as we get it,” Pritzker said.
Area counties have yet to announce when they’ll expand to Phase 1B+, including Lake County, Illinois, where 51% of seniors have been vaccinated. But 70% is the benchmark to move to the next phase.
“Nobody has enough vaccine, and the state realizes that, and they want to provide more vaccine, but the state isn’t getting enough vaccine from the federal government,” said Mark Pfister, executive director of the Lake County Health Department.
On Thursday, Pritzker toured a new “mass vaccination” site in Grundy County. He said there are now some 880 vaccination sites in the state and 22 mass vaccination sites.
Despite the promise of more vaccines on the way, the governor is urging people to keep wearing masks and to stay vigilant.
“The progress is getting closer and closer to getting us back to normal, but patience still has to be our watchword,” he said.
Illinois Department of Public Health officials reported 1,763 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 39 deaths on Friday.
IDPH reported a total of 1,206,172 COVID-19 cases, including 20,901 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
As of Thursday night, 1,128 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 240 patients were in the ICU and 108 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported testing 93,913 specimens for a total of 18,988,565 since the pandemic began.
The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from March 5-11 is 2.6%.
A total of 4,501,155 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, with an additional 414,900 doses allocated to federal government partners for long-term care facilities, bringing the total number delivered in Illinois to 4,916,055.
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IDPH reports that a total of 3,791,273 vaccine doses have been administered, including 353,655 at long-term facilities. The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered is 95,121.
On Thursday, 110,570 vaccine doses were administered. About 54% of those 65 years and older are vaccinated in Illinois, the state said.
The deaths reported Friday include:
– Adams County: 1 male 80s
– Cass County: 1 male 80s
– Clark County: 1 female 50s
– Cook County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 70s
– DuPage County: 1 female 70s, 1 male 80s
– Edwards County: 1 male 90s
– Fulton County: 1 female 90s
– Grundy County: 1 female 70s
– Iroquois County: 1 female 70s
– Kane County: 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s
– Lake County: 1 female 80s
– Madison County: 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 male 90s
– Massac County: 1 female 80s
– McDonough County: 1 female 60s
– McHenry County: 1 male 90s
– Morgan County: 1 male 80s
– Peoria County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 90s
– Saline County: 1 male 70s
– Sangamon County: 1 female 80s
– Shelby County: 1 male 80s
– St. Clair County: 1 female 70s
– Stephenson County: 1 female 80s
– Washington County: 1 male 50s
– Will County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s
– Williamson County: 1 female 90s
– Winnebago County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
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