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New cases, hospitalizations up in Illinois, but Gov. Pritzker hopeful for reopening

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WEEK) -- More people are getting sick with COVID-19, but at the same time more people are getting vaccinated than ever before.

As of Friday, more than 5,000 people in our viewing area were actively fighting COVID-19.

That's twice as many as a month ago.

On the state level, Illinois reported over 4,000 new cases for the first time since late January.

Back in our area, the number of new cases reported each week is up for the fourth week in a row, but vaccine efforts are paying off, too.

Last week, 1,929 people in central Illinois tested positive for COVID-19. This week, that number rose to 2,667 (see red line on graph below).

Conversely, last week, 16,770 more people were classified as "fully vaccinated" in our area.

This week, that number went up by 28,082, bringing the total number of fully vaccinated people to 182,823, or roughly 21.4% of the population*.

However, hospitalizations are also on the upswing.

Region 2 of Illinois, which includes 12** of our 14 counties, as well as eight others, only had 19% of all ICU beds available as of Friday.

That's below the 20% threshold set by the Illinois Department of Public Health. If the region remains below that threshold for three days in a row, IDPH could put more restrictions in place.

Illinois also surpassed 1,800 total Covid-related hospitalizations Friday, up 600 in less than three weeks.

But on Friday, Gov. JB Pritzker said he remains hopeful.

"The first and most important question everybody wants to know the answer to is when is this going to end?" Gov. Pritzker said Friday, "And I have never been able to give an answer because this virus is so unpredictable. But we are headed in the right direction."

On Thursday, a record 164,000 doses of vaccine were administered statewide. Over 12,000 doses were administered in central Illinois.

As local COVID-19 cases have gone up, IDPH has been deploying Illinois National Guard "Rapid Response Teams," armed with vaccines to help combat rising numbers.

McLean County has said young people in their teens and twenties are getting sick in bigger numbers, and so they've set up vaccine clinics at Illinois State University to target the younger population.

Local health officials have also said new mitigations are not out of the question, but their expectation is that, with the availability of vaccines, new mitigations might not be as restrictive as those in the past.

*Note: Our viewing area includes 14 counties (Peoria, McLean, Woodford, Tazewell, Knox, LaSalle, Mason, Logan, Livingston, Stark, Fulton, Bureau, Putnam, and Marshall). The Illinois Department of Public Health lists the combined population of those counties as 852,571 people.

**The state lists Logan and Mason Counties as being part of Region 3

Sheridan Swathwood

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