The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rated one southwestern Illinois county at a medium COVID-19 community level in the Thursday update, along with 11 other counties across the state.
Calhoun, White, Edgar, Vermilion, Livingston, Stark, Lee, Ogle, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties were at a medium level, and no counties were at a high level, compared to one high level county last week. St. Louis City and St. Louis County were also at medium levels.
The CDC’s COVID-19 community levels are updated Thursdays and based on metrics from the past seven days, including new hospital admissions per 100,000 people, average percent of staffed, inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients and new cases per 100,000 people.
People in high community level areas are advised to wear a mask indoors and on public transportation, and the federal agency says people at a higher risk of severe illness should consider precautions in medium-level areas.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 8,560 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 39 deaths for the week ending March 19.
FDA expands vaccine eligibility
IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a March 24 statement the department welcomes the Food and Drug Administration’s March 14 decision to expand the use of Pfizer bivalent booster shots to children ages 6 months to 4 years at least 2 months after their primary series.
“I am pleased that the FDA has authorized and the CDC has expanded its recommendation to allow this category of young children to receive a booster dose of Pfizer’s updated COVID-19 vaccine,” Vohra said in the statement. “This recommendation now means that all children in this age group are eligible to receive an updated vaccine. Vaccines remain the best protection to prevent serious illness from COVID-19, and these updated shots are formulated to protect against some of the more recently circulating strains of the disease. I recommend that parents speak with their children’s health care provider to ensure that their child is up to date on their COVID-19 and other vaccines.”
Bivalent booster uptake has been slow compared to other COVID-19 vaccines in Illinois, with 19.8% of the population opting in so far. Residents ages 65 and older have gotten the shot at higher rates, with a 48.8% bivalent booster vaccination rate in that age group.
More than 71% of the Illinois population has completed a primary COVID-19 vaccination series, and 79.1% have gotten at least one dose.
COVID-19 in St. Clair County and Illinois
St. Clair County’s weekly COVID-19 case rate dropped from 62.77 to 55.84 per 100,000 people this week. The county’s hospitalization rate had a slight decline, from an average of 6.9 to 6.3 people hospitalized per 100,000 residents, according to the CDC.
The portion of staffed inpatient beds in use by COVID-19 patients is 3.5% this week, compared to 3.6% last week.
Intensive care unit availability was at 19% in southwestern Illinois as of March 23, IDPH reports, while 90% of the region’s ventilators were available. Statewide, about 18% of hospital beds were available.
Test positivity was at 3.05% in St. Clair County as of March 20, the CDC reports, while the rate of tests performed had dropped by 3.49% as of March 16.
As of Thursday night, IDPH reported 810 Illinois residents were hospitalized with COVID-19, including 94 patients in the ICU and 34 people on ventilators. IDPH reported one COVID-19 death in St. Clair County for the week.
Information about vaccination and testing is available online in St. Clair County.
Note: Some CDC data, such as test positivity rates, the number of tests performed and weekly case rate, update on different days. IDPH data and CDC data may not update at the same time, so metrics may vary across agencies.