September 28, 2021

Pritzker won’t follow Biden’s lead on vaccine requirement just yet

Governor urges shots, but unvaccinated workers still can submit to weekly tests

With President Joe Biden announcing new vaccine requirements for many federal employees without allowing people to test out, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday he’s not ready to take that same step yet.

“At the moment I don’t have a plan for us to do that, but I do think everyone should get vaccinated,” Pritzker said at an event in Chicago.

“We’re focused on the plan we have in place, which is requiring vaccinations, but for those who cannot, they have the option of testing, so we’ll look at it going forward.”

Pritzker said he is hopeful residents will get vaccinated without any additional pressure from state government, like taking away the option to provide negative test results in lieu of vaccination.

“We have lots of folks, like teachers and those working in settings with vulnerable patients, and we want to make sure we have options for those people,” the governor said.

The decision comes as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Illinois rose slightly to 2,337, which is 48% more than the number hospitalized the same time last year, according to IDPH figures. Of those hospitalized, 552 are in intensive care. A year ago, hospitals statewide were treating 357 COVID-19 patients in ICUs, state records show.

Illinois saw its seven-day case positivity rate increase as well, to 4.7% following a week of decline. Case positivity is the percentage of new cases derived from a batch of tests. A seven-day average is used to account for anomalies in the daily reporting of those figures.

IDPH records show 21 more COVID-19 deaths statewide, bringing Illinois’ death toll from the virus to 24,215.

The state reported 4,741 new cases of the disease have been diagnosed. Since the outbreak began, 1,559,077 COVID-19 infections have been recorded throughout the state.

One year ago, Illinois was averaging 2,263 new COVID-19 cases a day for the week. Today, the state is averaging 3,819 new cases daily for the week.

And that’s with the availability of a vaccine. However, the emergence of the delta variant and fewer restrictions on capacities at businesses and social gatherings have helped drive the recent spike in cases.

IDPH officials also reported 26,006 more doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered statewide.

Vaccine providers in Illinois have now administered 14,125,519 doses since they became available in December but are averaging just 21,005 shots a day.

Illinois providers are reporting a current surplus of more than 2.5 million vaccine doses, according to IDPH records.