The state of Illinois got some good news this weekend, as more than half of the adult residents in the state are now vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.
The state is also recording a new record low number of hospitalizations, with fewer patients in hospitals than at any other point since the pandemic became widespread last spring.
Here are the latest headlines from around the state:
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More Than Half of Illinois Adults Now Fully Vaccinated for COVID
More than half of Illinois adults have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, public health officials announced Sunday.
Overall 11.2 million vaccines have been administered in the state, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Health officials said about 67% of all adults have received at least one vaccine dose.
The news comes as the number of coronavirus cases has been declining in the state. Health officials on Sunday reported 602 new coronavirus cases and 18 additional deaths. The seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests is 1.7%.
Nearly 8,300 Illinois COVID Cases Linked to Variant Strains, Officials Say
Health officials in Illinois have confirmed nearly 8,300 cases of coronavirus caused by variant strains of the virus, including more than 5,500 caused by a strain that originated in the United Kingdom.
According to the latest data published by the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 8,282 cases of coronavirus have been linked to five different variant strains that have been detected in the state during the pandemic.
Of those cases, 5,575 have been linked to the B.1.1.7 variant, which originated in the United Kingdom and was first detected in the United States in Dec. 2020. The variant has been revealed to spread more quickly and easily than other variants, and UK researchers believe that it could cause an increased risk of death, although IDPH officials say those findings still require further verification.
Officials say that 2,101 cases of COVID have been linked to the P.1 variant, which emerged in Brazil in January. The variant’s mutations could make it more difficult for antibodies to fight it, according to researchers, and it was first detected in the U.S. in the same month.
COVID Hospitalizations in Illinois Hit New Low as Cases Continue to Drop
Coronavirus hospitalization numbers in Illinois continued their downward trend on Sunday, hitting their lowest levels since the COVD pandemic exploded last spring.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 1,078 patients are currently hospitalized in the state of Illinois due to coronavirus complications, marking the lowest number recorded since publicly-available data was released by IDPH on April 14, 2020.
This comes after a brief spike in hospitalizations in late March and early April, with the high-point of 2,288 patients coming on April 19, according to IDPH data.
Since then, vaccination numbers have continued to climb in the state, and both COVID cases and hospitalizations have continued to decline even as coronavirus mitigation rules have been pared back.
Now, the state is set to potentially roll into Phase Five of its COVID reopening plan on June 11, which would mean an elimination of all mitigation rules, including occupancy limits and other strategies.
Illinois Phase 5: What Will Change Statewide and When
Barring a significant rise in COVID-19 metrics, Illinois could lift all capacity limitations and fully reopening its economy as soon as June 11.
But what exactly will it look like, and what changes will be put into place?
Phase 5 will remove capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy, with "businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures," according to state officials.
Conventions, festivals and large events will also be able to resume, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
On Wednesday, the city of Chicago announced it will no longer require masks for fully vaccinated people in most settings following similar changes from the state of Illinois and revised guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 602 New COVID Cases, 18 Deaths, 39K Vaccinations
Health officials in Illinois have recorded 602 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Sunday, along with 18 additional deaths and more than 39,000 COVID vaccination doses administered.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 1,381,665 cases of coronavirus have now been reported in the state since the pandemic began last year.
In all, 22,794 deaths are now linked to coronavirus, with 2,391 fatalities currently listed as “probable” COVID-19 deaths, according to state officials.
In the last 24 hours, a total of 38,607 test specimens have been returned to state laboratories. Those new test results bring the state to nearly 24.6 million tests performed during the pandemic.