Despite the prevalence of COVID vaccines, and now booster shots, the deaths from the virus continue unabated in Rock Island County. In the past 24 days, 18 county residents have died from COVID, and a total of 31 have died since Sept. 3, said Janet Hill, chief operating officer for the county health department.
“There has been a lot of deaths recently, which sadly isn’t surprising,” she said Monday. “Our cases started surging in later July. People who get seriously ill usually suffer greatly before dying – there is a several week lag.”
On Monday, the county health department reported two additional deaths from COVID-19: a man in his 40s who was hospitalized and a man in his 80s who was living in a long-term-care facility. The total number of deaths is now 372, compared to 274 COVID-related deaths in Scott County. Across the U.S., 736,112 people have died from COVID.
The portion of residents fully vaccinated against the virus is higher in the Iowa Quad Cities — 63 percent of those 12 and older in Scott County, compared to 56 percent in Rock Island County.
In addition, the Rock Island County Health Department Monday reported 48 new cases of COVID-19 since the last report on Friday. The total number of cases is now 18,662. Currently, 26 patients are hospitalized in the county with the virus. The average age of newly infected patients is 44.
The CDC reported that about 12 million fully vaccinated people (of 190.2 million who have been fully vaccinated) have received an additional vaccine dose since Aug. 13, the day after the F.D.A. opened up eligibility for third shots for some people. Those eligible for boosters have greatly expanded since then.
Rock Island County health officials urge everyone continue to work to prevent further spread of COVID-19 by:
- Getting vaccinated as soon as you can. Visit vaccines.gov to find your shot. RICHD offers walk-in vaccines on Tuesdays (Moderna and Johnson & Johnson) and Fridays (Pfizer). The hours for both days are 9 a.m. to noon and 1-4 p.m. Boosters or third doses for immunocompromised people are available on the same day as first and second doses.
- Staying home when you are sick.
- Wearing a face covering. A mandate from Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker requires that everyone 2 and older wear a mask in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. The CDC recommends that everyone age 2 and older wear a mask in counties of high or substantial transmission, which includes almost every county in the country.
- Keeping 6 feet of physical distance from others in public if you have not been fully vaccinated
- Washing your hands frequently.
Gov. Pritzker expands vaccinations
Illinois Gov. Pritzker on Monday announced the largest union agreement regarding vaccines for 7,800 state employees who are represented by AFSCME. Nearly 10,000 state workers are now covered under union vaccine agreements.
This agreement will ensure employees in 24/7 congregate facilities within the Illinois Departments of Human Services, and Veterans’ Affairs are protected with the COVID-19 vaccines. Employees under all union vaccine agreements are required to get their first shot by Oct. 26 and second shot by Nov. 30.
“I’m proud to announce our sixth and largest union agreement that will protect nearly 10,000 state workers and the people under their care,” Pritzker said in a release. “We’ve overcome tremendous challenges during the pandemic, and I want to thank our partners in the labor movement for being a part of the solution. Each person that gets vaccinated is protecting themselves, the people around them and our state as a whole. We will continue to work through the established legal process to ensure all state employees who work with the vulnerable and incarcerated are vaccinated.”
In addition to the announced agreements, the State and AFSCME have reached an impasse at the bargaining table for employees at the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice. The next steps for those bargaining units are as follows:
- For roughly 10,300 security employees at the Departments of Corrections and Juvenile Justice, the State and the union will submit to interest arbitration.
- For an additional 1,900 non-security employees at those two departments, the State has informed AFSCME that it will implement the following terms: employees must get their first shot by Oct. 26 and their second shot by Nov. 30. This is in accordance with state law.
State employees who remain unvaccinated pose a significant risk to individuals in Illinois’ congregate facilities, the state release said. Therefore, if employees do not receive the vaccine or an exemption by the dates identified, progressive disciplinary measures will be implemented. The agreement includes a process whereby employees can seek an exemption based on medical contraindications or sincerely held religious beliefs.
Following Gov. Pritzker’s announcement that all state workers who work in state-run congregate facilities would be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the agreements covering 2,090 workers have been made.
New statewide efforts for vaccinating children age 5-11
Nearly 6.2 million children nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and Pritzker also outlined new statewide efforts to prepare for the anticipated approval of the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 5-11.
Joined by Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and other pediatric healthcare professionals, the governor announced the administration is partnering with pediatricians, local health departments, schools, and other organizations ahead of the expected emergency-use authorization from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).
Once the Pfizer vaccine is authorized for use in children ages 5-11, more than 2,200 locations and providers statewide, including Chicago, are already enrolled to provide the vaccine. Illinois is expected to receive an initial allotment of approximately 306,000 doses for the state’s youngest residents, with an additional 73,000 doses for the city of Chicago, and well over 100,000 additional doses headed to the federal government’s pharmacy partners in Illinois. Overall, the initial allocation will amount to approximately 500,000 doses available to children in Illinois.
“Thanks to scientists and doctors who’ve worked tirelessly for the last year, we are likely just days away from having the COVID-19 vaccine available for 1.1 million more Illinois children, ages 5 to 11,” Pritzker said. “As soon as the FDA and the CDC have signed off, these kid-sized doses and kid-sized needles will be shipped out to pharmacies, pediatricians and other providers across Illinois — and IDPH has reached out to every pediatrician in the state to enroll them in the vaccine distribution program. As a parent, you should call your pediatrician now to make sure they’ve enrolled and have ordered doses. And I will do everything in my power to continue to follow the science and keep our kids safe.”
As vaccination rates among adults increasing, positive COVID-19 cases among children have spiked. For the week ending Oct. 14, one in four cases nationally were children, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In preparation for administering shots to the 1.1 million children across the state who will become eligible for the vaccine in the coming days, IDPH is enrolling pediatric offices to provide COVID shots.
“Now that authorization has been granted, it is critically important that we get as many children vaccinated as quickly as possible, in order to provide them with the ultimate degree of protection,” said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. “IDPH is partnering with practices of all sizes, healthcare systems, and physician associations across the state to ensure the vaccine is readily available as soon as parents and guardians request it for their children.”
To make access to the pediatric vaccine as equitable as possible, the administration is also coordinating with federally qualified health centers, local health departments, and family practitioners.
IDPH is also overseeing outreach to 756 elementary school districts across the state to offer parent-approved vaccination clinics on school grounds, just as was offered to all relevant school districts when the COVID-19 vaccines were made available to 12-17-year-old students.
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA)-IDPH mobile vaccination teams have already conducted over 4,000 events statewide, including more than 870 school and youth events for older (12-17) students. An additional 350 vaccine clinics among older students have been planned for the coming weeks.
Illinois remains a national leader in youth vaccination, with more than two-thirds of the state’s 12-17 population receiving at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, the state said. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Illinois is currently the only state in the Midwest to hit this milestone.
“The best way to protect our children is by ensuring that we vaccinate as many youngsters as possible,” said Jihad Shoshara, head of Pediatric Health Associates outside Chicago. “We know that vaccines are the most powerful resource we have in the fight against COVID-19, and with their authorization for ages 5 – 11, and by collaborating with health care systems across the state, we have the ability help families protect their children.”