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Another 79,000 coronavirus vaccines administered as Illinois’ pandemic death toll surpasses 20,500

Illinois reached another grim milestone Sunday as the state’s pandemic death toll surpassed 20,500 fatalities.

State health officials reported an additional 22 people have succumbed to COVID-19, bringing the number of virus-related deaths to 20,516. Eight of Sunday’s 22 fatalities were reported in the Chicago area and included three Cook County men in their 60s.

This comes as the state continues to make progress in its unprecedented vaccine rollout, giving a glimmer of hope for the future.

State health officials announced 79,266 coronavirus vaccines were injected into the arms of Illinois residents Saturday, marking the seventh-highest single day total.

After Illinois saw a drop in vaccine distribution two weeks ago in part due to heavy snow and delayed shipments from the federal government, the state averaged an all-time high of 79,140 doses doled out per day over the last week, which included a two-day streak of six-figure vaccination totals.

In total, more than 2.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois. About 11.7% of those shots were given to people at long-term care facilities.

As more people become eligible and receive their shots, the state has seen a steady decline in daily caseloads. State health officials on Sunday reported 1,585 new probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases, which were found among the 66,500 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last day.

Illinois’ daily caseload has surpassed 2,000 only three times in the last 15 days. Because of this, the state’s seven-day positivity rate has dropped to the lowest its been since June. On Sunday, that figure, which experts use to gauge the spread of the virus across the state, was 2.4%.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients have also been on a gradual decline over the last few months. As of Saturday, 1,265 beds were occupied statewide by coronavirus patients, with 303 of those patients in intensive care units and 150 on ventilators, officials said.

Since March, nearly 1.2 million people in Illinois have been confirmed to have the virus among the more than 18.1 million tests. The state boasts a virus recovery rate of 98%.

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