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Illinois Gov. Pritzker says the unvaccinated are taking medical resources from others in need

·2 min read
Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune/TNS

CHICAGO — With another surge in COVID-19 cases making more Illinoisans sick and once again crowding hospitals, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday announced the state will more than double its staffing at vaccination sites to ensure that more people get inoculated and to meet the demand for booster shots.

The move comes as the omicron variant has taken shape throughout the country and the state, comprising a rapidly rising percentage of all new cases.

Pritzker said more than 100 workers, with help from a state contract with a health care provider, will be sent to regional vaccination sites.

He also announced that free community-based COVID-19 testing will be increased by 50% and available six days a week, up from four days a week. With most coronavirus deaths continuing to be people who were not vaccinated, officials repeatedly urged the public to get COVID-19 shots.

“If you are unvaccinated and you get very sick, you’ll be filling a bed that would have been available for your ailing spouse or your parent or your child, or someone else’s child, someone with cancer, or a heart attack, or seriously injured in a car accident,” said Pritzker at a downtown Chicago news conference. “If we are forced to move to a crisis standard of care in our hospitals, it will be because massive numbers of unvaccinated people chose to let others go without quality care, (and) even more people will die.

“If you are choosing not to be vaccinated for some nonmedical reason, please change your mind.”

As of Monday, there have been 177 omicron cases since the variant was detected in Illinois within the last few weeks, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. That is compared to the more than 26,000 delta variant cases. The IDPH has designated both as “variants of concern.”

For all COVID-19 cases, there is an 11.7% positivity rate, according to IDPH, though testing has gradually increased since the pandemic first took shape in March 2020. Since then, Illinois has had 2,077,260 total cases with 27,588 confirmed deaths, and 3,159 “probable deaths,” IDPH said. But since roughly the start of 2021, there’s been about 8 million people, age 5 and up, who are fully vaccinated, and about 9 million more who have received at least one dose, according to IDPH.