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COVID-19 rates continue to decline in Missouri and Illinois

COVID-19 rates continue to decline in Missouri and Illinois

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BJC begins vaccinating frontline caregivers

Dr. Nikoleta Kolovos, right, of Children's Hospital pediatrics, receives her first COVID-19 vaccination on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, from Dr. Ryan Fields, professor of surgical oncology at Washington University School of Medicine at the schools campus near BJC hospital in St. Louis. BJC began the first-round of frontline healthcare workers at eight of their locations throughout Missouri. Photo by Christian Gooden, cgooden@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — Missouri and Illinois on Friday reported further declines in COVID-19 infection rates, continuing a trend the states have seen since reaching record levels in late 2020.

Missouri’s seven-day average of new cases fell below 600 on Friday for the first time since July, and Illinois’ seven-day average was below 1,800 for the first time since September.

Missouri reported 562 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, and the seven-day average of new cases fell to 559, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis. The average peaked on Nov. 20, at 4,723.

The Department of Health and Senior Services reported 1,254 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide, compared with 1,281 the day before. That is down from a peak of 2,862 on Dec. 22. Missouri hospitalization data lags three days, and not every hospital reports every day.

The state also reported 14 more deaths due to the virus.

Missouri reported Friday that 680,951 people have received a first dose of vaccine, or 11.1% of the state’s population. Of those, 285,856 have received a second dose.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,219 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, up from 1,966 the day before. The seven-day average of new cases fell to 1,782, according to a Post-Dispatch analysis, the lowest level since mid-September.

There were 1,596 hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide, down from 1,655 the day before. Illinois reported 71 more deaths due to the virus.

Illinois’ Region 4 — which includes Madison, St. Clair, Bond, Clinton, Monroe, Randolph and Washington counties — had a reported positivity rate of 4.2%, indicating that about 1 in 24 of the region’s COVID-19 tests in the past week have been positive.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force reported 48 new COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals in the area, up from 39 the day before.

The task force reported a total of 301 virus patients across area BJC HealthCare, Mercy, SSM Health and St. Luke’s Hospital facilities — down from 313 one day earlier. Task force data lags two days.

Dr. Alex Garza, who leads the task force, said during a briefing Friday that he is cautiously optimistic about the declining hospital admissions and census numbers, but added, “we’re not out of the woods yet.”

“There’s still a deadly virus spreading throughout the community, and many of our most vulnerable loved ones and neighbors are still waiting for a vaccine,” Garza said. “So we need to stay vigilant about prevention, and stopping the spread of the virus.”

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