CHICAGO (CBS) – New cases of COVID-19 in Illinois are continuing to drop, and the number of people hospitalized from the virus appears to be plateauing, as Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that vaccine supply is finally meeting demand.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,137 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Monday, as well as 10 more deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 1,323,170 cases, including 21,836 deaths.

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Over the past week, Illinois is averaging 2,710 new cases per day, a 14% decrease from one week ago. However, cases are still up significantly from one month ago. So far in April, Illinois is averaging 3,023 new cases per day, up 70% from the same time period in March.

The state’s seven-day average case positivity rate stands at 3.5%, is tied for the lowest it’s been since April 2. That metric reached as low as 2.1% on March 13 before climbing steadily for about a month. The case positivity rate has now been flat or falling for about two weeks.

As of Sunday night, a total of 2,083 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in Illinois, including 506 in the ICU and 251 on ventilators. The state had seen declines in hospitalizations for five days in a row before a slight increase on Sunday.

Illinois is averaging 2,129 hospitalizations per day over the past week, a slight increase (1.3%) over last week, when the state was averaging 2,101 hospitalizations per day. Hospitalizations are also still up significantly compared to March, with Illinois averaging 1,927 hospitalizations per day, up 64% over the same time period in March.

A total of 10,913,325 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to Illinois since December, and 8,860,975 doses have been administered statewide.

Gov. JB Pritzker said 56.8% of people age 18 and over in Illinois now have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 37% of people in that age group have been fully vaccinated. A total of 3,790,976 people in Illinois have been fully vaccinated, or 29.75% of the population, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Pritzker said the state’s supply of COVID-19 vaccines is finally meeting demand, and will soon exceed demand. The governor said that means more and more vaccination sites will soon be able to accept walk-ins – as Chicago and suburban Cook County have started doing – and more people could also soon get a vaccine directly from their primary care provider at their doctor’s office.

“I’m looking forward to a point where anybody and everybody who wants to get a vaccine can literally decide to do it and go get it at the moment that they’ve made that decision,” Pritzker said.

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The governor said he’s been encouraged to see hesitancy about getting the vaccine diminishing over time.

“I think we all know somebody who at the beginning said ‘I don’t think I want to get this vaccine,’ and then as time has gone on, they’ve known people, they have friends or family members that have been vaccinated, and then maybe a month later you run into them and they say, ‘Yeah, I think I’m going to go get my vaccination now,’” he said.

Meantime, Pritzker and the Illinois Public Health Association (IPHA) announced a new “pandemic health navigator” program aimed at integrating local health departments, community groups, and public health partners to coordinate resources to help areas most impacted by pandemic through grassroots approach.

The program is also designed to try to shoot down false rumors about the pandemic and about the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Making vaccines available is only half of the battle here. A year into the pandemic, many of our residents might still be unsure about the risks of COVID, or maybe wondering if the vaccine is really worth it, or if it’s really available to them, especially if they’ve been denied access to health care in the past,” Pritzker said. “For others, misinformation packaged as truth-telling on social media makes the decision to get nerve-racking.”

IPHA and the Illinois Primary Health Care Association will work with federally qualified health centers and community groups in eight of the state’s 11 public health regions (virtually all of Illinois outside of Chicago and Cook County) to recruit “navigators” to help with COVID-19 outreach – including contact tracing, and connecting people with critical social services and resources.

“This program is about one-on-one connections involving established trusted members of the community,” Pritzker said. “These are local community organizations who know their peers, their students, their colleagues; people who speak their languages and know their neighborhoods. When someone tests positive for COVID-19 or comes into contact with someone else who has, pandemic health navigators are there, ready to assist with social service reports, personal care, education, vaccine access, and even critical logistics – like ensuring access to groceries and food.”

More than 400 supervisors and community health workers will help people who live in areas with vulnerable populations, and who have tested positive for COVID-19 obtain food, rental assistance, utility relief, educational resources, and more.

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Community-based organizations with a focus on any of the following impacted populations are encouraged to join the program:

  • Racial and ethnic minorities, including, but not limited to African American/Black, Arab American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian/Alaska Native
  • Foreign-born individuals
  • People with limited English proficiency
  • Undocumented immigrants
  • People living close to or below the federal poverty line
  • Disconnected youth
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • People who live in rural areas
  • People with disabilities (including Deaf and Hard of Hearing)
  • Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning or Queer people
  • Older adults

CBS 2 Chicago Staff