SPRINGFIELD – COVID-19 hospitalizations and case positivity rates continued to trend upward Monday, leaving entry into a recently announced “bridge” phase of reopening uncertain even as the percentage of seniors vaccinated continued to increase. 

The COVID-19 case positivity rate in Illinois was 3.3 percent Monday, having risen for the fourth straight day. It marked a 50 percent increase since March 14. 

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,761 new cases on March 29. Another five COVID-19 positive individuals were reported to have died Monday as well. 

As of Sunday night, COVID-19 patients occupied 1,352 hospital beds, the highest point since Feb. 26. The 280 intensive care unit beds in use by COVID-19 patients marked a high since March 1. 

All of the hospitalization metrics had been decreasing steadily for at least 15 weeks before beginning the uptrend over the previous two weeks. 

Brookfield woman dies from COVID-19

The Cook County Medical Examiner has reported that a 73-year-old Brookfield woman died from COVID-19 on March 24. She was the 13th resident of Brookfield to have died from the disease since the pandemic began in March 2020 and the first in the village since Jan. 22.

No new deaths from COVID-19 were reported in North Riverside and Riverside in the past week. Overall, the Landmark has identified four North Riverside residents and three Riverside residents who have died from the disease.

The Cook County Department of Public Health, meanwhile, reported on March 29 that in Brookfield and Riverside the “recent percent change” in new COVID-19 cases – which compares counts from the past 14 days to the 14 days preceding that – had risen by 200 percent and 100 percent, respectively. North Riverside’s recent percent change remained unchanged.

As of the morning of March 30, there had been 19 new COVID-19 cases reported during the most recent one-week period on Brookfield, 12 in Riverside and two in North Riverside.

Vaccines expanding

Meanwhile, 68.9 percent of seniors in Illinois have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, but even if that number reaches 70 percent, a “bridge” phase to expanded capacity limits at restaurants, other businesses and social gatherings is on hold until the hospitalization metrics and number of new cases reported stop climbing. 

Last week, the state authorized counties to expand vaccine eligibility to all Illinoisans age 16 and over ahead of the April 12 date on which the expansion is scheduled to go live statewide. 

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said allowing county-level expansions was an effort to get more people vaccinated in counties with low demand for those in the categories currently eligible for the vaccine. 

Vaccination appointment and location information can be found at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or at coronavirus.illinois.gov or by calling 833-308-1988 (M-F, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.). 

The state also activated mobile vaccination teams in an effort to slow disease spread in problem areas. The mobile teams provide the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Over the past seven days the state has administered 103,769 vaccine doses on average, and more than 5.5 million doses have been administered since the vaccination effort began. More than 2 million Illinoisans, or 16.3 percent of the state’s population, are fully vaccinated. 

The number of vaccines distributed by the federal government is increasing, according to Pritzker, and the state announced four new mass vaccination sites Monday, including new sites in Kane, Lake and Will counties and the expansion of a site in Grundy County. 

“Over 3.6 million Illinoisans have already received their first dose of vaccine. We’re projected to get nearly 1 million doses this week, and IDPH and our 97 local health departments working hard to administer these shots,” Pritzker said in a statement. “However, this battle is far from over, and with new cases and hospitalizations on the rise, I encourage every resident to buckle down, wear your mask, and do your part so we can all power through to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Pritzker also announced on March 29 he was activating additional members of the Illinois National Guard to assist with vaccination efforts in McHenry County. There are more than 1,460 National Guard troops assigned to COVID-19 operations at 40 locations, according to the governor’s office. 

Bob Uphues contributed to this report.