Kankakee County has recorded 18 COVID deaths in the past four weeks, an increase of 10 from the previous month.
Kankakee County Health Administrator John Bevis gave his monthly report at the county board’s executive committee meeting on Tuesday at the county administration building.
“There has been a bad stretch here where we’ve had a number of individuals who had passed recently due to the COVID illness, and we’re up to 269 [total deaths],” Bevis said. “So that’s an increase of 18.”
In his report on Sept. 28, the county had reported 251 deaths since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. Kankakee County has now recorded more than 18,000 COVID cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Bevis reported there have been more than 15,000 recoveries.
“So we’re still doing the contact tracing,” he said. “And those individuals, and as was mentioned before, are individuals who’ve had COVID, maybe twice now possibly. There are those breakthrough cases that can happen, obviously, and those are individuals that have made it through both times and are recovered.
Some of those may be “long haulers,” which are those who have recovered but still experiencing long-term symptoms.
“Now, they may still have some of these side effects and symptoms ... in regards to how they breathe and fatigue and things like that. The smell and the taste that take a little while to come back. But they’ve survived, so that’s a good thing.”
On a positive note, Bevis reported that the positivity rate for Kankakee County for the month of October is at 3.7 percent, which is down from September’s 6.1 percent.
“The numbers are still continuing to trend down, so that’s very good,” Bevis said. “Will County’s numbers continued to turn down, they’re at 3 percent, so our 3.7 makes the total positivity rate [for Region 7] at 3.1. We are beginning to notice that now with the number of cases that we pull out each day for the contact tracers of who we need to contact, there’s less.”
With the number of cases declining, the health department has let a couple of our contractual contact tracers go.
“We don’t need them right now,” Bevis said. “I hope that that’s a trend that can continue because that’s actually moving in a positive direction. They are contractual, so they understand that the job is not forever. Nobody would want it to be. So those are good signs for our county.”
The vaccination rate of the total population of Kankakee County in October is at 43.57 percent, up from 41.73 percent in September.
“It’s kind of disappointing in the terms of our total population,” Bevis said.
That number compares to 56.7 percent for the state of Illinois and 57.9 percent for the nation. Bevis said that possibly by the first week of November a pediatric COVID vaccine will be available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 5- to 11-year-olds.
Bevis said the health department is already working with a number of agencies to schedule clinics for those pediatric vaccinations. It’s from Pfizer, and it’s a different dosage than the one for adults.
The 5-to-11 age range is one of the largest subsets of the total population in the county, and getting that group vaccinated could push the vaccination rate above 50 percent. That could also push parents or other adults to get vaccinated.
“Maybe they’re waiting for their kids to get vaccinated which is their right,” Bevis said. “Maybe they’ll get vaccinated as a result of helping to calm the fears of youngsters who are just concerned about getting a shot in the first place, let alone that it’s a COVID shot. But we’re excited about that, and we’re planning for that.”