Kankakee County is still battling with the COVID-19 virus, as the county recorded 13 more deaths in November and saw an increase of 1,000 positive cases. The county has recorded 19,200 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began in early 2020, according to County Health Administrator John Bevis, who gave his monthly report Tuesday at the county board’s executive committee meeting.
“We’re at 282 deaths [total],” he said. “Now, we’ve had an additional death this week.”
Despite the deaths and an increase in positive cases, Bevis said the county is in better shape than it was in November 2020, which saw a major surge in cases.
“But we are continuing to still see a small surge in our community,” he said. “It’s nowhere near the numbers of last year’s November. That was awful for all of us. There was also no vaccine available at that point. But we were doing 200 cases a day last year throughout all of November. Right now we’re currently doing anywhere from 60 to 80 a day for the last couple of weeks.”
With the small surge in cases, Kankakee County’s positivity rate is at 6 percent compared to 3.7 percent in October. The positivity rate for Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, is at 5 percent.
The county has recorded 105,300 total vaccination doses, with 49,032 people fully vaccinated. Kankakee County’s vaccination rate is 44.6 percent, well below the national average of 59.2 percent and state average of 61 percent.
“The health department is continuing to schedule appointments for COVID vaccinations on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment,” Bevis said. “We have started with the pediatric vaccinations, and we had an event a couple of weeks ago. We’ll be having the second shot for those individuals on Dec. 4, that is a Saturday. And then we’ll be scheduling future ones going from that.”
Bevis said they’re not seeing a lot of demand for vaccinations for the 5- to 11-year old age group.
“We’ll just have to wait and continue to watch that and see how it goes,” he said.
Board member John Fetherling asked why the county’s vaccination rate is so much lower than the rest of the country.
“Is there a reason why that is?” Fetherling asked. “Or are people getting them somewhere else and you don’t know about them?”
Bevis said the vaccinations are counted by your address, and the rates vary across the state. On the state’s website, there are counties with lower rates than Kankakee and many that have higher vaccination rates.
“A lot of factors play into that,” he said. “... It’s people’s choices, and obviously, when you get into smaller communities such as a Kankakee compared to a DuPage County or the City of Chicago, a lot of factors will play into that and or businesses that are requiring individuals to get shots. Then that inflates that number and makes it look a little bit higher. So we have struggled here in our county for a number of reasons that we have expressed over the past year since the vaccines have been available.”