Kankakee County Health Department administrator John Bevis gave a COVID-19 update to the county board’s executive committee on Tuesday at the county administration building.

As of April 26, Kankakee County has recorded 13,827 COVID cases since the pandemic began last year, as well as 189 COVID-related deaths and 12,481 recoveries. The Region 7 positivity rate was 5.3%, with Kankakee County’s rate at 4.0% and Will County’s at 5.6%.

Total COVID vaccinations doses administered was 53,266, including 23,777 who have been fully vaccinated. That’s 21.25% of the county’s residents.

Bevis said the number of people vaccinated has been climbing.

“So, when those first three months leading up to last month’s report, we were 30,000 total doses that had been given and fully vaccinated were sitting at 11,623, which represented just a little over 10% for the county,” he said. “In the last month, we have increased that to the 53,266 total doses giving and for fully vaccinated, we’re up to 23,777 as of [Monday], which is an increase of 12,100.

“So, we’ve more than doubled the [number of] fully vaccinated individuals in our county.”

Bevis said the county is also starting to an increase in the number of African-Americans receiving the vaccine. The rate increased by 1.2%, bringing it to 9.21%. The Hispanic population’s rate has jumped 2.4%.

“So, we’ve definitely been noticing those trends at a lot of the clinics in the county,” he said. “So I am pleased to see that.”

Bevis said the vaccination clinic that was held last week at First Church of the Nazarene helped give an additional boost to those numbers. Most of the vaccinations have been either the Moderna or the Pfizer shots.

“And then Riverside had 1,100 Pfizer [doses] that they were able to use last week, but they only had 300 appointments, so they’ve got 800,” he said. “And they’re going to be using that in their next few clinics.”

He said public education efforts are currently underway to raise awareness that the Pfizer vaccine is available for 16- to 18-year-olds.

“So anyone who’s interested in their high schooler, or some of the younger teenagers, being able to get it, they can.”

County board member John Fetherling asked Bevis if “there’s any chance that we can get to 40% to 50% vaccinated in the county.”

“Personally, I think we can, yes,” Bevis said. “Just maybe not as quick as what I thought at the beginning of the year it would be.”

Bevis said it’s still important to wear a mask and practice social distancing because some people have chosen not to get vaccinated. That’s why there have been new C0VID cases showing up in nursing homes, schools and hospitals, as people are interacting, he said.

“And because it’s a variant now, and it’s more contagious and more lethal, people are still susceptible to getting COVID and dying,” he said. “And that’s what we’re trying to prevent. So the more people who become vaccinated, the more people are safe. Just because you had COVID doesn’t mean you’re immune to getting it again. You get the flu over and over and over again, so it’s a virus.”

Associate Editor

Chris Breach is the Associate Editor of The Daily Journal and the editor of the business section. A graduate of Indiana University, Breach has more than 25 years experience in newspapers. He can be reached at cbreach@daily-journal.com.