Greene Tops Highest COVID-19 Deaths Per Capita List, Will be 1 of 50 to Receive Vaccine First

By Benjamin Cox on December 4, 2020 at 5:56pm

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says that initial delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in the state will be distributed among 50 counties that have the highest death rates per capita from the virus. A West Central Illinois County is tops on that list.

Officials are expecting an opening shipment of 109,000 vaccine doses as early as mid-month. Pritzker says that the vaccination process will be a slow process as roll out will be produced well into the Spring: “There will be shipments of more and more vaccine each week following that first shipment’s arrival. Although the numbers now may seem relatively small in comparison to our population, those numbers will increase over the subsequent weeks and months. This will not be a quick process. With the two-dose timeline, no single person will be fully vaccinated even by Christmas; and it will likely be months before people with low-risk factors for COVID-19 see their first dose.”

Greene County tops the list of Illinois counties with the most deaths per capita in the state. Greene County has recorded 35 deaths from the virus as of today. Pike County is 7th with their 30 recorded deceased. Cass County is 15th with 24 deceased. Morgan County is 25th on the list with 55 deaths. Other counties across Central Illinois include Mason, Macon, McDonough, Jersey, Christian, Dewitt, Ford, and Tazewell among others also appear on the list.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike reported 148 deaths today during the daily state COVID-19 press briefing. The amount is the 8th-highest single-day death total since the pandemic began. COVID-19 fatalities have topped 100 on 8 of the last 11 days.

Illinois is following federal guidelines for distributing the vaccine, with health professionals and nursing home residents part of what’s called Phase 1a. Nationally, there are 24 million front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Pritzker nor Ezike responded to the number of Illinois residents who will qualify under Phase 1a.

Vaccines created by Pfizer and Moderna, which experts predict will get federal regulatory approval next week, each require two shots, with the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine coming three weeks after the first and Moderna’s, four weeks. Complicating matters, especially for rural areas, is the low temperature requirement for the Pfizer vaccine. Ezike said today that the state has purchased 20 specialized freezers to store it at the required -94 degrees Farenheit.

Pritzker says that each of the 96 county public health departments are required to submit a plan for approval by the Illinois Department of Public Health that conforms with state parameters for vaccine distribution to ensure that no disruption or favoritism is given when it’s made available.