- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois public health officials said Tuesday that if statistics governing COVID-19 restrictions continue to improve, nearly all of the state will be able to return to milder rules on socialization.

The Public Health Department reported 2,304 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus illness, with 47 additional deaths.

Since the first COVID-19 case in Illinois was reported on Jan. 24, 2020, there have been 1,130,917 infections detected. Among those, 19,306 people have died since the first fatality was recorded on March 17.

The daily figures have consistently dropped since November, the worst month in Illinois for coronavirus illness. Of 11 COVID-19 monitoring regions, eight had returned to Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan and out of the more restrictive tiered categories necessary during last fall’s resurgence of the virus.

Regions 8 and 9 - generally the far west, northwest, and northern suburbs of Chicago - remain in Tier 1, which allows for indoor dining and bar service and group meetings, but on a limited basis. The health department said conditions in those regions continue to improve and they could land in Phase 4 before long.



That leaves just Region 4, composed of the Illinois suburbs of St. Louis and counties just outside them, in Tier 2, which bars indoor dining and limits gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

Distribution of a vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus continues slowly, and in Illinois, like in most states, demand by those eligible for shots based on a federally recommended priority list outstrips supply of the vaccine.

Illinois reports delivery of 1.95 million doses of the vaccine, which requires two shots several weeks apart to be effective. On Monday, 32,559 shots were administered, while the seven-day rolling average stands at 44,139.

All told, 1.03 million shots have been administered, with some front-line health workers receiving both required doses.

But of just under 500,000 doses set aside for residents of long-term care facilities, roughly 164,000 shots have been administered.

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Follow Political Writer John O’Connor at https://twitter.com/apoconnor

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