CHICAGO — To address a potential trend in increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and case rates, Illinois is launching Rapid Response Vaccination Teams to five counties.

On Friday, governor says they’re keeping a close eye on rising hospitalizations; which is a key metric when it comes to moving into the bridge phase before the state can fully reopen.

“This is very concerning and makes us take a pause here to evaluate these numbers,” he said.

Officials said they have seen vaccine demand slow in several counties throughout the state, with early signs of unfilled appointments and increased vaccine inventory. IDPH is authorizing those communities to begin vaccinating all residents 16 and older at their immediate discretion, in order to use the vaccine doses they currently have available.

The Rapid Response Vaccination Teams are being deployed to the following counties; Carroll County, Ogle County, Boone County, Lee County and Whiteside County.

“In those areas we didn’t want any doses sitting around we wanted to make sure they get into people’s arms as fast as possible,” Pritzker said. “Especially if we’re going to see an uptick here in the numbers we want to avoid a surge so we’ve tried to jump on top of this as fast possible.”

Pritzker joined elected officials at Kennedy King College Friday for a celebration of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus’ economic package he signed last week. It includes several reforms, from targeting equity in state contracts to cracking down on payday loans.

“We are now ensuring fair wages for Black workers on their jobs and helping to end wage disparities for Black women men and people with records,” State Rep. Sonya Harper (D-6th) said.

Mayor Lightfoot left the event early and refused to answer questions from reporters as controversy continues to swirl around Loretto hospital after a series of reports from Block Club Chicago and WBEZ revealed the hospital gave much needed shots to ineligible people.

Illinois is expected to get a million vaccines doses next week as the positivity rate continues to inch up.

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