Illinois health officials reported 2,104 new COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths on Wednesday.
JB PRITZKER: Good morning everyone and thank you to Mayor Irvin. I can’t tell you how great it is to be back here in Aurora. I feel very welcome every time I come, and that’s partly because of your mayor, but also because of many of you. It is a real pleasure. And I am very, very grateful to Pastor Jessie Hawkins of Grace St. John’s Cathedral for welcoming us here today. It’s a perfect place for that.
Many thanks also to my colleagues in the state government, to the representatives Barbara Hernandez and Stephanie Kifowit as well as to Maura Hirschauer and our Senator Linda Holmes. And … Linda. And I don’t see Karina Villa here this morning. But I know she would be here if she could. I would also like to pay tribute to the amazing work of the Quad County Urban League and its famous CEO Theodia Gillespie that you are about to hear about.
Thank you for all you are doing to promote justice across the region. To the interim director of the Kane County Department of Health, Cathy Foster, and to the Director of the Department of Health of DuPage County, Karen Ayala, VNA Health – amazing – the General Manager of VNA Health Care, Linnea Windel, and to the team at Mercy Medical Center, the Aurora City staff and everyone who made this possible – what you do is really best in class, and I’m very, very grateful for that. It’s a model.
Thanks to the great work of the 97 local health departments across the state of Illinois and the health professionals in our state, Illinois has given our residents over 2 and 3/4 million doses. This is one of six Illinois people who have already received their first dose of vaccine. And even those who are waiting for their second dose or who have already received it and are fully vaccinated are really proud of the progress we have made. One of the ten most populous states in the United States, and we’re number one for daily vaccinations per capita.
The story goes on
I’ve said from the start that we must purposely try to vaccinate black and brown Illinois people and communities that have been left out and left behind for far too long. We must work consistently to overcome the health inequalities that have existed for a very long time, long before COVID-19, inequalities that I want to eliminate. Even if everyone who wants to be vaccinated today received it, it would not be enough to achieve herd immunity.
It is therefore important that we convey the message to those who hesitate to vaccinate that vaccines are safe and provide effective protection against serious COVID illnesses and deaths. All three approved vaccines were 100% effective in hospital termination and death studies. Think about it. 100% effective in all studies. That’s enormous.
And we’ve seen millions of people vaccinated with no problem. It feels good to be protected. And it means we are nearing the end of this pandemic. While the choice to get vaccinated is just that – a choice – we need to be sure that people have the facts and are acting in their own best interest. It could save your life.
It is for this reason that I have urged our local health departments to take action to expand local reach, especially for the most vulnerable. In order to get as many people as possible vaccinated, we need not only to speed up the pace of vaccinations, but also to do some public work to help those who may not have the technology or transportation, or who they may have been misinformed about the species of vaccines or who otherwise distrust the government or the health system.
The Black Vax Aurora Initiative is an amazing example of the tremendous work done to address these challenges. People are more likely to be vaccinated if they find out about it from people they trust. By working with pastors and other community leaders, Aurora recognizes and respects this reality. And I recommend you for that.
In addition, people of color suffer disproportionately from pre-existing conditions, which makes COVID-19 more dangerous for them. Black Vax Aurora recognizes this and is open to people of all ages with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, COPD or other pre-existing conditions. This is important to ensure equity in vaccine administration.
Getting an appointment is still frustrating as we still haven’t received enough vaccine from the federal government. There are some elderly people or residents with disabilities who may need assistance with making appointments. And I would like to ask everyone who is here and everyone who is listening to reach out to a parent or grandparent or uncle or aunt or neighbor or anyone they think is having problems over the internet or access appointments by phone. Please offer to help them.
Across the state of Illinois, people have turned to their neighbors and friends to do the right thing and to help them. It’s what made this state so great. And I hope you keep doing that as we try to vaccinate everyone in Illinois. Over the weeks we’ve seen more and more vaccines being sold by manufacturers. And with this third vaccine, now in the line of J and J, and with public pledges from the White House to send an average of at least 100,000 doses a day to Illinois by mid-March, we’re getting closer and closer to widespread availability that the we all want.
So folks, things are getting better. This pandemic will end. And we’ll get there faster by taking care of each other. And in the meantime, please mask yourself and stay vigilant.