By JOHN O’CONNOR
AP Political Writer
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Illinois public health officials said they expected COVID-19 vaccinations to top 1 million by the end of Monday, even as the state struggles to get more doses and fends off criticism it is moving too slowly.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that it has received more than 1.8 million doses of the vaccine designed to prevent coronavirus illness. As of midday Monday, 996,410 people had received the first of two required shots.
There were 2,312 newly confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Monday, with 16 additional deaths. There have been 19,259 deaths from the illness out of 1,128,613 infections.
In Illinois, there are many facilities prepared to offer shots, with another large-scale site in Cook County to open Wednesday. But delivery of the antidote to Illinois has been slower than anticipated, even though nationally, an average 1.3 million are receiving shots daily, higher than President Joe Biden’s stated goal of 1 million per day for his first 100 days in office.
Senate Republicans complained last week in a letter to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker that the process was too slow. It cited a New York Times report that Illinois was 47th among states in overall distribution, with just 4.8% of residents receiving one shot.
Pritzker said the data used for the article was outdated and that the state was ramping up its capacity.
The latest site to open will be on Wednesday at Triton College in River Grove, just west of Chicago. It will be available to tend to the approximately 600,000 people in Chicago’s suburbs who are eligible for shots in Phase 1b of the vaccination priority plan. Those are people 65 and older and essential workers such as first responders and manufacturing or grocery store employees.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle noted that supply of vaccine doesn’t meet demand.
But, she said, “We are standing up large-scale sites now to ensure that we are ready as vaccine supply is expected to increase in the coming weeks and months.”
The first of such sites in Cook County opened last week at the Tinley Park Convention Center. It provided 7,000 vaccines in its first week. Officials predict that when fully operational, Triton will be capable of 4,000 weekly. More large sites will be announced in coming weeks.