Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top doctor updated the city's COVID-19 vaccination plan Thursday.
Meanwhile, city officials said they cited 10 businesses and a residence over the weekend for violating COVID-19 restrictions by allowing indoor dining or drinking.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 14:
Some Illinois Regions Can Leave Tier 3 Friday, But Others Won't. Here's What to Expect
Some Illinois regions could begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions Friday, but how far back will they go and what will it mean?
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to end the work week by announcing which regions can start to roll back the restrictions that have been in place for months, suspending indoor dining across the state and closing down museums and casinos.
All of Illinois' 11 regions have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20.
According to the governor's office, some regions are set to move back to Tier 2, others possibly to Tier 1, and some will remain in Tier 3 - under the data reported Thursday afternoon.
"It will be a mixed bag," a spokesperson for the governor's office said.
As of Thursday, however, no region was meeting the guidelines to bring back indoor dining, though some were close, the spokesperson said.
While it remains unclear what exactly the governor will announce for each region Friday, under the state's guidelines, a region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if it sees a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available, as well as declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.
Regions with a positivity rate averaging between 6.5 percent and 8 percent, will likely be under Tier 1 guidelines, though the state could still choose to monitor before lifting restrictions further.
To move to Phase 4, however, the positivity rate must average less than or equal to 6.5 percent over a 3-day period. (For a complete region-by-region breakdown click here)
New Variant of COVID-19 'Dominant in US' Reportedly Discovered by Ill. Researchers
A new, possibly "more transmissible" variant of COVID-19 that is specific to the United States, believed to be behind half of the country's coronavirus cases, has been reported by Illinois researchers.
In a study currently awaiting peer review, a team led by Southern Illinois University Carbondale researcher Keith Gagnon reported a new variant "specific to and dominant in the United States," which would mark the latest mutation discovery following those reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The discovery was submitted Monday to BioRxiv, a preprint server aimed at disseminating research while it undergoes peer review.
“It’s here. We found it,” Gagnon said in a statement. “It’s definitely home-grown and widespread, and we’re the first to characterize it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic."
SIU researchers say their reported variant, called 20C-US, which has not yet been listed as an emerging variant by the CDC, has been traced as far back as May in Texas. Since then, it has mutated at least twice and is now most prevalent in the Upper Midwest.
Read more here.
How to Register for Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Updates, Find Out When You Can Get Vaccinated
Chicago officials announced Thursday that the city will move into a modified version of its next phase of coronavirus vaccinations, allowing health care providers to begin vaccinating people over the age of 65.
But, city officials warned, even if you qualify to be vaccinated in this next phase, you can't register through the city's vaccination sites yet.
Chicago officials say the best way to get updates on the vaccination rollout is through "Chi COVID Coach," a platform the Chicago Department of Public Health is using to monitor symptoms, giving information on testing in the city and help you get the latest details on the city's vaccination plan - including notification when you can register to get your vaccine.
Illinois Reports 6,652 New Coronavirus Cases, 88 Additional Deaths Thursday
Illinois health officials on Thursday reported 6,652 new coronavirus cases and 88 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's new cases bring the statewide total to 1,052,682 cases since the pandemic began, along with 17,928 deaths.
Over the last 24 hours, 118,036 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, IDPH said, a marked increase from the day before that brought the statewide testing total to 14,457,620.
The preliminary seven-day rolling statewide positivity rate on all tests performed dropped to 6/8% from 7.3% the day before. The positivity rate on unique individuals tested stood at 8%, also down from 8.3% the day before.
Hospitalizations decreased slightly as of Wednesday night, with 3,511 patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those patients, 742 are currently in intensive care units, while 382 are on ventilators, officials said.
Lightfoot Pushes to Reopen Chicago Restaurants and Bars ‘as Quickly as Possible'
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Thursday that she wants to reopen Chicago restaurants and bars "as quickly as possible," which she said will be a conversation with the governor.
"I am very, very focused on getting our restaurants we reopen, if we look at the various criteria, that the state is set, we are meeting most, if not all of those," Lightfoot said. "So that's a conversation that I will have with the governor, but I want to get our restaurants and our bars reopen as quickly as possible."
The mayor added that Chicago restaurants have gone "above and beyond" to put coronavirus mitigations in place, which she said are highly regulated and checked on a regular basis. Lightfoot said restaurants and bars are going to be "one of the safer places."
According to Lightfoot, after restaurants and bars closed, the city's health officials saw more people moving into private spaces with no masks and causing more risk of spreading the coronavirus.
"In the bar space, we have much more of an opportunity, in my view, to be able to regulate and control that environment," Lightfoot said. "People are engaging in risky behavior that is not only putting themselves at risk, but putting their families, their co-workers and other ones at risk."
She added that she feels "very strongly" that Chicago is "very close" to a point where officials should be discussing reopening bars and restaurants to the public.
Chicago Health Care Providers Can Begin Modified Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccinations Next Week
Health care providers can begin giving coronavirus vaccines to people over age 65 who live or work in Chicago in a modified next phase of the city's vaccination plan, officials announced Thursday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced the shift alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference from a new mass vaccination site.
Hospitals and outpatient sites enrolled as COVID-19 vaccine providers are instructed to continue to prioritize health care workers, particularly non-hospital based health care workers in Phase 1A, per the city's updated vaccination plan.
But beginning Jan. 18, if providers have doses of the vaccine available and do not have health care workers scheduled for vaccination, they can move to a new Phase 1B that allows those over age 65 to get the vaccine.
Prioritization will be given to those over age 75 or those over age 65 who have significant underlying conditions, Arwady said.
Chicago Launches 6 COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Sites Throughout the City
Chicago officials announced three mass vaccination sites are coming to City Colleges over the next week, with three already opened and running.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the new Points of Dispensing are only open for health care workers in the 1a phase of vaccinations at this time, though the city can move to a modified 1b phase next week.
“Community-based healthcare workers are the backbone of our healthcare system and it is critically important that they have access to the vaccine and step up to get it,” Lightfoot said. “What makes the POD sites so important is not simply size, but their locations, which give us the geographic breadth we need to reach all our residents in a safe and equitable way.”
10 Businesses in Chicago Cited For Violating COVID-19 Restrictions
City officials cited 10 businesses and a residence over the weekend for violating COVID-19 restrictions by allowing indoor dining or drinking.
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection conducted 105 investigations over the weekend, the agency said in a statement.
Those cited include:
- Brigadoon at 5748 W. Lawrence Ave.;
- Doc B’s at 55 E. Grand Ave.;
- Exit at 1315 W. North Ave.;
- Fox’s Beverly Pub at 9956 S. Western Ave.;
- Guide’s Sports Club at 5544 S. Archer Ave.;
- Joe’s Import at 813 W. Fulton Market;
- Kabobi at 4748 N. Kedzie Ave.;
- La Palapa at 2000 W. 34th St.;
- McGee’s Tavern & Grille at 950 W. Webster Ave.;
- An unlicensed commercial location at 1891 N. Milwaukee Ave.; and
- An unlicensed residential location in the 2000 block of North Damen Avenue.
The establishments are among the 395 businesses cited by the city for violating coronavirus restrictions since the pandemic began in March, the agency said. During the same period, 774 business have been issued warnings.
Businesses cited for violating COVID-19 regulations can receive two citations with a potential fine of up to $10,500, the agency said. If a business repeatedly violates regulations, they may face extended closure of the establishment.