Chicago is set to update its travel advisory Tuesday, likely to add some states back as certain areas across the U.S. see a rise in coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools launches its COVID-19 vaccination effort this week.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
COVID by the Numbers: Illinois Region Sees Positivity Rate Quadruple in Last Month
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Areas of western and southern Illinois are seeing increases in positivity rates and coronavirus-related hospitalizations in recent weeks, continuing a recent trend that’s seeing COVID metrics slowly on the rise in many areas.
In Region 4, located near St. Louis in southwestern Illinois, the positivity rate has more than quadrupled in the last month, rising from 1.8% on June 11 to 7.5% on July 10, according to metrics from IDPH.
A recent trend of increases in COVID hospitalizations has eased in recent days, with the number of hospitalizations remaining steady or decreasing on four of the previous five days, and ICU bed availability has also steadied after a decline earlier this month, with 31% of the region’s ICU beds currently available.
Region 3, located in western Illinois and comprised of an area that includes Springfield, is also seeing elevated positivity rates, with that number now at 5%. Hospitalizations have increased on eight of the last 10 days in the region, with ICU bed availability at 29%.
Chicago Travel Advisory: City Adds 2 States Back to List as COVID Cases Rise
Chicago updated its travel advisory Tuesday, adding two states back to the list advising anyone entering the city to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival, as the U.S. continues to see a rise in coronavirus cases.
Missouri and Arkansas were both added to the travel advisory after several weeks with no states on the list, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
Recent increases in COVID metrics in the states pushed both over the threshold of 15 cases per day per 100,000 people to get onto the list.
"We are doing very well right now here in Chicago but across the whole U.S., you know, cases actually are up a little bit, right, they're up 5 to 10% across the whole country," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live broadcast last Tuesday.
Arwady's comments came exactly one week after Chicago turned its emergency coronavirus travel order into an advisory after no states were on the list requiring travel restrictions for the third consecutive update.
CDPH announced on June 29 that in more than a month, no state had reached the 15 cases per day per 100,000 residents threshold, which would be the "orange" tier in which unvaccinated travelers are required to quarantine or provide a negative COVID test upon arrival in the city.
The last time a state had reached the orange tier was May 18, the department said, and all U.S. states and territories remained in the less restrictive "yellow" tier of the travel order.
The travel order shifted to an advisory as a result, but it will continue to be reevaluated every other Tuesday and the city said the emergency guidelines can be reinstated at any time "if significant surges are seen in any state."
$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen, From Chicago, Quincy and Springfield
Three winners were chosen Monday during the first $100,000 drawing of Illinois' COVID vaccine lottery.
The winners, located in Quincy, Springfield and Chicago, will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone or email starting Monday afternoon. Each will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize.
"Illinoisans from those cities and counties should keep their phones on and check their emails regularly to find out if they’ve won," IDPH said in a statement.
Health officials will call from 312-814-3524 and/or email from DPH.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicago Public Schools Launches COVID Vaccination Effort
Chicago Public Schools launches its COVID-19 vaccination effort this week, transforming three high schools into clinics to inoculate students before the new school year begins in the fall.
Officials with the nation’s third-largest school district plan to offer full in-person instruction in the fall and want to vaccinate as many students as possible before classes begin next month. District officials said they are “not in a position” to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, but will ask families to submit COVID-19 vaccine documents as is the practice with other vaccinations.
Starting this week, the district will offer vaccines at three school sites for students and their families.
Chicago Vocational Career Academy, located at 2100 E. 87th St. in Avalon Park will be open Tuesdays. Theodore Roosevelt High School, located at 3436 W. Wilson Ave. in Albany Park will be open Wednesdays and Michele Clark High School at 5101 W. Harrison St. in Austin will be open Thursdays, the district says, with all three locations open on their respective days from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
CPS reminded families that the vaccine is free and health insurance is not required to get vaccinated, nor is proof of citizenship.
The sites will be able to administer 600 doses weekly. The district is also working with hospitals for vaccination events in areas with low vaccination rates and offering the shots at back-to-school events.
Parts of Illinois See Surge in COVID Metrics as Delta Variant Concerns Grow
With the U.S. experiencing a rapid rise in the more transmissible delta variant, portions of Illinois are seeing increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.
According to statewide data, most of Illinois continues to see historically-low coronavirus positivity rates, however, upticks in COVID metrics have been reported in the state's health care regions that border hard-hit Missouri.
Region 4, which borders St. Louis, has seen a huge jump in positivity rates in recent weeks. According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the region had a 1.5% positivity rate on all tests on June 6. Approximately one month later, that positivity rate has now more than quadrupled, currently standing at 6.1%.
Hospitalizations have also risen dramatically in the region, increasing for 13 consecutive days, according to IDPH data.
In Region 3, which includes Springfield and several counties that border Missouri, positivity rates have also quadrupled in a matter of weeks. On June 16, the positivity rate was at 1%, and as of July 3, it is now at 4.5%.
In Region 5, comprised of counties in the far southern tip of Illinois, positivity rates have nearly gone up by five times, from 1% on June 1 to 5.2% as of July 6. Hospitalizations have also increased each of the last eight days.
Those dramatic increases come as Missouri sees some of the highest COVID case rates in the nation. According to the state’s latest numbers, published by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, less than 40% of Missouri residents have been fully vaccinated, and in some rural counties, that number is less than 20%.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,945 New COVID Cases, 53 Deaths, 120K Vaccinations Over Past Week
Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 2,945 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in the last week, along with 53 additional deaths and more than 120,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,395,497 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,297 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests rose to 1.5%, and the seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested rose to 1.7%.
Over the past seven days, a total of 120,675 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to state residents. That brings the state’s average to 17,239 daily vaccination doses over the last week, according to IDPH data.
State officials say more than 57% of adult residents in the state are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with nearly 72% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight, 430 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 91 are in intensive care units, and 35 are on ventilators.
IDPH ‘Fully Adopting' CDC Mask Guidance For Vaccinated Students, Teachers in Illinois
The Illinois Department of Public Health is "fully adopting" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated COVID-19 guidance for masking in schools, the department announced Friday.
According to the new guidance, vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings, a change that comes amid a national vaccination campaign in which children as young as 12 are eligible to get shots, as well as a general decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
"The CDC is right," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a statement. "Vaccination is the best preventive strategy. As school board members, parents, teachers and superintendents plan for a return to in-person learning in the fall, we strongly encourage those who are not vaccinated to continue to mask. IDPH is proud to fully adopt school guidance issued by CDC, which is based on the latest scientific information about COVID-19."
The IDPH said this updated school guidance aligns with guidance for fully vaccinated people in the state.
According to the IDPH, major elements of the updated guidance include:
• Masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated.
• CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by people who are not fully vaccinated, to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully re-open while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking.
• Screening testing, ventilation, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, staying home when sick and getting tested, contact tracing in combination with quarantine and isolation, and cleaning and disinfection are also important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.
• Many schools serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination at this time. Therefore, this guidance emphasizes implementing layered prevention strategies (masking, distancing, testing) to protect people who are not fully vaccinated.
Ezike and IDPH encouraged schools and communities to "monitor community transmission of COVID-19, vaccination coverage, screening testing and outbreaks to guide decisions about on the level of layered prevention strategies being implemented."
First $1M Winner For Illinois Vaccine Lottery Announced, From Chicago
The first winner of the Illinois vaccine lottery's $1 million prize was announced Thursday, as well as three winners of $150,000 scholarships.
The winner of $1 million is from Chicago, according to Illinois officials. Three young people from DeKalb, suburban Cook County and Chicago won the scholarship money.
The "All In for the Win" lottery will give out the $10 million in the form of $7 million in cash prizes for adults and $3 million in scholarships for youth, all distributed through weekly drawings, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
Delta Variant: What We Know About the Efficacy of COVID Vaccines
As concern grows about the rapid spread of the delta COVID-19 variant, experts are continuing to urge Americans to get their coronavirus vaccines as a way of staving off a surge in new cases.
According to researchers, the delta variant is quickly becoming the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States. Outbreaks have been reported in several states, mostly in areas with low vaccination rates.
Studies have shown that the delta variant spreads approximately 225% faster than the original strain of the virus. Studies have also shown that once a person catches the delta variant, they likely become infectious sooner, and that the virus grows more rapidly inside a person’s respiratory tract.
As the delta variant continues to spread, experts are continuing to push for more Americans to get the COVID vaccine. All three of the vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the FDA, including Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, have shown to be largely effective against preventing serious illness and death due to COVID, and all three companies say that their vaccines are showing promise in preventing those outcomes with the delta variant as well.
Just how effective are the three different vaccines against the delta variant? What steps are being taken to ensure the safety and health of those who get the treatments? Here are the latest details.
How Chicago's Top Doctor Assesses the COVID Risk of Traveling to Different States
How should you decide if you should go to a certain location as travel picks up while the U.S. continues to navigate the coronavirus pandemic?
Chicago's top doctor shared her process for making recommendations Tuesday, saying what she includes in her consideration is the spread of COVID-19 in the particular area one might be thinking about visiting.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gave details on her process in response to a question during a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday. A viewer said he had a funeral to attend in Milwaukee and needed to bring his 80-year-old aunt. Both of them are fully vaccinated, he said, but noted that he wasn't sure about all the other attendees and wondered if he should be concerned for his aunt.
"This is exactly a question that I think a lot of us are thinking about," Arwady said in response. "And the good news is that if you are fully vaccinated and your aunt is fully vaccinated, you know, broadly your protection is very good. And you're right, you know, if you're not sure about all the others… you are going into a situation that could have some risk. I don't know your aunt, I don't know what underlying condition she has, but she's 80 so that is kind of a higher-risk situation."
Arwady said that her recommendation would "broadly" be to go to the funeral, based on the information given, particularly if it's someone the aunt was close with.
"When I am helping people make these decisions individually, I sometimes actually take a look at the area where someone's going to be traveling to have a sense of that," she said, noting cases across the U.S. are up about 5% before diving into specific areas.
Arwady recommended researching each state or region's rolling average number of new cases per day, adjusted for population, as well as trendlines in how much new cases have gone up or down in a particular area in recent days before deciding to travel there.
Are COVID Vaccines FDA Approved? Here's the Latest
It's a question many are asking as coronavirus vaccinations continue across the U.S.: are the COVID vaccines FDA approved?
Currently, no coronavirus vaccine is fully approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but three were given emergency use authorization by the agency: one each from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
Pfizer is currently the only vaccine authorized for emergency use in adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17, though Moderna filed for such approval on last month.
Emergency use authorization allows a vaccine to become available prior to full approval in the case of public health emergencies. The FDA can revoke the EUA at any time.
"The vaccines met FDA’s rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality needed to support emergency use authorization," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website.
But Chicago's top doctor expects full FDA approval could be granted as early as the fall.
"I expect that these vaccines will get what's called the full FDA approval soon," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday. "I would guess this will probably be in the maybe September range."
What Are Your Chances of Catching the Delta Variant If You're Fully Vaccinated? Chicago's Top Doc Weighs In
If you're fully vaccinated against COVID-19, how likely is it that you could contract the rising delta variant that experts warn is more transmissible? Chicago's top doctor weighed in Tuesday.
"So this is where, again, luckily, the vaccines have continued to perform well and we shared some data, Pfizer Moderna and J&J have now put some data out showing that their vaccines do remain protective against the delta variant, though you lose a little bit," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Version of Coronavirus Sparking Concern
Concerns surrounding the delta coronavirus variant are rising in both Chicago and Illinois, but what is it about the new variant that has some worried?
Here's an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.