Approximately 20,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccination appointments will open Friday at noon for five Cook County sites.
Meanwhile, $1,400 payments from the COVID relief bill signed by President Joe Biden could hit bank accounts as early as this weekend.
And Chicago officials are warning anyone who may be hosting or celebrating St. Patrick's Day that guidelines are still in place and will be enforced.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
All 20K Cook County First-Dose COVID Vaccine Appointments Booked Within 2 Hours
About 20,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccination appointments were booked within two hours of opening Friday in Cook County, health officials announced.
The appointments for five Cook County vaccination sites opened at noon for those eligible in Phases 1A and 1B, officials said.
Those who receive vaccines through the Cook County sites will book their second-dose appointments the same day as their first-dose appointments.
Read more here.
Illinois Could Increase Vaccine Eligibility for All Adults Before May 1, Pritzker Says
After President Joe Biden announced plans to direct U.S. state to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults by May 1, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state could reach that point even earlier.
Speaking at a press conference Friday, Pritzker said he feels "confident" in vaccine supply moving forward.
"I've been pleased... I don't know if you noticed that there was supposed to be a hiatus in the Johnson and Johnson deliveries, but actually we've seen more Johnson and Johnson deliveries so I'm excited about the fact that we'll be able to get to more and more people across the state of Illinois," Pritzker said. "And I'm confident that not just by May 1 but maybe even a little bit earlier we could open up to everyone in the state, everyone that's eligible."
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,763 New Cases, 39 Deaths, Over 110K Vaccinations Reported
Health officials in Illinois confirmed 1,763 new cases of coronavirus and 39 additional deaths on Friday, with over 110,000 doses of the COVID vaccine administered to state residents in the last 24 hours.
According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the latest new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported over the last day brought the state’s total to 1,206,172 cases since the pandemic began last year.
The 39 new deaths brought the state to 20,901fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.
According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.3%, while the positivity rate for individuals tested is at 2.6%, both numbers raising slightly from one day prior.
Read more here.
Chicago River Won't Be Dyed Green for St. Patrick's Day This Year
No, the Chicago River won't be dyed green for St. Patrick's Day this year.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Plumbers Union Local 130 said Friday there are no plans to dye the river this year, a long-held St. Patrick's Day tradition for the city.
The union said it does plan to live stream a parade from an undisclosed location beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, however. Residents are encouraged to enjoy the festivities "from the safety and comfort of your homes."
Both Chicago St. Patrick's Day parades have been canceled for the second year in a row this March due to the coronavirus pandemic, city officials announced n February.
Illinois, Chicago Say Biden's May 1 COVID Vaccine Deadline Depends on Supply
Both the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago on Friday said that President Joe Biden's deadline for all jurisdictions in the U.S. to make the COVID-19 vaccine available to all adults by May 1 is dependent on supply.
Biden made the announcement in a primetime address Thursday evening, saying he would direct all states to make all adults ages 18 and up eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine by May 1.
In response, Gov. J.B. Pritzker - who has long assailed former President Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic and praised Biden's actions since taking office in January - said Friday that the state "has built the infrastructure to administer far more doses" than it's currently receiving.
A spokesman for the Chicago Department of Public Health - which receives vaccine shipments from the federal government allocated separately from the state - said that low supply is "the one thing holding us back from more fully vaccinating the city."
20K COVID Vaccination Appointments Released Friday at 5 Cook County Sites
Approximately 20,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccination appointments for those eligible in Phases 1A and 1B opened Friday for five Chicago-area sites, officials announced.
Cook County Health said the following vaccination sites will receive doses of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines:
- Tinley Park Convention Center (Moderna)
- Triton College (Pfizer)
- South Suburban College (Pfizer)
- North Riverside Health Center (Pfizer)
- Des Plaines (Pfizer, the week of March 15)
All vaccinations are by appointment only, health officials noted, with proof of eligibility in Phases 1A or 1B. The appointments can be made online at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling (833) 308-1988.
Gov. Pritzker to Make Announcement on Health Care Equity
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to make an announcement on improving health care equity across the state Friday.
Pritzker will make the announcement at 11:30 a.m. alongside lawmakers and health care leaders at Loretto Hospital in Chicago, according to his public schedule.
The event can be watched live in the video player above.
100-Plus Suburban School District Employees Call In Sick After Second COVID Shot
Kaneland School District 302 in southwestern Kane County was forced to cancel classes Thursday after more than 100 teachers and staff members called in sick following their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As of Wednesday night, approximately 45 staff members had been signed out as ill, but by 5 a.m., that number went up to 125, according to Dr. Todd Leden, superintendent of the school district.
While Leden said the school district has great substitutes, they weren't enough, and the district was forced to declare an "emergency day."
State to Increase Vaccine Doses at Nine Illinois Hospitals
Nine rural Illinois hospitals will receive additional COVID vaccine doses from the state as part of a new program aimed at expanding equitable distribution, according to officials.
On Thursday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health announced the nine rural critical access hospitals that were selected as part of the Safety Net Direct Vaccine Allocation Pilot Program that will provide hundreds of doses to each site per week.
The nine hospitals include:
- Taylorville Memorial Hospital, Christian County
- Gibson Area Hospital and Health Services, Ford County
- Hamilton Memorial Hospital District, Hamilton County
- Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital, Logan County
- Genesis Medical Center Aledo, Mercer County
- Hillsboro Area Hospital, Montgomery County
- Hopedale Medical Complex, Tazewell County
- Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, Vermilion County
- Fairfield Memorial Hospital, Wayne County
The state will provide a total of nearly 6,000 doses of the vaccine to the nine hospitals in addition to the existing allocations that the state already is distributing to health care sites.
What the $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Does for Americans, Illinoisans
After the bill was passed by both houses of Congress this week, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” legislation into law Thursday, paving the way for millions of Americans to receive stimulus checks and a host of other relief in the coming days and weeks.
As the ink on Biden’s signature dries, click here for five things you need to know about the legislation.
What is 'COVID Psychosis' and What Are the Symptoms?
In some cases, people with no history of mental health challenges have reported developing severe psychotic symptoms after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
It's being described by some health care professionals as "COVID psychosis."
So what is it and what are the symptoms?
Dr. Danesh Alam, a psychiatrist with Northwestern Medicine, says "post-COVID psychosis" is rare, but as a result of reported cases, researchers are looking to see how COVID affects the human brain.
"Labs suggest that the virus may actually be crossing the blood brain barrier, and some of the changes that we see in [the] brain related to major psychotic disorders are being observed," the doctor explained.
Read more here.
Chicago Officials Warn They Will Be Watching for St. Patrick's Day Parties, Events
Chicago officials are warning anyone who may be hosting or celebrating St. Patrick's Day that guidelines are still in place and will be enforced.
The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection revealed plans to increase investigations heading into the weekend "and respond to complaints to ensure business compliance."
Officials urged residents to continue following public health guidelines and to avoid large gatherings.
“St. Patrick’s Day is one of greatest times of the year in Chicago, but as we enter the second year of this pandemic our celebration must look different than typical years,” BACP Commissioner Rosa Escareno said in a statement. “We have to stay diligent and commit to the regulations that keep our community safe. I expect our businesses to rise to the occasion this weekend as they have throughout the pandemic, but we will be prepared to take enforcement action if necessary.”
Read more here.
Some Conventions Could Return to Chicago's McCormick Place This Summer
Optimism over the return of some events this summer in Chicago appears to be growing as even the governor gave hope this week.
Already, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city could see a summer more like "what we normally experience," and now the governor's office noted that McCormick Place could also be bringing back some events.
In a statement to NBC 5, a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said "that's the plan."
Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
United Center COVID Vaccination Appointments Open For 5 Chicago Zip Codes
Coronavirus vaccination appointments at the United Center are no longer open to the general public, but are being scheduled strictly for five Chicago ZIP codes on the city's South and West Sides, officials announced.
Chicago officials said the appointments are going to communities "most impacted by the outbreak and those with low rates of vaccination," reminding that the United Center mass vaccination location was chosen due to its optimal accessibility.
These are the ZIP codes that can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center: 60649, 60608, 60652, 60620 and 60619.
An online booking platform, including a voucher code, is being shared with members of these ZIP codes, according to officials. For those attempting to book without a voucher, the appointment will be canceled.
These Are the 22 Mass COVID Vaccination Sites in Illinois
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said on multiple occasions that shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are "set to soar" in the coming days, but for those who qualify, where can you get an appointment?
There are currently 21 state-supported mass vaccination sites across Illinois, plus a site at the United Center run in partnership with the federal government under a new pilot program.
For a look at all locations, click here.
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