As the state of Illinois announced Sunday that more than 110,000 individuals had received coronavirus vaccinations in the last day, Cook County released 25,000 new appointments for individuals to receive the treatment.
The state also reported 2,250 new cases of the virus Sunday, along with 23 additional deaths.
Here are the top coronavirus stories from around the state:
25K New Vaccine Appointments Booked in Less Than 2 Hours, Cook County Officials Say
Cook County Health says that 25,000 coronavirus vaccination appointments released Sunday were snapped up in less than two hours.
According to officials, the appointments were released to the public at noon, with residents in Phase 1A, Phase 1B, Phase 1B-Plus, and certain other residents who were previously included in Phase 1C eligible.
Within a span of less than two hours, the first-dose appointments, which were set to be available at one of four suburban sites, were all gone, with officials confirming that information Sunday afternoon.
Cook County has moved into Phase 1B-Plus of coronavirus vaccinations, with that new group including individuals 16 or older with a preexisting medical condition or other comorbidity.
Illinois Reports 2,250 New Cases of COVID, 23 Additional Deaths Sunday
Health officials in Illinois reported more than 2,200 new cases of coronavirus, along with 23 additional deaths attributed to the virus as the state’s positivity rate continued to rise.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 2,250 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus were reported over the last 24 hours, bringing the state to 1,237,828 cases since the pandemic began last year.
Sunday’s 23 additional fatalities bring the state to 21,251 deaths during the pandemic, according to officials.
Over the last 24 hours, 110,211 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered, according to officials. That brings the state to an average of just over 103,000 doses administered per day over the last seven days.
Balky Sign-Ups Complicate Virus Vaccinations for Blind, Deaf
Unable to see, Carla McQuillan typically uses a program that converts the letters on a screen into audible words when she wants to read something online. The tool wouldn't work when she tried to schedule an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine, however.
“When I clicked, it wouldn’t tell me what the date was. I could have tapped on something, but I wouldn’t have known what it was,” said McQuillan, who operates a Montessori school and serves as president of the National Federation of the Blind of Oregon. Her husband, who can see, eventually helped out.
In Alabama, Donte Little helped 20 blind and deaf people who had trouble signing up for vaccinations and getting to a clinic for shots.
“It’s been a challenge for anybody. Add deafness or blindness on top of it and it’s that much more of one,” said Little, who is visually impaired and directs a regional center for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.
The confusing maze of websites, phone numbers, emails and paper documents required to sign up for an immunization in the United States is presenting a challenge for people who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. Providers are using multiple different systems that can vary by state and even cities, they say, often forcing the disabled to rely on others to help them get in line.
The Covid Downturn May Cut Social Security Benefits for Some. Whether That Will Be Fixed Is Uncertain
When the Covid-19 pandemic set in last year, one of the unintentional effects from the deep economic downturn included a potential reduction in Social Security benefits for one group of people.
And now, as the U.S. economy is beginning to repair itself, signs point to those benefits perhaps falling less dramatically, if at all.
Average wages in the U.S. fell sharply in 2020 as the economy came to a near halt amid a national shutdown.
Those numbers — known as the average wage index, or AWI — are used to calculate Social Security benefits. The 2020 data applies to people born in 1960, who would first be eligible to claim their monthly checks when they turn 62 in 2022. Your total monthly benefit is a formula based on the total number of years worked, your wages over that time, the AWI and other criteria, such as the age at which you claim.