Chicago Public Schools officials say they are working on a response to a counter proposal from the Chicago Teachers Union as both sides continue negotiations over the return to in-person learning.
Meanwhile, the state of Illinois has added 80 new COVID-19 vaccination sites.
Here are the latest COVID-19 headlines from around the state:
Chicago Officials Urge Safety Amid Super Bowl Celebrations This Weekend
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across Chicago, city officials reminded residents to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday safely.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady on Friday advised people to follow safety precautions, especially while the city is seeing the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates since October.
“We have made so much progress in recent weeks – now is not the time to let down our guard,” Lightfoot said. “I’ll be watching the game with my wife and daughter at home, and I call on all Chicagoans to do the same and avoid gatherings. Let’s not make the Super Bowl a super-spreader event!”
City officials reminded that traditional Super Bowl gatherings have potential to be super-spreader events for the coronavirus, which is why they are urging residents order take-out from a local bar or restaurant, as well as avoid mixed-household parties.
According to Lightfoot and Arwady, the best way to avoid indoor gatherings with people outside of the household. However, if guests are indoors, health officials said people should maintain six feet of distance and wear face coverings.
"While Super Bowl parties of any kind are strongly discouraged, Chicagoans are reminded that, per health order, indoor residential gatherings must be limited to no more than ten individuals," a release said.
Because the city in is Phase 4 coroanavirus mitigations, the following regulations apply if going to bars or restaurants:
- Six people per table
- Six feet of distance between tables
- Indoor capacity limited to the lesser of 25% or 25 individuals
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection workers will be visiting entertainment establishments throughout the city of Chicago prior to the big event Sunday, according to a release.
CTU Says CPS' ‘Last, Best and Final' Offer ‘Cannot Stand'
Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said Friday that Chicago Public Schools' latest offer - a proposal Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the district's "last, best and final" offer - in negotiations over a return to classrooms "cannot stand" and is a "threat" to cut students off from schooling.
Sharkey's comments were made in a letter emailed to CTU members on Friday afternoon, saying Lightfoot "has walked away from the bargaining table again" after submitting the offer Thursday night.
“Yesterday afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and responded with our last, best, and final offer," Lightfoot and CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said in a joint statement Friday morning. "We expect a response from CTU leadership today. We will be making further statements later today about school on Monday."
Sharkey said the offer from CPS would pause in-person learning if there are COVID-19 outbreaks in 50% of buildings at the same time, which he said amounts to more than 200 schools. He also noted that the proposal "denies remote work accommodations to 75 percent of educators with household members at high-risk for COVID-19" and "will not make any improvement in remote learning, despite four out of five students remaining remote."
In a news conference Thursday, Lightfoot said discussions between the district and the union had moved "backward" as she blasted the union, saying the city was "out of runway" to get a deal done.
For more on the negotiations, click here.
Illinois Reports 3,660 New COVID-19 Cases, 83 Additional Deaths Friday
Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 3,660 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus, along with 83 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's new cases bring the state to 1,141,219 cases of the virus in the state, with 19,526 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year.
Over the last 24 hours, 105,085 test specimens have been turned in to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total number of tests performed to 16,464,740.
The seven-day positivity rate declined slightly on Friday, falling to 3.3% from 3.4% the day before. The positivity rate on individuals tested during that time stands at 4.3%.
As of Thursday night, there were 2,318 coronavirus patients in Illinois hospitals. Of those patients, 491 were in intensive care units, while 254 were on ventilators.
The total number of vaccine doses administered thus far is sitting at 1,231,418 doses, including 188,351 at long-term care facilities through the federal partnership with pharmacies.
A total of 2,132,025 doses have been sent to Illinois, with the 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily standing at 49,082 doses. On Thursday, Illinois set a one-day vaccination record with a total of 74,965 doses administered statewide.
Pritzker to Tour Rockford Vaccination Site
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to tour a COVID-19 vaccination site in Rockford on Friday.
Pritzker is set to tour the site at Auburn High School Field House in Rockford, located in Winnebago County, at 11:30 a.m., according to his public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
CPS Working on Response to Counter Proposal from CTU as Negotiations Continue
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice K. Jackson announced Thursday they are working on a response to a counter proposal from the Chicago Teachers Union as both sides continue negotiations over the return to in-person learning.
A brief statement released by the two leaders Thursday afternoon is the latest from CPS as the back-and-forth continues between the district and teachers union.
“Late this afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and we are working on a response,” the statement read.
Late Thursday evening, CTU announced its leaders will hold a press conference on Friday and offered an update on negotiations.
“Bargaining continued Thursday between the Union and CPS leadership, which continues to reject using CDC health metrics, refuses to allow educators with medically vulnerable household members to continue to teach remotely, as two-thirds of families have chosen, and refuses to make improvements in remote learning, despite months of pleas from parents, students and educators,” the statement read.
Earlier on Thursday, Lightfoot said discussions had moved "backward" as she blasted the union in a news conference, while the union claimed in a letter to parents that the mayor and district "mocked" them for raising needs of families "beyond the classroom."
CPS announced late Wednesday that students would continue with remote learning on Thursday, with no agreement reached with the CTU. Friday was a previously scheduled non-attendance day, giving the two sides a few more days to negotiate.
Chicago Closes City-Run COVID Testing Sites for Several Days Due to Weather
With a bitter cold spell set to hit the Chicago area, Chicago-run coronavirus testing sites will be closed for several days, officials announced Thursday.
Beginning Friday, city-run testing sites will close for five days, through Feb. 10, Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications tweeted.
The move is "due to inclement weather."
Illinois Reports 3,328 New COVID-19 Cases, 69 Additional Deaths Thursday
Health officials in Illinois on Thursday reported 3,328 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus, along with 69 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's new cases bring the state to 1,137,559 cases of the virus in the state, with 19,444 deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began last year.
Over the last 24 hours, 101,307 test specimens have been turned in to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total number of tests performed to 16,359,655.
The seven-day positivity rate declined slightly on Thursday, falling to 3.4% from 3.5% the day before. The positivity rate on individuals tested during that time stands at 4.4%.
As of Wednesday night, there were 2,341 coronavirus patients in Illinois hospitals. Of those patients, 513 were in intensive care units, while 265 were on ventilators.
The total number of vaccine doses administered thus far is sitting at 1,156,453 doses, including 178,848 at long-term care facilities through the federal partnership with pharmacies.
A total of 2,125,650 doses have been sent to Illinois, with the 7-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily standing at 46,709 doses.
80 New COVID Vaccination Locations Open in Illinois, State Announces
The state of Illinois has added 80 new COVID-19 vaccination sites, according to a news release from state health officials Thursday.
More than 3.2 million of the state's residents are eligible for vaccinations under Phase 1B, which includes people age 65 years and older as well as "frontline essential workers."
In all, 390 vaccination sites have opened across the state.
The newly-established sites include 78 additional Walgreens locations, as well as two Illinois National Guard locations in Cook and St. Clair counties.
Current vaccination sites in the state are available by appointment only, but the state plans to launch walk-in locations in the coming weeks, officials previously said.
For a complete look at ways you can make an appointment or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.
All of Illinois Now in Phase 4 After Last Region Loosens Coronavirus Restrictions
All of Illinois is now under Phase 4 coronavirus guidelines after the last of the state's 11 regions still in tighter mitigations loosened some of those restrictions to the same level as the rest of the state on Thursday, health officials announced.
Region 4, also known as the Metro East Region in southern Illinois, moved from Tier 2 mitigations directly to Phase 4, skipped Tier 1 entirely. That move means all 11 of the state's regions are now in Phase 4 after the state allowing regions to move forward in mid-January following the holiday season.
Regions 8 and 9 - which include DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties in the Chicago area - were able to further loosen restrictions Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Region 10, which holds suburban Cook County, moved to Phase 4 while Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, returned on Monday. The city of Chicago entered a modified version of the phase over the weekend.
Dozens of Lake Forest College Students in Quarantine Amid COVID Outbreak After Gathering
More than three dozen students are in isolation or quarantine, including several hockey players, due to a coronavirus outbreak sparked by dorm room visits and gatherings at a suburban college, school officials said.
The president of Lake Forest College said in a letter Wednesday that 12 students tested positive for the virus this week and were in isolation. Another 28, President Stephen D. Schutt said, were in quarantine due to having close contact with those who tested positive.
The outbreak has left a majority of the school's men's hockey team in either isolation or quarantine, Schutt said, noting that the number of positive cases and close contacts could rise as contact tracing continues. He warned the remainder of the semester could be in jeopardy if cases continue to rise.
"The college has received clear information that a number of these students – and potentially others – violated the Forester Commitment by visiting each other’s residence hall rooms and gathering socially last Saturday night, January 30," Schutt wrote. "The health costs for them are now all too evident."
Schutt said more than one student thought that because they received a negative test the day before the gathering that "meant it was safe to gather with others on Saturday and ignore the rules."
"I want to correct that mistaken belief right away: a person can test negative on one day and test positive the next. A single negative test offers no guarantee: one could still be carrying the virus," the letter read.
How to Sign Up for COVID Vaccine Appointments in Chicago Using Zocdoc
Chicagoans looking to find or book coronavirus vaccine appointments can now schedule them online as the city launches a new site in partnership with Zocdoc, officials announced Tuesday.
The new platform will offer a real-time look at appointment availability from city POD sites, as well as from "care organizations" like AMITA Health, Erie Family Health, Innovative Express Care and Rush University Medical Center.
The new site aims to create "a central marketplace to help Chicagoans access vaccinations," officials said.
The Zocdoc Vaccine Scheduler will be free of charge and "is designed to streamline vaccine scheduling," the city said in a release. Chicago is the first city to implement the service.
Here's how it works:
- To begin, Chicago residents can visit zocdoc.com/vaccine.
- Once there, users will be asked to confirm their location and eligibility.
- If eligible under Illinois guidelines, Zocdoc will show nearby vaccination locations and their real-time appointment availability.
- Eligible patients will then be able to select a date, time, and location, and instantly book an appointment online. If no appointments are available, residents can sign up to be notified when new options come online.
- There will be embedded translation support for more than 100 languages, including Spanish.
- NOTE: Officials are still asking residents to be patient as vaccine rollout continues. Appointments are expected to be added as the city continues to receive doses.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said Chicagoans are still encouraged to seek a vaccine appointment first with their primary care providers, if they have one, and also through local pharmacies or their employers, if available.
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