Sunday marks one year since Illinois' first coronavirus case was announced, indicating the start of what would become a deadly and historic pandemic.
Meanwhile, Phase 1b of coronavirus vaccinations begin tomorrow across the state, prioritizing people ages 65 and older, along with frontline essential workers.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 24:
CTU Educators Vote Against Returning For In-Person Instruction, CPS Pushes Start Date
Chicago Teachers Union members voted Sunday not to return to schools for in-person instruction before COVID-19 vaccinations, the union announced.
CTU voted to authorize all rank-and-file educators in Chicago Public Schools to contact remote learning beginning Monday, a release said.
CTU said 86% of members participated in the vote Sunday, with 71% voting to have continued in-person learning as of Monday, the first day teachers in kindergarten through eighth grade would be required to return to schools, though students do not return until Feb.1.
In response, CPS announced Sunday the district would push back the start date for teachers to return to classrooms from Monday to Wednesday to ensure enough time "to resolve discussions without risking disruption to student learning."
In a letter to families, CPS said their goal is to reach an agreement with CTU members "as soon as possible," noting that discussions will continue throughout the day Sunday into early in the week, if necessary.
"We must provide families, through no fault of their own, have been unable to make remote learning work for their children," CPS said in the letter. "We've seen grades, attendance and enrollment drop significantly for many of our students in recent months, and the impact has been felt most by our Black and Latinx students."
For more information, click here.
Illinois Reports 3,292 New Coronavirus Cases, 40 Additional Deaths Sunday
Illinois Health officials reported 3,292 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, along with 40 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Sunday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,101,819 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Sunday lifted the death toll to 18,750.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 90,138 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,409,832 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 4.8%, down slightly from the day before. The positivity rate for unique individuals tested remained at 6% Sunday.
As of Saturday night, 2,994 patients in Illinois were hospitalized due to coronavirus. Of those patients, 617 were in intensive care units, while 321 were on ventilators.
Also as of Saturday night, 1,112,725 vaccines coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to providers across Illinois, while 524,050 doses had been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, IDPH said. That brought the total number of doses sent to Illinois to 1,636,775.
On Saturday, a total of 23,653 coronavirus vaccine doses were administers, making the 7-day rolling average administered daily at 27,776 doses, according to IDPH data.
Illinois to Start Phase 1B of Vaccinations Monday
Illinois and Chicago will both enter the next phase of their vaccination plan starting Monday, according to health care officials.
Phase 1b, which includes roughly 3.2 million residents, centers on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and others.
Beginning Monday, National Guard-led sites will be vaccinating residents eligible under Phase 1b, as well as sites at CVS, Jewel Osco and Walgreens, Pritzker said. There are six vaccination sites in Cook County staffed by the National Guard, with 24 additional teams being deployed over the next three weeks.
By Feb. 1, additional pharmacies, including Hy-Vee, Mariano’s and Kroger, will also begin vaccinations, Pritzker said.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said options include through a medical system or health care provider, through pharmacies, through a dedicated vaccination location like the points of dispensing sites, or through an employer.
"So right from the beginning I want people to hear that even as the phase opens up, most people will not be able to get vaccine right away that first week, even that second week, etc.," Arwady said, adding that she hopes to get most people in Phase 1b vaccinated through February and March.
For a full look at who is included in Phase 1b, click here.
Sunday Marks 1 Year Since Illinois' First COVID Case. Read the Story From That Day
This story was first published on Jan. 24, 2020. It marked the first known coronavirus case in Illinois and the start of what would inevitably become a deadly and historic pandemic.
Here's a look back at the story as it was written by NBC Chicago exactly one year ago.
A woman has been diagnosed with coronavirus in Chicago, marking the second confirmed case of the new and potentially deadly virus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Chicago resident in her 60s returned from Wuhan, China - the epicenter of a recent outbreak - on Jan. 13 and was later hospitalized, a state epidemiologist with the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
The Chicago woman did not have symptoms while traveling earlier this month but "later presented symptoms consistent with novel coronavirus" and was hospitalized in isolation, according to Allison Arwady, commissioner with the Chicago Department of Public Health.
"A few days after arriving home, the patient began to feel unwell," Arwady said.
She remains hospitalized in stable condition and is "clinically doing well," Arwady said.
Health officials said the risk to the general public in Chicago and nationally remains low as the woman was not showing symptoms while flying.
"Based on what we know now about this virus, our concern for transmission before symptoms develop is low, so that is reassuring," Arwady said.
Read the full story here.
Diners Celebrate Chicago's Move Into Mitigation Tier Allowing Indoor Dining
It was a day of celebration in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, as indoor dining was permitted to resume under the provisions of Illinois’ Tier 1 coronavirus mitigations.
“I feel great,” Samuel Ross, who visited a local eatery after the announcement was made Saturday. “It feels good to have beers on draft, just the freshness of draft beer brought me out today.”
Ross was one of several customers who spent their Saturday afternoon at the Haymarket Brewery in Chicago’s West Loop.
Under the conditions of Tier 1 mitigations, bars and restaurants can open to 25% capacity, with reservations required for parties of four or fewer people per table. Those establishments can be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Illinois Reports 5,152 New Coronavirus Cases, 97 Additional Deaths Saturday
Illinois Health officials reported 5,152 new cases of coronavirus on Saturday, along with 97 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Saturday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,098,527 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Friday lifted the death toll to 18,711.
IDPH said officials have adjusted how the state reports probable cases beginning Friday, now including both confirmed and probable cases in the daily count. Prior to Friday, only confirmed deaths were included in the total case count, but the count will include probable deaths moving forward.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 110,178 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,319,694 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 4.9%, while the positivity rate for unique individuals tested is at 6% - both down slightly from the day before.
As of Friday night, 3,121 patients in Illinois were hospitalized due to coronavirus. Of those patients, 644 were in intensive care units, while 338 were on ventilators.
Lightfoot Says Chicago Has Made ‘Sufficient Progress' in Fight Against COVID-19
Mayor Lori Lightfoot reacted the city moving to Tier 1 mitigations Saturday, saying Chicago has made "sufficient progress in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
“We have long pushed for the careful resumption of limited indoor dining, and I am thrilled that we have made enough progress in the fight against COVID-19 to reopen our businesses and bring workers back,” Lightfoot said.
“As we enter this next phase, I again call on all businesses and residents to make sure we continue moving forward by following the guidelines for safe indoor dining and committing to the safety precautions that helped us flatten the curve a second time," the mayor added.
For more information, click here.
Chicago, Suburban Cook County Enter Tier 1, Resume Indoor Dining
Chicago and suburban Cook County moved to Tier 1 coronavirus mitigations on Saturday, health officials announced, which allows for the return of limited indoor dining.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Saturday that Regions 10 and 11, which include Chicago and suburban Cook County, can move down from Tier 2 mitigations based on recent metrics.
As part of the move down to Tier 1, bars and restaurants can allow indoor service at 25% capacity or 25 people per room with no tables exceeding four people, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
For bars and breweries to open for indoor service, IDPH requires that food be available at all times, meaning the establishment must have a retail food license to operate.
For more on what is included in Tier 1 mitigations, click here.
Illinois to Start Phase 1B of Vaccinations, But Not All Who Are Eligible Will Get it at First
Illinois and Chicago will both enter the next phase of their vaccination plan starting Monday, but not everyone eligible in the phase will receive the vaccine right at the start, officials said Friday.
Phase 1b, which includes roughly 3.2 million residents, centers on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and more.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said while the state still plans to move into the phase starting Monday, there will be limitations based on how much vaccine the state receives.
"This does not mean, however, that right away you will be able to get the vaccine as easily as you can get the flu shot," Pritzker said. "Because federal vaccine production was hampered by the failure of the previous administration to properly invoke the Defense Production Act, vaccine supply is still limited all across the nation. There are additional vaccines in the pipeline that may soon seek FDA approval, and that will help. But there are 3.2 million Illinoisans in Phase 1B, so there will be far greater demand than supply for the near term – to put it in perspective, we’re expecting approximately 126,000 first doses to arrive next week outside of Chicago. That’s less than 4 percent of the 1B population. Until the vaccine supply improves, we will all need to be patient."
Pritzker said the state is working to build capacity and hopes to see an increase in doses in the coming weeks.
Walmart, Kroger and Mariano's to Begin COVID Vaccinations in Illinois in Coming Weeks
Walmart, Kroger and Mariano's are slated to begin providing COVID-19 vaccinations to Illinois residents in the coming weeks, according to the companies and state officials.
A Walmart spokeswoman confirmed Friday that beginning this week and next, the big-box retailer will start providing inoculations in the city of Chicago as well as in Indiana along with six other states.
The company has already been providing vaccinations in New Mexico and Arkansas, where it's headquartered.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that Kroger and Mariano's, which is a subsidiary of the Ohio-based grocery chain, are expected to start giving vaccinations to residents by Feb. 1. Additionally, the supermarket chain Hy-Vee, which has locations in central and western Illinois, will also provide inoculations.
With New Variant, ‘Now More Important Than Ever' to Follow Mitigations: Illinois' Top Doctor
While much remains uncertain about the new COVID-19 variant first discovered in the United Kingdom, Illinois' top doctor said Friday that enough is known, so people are able to take the proper precautions.
"...If something is more transmissible, that would suggest that we need to double down on mask wearing," Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health said Friday, as she also stressed social distancing and handwashing. "Like all those things we've been saying...the message doesn't really change, it just means it's now more important than ever before to adhere to them [mitigations]."
On Friday, a U.K. scientist revealed some evidence suggests the strain carries a higher risk of death than the original strain, although he cautioned that the data is uncertain.
Read more here.
Illinois Health Officials to Add COVID-19 Vaccination Appointment Sign-Up to Website
Illinois health officials announced Friday the launch of a statewide coronavirus vaccination appointment sign-up addition to their website, which should more effectively provide doses.
"As we increase capacity to make vaccine widely available, we will launch a statewide website to provide more information so that you can make an appointment to get vaccinated," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a press conference.
Illinoisans can already access the state's coronavirus website, which provides the vaccination plan, Restore Illinois plan and information on the pandemic. Once appointments become available, residents can access a link taking them to their local health care provider to coordinate when and where to receive the vaccine.
Read more here.
IDPH Issues New Guidance for Youth, Recreational Sports
As Illinois regions continue loosening restrictions, the state has released new guidance for youth and recreational sports.
With the entire state now out of Tier 3 mitigations Friday, the state's health department released guidelines for various sports, including those in schools, travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sports programs.
"Over the past seven months I've received countless emails, letters, phone calls from students from parents from coaches, many others about youth sports in organized protests about the issue. I hear and see, and I feel the passion around youth sports. I take very seriously the value that recreational outlets offers the physical and the mental health of our children," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said during a press conference Friday. "I also take very seriously, the need to protect them as do their parents and their coaches and the broader community, and we will talk about that now. The updated sports guidance that we are releasing today outlines the level of play allowed dictated by the current public health conditions that we find ourselves in. We have to think about the amount of virus circulating in the communities. We have to continue to think about the test positivity, the people in the ICU with COVID and as well as other metrics."
The guidance expands the level of play allowed for all sports in regions under Phase 4 guidelines, including play for intra-conference, region, or league levels.
Illinois Reports 7,042 New Coronavirus Cases, 95 Additional Deaths Friday
Health officials in Illinois reported 7,042 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, along with 95 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,093,375 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Friday lifted the death toll to 18,615.
IDPH said officials have adjusted how the state reports probable cases beginning Friday, now including both confirmed and probable cases in the daily count, which caused an "artificial one-day increase" in cases of 1,903. Prior to Friday, only confirmed deaths were included in the total case count, but the count will include probable deaths moving forward.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 125,831 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,209,516 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 5.0%, while the positivity rate for unique individuals tested is at 6.2% - both down slightly from the day before.
As of Thursday night, 3,179 patients in Illinois were hospitalized due to coronavirus. Of those patients, 661 were in intensive care units, while 348 were on ventilators.
Also as of Thursday night, 922,325 vaccines coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to providers across Illinois, while 524,050 doses had been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, IDPH said. That brought the total number of doses sent to Illinois to 1,446,375.
Of those, 616,677 doses of the vaccine have been administered, including 93,683 for long-term care facilities. On Thursday, a total of 44,288 doses were administered, lifting the seven-day rolling average number of vaccines given daily to 24,190.