coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Monitors For New COVID Variant, Illinois Vaccine Latest

Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

As health care workers and long-term care facility residents continue to get vaccined throughout Illinois, many are wondering when it will be there turn to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

NBC 5 has a way to check your estimated spot in line for the vaccine by answering a few questions.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 31):

Chicago Park Districts Suspends In-Person Winter Activities Due to Coronavirus Concerns

The Chicago Park District announced Thursday that it will suspend all in-person winter programming due to coronavirus concerns.

Based on Illinois' Tier 3 mitigations, which remain in place throughout Chicago, the park district said all in-person programs scheduled to begin Jan. 4, 2021 will be suspended.

Officials said no winter programming involving face-to-face contact will remain cancelled until public health officials "determine it is safe to resume."

The park district said it will continue to offer families a variety of virtual programs throughout the winter season. For people who registered for in-person programs, officials said they will receive prorated credit that can be applied to future programs.

Though programming will not be taking place, Chicago Park District fieldhouses will remain open for restrooms and shelter during regular hours of operation, according to a release.

Officials said the lakefront trail and outdoor park spaces will remain open with the exception of parkland east of Lake Shore Drive. However, large gatherings and close contact activities remain prohibited.

While on the lakefront trail, pedestrians must abide by the city's "keep it moving" policy while walking, running and hiking. Masks are required.

Efforts Underway to Update Public on Vaccine Availability in Illinois

Medical workers and nursing home residents and staff may be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, but Chicago area doctor’s offices, health departments and a grocery store chain are already trying to find out who is interested in getting vaccinated.

DuPage Medical Group is contacting thousands of its patients regarding the vaccine.

“As soon as we get the green light to go ahead, we want to make sure that we’re prepared,” said Dr. Don Hoscheit, Chief Medical Officer of DuPage Medical Group.  “We’ve solicited interest from our patients via text and email, where people have allowed us to reach out to them, in a way to kind of start a cue.”

The next tier of vaccinations will go to essential workers and people over 75 years of age.  However, questions remain as to who will define "essential workers" and when the rest of the general public will be eligible to receive a vaccine.

“We know as soon as we get the vaccine, we want to make sure that we get that vaccine out to the people who are next in line and are interested in getting the vaccine,” Hoscheit said.

According to its website, Jewel-Osco said the vaccine is coming soon to its pharmacies.  Interested customers can sign up for vaccine-related updates.

The Will County Health Department is encouraging its county residents to fill an online survey to help plan for vaccine distributions.

Officials Continue To Monitor For Any Potential Cases of New COVID-19 Variant In Illinois

The variant strain of COVID-19 has now been identified in the United States, as Colorado reported its first confirmed case and Gov. Gavin Newsom of California reported the strain has also been detected in southern California.

“This is not a new strain of the virus. It’s just a variant of a strain that we are dealing with right now,” said Dr. Aniruddha Hazra with the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Researchers in the UK warn this new variant is significantly more contagious and doctors in Chicago said it’s possible that the new variant has been spreading in Illinois—we just don’t know it yet.

“I think it’s possible certainly,” said Dr. Michelle Pricket with Northwestern Medicine. “We have not been testing specifically for it. Our tests are more looking for just the general version of the virus. The way you find these variants you have to do a full sequencing is my understanding.”

Dr. Hazra weighs in on the possible spread in Illinois.

“The fact that there’s a community case in Colorado with no sorta linkage to travel or what not most likely means its community spread here in the United States already. Whether not it’s truly in Illinois or not we can’t say for sure, but in the end I don’t think it really matters we should just be prepared and act as that variant is here," Hazra said.

Despite fears about the speed with which the virus will spread, both the Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines are believed to be effective against the new variant.

“Everything we’re hearing is that the vaccine should be suspectable to this new variant,” said Prickett.

While there is more to be learned about the new variant, such as how widely the it has spread and how it compares to other strains, doctors in Chicago said people should continue to wash their hands, social distance, and stay within their households to prevent the spread.

Calculate Your Spot in Illinois' Coronavirus Vaccine Line

Vaccinations for health care workers are underway in the Chicago area and across Illinois.

When could you and your family get the coronavirus vaccine, according to rollout recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine?

Find your estimated spot in line by selecting your Illinois county and answering the questions in the tool here to calculate your risk profile.

'It Was That Quick': Teen Died 3 Days After Being Hospitalized With COVID-19, Mom Says

A Tinley Park mom says her daughter died just three days after the otherwise healthy teen was hospitalized with coronavirus just before Christmas.

Sarah Simental, a Lincoln-Way East senior who just turned 18 last month, first reported a minor headache on Dec. 16, her mother Deborah Simental said. The next day, she began feeling congested and had a sore throat.

"My immediate thought was these are symptoms of COVID," Deborah Simental said.

A Tinley Park mom says her daughter died three days after the otherwise healthy teen was hospitalized with coronavirus just before Christmas. Hear her heartbreaking story and warning to families.

Outside of her home, Simental had only seen her boyfriend prior to experiencing symptoms, her mother said.

On Friday, her symptoms continued as she developed a fever, chills and vomiting.

Saturday morning, her mother took her to get a coronavirus test and that evening her results came back positive.

Early Wednesday morning, Simental went to Silver Cross Hospital after she started experiencing pain in her left shoulder. While there, her oxygen levels dropped and Simental was placed on a ventilator and taken to the intensive care unit.

By Christmas day, the 18-year-old was being airlifted to University of Chicago Medical Center and on Dec. 26, she passed away.

"It was that quick," Deborah Simental said. "No underlying conditions at all. She was a very healthy, 18-year-old young lady. We were proactive with health, we had all gotten flu shots and knew the importance because I stressed it all the time when it comes to social distancing and making sure we had masks."

Read more of the Simental family's story here.

Jewel-Osco Says Free Vaccines 'Coming Soon'

Jewel-Osco is preparing to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine, saying in an email to customers that free vaccines were "coming soon."

According to the grocery chain's website, COVID-19 vaccines will be coming to its pharmacies in the near future. People are being urged to sign up for vaccine information.

Pritzker: More Than 125,000 Doses of COVID-19 Vaccine Administered in Illinois

Amid growing concerns about the slow rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in the United States, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office says that more than 125,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered so far in the state.

According to the latest figures, 126,211 doses have been administered statewide since they were first delivered earlier this month.

The state has thus far received 108,225 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with 161,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine also shipped to the state so far. Those numbers do not include the doses that have been sent to the city of Chicago, according to officials.

According to Bloomberg, of the 124,425 doses of the vaccine that Chicago has received so far, just 20,353 have been administered to patients, reflective of a growing problem where doses of the vaccine could potentially expire before they are administered.

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