Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.
Chicago's mayor and top health official are set to deliver an update on the city's vaccination plan on Monday.
Statewide, several Illinois healthcare regions are continuing to see declines in positivity rates and hospitalizations, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 28):
IDES Prepares to Implement Unemployment Program Extensions Passed in Federal COVID Relief Bill
The Illinois Department of Employment Security is preparing to pay out new unemployment benefit funds authorized by the COVID-19 relief bill signed into law by President Donald Trump over the weekend, but is also asking for more guidance from the Department of Labor to ensure prompt payment of those benefits.
In a press release issued Monday, IDES officials say they are urging authorities not to “create further hardship,” and criticized the president for his “inaction” after he delayed signing the relief package earlier this month.
The new relief bill, in addition to authorizing payments to U.S. residents, also included extensions for several key programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits and Extended Benefits programs.
These programs all expired on Dec. 26 under the provisions of the original CARES Act, which was passed in March, but were all extended by the new COVID-19 relief package. Lawmakers have warned of potential payment delays because of Trump’s objections to the bill, which he raised only after the House and Senate voted to approve the measure.
Read more here.
First Doses of Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine Administered in Chicago
Front line workers at Chicago's Esperanza Health Centers were given their initial doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine Monday, becoming the first individuals in the city to receive the widely-anticipated vaccine.
Esperanza, which primarily serves Chicago's Southwest Side, was one of six federally-qualified health centers that began administering the Moderna vaccine Monday.
Calling Esperanza a lifeline for the Latinx community, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot explained that equity remains the city's COVID-19 strategy, as the virus disproportionately impacts people of color.
"I know the challenges that many members of the Latinx community face and at times may be insurmountable," the mayor said at a news conference at the health care center's facility in the Brighton Park neighborhood.
The rollout of the Modern vaccine is particularly exciting, said Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of Chicago's Department of Public Health, because unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it doesn't require ultra-cold storage.
Approximately 16,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine are expected to be administered in the city by the end of the week, Arwady said. Similarly, the city anticipates more than 21,000 doses of Pfizker's vaccine to be administered over the same time period.
Illinois Surpasses 16K Deaths Since Coronavirus Pandemic Began
Health officials in Illinois reported 4,453 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 105 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now reported 942,362 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, along with 16,074 total deaths.
Over the last 24 hours, 51,046 new tests returned to labs across the state. In all, 13,036,658 tests have been performed during the pandemic, according to IDPH data.
The state's seven-day positivity rate for tests sat at 8.7% Monday, while the positivity rate for cases was 7.2%. Both numbers mark increases from a day earlier.
Hospitalizations in the state ticked upward on Monday to 4,243 patients receiving care for the coronavirus. The number of patients in intensive care units dropped to 884, while there are currently 515 patients on ventilators in the state due to COVID-19.
Chicago Officials to Update on Vaccine Plan
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city's top doctor will deliver an update on the city's coronavirus vaccination plan on Monday, according to Lightfoot's public schedule.
Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady will give the update during a news conference at 2 p.m. Monday at the Esperanza Health Center, located at 4700 S. California Ave., per the mayor's office.
The update can be watched live in the video player above.
By the Numbers: Coronavirus Metrics in Each of Illinois' Health Care Regions
Several Illinois healthcare regions are continuing to see declines in positivity rates and hospitalizations, with several currently in line to see Tier 3 mitigations rolled back in the fight against the coronavirus.
Here is where each of Illinois’ healthcare regions stands in terms of metrics as of Dec. 27.
Region 1 (Northwest Illinois):
This region has seen hospitalizations decline on eight of the last 10 days. The region has had an availability of 20% or more of hospital and ICU beds for 11 straight days, and the region’s positivity rate stands at 8.7%. All of those metrics are within the parameters of reversing Tier 3 mitigations, but it is unclear when the state will give the region the go-ahead to do so.
Region 2 (West-Central Illinois):
The positivity rate in this region continued a slow decline this week, dropping to 8.8%, while more than 29% of hospital beds are available. The ICU bed availability now stands at 22.7%, and will be over 20% for a third straight day Monday. The region has also seen hospitalizations decrease each of the last 10 days.
Region 3 (West Illinois):
This region has one of the lowest positivity rates in the state, standing at 6.9%. Hospital bed availability stands at 29.5%, while the ICU bed availability is still below the 20% threshold, standing at 17.1%. Hospitalizations have decreased six of the last 10 days, but have ticked upward in recent days.
Region 4 (Southwest Illinois):
This region is seeing its positivity rate starting to rise, as it’s now at 12% on the button. Hospital bed (21.4%) and ICU bed availability (21.5%) both finally cleared the 20% threshold this week, and the region has seen nine days of hospitalization decreases in the last 10 days.
Region 5 (South Illinois):
The positivity rate in the region is now at 12.2% and has remained mostly steady over the last 10 days. ICU bed availability is still low, currently at 16.5%, and hospital bed availability is now up to 40.5%, more than double the required threshold to move forward from Tier 3 mitigations.
Region 6 (East Central Illinois):
The positivity rate in this region stands at 8.6%, while hospital bed availability (30.6%) and ICU bed availability (35.6%) are well above thresholds required to move forward from Tier 3 mitigations. The region has also continued to see steady declines in hospitalizations overall.
Region 7 (Will, Kankakee counties):
The positivity rate in this region continued to decline this week, dropping to 10.3%, while the hospital bed availability (29.6%) and ICU bed availability (26.5%) both continued to rise. Hospitalizations overall have declined each of the last 10 days.
Region 8 (DuPage, Kane counties):
This region has seen its hospital bed availability (24.7%) and ICU bed availability (27.9%) increase in recent days, while hospitalizations have decreased eight of the last 10 days. The region’s positivity rate is down to 9%.
Region 9 (McHenry, Lake counties):
Hospital bed availability in the region has finally cracked the 20% threshold, now sitting at 21.1%. ICU bed availability is at 32.1%, and hospitalizations have decreased each of the last five days. The region’s positivity rate is at 8.8%.
Region 10 (Suburban Cook County):
The region’s positivity rate stands at 9.3%, while hospitalizations have decreased each of the last 10 days. ICU bed availability is starting to climb, now at 19.7%, while hospital bed availability is now up to 26.6%.
Region 11 (Chicago):
With 10 days of hospitalization decreases, a positivity rate of 8.6%, hospital bed availability of 23.9% and ICU bed availability of 26.6%, Chicago would be eligible to move forward from Tier 3 mitigations on Monday if the city utilized state metrics.
United Airlines Begins Requiring Travelers From UK to Show Negative Test When Flying to Chicago
Amid concerns over a newly detected coronavirus variant spreading around the United Kingdom, United Airlines announced Thursday that it will require all travelers from the U.K. flying to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport to show proof of a negative coronavirus test.
According to the airline, anyone traveling from London Heathrow to Chicago, Newark, Washington Dulles and San Francisco must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of their departure starting on Monday.
"The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority," the airline said in a statement. "United has been a leader in enacting new policies and innovations designed to keep employees and passengers safer when traveling, including mask mandates and requiring customers to complete a 'Ready-to-Fly' checklist before the flight acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days and do not have COVID-related symptoms."
The latest requirement will apply to any traveler over the age of 5 and can include molecular or antigen tests. Those with connecting flights at LHR whose travel originated from another country will be exempt, the airline said.
This month, United has been operating four daily flights from London Heathrow to its four U.S. hubs.
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