Coronavirus vaccinations

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Seeing ‘Exponential Decay,' Delta Variant Concerns

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Chicago's quick drop in coronavirus cases and deaths related to COVID is being called "exponential decay," according to the city's top doc.

But while the city is reaching record lows in some metrics, officials are sounding the alarm on a new variant of the virus.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

IDPH to Offer Saliva-Based COVID Testing for Elementary School Students

The Illinois Department of Public Health says it is offering no-cost and low-cost COVID-19 testing supplies to elementary schools across the state, continuing its push to allow in-person education to take place later this year.

According to an IDPH press release, schools will be given access to the saliva-based covidSHIELD test, developed by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. The test is designed to quickly detect coronavirus, including its variants, even among people who are not showing symptoms.

“As we move closer to returning to how we lived pre-pandemic, it is critically important that we identify cases of COVID-19 as quickly as possible to help prevent outbreaks, which could ultimately lead to new surges,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “Offering testing in schools, along with vaccination and masking, can help protect students, staff and teachers when in-person learning resumes.”

Schools will receive test results within 24 hours of specimens reaching a lab, according to the release. The saliva-based tests are also being offered to middle schools and high schools across the state.

When is Phase 5 in Illinois? What to Expect as the State Reopens

Illinois is set to fully reopen this week and enter Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan Friday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week released the guidelines for Phase 5 and what exactly it means for residents. While the phase is set to mark a full reopening, beginning on June 11, not all restrictions will be lifted.

According to the governor, entry into Phase 5 "will mean businesses, large-scale events, conventions, amusement parks, and seated-spectator venues, among others, will be able to operate at full capacity for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic."

This is a breakdown of what's changing Friday in Chicago.

Chicago Museums to Stay Open Late One Night to Mark City's Move to Full Reopening

Chicago museums at select locations across the area will remain open late Friday to ring in the city's move into a full reopening in Phase 5, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.

"One of the best ways we can celebrate our city's reopening is by spending time at our renowned museums, which have undergone so many challenges over the course of this past year," Lightfoot said. "That's why I am thrilled that so many of our most iconic museums will be opening their doors until late this Friday night to give residents and visitors a headstart on returning to a sense of normalcy."

These museums will remain open late Friday night.

Starbucks Confirms Shortage as Illinois Customers Report Supply Troubles

Starbucks confirmed Wednesday that the company is experiencing "temporary supply shortages" of some products as customers in Illinois report supply issues on social media.

"Specific items will vary by market and store, and some stores will experience outages of various items at the same time," Starbucks spokesperson Sanja Gould told NBC Chicago in a statement. "We apologize for the inconvenience and are working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock items as soon as possible."

The spokesperson declined to say which products were experiencing shortages and did not say if the shortages were hitting the Chicago area specifically.

The statement comes as some customers took to social media to complain of some supply problems in the area, however.

More on the Starbucks supply shortage.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 408 New COVID Cases, 23 Deaths, 50K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois reported 408 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 23 additional deaths and more than 50,000 new vaccine doses administered.

In all, 1,386,262 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The 23 additional deaths reported Wednesday bring the state to 22,997 confirmed COVID fatalities.

The state has administered 41,758 tests over the last 24 hours, bringing it to more than 24.9 million tests conducted during the pandemic.

More on Illinois' COVID stats.

Chicago Fire's Stanislav Ivanov to Attend Special Vaccine Event; Recipients to Get Free Tickets to Upcoming Game

Chicago's latest vaccination event will bring Chicago Fire midfielder Stanislav Ivanov as the city works to vaccinate its Polish and Bulgarian communities. Those who get vaccinated at the event will also receive free tickets to an upcoming Chicago Fire game.

Polish and Bulgarian translators will be available at the event, which is from 2-4 p.m. at the Copernicus Center and will offer both Pfizer and the J&J vaccine to eligible residents.

Arwady Pushes for More Vaccinations as Fauci Warns of Dangers of ‘Delta' COVID Variant

While federal officials are sounding alarm bells about the Delta variant of coronavirus, officials in Chicago say that other strains of the virus have caused significantly more cases of COVID in the area.

Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, has caused around a dozen cases of the virus in the city of Chicago.

Officials at the federal level say that they are aiming to get more Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible so that the Delta variant can’t gain more of a foothold in the United States.

“In the UK, the Delta variant is rapidly emerging as the dominant variant. It is replacing the B.1.1.7 (strain),” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. “We cannot let that happen in the United States.”

More on the Delta variant and Chicago's metrics.

Chicago Reports Lowest Number of COVID Cases Since Start of Pandemic: Arwady

Chicago hit a major milestone Tuesday in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, according to health officials, reporting less than 100 average daily COVID-19 cases.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live that COVID metrics are looking "really good" as the city prepares to move into Phase 5 of its reopening plan Friday.

"We have fewer than 100 new cases per day in Chicago, on average -- really exciting. That's the lowest that we've been all the way back to the beginning of the pandemic back in March, and you can see here 91 cases per day is down 42% from a week ago," Arwady said.

She called the downturn in cases an "exponential decay" after what had been a steady upward trajectory in COVID data prior to the release of vaccines.

More on Chicago's latest COVID data.

Increase in Colds and Flu Could Be Coming as Reopening Continues: Experts

Could reopening mark the return of colds and other illnesses that nearly disappeared or largely decreased during the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts say they are expecting a resurgence as public health guidelines change.

"We have seen many, many fewer other viral infections throughout this whole time," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday during a Facebook Live. "We've seen children be much much less likely to get a lot of the typical viral infections that they get. And so I think in general, as people do stop wearing masks, perhaps stop being so careful about hand washing, we probably will see some of the other viruses for which we do not vaccinate, that... don't put people in the hospital and don't significantly cause that, we may see increases of that. And it's certainly something that that we'll be paying attention to."

Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health, told NBC Chicago "we absolutely do" anticipate an increase in colds, flu and other illnesses going forward.

More on this story.

Cold or COVID? What to Know About Your Symptoms and When to Get Tested

As reopening continues across Chicago and Illinois, the return of colds and seasonal allergies have some questioning.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, allergies, colds and coronavirus overlap in some symptoms, like the potential for a cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties, fatigue, headaches, a sore throat and congestion.

Symptoms more associated with coronavirus include fever, muscle and body aches, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting and diarrhea.

Chicago health officials say it can be difficult to tell whether symptoms are related to seasonal allergies, a common cold or the coronavirus, but getting tested is one way to find out. That includes people who have been vaccinated for coronavirus, experts say.

More on this story.

White Sox Host Pop-Up COVID Vaccination Event, Offer Free Tickets to Those Getting Shots

The Chicago White Sox will soon see their stadium ramped back up to full capacity, and as the team prepares to welcome fans back to Guaranteed Rate Field, new pop-up coronavirus vaccine events are being planned at the ballpark.

As part of Major League Baseball’s “Vaccine at the Plate” initiative, the White Sox and Cook County Health have partnered up to offer fans the chance to receive their COVID during their upcoming series against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Fans aged 18 and older who are planning to attend one of the games can sign up for an appointment to receive the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Appointments will be available from when the gates open at the ballpark through the end of the fifth inning. Walk-up appointments will also be available on a first-come, first-served basis, the team says.

More on the Chicago White Sox vaccine pop-up event.

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