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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Vaccine Update, Risks of Reinfection, Top Questions Answered

Here are the latest COVID headlines from around the state

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Chicago officials gave an update on the city's coronavirus vaccine rollout. Meanwhile, medical experts have answered some of your most-asked vaccine questions in a panel with NBC 5.

Here are the latest COVID headlines from around the state:

Lyft Teams Up With CVS to Increase Transportation to Vaccinations

Lyft ride share service has teamed up with CVS Health to bring the more "vulnerable populations" receive the coronavirus vaccine, particularly in Black and Hispanic communities.

Opening in March and April for the nearly 10,000 CVS locations nationwide, a driver will take the patient to either a mobile vaccination van or community-based clinic.

"We are committed to reaching people of color and underserved communities to ensure health equity as we work to vaccinate all Americans," Karen S. Lynch, CEO of CVS Health, said. "Our presence in communities across the country uniquely positions CVS Health to educate vulnerable populations and connect them with vaccine administration services."

Lyft is providing rides at a discounted rate to "those in need," along with starting a campaign to provide access to COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,219 New Cases, 63 Deaths, 83K Vaccinations Reported Friday

Health officials in Illinois reported 2,219 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, along with 63 additional deaths and more than 83,000 doses of vaccine administered the day before, though severe weather has delayed the number of doses delivered to the state.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's new confirmed and probable case numbers lifted the statewide total to 1,170,902 cases since the pandemic began.

The death toll now stands at 20,192, according to IDPH.

Over the last 24 hours, 85,963 tests have been administered to Illinois residents, bringing the state total to 17,474,319 since the pandemic began.

The rolling positivity rate on all tests conducted in the last seven days stands at 2.8%, health officials said. The positivity rate on individuals tested was at 3.3%.

As of Thursday night, 1,596 people were in Illinois hospitals with coronavirus. Of those, 366 patients were in the ICU and 190 patients were on ventilators.

A total of 83,673 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Illinois over the last 24 hours, health officials said Thursday. That lifted the statewide total number of vaccinations to 2,060,706 doses given thus far, including 271,142 administered at long-term care facilities.

A total of 2,186,775 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, state health officials said, plus 445,200 doses allocated to the federal government’s program for long-term care facilities.

IDPH noted that severe weather has delayed the number of doses delivered to Illinois.

"Weather continues to cause vaccine delivery delays from the federal government," IDPH said in a statement. "We are in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal agencies to understand the logistical challenges and if there is anything Illinois can do to expedite getting vaccine."

The rolling seven-day daily average of vaccinations stands at 59,460 doses per day, according to IDPH.

Half of COVID Vaccine Doses Administered in Last Week Went to Black, Latinx Residents, Chicago Says

After early data painted a "disturbing" picture surrounding racial equity and the coronavirus vaccine in Chicago, the city says at least 50% of doses administered in the last week went to Black or Latinx residents.

The number nearly triples the statistics reported less than a month ago, when the city said just 18% of doses administered early on in the vaccine rollout were going to Black or Latinx Chicagoans, despite them making up 59% of the city's population. 

Still, according to city data since vaccinations began, Black and Latinx residents make up less than 40% of the city's total first doses administered.

"Just over two months ago, we finally began to see the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel we've been in since COVID-19 first came to our city. This light came in the form of long awaited vaccines," Lightfoot said during a news conference Friday. "And while it gave us a glimpse of what a post-COVID Chicago could look like, it also illuminated the significant challenges that we have struggled with throughout this pandemic."

Similar trends were reported across the country.

An early look at 17 states and two cities that released racial breakdowns through Jan. 25 found that Black people in all places were getting inoculated at levels below their share of the general population, in some cases significantly below.

That is true even though they constitute an oversize percentage of the nation's health care workers, who were put at the front of the line for shots when the campaign began in mid-December.

The gap is deeply troubling to some, given that Black, Hispanic and Native American people are dying from COVID-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, according to the CDC.

In December, Chicago reported that 9.8% of first doses went to Latinx residents, 8.1% went to Black residents, 59.4% to white residents and 15.1% went to Asian, non-Latinx residents.

For doses administered in the most recent week the numbers climbed to 26.2% to Latinx residents, 23.6% to Black residents, 41.4% to White residents, and 5.6% to Asian residents.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials to Give Vaccine Update as Shipping Delays Spark Shortages in Illinois

Chicago's mayor and top public health official are expected to update on the city's vaccine rollout Friday as winter weather in the Midwest causes delays in shipments of the coronavirus vaccine across Illinois, sparking shortages for some counties.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady are set to speak at 9:45 a.m. from the Gage Park Vaccination Center. (Watch live here)

Chicago reported Tuesday that more than 100 providers were left without their expected shipments due to winter weather conditions and Illinois said federal shipping delays could continue through the week.

Illinois Experts Answer Coronavirus Vaccine Questions

A panel of top Illinois doctors, medical specialists and insurance and pharmacy experts joined NBC 5's "Vaccinated State" panel to answer your questions about the coronavirus vaccine.

Watch the one-hour special here.

Can You Get COVID Twice? Illinois Health Expert Weighs In

With new variants of the coronavirus emerging across the U.S. and many in Illinois still awaiting their chance to receive the vaccine, some are wondering if there's a risk of contracting COVID twice.

As part of its live Q&A with medical experts to address common questions surrounding the vaccine, NBC 5 asked Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at University of Chicago Medicine about the risks of re-infection.

"Well, the answer is unfortunately yes," Landon said during the "Vaccinated State" panel Thursday. "Now most people are not going to get COVID-19 a second time, but some people are at risk of that."

According to Landon, people who experience reinfection likely won't get for a second time within the first 90 to 180 days of their first infection, "but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be extra careful."

Landon added that some of the newer variants currently circulating in the U.S. "are more likely to cause recurrent disease."

Read more here.

Can You Socialize Once You're Fully Vaccinated? Experts Answer

After receiving the coronavirus vaccine, when is it safe to expand your social circles or see loved ones?

According to experts on NBC 5's "Vaccinated State" panel, the answer is a bit complicated.

"One thing we don't know about the vaccine is whether or not people will continue to shed virus if they get infected," said Dr. Richard Novak, head of the Division of Infectious Diseases for UI Health. "The vaccine is very effective in preventing people from getting sick, but that doesn't mean they didn't get infection. We don't know you know that yet. And if they do get the infection, we don't know the amount of virus that that they're shedding that's coming out of their body is decreased."

According to Novak, the length of immunity given by the vaccine remains unclear.

"What we do know is that actually an immunity lasts for at least the three months that we've had in the study and actually if you look at the levels of antibodies produced by the vaccines, first, it's higher than a natural infection," Novak said. "And the antibodies the vaccine induces are more potent than the natural infection, and the trajectory of the declining antibodies is quite slow so it's expected that the level of antibodies is going to continue to last for at least a year or more but we don't, we won't, know that until we complete the studies which are still ongoing."

Similarly, grandparents have asked when they can see young grandkids after receiving their vaccination, noting that children have been reported to be less susceptible to severe infections from the virus.

"We don't want to risk the possibility of quietly, silently, unwittingly transferring the virus to the baby," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "The baby could transmit to the parents and other people in the home. So we still need to exercise precautions when we're mixing households."

But what if both people have been fully vaccinated?

Complete vaccination is said to be two weeks after a person receives their second dose of the vaccine.

"To be honest with you, I think it's pretty safe for two completely vaccinated - that means two weeks after their second dose - completely vaccinated people to expand their friends circle to include other completely vaccinated people, and in a moderate way," said Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at University of Chicago Medicine. "I think that's probably pretty reasonable. But I do think it's really important to, for the most part, continue wearing our masks."

Read more here.

Should Pregnant or Breastfeeding Women Receive the COVID Vaccine?

Is it safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women to receive the coronavirus vaccine?

According to medical experts, the answer is: it depends.

Pregnant women will soon be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Illinois as the state prepares to expand its Phase 1B criteria to include some high-risk conditions.

According to Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director of Infection Control and Prevention at University of Chicago Medicine, pregnant women weren't included in studies surrounding the vaccines, but "that doesn't mean that that's because there was a reason to believe it might be dangerous."

"In fact, the studies in animals about toxicity showed that there's really none," Landon said during NBC 5's "Vaccinated State" panel. "We've been vaccinating pregnant health care workers, our obstetrician gynecologist friends have no concerns about this and we've vaccinated a lot of pregnant people and they've done beautifully."

For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.

Landon stressed the contracting coronavirus while pregnant can also pose an added danger.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that pregnant people who contract COVID-19 "have an increased risk of severe illness," including the risk of an infection that could lead to ICU admission, mechanical ventilation, and possibly death. Pregnant people with COVID-19 could also face an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as preterm birth, the agency added.

According to preliminary findings of a study from the National Institutes of Health, pregnant women who experienced severe symptoms of COVID-19 had a higher risk of complications during and after pregnancy.

"Compared to nonpregnant women who have the same health and age, a COVID-infected woman is about 1.3 to 1.4 times more likely to end up in the hospital when she's pregnant," Dr. Regan Theiler, a Mayo Clinic obstetrician, said in a statement.

"COVID during pregnancy is dangerous," Landon said. "So, the vaccine is a safer choice."

Read more here.

Suburban Counties to Focus on Second Vaccine Doses During Supply Shortage

If you are eligible for the COVID vaccine there may be some bumps in the road over the next few weeks, as several Chicago area county health departments told NBC 5 they are facing a vaccine shortage.

“There’s frustration because we want to get more people get vaccinated and do the best we can,” said Will County Public Health Department spokesperson Steve Brandy.

Brandy said only about 55,000 doses of the originally scheduled 365,000 doses will arrive this week.

As a result, the Will County Health Department and the DuPage County Health Department said they will focus on people getting their second vaccine doses.

“I think it’s particularly unfortunate because we have a very large group of individuals in front of us, even in the original Phase 1B population, who are ready, willing and very able to, to be vaccinated,” said Karen Ayala, executive director of the DuPage County Health Department.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,966 New Cases, 72 Deaths, 73K Vaccinations Reported Thursday

Health officials in Illinois reported 1,966 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, along with 72 additional deaths and more than 73,000 doses of vaccine administered the day before, though severe weather has delayed the number of doses delivered to the state.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's new confirmed and probable case numbers lifted the statewide total to 1,168,683 cases since the pandemic began.

The death toll now stands at 20,129, according to IDPH.

A total of 73,091 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Illinois over the last 24 hours, health officials said Thursday. That lifted the statewide total number of vaccinations to 1,977,033 doses given thus far, including 266,037 administered at long-term care facilities.

IDPH noted that severe weather has delayed the number of doses delivered to Illinois.

Read more here.

Imaging Reveals How COVID Can 'Cause the Body to Attack Itself,' Study Shows

Medical imaging has revealed that COVID-19 can in some cases "cause the body to attack itself," marking the first glimpse at what is behind mysterious severe, long-lasting and sometimes bizarre symptoms - even in those who never knew they contracted the virus, a new study has found.

From rheumatoid arthritis flares to autoimmune issues to “COVID toes,” there have been several reports of unusual and potentially concerning symptoms associated with coronavirus, many of which have been a mystery during the pandemic.  

But according to a Northwestern Medicine study, radiological imaging has "for the first time, confirmed and illustrated the causes of these symptoms."

“We’ve realized that the COVID virus can trigger the body to attack itself in different ways, which may lead to rheumatological issues that require lifelong management,” corresponding author Dr. Swati Deshmukh said in a release.

Read more here.

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