Chicago's top doctor on Tuesday floated a new Vax Pass that could provide vaccinated people with special perks and discounts throughout the area.
Meanwhile, new guidance from the CDC says fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outdoors unless in a large crowd of strangers. So where should you still wear a mask or face covering?
And major changes are coming to the United Center's COVID-19 mass vaccination site.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
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Mondays Deemed ‘Restaurant Day' at Cook County Mass Vaccination Sites: Officials
Health officials deemed Mondays as "Restaurant Days" at Cook County mass COVID vaccination sites, with aims to provide vaccines to food service employees.
Beginning May 3, Cook County Health announced officials will specifically encourage all restaurant workers to receive vaccines at area vaccination locations.
For a list of locations, click here.
COVID Vaccine and Pregnancy, Fertility: The Latest Guidance
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expands its guidance for pregnant women surrounding the coronavirus vaccine, what should women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant know about getting vaccinated?
Chicago's top doctor addressed recent news saying data so far has not shown any "safety signals" for pregnant women and their unborn babies.
Read more here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,728 New COVID Cases, 33 Deaths, 106K Vaccinations
Illinois health officials reported 2,728 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 33 additional deaths in the last day, along with over 106,000 vaccinations administered.
The newly reported coronavirus cases Wednesday bring the state total to 1,328,454 cases since the pandemic began and lift the total death toll to 21,891, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The statewide positivity rate dropped to 3.4% of all tests returning positive results, and the positivity rate for individuals tested in the last seven days remained at 4.1%, according to IDPH data.
The state reported 106,173 vaccinations administered in the last day, according to the latest data, which brought the seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered to 100,823 doses.
Read more here.
Chicago Vax Pass Could Get Vaccinated People Special Perks, Discounts, Arwady Says
Chicago's possible new Vax Pass could provide vaccinated people with special perks and discounts throughout the area, the city's top doctor said Tuesday.
Coming in May, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the Vax Pass would give vaccinated individuals exclusive deals at summer concerts, driver's facilities and salons, among others.
"So certainly, as we build vaccine confidence and convenience, we're interested in thinking about ways to incentivize people to get the vaccine," Arwady said. "I would hope that for most people, their their main incentive is to be able to stay healthy, keep their families healthy, keep their communities healthy. But we also know, younger people in particular, may be excited about the idea of getting into events."
Although she said non-vaccinated people will still be eligible to attend concerts this summer, those with the Vax Pass could receive limited access, along with other "incentives."
Arwady hinted that Chicago's popular Lollapalooza could be held this summer, following last year's virtual celebration, and offer deals for those who receive the COVID vaccine.
The city's new "Vax and Relax" campaign could also extend to barber shops and salons, giving people the chance to get a free haircut or discount on treatments, according to Arwady. She said vaccinated people could also be allowed to get a closer spot in lines at area driving facilities, grocery stores and laundromats.
Read more here.
Chicago Announces Major Changes to United Center Vaccinations Beginning Next Week
Major changes are coming to the United Center's COVID-19 vaccine rollout next week, Chicago's top doctor announced Tuesday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said this week will be the last chance to receive walk-in Pfizer vaccinations at the United Center, among other modifications.
From May 4 through May 10, the vaccination site will strictly offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for walk-in appointments, Arwady added. After next week, the center will no longer offer first dose vaccines.
Starting May 8, the United Center will host drive thru vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will likely continue through June, according to Arwady.
Read more here.
Chicago's Top Doctor Weighs in on New CDC Mask Guidelines, What it Means for City
Chicago's top doctor on Tuesday said the city will follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks outdoors unless in a large crowd of strangers, calling the changes "exciting."
"The point here in everything as we're moving ahead is that when you are vaccinated, that is the big difference between whether you are at significant risk for COVID," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And so what's different about the fact that, you know, yes, we still have almost 550 new cases of COVID every day. That's high risk. In general, the way we've already thought about COVID it means that when you're gathering in a setting there can be a significant risk, but the thing that is different now is that that risk is completely bifurcated on whether it's a highly vaccinated setting. If you are in a highly vaccinated setting, if you yourself are vaccinated and the great majority of the people around you are vaccinated, the risk of you getting COVID, even with 550 cases in Chicago, is very, very, very, very, very low."
Arwady said she expects the city to begin "turning that dial" and allowing further reopening in the coming days and weeks, depending on vaccine uptake. She did not specify what that reopening might include, however.
Read more here.
CDC Mask Guidelines: Where Do I Need to Wear a Mask?
Federal health officials on Tuesday issued new guidance on mask-wearing as more and more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 every day.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new guidelines say fully vaccinated people don't need to cover their faces outdoors anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers, and those who are not vaccinated can go outside without masks in some cases too.
So where should you still wear a mask or face covering?
Here's a look at what officials now recommend, broken down by whether or not you are vaccinated and if it's what the CDC calls the "safest," "less safe" or "least safe" option of the activities mentioned:
Pritzker Says Illinois ‘Making Progress,' Could Reach Bridge Phase Soon
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is "making progress" in its coronavirus metrics and could soon enter the "Bridge Phase" of its reopening plan, a new transition phase before reaching a full reopening.
"As you have seen in the numbers, they've been coming down gradually, which is terrific," Pritzker said during a press conference to discuss an expansion of resources and vaccine accessibility in the state Monday. "We have a period of time that we wait - I think it's another, I'll have to look at the IDPH website lately, but it's, you know, five or six more days of decline, which will allow us to move to the Bridge Phase and then on to Phase Five."
To move into the Bridge Phase, the entire state needed to reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintaining the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
Illinois met the vaccination metric required to move to the Bridge Phase at the end of March, officials said, but did not advance because of increasing hospital admissions and COVID cases.
COVID Vaccine Hesitancy: Illinois Looks to Contact Those Who May Have Skipped 2nd Dose
After a new report revealed that millions of Americans have potentially skipped their second coronavirus vaccine doses, Illinois health officials say that they are prepared to continue following up with individuals who may have received one dose but not the follow-up shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five million people, or nearly 8% of those who were given a first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, have missed their second doses.
While it is unclear how many of those individuals live in the state of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state is trying to do everything it can to overcome skepticism and fear of the treatments.
Pritzker says some of the disparity in numbers between doses one and two can be explained by getting the shots in different places, which can cause some issues in terms of properly counting those who have been vaccinated, but the state is prepared to reach out to individuals believed to have skipped their second shots.
Researchers Looking Into Link Between COVID Vaccine and Menstruation
Anne Thompson received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine April 12, on what should have been the last day of her period. Her next period came a week a half early, prompting Thompson to wonder if the vaccine had somehow impacted her menstrual cycle.
It’s a question researcher Katherine Lee asked after her own experience. Lee reached out to Kate Clancy, an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, who then tweeted about it.
The overwhelming response prompted the researchers to create a survey, which they posted on social media. In all, 59,000 people have started the survey, describing varying experiences.
Cook County Now Accepting Walk-Ins at Mass COVID Vaccination Sites
Starting Monday, suburban Cook County's mass COVID vaccination sites will begin accepting walk-ins.
The following mass vaccination sites will offer walk-ins:
- Tinley Park, 18451 Convention Center Drive (Moderna, age 18+)
- Matteson, 4647 Promenade Way (Pfizer, age 16+)
- River Grove- Triton College, 2000 5th Avenue (Pfizer, age 16+)
- South Holland- South Suburban College, 15800 State Street (Pfizer, age 16+)
- Des Plaines, 1155 E Oakton Street (Pfizer, age 16+)
- Forest Park, 7630 West Roosevelt Road (Pfizer, age 16+)
Walk-ins will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, according to health officials. While individuals can now register at each site, appointments can still be made online or by calling 833-308-1988.
Chicago Offering Walk-In COVID Vaccinations at City-Run Sites
Chicago is now offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations at city-run sites as availability allows.
With vaccine eligibility expanded citywide to include residents age 16 and 17, Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady encouraged people to bring family members to walk-up and be vaccinated.
“Let’s make this a family affair. Bring your parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and neighbors,” Arwady said. "The only way we can stop this pandemic and get back to the things we love is for all Chicagoans to step up and get vaccinated.”
'COVID Arm': What to Know After Getting the Moderna, Pfizer Vaccines
For many who get an mRNA COVID vaccine like Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, arm soreness is a common experience post-vaccination. But in some cases, there's also what's being called "COVID arm."
"COVID arm" is used to describe delayed skin reactions such as rashes, which appear days after injection.
"If it is going to arise, it usually appears about a week after your vaccine,” Dr. Brita Roy, an internal medicine physician and director of population health for Yale Medicine said. “It‘s a red, swollen area at the site of the shot."
Read more here.