illinois coronavirus

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago's Phase 1C, Schaumburg COVID Vaccine Site

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Chicago's top doctor on Wednesday is expected to deliver an update on the city's COVID-19 data and announce the next steps and phases of the vaccination rollout.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools has announced that high school students and faculty can return to in-person learning next month, though the Chicago Teachers Union says no agreement has been reached.

And a mass vaccination site at the Schaumburg Convention Center is now open to seniors in several suburban communities.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Pritzker Plans to Expand Vaccine Eligibility, Announce New COVID Reopening Phase: Sources

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he’s never felt “more optimistic” about where the state is heading in regards to the coronavirus pandemic, and he appears to be set to announce some big changes to the state’s plans on Thursday.

Sources tell NBC 5 that Pritzker plans to expand eligibility for coronavirus vaccines to all state residents age 16 or older beginning on April 12, a massive change from the current structure of the vaccination plan.

Currently, the state is in Phase 1B-Plus of its vaccination plan, with all state residents over the age of 65 and all residents over the age of 16 with certain comorbidities being eligible.

That’s set to change in the coming weeks, as all residents 16 and older will be eligible to book vaccine appointments.

That isn’t the only change Pritzker is expected to announce. According to sources, the governor will also announce a new phase of the state’s reopening plan, bridging the gap between Phase Four, where the state currently is, and Phase Five, where the state will fully reopen after an appropriate number of individuals have been vaccinated and “herd immunity” is achieved.

Are You Eligible? Here's Who Qualifies for COVID Vaccine Under Chicago's Phase 1C

As Chicago prepares to expand vaccine eligibility to more residents as it moves to Phase 1C later this month, who will become eligible?

Phase 1C, set to begin on March 29, will include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers like restaurant employees, those in personal care services, retail workers and more, officials announced Wednesday.

But the list of underlying conditions is not the same as the one being used for the state's Phase 1B Plus. Vaccinations at city-run sites will also be limited to city residents only.

For a full list of who is eligible in Chicago's Phase 1C, click here.

Chicago's Phase 1C Will Begin on March 29. Here's What That Means

Chicago will enter Phase 1C, expanding coronavirus vaccine eligibility to include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers, on March 29, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially announced Wednesday.

"We are here to announce that because of the progress that we've made today in fighting COVID-19 that we will move into category 1C as planned on March 29," Lightfoot said. "This is good news for the tens of thousands who are anxiously awaiting their turn to get the life saving COVID-19 vaccine."

Lightfoot noted the expansion means that in two weeks, vaccine eligibility in Chicago will expand to residents with underlying health conditions and essential workers, including restaurant employees, hotel workers, hairdressers, clergy members, construction workers, delivery drivers, and warehouse workers, among others. Those already eligible under Phases 1A and 1B will also remain eligible in 1C.

Read more here.

Chicago's Top Doctor to Update on COVID-19, Phase 1C of Vaccinations

Chicago's top doctor on Wednesday is expected to deliver an update on the city's COVID-19 data and announce the next steps and phases of the vaccination rollout.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady are scheduled to hold a news conference to deliver the update at 1 p.m. from City Hall. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

The news conference will include "an update on COVID-19 data and the continued vaccine distribution in Chicago, including planned next steps and phases," CDPH said.

Arwady hinted at the announcement in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday, saying Chicago is expected to move ahead to its next phase of vaccinations, Phase 1C, at the end of the month, with details to be released Wednesday.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,655 New COVID Cases, 17 Deaths, 102K Vaccinations Reported

Health officials in Illinois on Wednesday reported 1,655 new coronavirus cases and 17 additional deaths, along with more than 102,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 1,655 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,213,765 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 17 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 20,988 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

In the last 24 hours, state health officials say 77,798 new test specimens were returned to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total to 19,299,281 tests performed.

As of Tuesday evening, 1,143 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 259 were in ICU beds and 102 were on ventilators. According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.2%, while the positivity rate for individuals tested is at 2.6%.

A total of 102,390 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the past 24 hours, IDPH said, bringing the rolling seven-day average for daily vaccinations to 102,223. In all, Illinois has received 5,516,725 doses of the vaccine and of those, a total of 4,283,487 have been administered in the state.

Walgreens Acknowledges Glitch With COVID Vaccine Scheduler Website, Third in as Many Weeks

Walgreens on Tuesday again apologized for a "technical glitch" with the COVID vaccine scheduler on its website, marking the third time in as many weeks that the company has acknowledged issues with its online appointment sign-up process.

Users began to report on Monday that the Walgreens website had booked second-dose vaccination appointments without also booking the preceding first doses. On Tuesday, Walgreens said that was a "glitch" that has since been resolved and that they would be reaching out to those impacted.

"A technical glitch allowed patients in select stores to book appointments for second dose time slots without also booking their first dose. This issue has been resolved," a representative for Walgreens said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Walgreens said that in addition to its online scheduler, appointments can be booked by calling 1-800-Walgreens (1-800-925-4733) or they can be made in stores or by calling a local Walgreens individually.

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

 

Gov. Pritzker Says Details on Phased Reopening Plan Coming in ‘Next Few Days'

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker expects new details about the phased reopening plan to be discussed "over the next few days," he said Wednesday.

The governor, speaking at a press conference about vaccine equity in Illinois, said he expects to be talking about updates to the state's reopening plan this week.

"Let me just say, you know, we're working with industry leaders, working with our doctors at IDPH as well as other experts in the state to make sure that the phased opening reopening is not only healthy for everybody, but also good for the economy, as we're moving forward," Pritzker said.

The governor's comments come after reports indicated an announcement on the state's reopening plan was imminent.

Currently, Illinois is under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan the governor announced early in the pandemic last year. Next up would be Phase 5, which marks a full reopening, but requires a widely available vaccine or highly effective treatment for coronavirus.

But in a state Senate health committee meeting Monday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said a new reopening plan could be announced "later this week."

Read more here.

Lake County Identifies Its First Case of Brazil COVID Variant

Lake County health officials say the first case of the COVID-19 variant from Brazil has been identified in the county.

The Lake County Health Department said in a statement announcing the case on Wednesday that staff are investigating and that the person's travel history was unknown.

“This is the second new variant of COVID-19 to be identified in Lake County since February, and the rise of these new variants could impact the progress we have made this year,” Lake County Health Department Executive Director Mark Pfister said in a statement.

The first case of the Brazilian variant P.1 in Illinois was reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health on March 5.

Read more here.

Schaumburg Convention Center Opens to 11 Chicago Suburbs Wednesday for COVID Vaccines

The Schaumburg Convention Center will open Wednesday to administer COVID-19 vaccines to several suburban communities in partnership with Jewel Osco.

As part of the vaccination event, first does of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to eligible residents, while second doses will be given on Wednesday, April 7, according to a release.

Only people age 65 and older who live in the following communities will be eligible to receive the vaccine at the site: Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Streamwood and Wheeling.

Appointments at the Schaumburg site, which are available at a first-come first-serve basis, can be reserved here. Residents will be required to show proof of age and residency upon arrival, the news release stated.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials Question Why Trump Tower Workers Receive COVID Vaccines From West Side Hospital

Trump Tower workers received coronavirus vaccinations from Loretto Hospital staff on Chicago's West Side, though officials said Tuesday the reason for administering the vaccines is unclear.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement that the city was not aware of the vaccination event at Trump Tower, located at 401 N. Wabash, and that officials have reached out for more details.

"Hotel workers are in Phase 1C, which we hope to enter at the end of the month," CDPH said in a statement. "These phases align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and are designed to ensure the vaccine gets to the most impacted communities and individuals. In addition, this was not a Protect Chicago Plus event, which are focused on high-need communities according to the CCVI (COVID Community Vulnerability Index)."

Loretto Hospital confirmed Tuesday that their infectious disease team vaccinated 72 "predominately Black and brown restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel" at Trump International Chicago.

The hospital said West Side residents who work at the hotel requested the Loretto Hospital staff come to provide vaccinations, saying they were "unable to leave their jobs to be vaccinated during regular in-hospital hours."

Read more here.

CPS Announces In-Person Learning Start Date For High Schools

High school students and faculty across the city can return for in-person learning next month, Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday, as teachers continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

On April 19, the first day of CPS' fourth quarter, those in ninth through 12th grades can return for classroom instruction, though teaching models will vary with each school, officials announced.

"Providing high school students the option to safely return on April 19 is a top priority for the district, and we will continue meeting regularly with [Chicago Teachers Union] representatives as we strive to reach a consensus that provides the smoothest possible transition for our families and staff," CPS said in a release.

CPS said negotiations with the teachers union remain ongoing, but that the return of high school students was based on a discussion with the joint task force created to ensure a safe return for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

Teachers Union Says There's ‘No Agreement' With CPS on High School Return to In-Person Learning

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement Tuesday evening saying no agreement has been reached on a return to in-person learning.

"Let me be clear: We have no agreement on returning to in-person learning in high schools on any date, nor will there be an agreement until we know our school buildings can reopen safely," CTU said in a statement.

The union said high school students should be actively part of discussions on when would be a safe time to return to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

NBC 5 Responds' No. 1 Consumer Complaint: Illinois' Embattled Unemployment System

Among the most urgent challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic are unemployment payments and the massive fraud perpetrated on the aging and fragile infrastructure of some state systems. Illinois’ is no exception.  

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, to say our Responds unit heard an ”earful” about Illinois’ Department of Employment Security (IDES) would be an understatement.

Among the most urgent challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic are unemployment payments and the massive fraud perpetrated on the aging and fragile infrastructure of some state systems. Illinois’ is no exception. NBC 5's Lisa Parker reports.

Illinois residents reached out to NBC 5 Responds more than 700 times over the past year. Many of them were out of patience and, more importantly, out of money. At the beginning of the pandemic, just filing a claim for benefits was the struggle. Now, claims are being filed in record numbers, just by the wrong people. 

Read more here.

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