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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Cook County New Vaccine Appointments, Loretto Fallout

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Chicago has announced changes to its reopening plan as the city faces "worrying increases" in COVID health metrics.

Meanwhile, the Cook County COVID vaccine registration website saw roughly half a million hits per second during the latest appointment drop on Wednesday, causing the site to crash for some users.

And can you get coronavirus after being fully vaccinated? Chicago's top doctor weighs in.

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

Cook County to Release 25K First-Dose COVID Vaccine Appointments for 4 Sites

Cook County will release thousands of first-dose COVID vaccine appointments Sunday at four suburban vaccination sites, the health department announced.

Cook County Health officials said approximately 25,000 new first-dose Pfizer appointments will be made available at noon on Sunday. The appointments will be open to all Illinois residents eligible under the state’s vaccination plan in Phases 1A, 1B, 1B Plus and "certain individuals previously classified as 1C."

Residents who are classified as eligible in Phase 1C, but now qualify for the COVID vaccine under new guidelines will receive an email with instructions on how to schedule, officials said.

Appointments can be made on the Cook County vaccine website or by calling the county's hotline at (833) 308-1988 on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. However, the call center will be open Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accommodate this release, officials noted.

Read more here.

Loretto Hospital COO Says Resignation Due to ‘Becoming a Distraction' to Nurses, Doctors

After stepping down amid allegations that he arranged for well-connected individuals to receive coronavirus vaccines, the COO of Chicago’s Loretto Hospital released a statement Saturday saying he's become a "'distraction" to staff.

On Wednesday, Dr. Anosh Ahmed, the hospital’s COO and CFO, tendered his resignation, and the hospital’s board unanimously accepted it.

Read the details here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,678 New COVID Cases, 25 Deaths, 136K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Saturday reported 2,678 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths, along with more than 136,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 2,678 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,235,578 cases since the pandemic began last year.

According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 3% while the positivity rate for individuals tested stands at 3.4%.

As of Friday evening, 1,335 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 264 were in ICU beds and 115 were on ventilators.

A total of 136,593 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the past 24 hours, IDPH said. The latest figures brought the rolling seven-day average for daily vaccinations to 99,936.

Illinois Seeing 'Potential Early Warning Sign' of Resurgence, Health Department Says

Illinois' recent COVID metrics, particularly those in three northern Illinois regions, are seeing a "concerning possible trend" that could mark the start of another resurgence, the state's health department said Friday.

Since March 8, Illinois has seen 10 days of increases in the seven-day rolling average for hospital admissions, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. At the same time, the COVID-19 test positivity has risen from 2.5% on March 10, to 3.3% on Friday.

"While these rates are certainly significantly lower than the peak, they represent a potential early warning sign about a possible resurgence," IDPH said in a statement.

More data here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 3,002 New COVID Cases, 33 Deaths, 126K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 3,002 new coronavirus cases and 33 additional deaths, along with more than 126,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 3,002 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,232,900 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 33 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 21,203 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

Read more here.

Illinois Not Meeting 'Bridge Phase' Metrics Amid COVID Increases in Multiple Regions: IDPH

Illinois isn't meeting the metrics required to move into its "Bridge Phase," a transition phase that would increase capacity limitations ahead of a full reopening, the state's health department said Friday.

Despite promising projections earlier in the week, the Illinois Department of Public Health said "a concerning possible trend in increasing COVID hospitalizations and case rates" in multiple regions could prevent the state from meeting the required metrics.

"While Illinois is on pace to reach 70% first doses for residents 65 years and older in the coming days, IDPH is monitoring an increase in new hospital admissions for COVID, which will need to be appropriately addressed and resolved before moving into the Bridge Phase," the health department said in a release. "IDPH epidemiologists will continue to focus on the most recent 10 days to monitor any acute trends that prevent the state from reaching the Bridge Phase."

Read more here.

Illinois Authorizes Counties With ‘Low Demand' to Start Vaccinating Anyone 16 and Older

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday authorized counties in the state seeing low COVID vaccine demand to begin vaccinating all residents 16 and older at their immediate discretion in order to "address a concerning possible trend in increasing COVID hospitalizations and case rates."

IDPH said in a statement that it had seen vaccine demand slow in several counties "with early signs of unfilled appointments and increased vaccine inventory."

As such, the state is authorizing counties with open appointments and slowed demand to expand vaccine eligibility in order to use doses currently available. IDPH noted that residents should contact their local health department to learn whether they have expanded eligibility.

Read more here.

Rapid Response Vaccination Teams Being Sent to 5 Illinois Counties

The state announced Friday that it is sending "Rapid Response Vaccination Teams" to five counties where epidemiologists "have determined there is a need to administer doses quickly to blunt increasing trends," IDPH said. Those teams will administer single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccinations to residents on top of what the counties are already allocated.

The counties are: Carroll, Ogle, Boone, Lee and Whiteside. Details on doses and how to make an appointment can be found here.

Can You Get COVID After Being Fully Vaccinated? Chicago's Top Doc Breaks it Down

Can you get coronavirus after being fully vaccinated? The answer is yes, but what are the odds?

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady sought to answer that question during a Facebook Live Thursday, noting that while infection post-vaccination is possible, it's also rare.

"If you have been vaccinated, you can get COVID," Arwady said. "It does not happen very often."

Read more here.

Chicago Announces Reopening Changes Amid ‘Worrying Increases' in Metrics

Chicago has announced changes to its reopening plan as the city faces "worrying increases" in COVID health metrics and aims to prevent "a third surge of the virus in Chicago."

The city said it plans to keep most of its indoor restrictions in place, but outdoor capacity limits will increase at some establishments.

According to the new guidelines, the updated capacity limits, which take effect immediately, include:

  • Bars and Restaurants: Maximum outdoor table size can increase to ten people, with tables set up so that patrons are six feet from patrons at other tables
  • Social Events (e.g. weddings, potlucks and other community events): Total outdoor capacity can increase to the lesser of 50% or 100 people
  • Performance Venues, Theaters and Seated Spectator Events: Outdoor venues with capacity greater than or equal to 200 can operate at 25% capacity. Smaller venues can operate at no more than 50% capacity or 50 people.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Maximum groups of 50; multiple groups permitted
  • Places of Worship: No outdoor capacity limit provided that six feet of social distancing is maintained between parties
  • Health and Fitness Centers: Outdoor classes can increase to 100 people

Read more here.

Chicago's COVID Metrics Have Increased ‘Alarmingly' in the Past Week, Officials Say

Chicago's coronavirus metrics have shown "worrying increases" in recent weeks, officials said Thursday, noting that "most alarmingly," the daily number of new COVID cases in the city has risen into the "high risk" category due to five straight days of increases.

The Chicago Department of Public Health previously set four metrics to determine the city's eligibility to move forward in its reopening plan. On Thursday, city officials said all four metrics have increased in the last week, three of them "significantly." Here's where they stand as of Thursday:

  • COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently averaging 365, in the “High-Risk” level and up 23% in the last week
  • COVID test positivity: currently averaging 3.4%, in the “Lower-Risk” level and up 18% in the last week
  • Emergency Department visits for COVID-like illness: currently averaging 73 per day, in the “Moderate-Risk” level and up 38% in the last week
  • ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently averaging 73, in the “Lower-Risk” level and up 3% in the last week

Read more here.

Cook County Vaccine Sign-up Got 500K Hits Per Second During Appointment Drop, Crashing Website for Some

The Cook County COVID vaccine registration website saw roughly half a million hits per second during the latest appointment drop on Wednesday, causing the site to crash for some users as demand for the vaccine continues to dwarf available supply.

Cook County released about 16,000 first-dose COVID vaccine appointments at 12 p.m. on Wednesday for five suburban vaccination sites in Des Plaines, Forest Park, River Grove, South Holland and Riverside.

Cook County Health's Chief Communications Officer Caryn Stancik said Thursday that the website saw 500,000 requests per second for those appointments during the drop. That spike caused technical problems for many users, some of whom complained on social media that the registration had crashed entirely. All of the appointments were booked in about two hours, Stancik said.

Read more here.

St. Patrick's Day Gatherings Could Be Driving Rise in COVID Metrics: Arwady

Gatherings involving young people, possibly in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, could be behind the rising coronavirus metrics being reported in Chicago this week, the city's top doctor said Thursday.

"I think we have definitely seen, you know, young people gathering, including in situations like St. Patrick's Day, broadly driving some of this increase," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live Thursday.

According to Arwady, it appears young adults are seeing the largest increase in cases in recent days, a concerning trend reminiscent of last fall's surge.

Read more here.

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