covid illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Cook County Vaccine Appointments, COVID Metrics Rising Again

Cook County released thousands of first-dose COVID vaccine appointments Wednesday for five suburban vaccination sites in Des Plaines, Forest Park, Riverside and more.

And COVID metrics in both Chicago and Illinois are beginning to show "signs of concern" as case numbers and positivity rates start to increase.

Plus, Chicago's top doctor says city officials "continue having to swat down rumors" about eligibility for the United Center's mass vaccination site.

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

Lightfoot Won't Talk More About Reopening if Chicago COVID Numbers Keep Climbing

As coronavirus metrics continue to climb across Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday that the city cannot continue to reopen if numbers further increase.

"We are definitely concerned," Lightfoot said. "We're not in a position, as a result of [increasing metrics], to really be talking about a more reopening issues, particularly when it comes to expanding capacity indoors. The last thing that any of us want to do is take any steps back."

The mayor added that additional guidance will be released in coming days, but currently the COVID-19 trends are "going in the wrong direction" and preventing Chicago from returning to normalcy.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the increase in metrics prevented her from announcing new reopenings Tuesday.

"I was very much hoping today to be able to do some further reopening," Arwady said. "In the setting of what these numbers look like, we're just keeping a close eye. We've got to come back down to moderate risk in all of our indicators."

Those indicators include the number of cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths, among others. Arwady said that while the current case level remains in a moderate risk category, the rate of increase actually puts the city under a higher risk.

Read more here.

Chicago Employers Cannot Take Action Against Workers For Time-Off to Receive COVID Vaccine

Chicago's latest ordinance announced Wednesday says employers cannot take adverse action against an employee for taking time off to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, providing similar worker protection to last May's coronavirus legislation.

The city's vaccine anti-retaliation ordinance protects employees from being fired or retaliated against for taking time to receive a coronavirus vaccination, causing employers to potentially face fines between $1,000 to $5,000 for violations.

Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno added that should employees accumulate paid sick time, they are guaranteed the ability to use it to receive the vaccine.

The ordinance also states that an employer who requires that their workers be vaccinated, must compensate its employees for the time taken to receive the COVID vaccine during work hours, Escareno explained.

Should an employee be fired for taking time to receive the vaccine during working hours, Lightfoot said the workers may be able to be reinstated to the same position through civil action.

Read more here.

Thinking of Traveling This Spring Break? Here's What You Should Know First

Thinking of traveling for spring break?

Chicago's top doctor urged residents to think twice, unless they are fully vaccinated.

Thinking of traveling for spring break?

Chicago's top doctor urged residents to think twice, unless they are fully vaccinated.

"My strongest piece of advice is, please do not travel until you are fully vaccinated - two weeks post your second vaccine," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "And that is doubly true if you're planning to travel internationally, because the US has done by far the most vaccines of any country in the world."

Even those who are vaccinated, Arwady said, should continue wearing masks and maintaining their distance.

Arwady's advice comes on the heels of guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which on Monday again advised against travel.

Read more here.

DuPage County Expands COVID Vaccine Eligibility to Phase 1B Plus

DuPage County moved to Phase 1B Plus of its COVID-19 vaccinations on Wednesday, expanding eligibility to residents age 16 or older with specific health conditions and disabilities, officials announced.

According to the DuPage County Health Department, over 174,000 residents will become eligible under Wednesday's new expansion to include more underlying health conditions.

“Although vaccine supply remains extremely limited, we are making significant progress in vaccinating some of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” Karen Ayala, executive director of DuPage County Health Department, said. “Getting vaccines into the arms of our residents is our highest and most urgent priority."

Health officials reminded that residents eligible in Phase 1A and Phase 1B remain prioritized to get the COVID-19 vaccine and can make appointments as new times become available.

To sign up for the vaccine or receive more information, click here.

What is Driving the Rise in COVID Cases in Chicago? Data Points to One Age Group

What's behind the latest rise in coronavirus cases in Chicago?

According to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, it appears one particular age group is seeing the largest increase in cases in recent days, a concerning trend reminiscent of last fall's surge.

"So the biggest thing driving this is increases in cases in our younger adults, and I want to highlight that," Arwady said during a press conference Tuesday. "Unfortunately, these sorts of increases are just what we were seeing in October as we were starting to see the beginnings of what became our huge surge. It was really the same case rates and younger adults that started this."

Read more here.

Fans Allowed at Soldier Field for Chicago Fire Home Opener

The first fans to return to Soldier Field won’t be there to root on the Bears. They’ll be shouting “Dale!” instead.

The Fire and Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday that Chicago soccer fans can watch games in-person starting with the Fire’s home opener against the New England Revolution on April 17.

“Fans are what it’s all about,” said Fire Head Coach Raphael Wicky in a statement. “We train hard and play hard for you. What’s beautiful about football is our fans are from all walks of life. This is a sport that brings people together and we can’t wait for our supporters to be cheering us on at Soldier Field. We’re going to need them too. They’re the home field advantage that is so crucial in sports. I can promise our fans that every player on our team will give their all to make you proud.”

The Fire will gradually reopen Soldier Field, starting with just the 100 and 200-level sections. According to health guidelines, the stadium will be allowed to fill at 25% capacity, or 15,375 fans. Ample space will be given for social distancing between seating pods.

Additional health protocols include staggered entry times, hand sanitizer stations and more rigorous cleaning processes. Further, fans will be required to wear masks at all times, unless eating or drinking at their seats.

What Chicago Health Officials Are Watching for to Determine if Another Surge is On the Way

Chicago's top doctor said rising COVID metrics have her "worried," but as for whether or not they signal the beginning of a third surge in the city, there's one thing she's watching for.

 "I don't know fully what's going to happen here," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "I do know that we are pushing vaccine absolutely as quickly as we can, ramping up our monitoring for the variants we are seeing...and continuing to ask people to do what has gotten us this far. If we see a big increase in cases not accompanied by an increase in hospitalizations or deaths I don't worry about that as much. But if we start to see it impacting in serious ways, you know, and then the big question is what does this mean for reopening?"

Arwady said health officials tracked indicators in the lead-up to the previous two surges to find ways to predict another potential increase.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,793 New COVID Cases, 20 Deaths, 107K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Wednesday reported 2,793 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths, along with more than 107,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 2,793 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,227,708 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 20 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 21,136 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.8% while the positivity rate for individuals tested stands at 3.1%.

A total of 107,219 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 97,680.

Read more here.

‘We Are Worried': Chicago and Illinois Officials Say COVID Metrics Rising Again

COVID metrics in both Chicago and Illinois are beginning to show "signs of concern" as case numbers and positivity rates start to increase.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said an increase in metrics prevented her from announcing new reopenings Tuesday.

"I was very much hoping today to be able to do some further reopening," Arwady said. "In the setting of what these numbers look like, we're just keeping a close eye. We've got to come back down to moderate risk in all of our indicators."

Those indicators include the number of cases, positivity rates, hospitalizations and deaths, among others. The city's positivity rate sat at 3.2% Tuesday, remaining in the low-risk category, but marking an increase from a recent low of 2.7%, Arwady said.

"Seeing that go up about a half a percentage point over the last, you know, week and a half to two weeks is not progress," she said during an earlier Facebook Live Tuesday.

Even more concerning, she said, is that case counts in the city are also starting to rise, with a current average of about 350 cases per day, compared to 285 one week earlier.

"Sometimes people ask, isn't it just that you're doing more testing? No, because if it were just testing, we would see testing up 23% and cases up 23%. This is a true increase," Arwady said.

Arwady said that while the current case level remains in a moderate risk category, the rate of increase actually puts the city under a higher risk.

Her comments were echoed in part by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who said Tuesday that the state is "seeing some concerning plateaus and even increases in hospitalizations and cases."

Read more here.

Pritzker Receives COVID Vaccine

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker received his dose of the COVID vaccine on Wednesday, getting the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Springfield. Pritzker received his vaccine days after more essential workers - including government employees - became eligible in Illinois on Monday.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker received the coronavirus vaccine Wednesday in Springfield.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,793 New COVID Cases, 20 Deaths, 107K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Wednesday reported 2,793 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths, along with more than 107,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 2,793 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,227,708 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 20 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 21,136 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

Read more here.

Innovative Express Care Blames ‘Communication Breakdown' for ‘Misallocated' COVID Vaccine Doses

Innovative Express Care on Wednesday blamed a "communication breakdown" with the city of Chicago after health officials said the clinic "knowingly misallocated" thousands of COVID vaccine doses intended for Chicago Public Schools employees.

The Chicago Department of Public Health on Tuesday announced that it had halted vaccine supply to Innovative Express Care, the health provider contracted to vaccinate CPS employees, after city officials said the provider "administered vaccine to non-CPS individuals without prior authorization."

"Based on CPDH’s review of IEC’s vaccine allocations and administration, we have determined that they knowingly misallocated more than 6,000 doses of vaccine—including using vaccine allocated for second doses for first dose appointments instead," the health department said in a statement. "This is completely unacceptable behavior."

CDPH said it had stopped distribution of vaccine doses to Innovative Express Care and that it would reclaim all vaccine stored with the provider - a decision Innovative Express Care on Tuesday said left them "bewildered, saddened, and frankly disappointed in our local government."

Innovative Express Care said Tuesday that CDPH "never made it clear" that they "should be storing vaccines in a refrigerator for people awaiting second doses."

"Rather, we have been following the nation’s commitment to get as many vaccines in eligible patients’ arms, as quickly as possible. Our mission involved vaccinating as many eligible patients as quickly as possible, and not at the whims of the city official’s latest political crisis," the provider said.

But on Wednesday, Innovative Express Care said they "understand now" the city's expectations of storage for CPS employees' second doses but said a "communication breakdown occurred" and continued to blame the city.

Read more here.

Chicago Travel Order Update: 26 States Now on List Requiring Quarantine or Negative COVID Test

Chicago updated its emergency travel order on Tuesday, moving multiple states between the yellow and orange tiers that dictate guidelines for travelers to quarantine or test negative for COVID-19 prior to their arrival in the city.

The "orange tier," which requires a quarantine or pre-arrival negative test before coming to Chicago, now includes 26 states, while the lesser yellow tier now includes 23 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Which tier states are in depends on case rate adjusted for population.

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.

 

Looking for a COVID Vaccine Appointment in Illinois? Here's a List of Places to Check

With both Illinois and Chicago opening vaccinations to millions of residents under varying guidelines, many are wondering where they can get vaccinated and how they schedule an appointment.

There are several ways eligible residents will be able to get vaccinated, but state officials have urged patience as doses continue to trail demand.

Click here for a breakdown of where you can get vaccinated and how to get an appointment, when available.

When Can You Get the COVID Vaccine in Illinois? Here's a Breakdown

When can you get the COVID vaccine in Illinois? The answer is: it depends. While Illinois is expanding its eligibility guidelines, Chicago is on its own plan.

Eligibility will expand to all residents over the age of 16 outside of Chicago in April, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced. But some people are already eligible or will become eligible before then.

Here's a look at who is eligible to get the vaccine now and who will become eligible in the coming weeks.

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.

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