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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: CPD Vaccinations, Mask Mandates, Pritzker Update

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Concerns over police staffing continue this week as a vaccine mandate showdown between the city and some officers continues, with those not complying with the mandate now being placed on unpaid status.

Meanwhile, local experts say Colin Powell's breakthrough COVID death serves as a reminder of the importance for boosters, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

21 Chicago Police Officers on No-Pay Status as Brown Says COVID Vaccine Mandate Can ‘Save Lives'

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown says that 21 officers have been placed on no-pay status as a result of failure to put their information into the city’s vaccination portal, a decision he feels is necessary to help ensure the safety of both officers and of the public amid the COVID pandemic.

According to Brown, approximately 67.69% of the department’s workforce, both sworn officers and civilians, have entered their data into the vaccination portal as of Tuesday. Of those employees, 82% say that they are fully vaccinated against COVID, while the other 18% will now be subjected to twice-weekly COVID testing through the end of the year.

In all, 21 officers have been placed on no-pay status as a result of their refusal of a direct order from the department’s Internal Affairs division to put their information in the vaccine portal.

Read more here.

COVID by the Numbers: Coronavirus Metrics in Each of Illinois' 11 Health Care Regions

While positivity rates have largely flatlined throughout the state of Illinois, albeit at higher numbers than had been experienced during the early part of the summer, hospitalizations continue to decline, and ICU availability continues to increase, throughout the state.

According to the latest metrics from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are currently 1,419 patients hospitalized because of COVID in the state. That is the lowest number the state has recorded since early August, when a surge in cases caused by the delta COVID variant was in full swing.

Of those patients, 327 are currently in intensive care unit beds, reflecting a steady decline in those metrics. More than 550 patients were in ICU beds during the height of the delta-driven surge, and the current number of patients is the lowest the state has seen since mid-August.

Here are the region-by-region metrics in each of Illinois’ 11 health care regions.

10 Myths About COVID-19 Vaccine For Kids, Busted By Chicago Pediatricians

The FDA is planning to meet soon to discuss the next eligible age group, children ages 5-11, for the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, and pediatricians are preparing to administer the shots, once the vaccine is approved.

Doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital have been talking with families and parents, listening to their questions and concerns. Misinformation about the vaccine is a big concern for Advocate doctors, who composed a list of the top myths they’re hearing.

Read the top 10 myths here.

Gov. Pritzker Hopes Mask Mandates Can Be Lifted for Holidays, But Urges Caution

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's hopeful mask mandates will be lifted in time for the upcoming holidays, but urged caution as he said the state will rely on data for making that decision.

Speaking to reporters after delivering a COVID-19 update Tuesday encouraging booster shots for eligible Illinoisans, Pritzker said state health officials are "continuing again to watch the numbers" daily to "determine when the right time is," though he noted that the time is not now.

Read more here.

Should You Mix and Match COVID Booster Shots? Here's What You Should Know

Federal regulators are expected to authorize the mixing and matching of COVID-19 booster shots this week, but who should do it and when?

Mixing and matching refers to giving a booster dose of a vaccine that's different from the vaccine type that was used for the initial vaccination series.

Here's what we know so far.

Watch Live: Gov. Pritzker to Give COVID-19 Update at 9:30 a.m.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to deliver a COVID-19 update for Illinois Tuesday morning.

Details on what the governor is expected to discuss remain unclear, but he will hold a briefing at 9:30 a.m. from Chicago's Thompson Center just before traveling out for the Chicago Sky's championship parade and rally.

Watch live here or in the player above.

CPD Officers Speak Out After Being Placed on Unpaid Status Due to COVID Vaccine Mandate

Chicago police officers who have been put on unpaid status amid the start of the city's COVID vaccine mandate are speaking out and sharing their stories with NBC 5's Regina Waldroup.

After a weekend full of uncertainty over the implementation of Chicago’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for city employees, police officers have begun to face disciplinary action for not reporting their vaccination status.

According to Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, close to 50 officers were placed on unpaid status as part of the enforcement of that mandate, which requires city workers to confirm whether or not they’ve gotten the COVID vaccine.

Those workers who have not are required to submit to twice-weekly testing through the end of the year.

NBC 5 spoke to two officers who were placed on unpaid status Monday.

Here's what they had to say.

Chicago Officials Urge Residents to Get COVID Vaccines Ahead of Thanksgiving

Chicago officials are pushing for more residents to get COVID vaccines, saying that vaccination is critical to keeping individuals safe as the holiday season approaches.

During a news conference Monday, both Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that while cases are beginning to increase in some surrounding states, the number of COVID vaccinations have led to less restrictive policies and recommendations surrounding the holiday season.

Lightfoot said that while last year saw a large spike in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the fall and into the early winter, this year likely will be different because of the vaccine, and that will likely lead to more relaxed restrictions and recommendations.

Read more here.

More Than One-Third of Chicago Police Department Hasn't Reported Vaccination Status, City Says

While more than 8,000 Chicago police members have complied with the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate, thousands still haven't done so, city officials revealed Monday, two days after the vaccination requirement for city workers went into effect.

A showdown over the requirement has enveloped the city for days, with the head of Chicago's Fraternal Order Police asking his members to defy the city’s COVID vaccine policies. A restraining order was issued against FOP President John Catanzara Friday, barring him from making public comments urging members to not comply.

Read more here.

Colin Powell's Death Shows Importance of COVID Booster Shots, Chicago Doctors Say

Colin Powell, the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state, who passed away Monday, died from COVID-19 complications, even though he had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Powell, 84, was immunocompromised, and in the last few years, he had been treated for multiple myeloma, according to a longtime aide.

Multiple myeloma impairs the body’s ability to fight infection, and studies have shown that those cancer patients don’t get as much protection from the COVID-19 vaccines as healthier people.

Following Powell's passing, doctors at Northwestern Medicine issued a news released in which they explained the 84-year-old's death shouldn't deter vaccinations, noting it shows the importance of booster shots.

Read more here.

Unions Reach Agreements With Pritzker Admin on COVID Vaccine Mandate

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's administration has reached agreements with a total of four unions regarding compliance with the state's COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees in congregate-living facilities, officials said Monday.

According to a news release, the governor's office recently came to an agreement with multiple Illinois trade unions that work in congregate settings such as the Shapiro Developmental Center, Menard Correctional Center and Quincy Veteran’s Home.

Employees represented by the unions were initially required to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination shot by Oct. 14, but the deadline was pushed back to Oct. 26.

Read more here.

Chicago's Top Doc Says Mask Mandate Will Stay in Place 'For the Next Few Weeks at Least'

During an interview at Kennedy King College Saturday where she got her flu vaccine and COVID booster shot Saturday, Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of Chicago’s Department of Public Health, emphasized the importance of wearing masks heading into the cold season.

Chicago's mask mandate is here to stay for at least the next few weeks, according to the commissioner of the city's health department, Dr. Allison Arwady.

"We remain in a substantial transmission standpoint from the CDC, and even if we continue to see progress at the rate we've been seeing it, I expect that would take probably at least another couple of weeks," Arwady said. "My big question is what's happening between now and Thanksgiving, honestly."

Arwady said masking will remain even more important heading into the colder months.

"That's when we usually start to see respiratory viruses like flu really take off and we'll have a better sense," Arwady said. "My concern is I don't want to say hooray, let's take the mask off, two weeks later we have to put them back on."

Read more here.

Chicago Police Issue Warning to Officers on 'Consequences' of Disobeying Vaccine Policy: Sources

The Chicago Police Department on Sunday issued a warning to officers on the consequences of disobeying the city's vaccine mandate, saying those who do not follow the guidelines could face "separation" from the department.

The internal notice warns that those who do not comply with the vaccine policy will be under investigation and could face penalties as a result, sources told NBC 5.

It comes amid an ongoing battle between Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara and the city over the mandate.

Catanzara released a video statement Friday night after a Cook County judge ordered the union chief to stop making public comments encouraging his members to defy the city’s COVID vaccine policies.

Read more here.

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