coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Details on Phase 1B of Vaccinations, When Tier 3 Can Be Lifted

Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced the state's plan for the next phase of its coronavirus vaccine rollout.

At the same time, he said the state's 11 regions can begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions as early as next week if they've met the right metrics.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 6:

Pritzker Announces When Regions Can Begin to Lift Tier 3 Restrictions

Illinois' 11 regions can begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions as early as next week if they've met the right metrics, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.

"I’m cautiously optimistic as there are some early signs indicating that some regions have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress this week or next," Pritzker continued.

"So on Jan. 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of Tier Three of our mitigation plan," he said.

All of Illinois have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20, which have lowered capacity limitations for outdoor dining and other activities, suspended indoor dining entirely, shut down indoor recreation venues like theaters and casinos and increased other restrictions.

A region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if it sees a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available, as well as declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.

Read more here.

Pritzker Releases Guidelines for Phase 1B of Coronavirus Vaccinations

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced the state's plan for the next phase of its coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Phase 1B will center on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and more.

The age requirement in Illinois is 10 years lower than the recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, "in order to reduce COVID-19 mortality and limit community spread in Black and Brown communities," the governor said.

The next phase will be "when Phase 1A is substantially complete," Pritzker said.

Phase 1B will include roughly 3.2 million Illinois residents, according to the state.

Read more, including the full criteria of who is eligible to receive a vaccine in Phase 1B, here.

Illinois Reports 7,569 New Coronavirus Cases, 139 Additional Deaths Wednesday

Illinois health officials reported 7,569 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 139 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to the latest figures available from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the new cases bring the statewide total to 999,288 confirmed cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 139 deaths reported Wednesday lifted the state's death toll to 17,096, officials said.

In all, 80,974 tests have been returned to state laboratories in the last 24 hours, a marked increase from the day before. The latest testing numbers brought the state total to 13,698,428 tests conducted throughout the pandemic.

The rolling seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of tests decreased to 8.4% as of Wednesday, according to IDPH. The positivity rate of all tests was 9.9%, an increase from the day before.

According to IDPH data, 3,928 patients were hospitalized due to coronavirus as of Tuesday night, a slight increase from the previous day. Of those patients, 812 were in intensive care units, while 451 patients were on ventilators.

Lincoln Park, Brookfield Zoos Announce Temporary Closures Until Spring

Lincoln Park and Brookfield Zoos announced their facilities will temporarily close until March, with one zoo beginning a new web series to reach people from home.

Lincoln Park Zoo closed Monday to the public as city guidelines do not allow the facility to open indoor buildings, which would be necessary during the colder months.

Chicago area's Brookfield Zoo closed Jan. 1 and announced the facility will reopen on March 1 "within state restrictions."

Details here.

Chicago Teachers Could Be Next in Line For COVID Vaccine, Lightfoot Suggests

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that she hopes teachers will be able to receive the coronavirus vaccine at some point in the next round of vaccinations.

"Absolutely, we want to make sure that teachers are in the queue for the next round," Lightfoot said Tuesday. "But I'll say it again, we have got to get more vaccine, we can't create an expectation of hope for people and not be able to deliver, that would be the worst kind of cruelty that could be created."

Lightfoot said the city is depending on the federal government to "step up" and ensure a sufficient amount of vaccines are sent nationwide. She added that before teachers can be considered, they must vaccinate all health care workers.

Read more here.

New COVID Strain Likely Already in Chicago, May Have Sparked 2nd Surge: Health Official

A new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus currently sparking lockdowns as it quickly spreads across the U.K. and through multiple U.S. states is likely already in Chicago and may have been behind the city's recent second surge, according to a health expert with the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Dr. Marielle Fricchione, medical director at the Chicago Department of Public Health, said there are already several COVID-19 mutations and variants circulating in the city and health officials believe the newest strain causing problems in the U.K. is "likely circulating already."

"Other states have found that it's already circulating, it may have led to our second wave," Fricchione said. "That's purely speculation, but from what we learned from the first wave, and as we get more sequencing data from our local hospitals that have specimens, we'll be able to report a little bit more on that. But the the general consensus from the CDC is that it's likely already circulating here."

Fricchione stressed that "layered mitigations" continue to be effective against the new strain and noted that data so far does not indicate the strain causes more severe illness.

"This isn't atypical for viruses, respiratory viruses, in particular," she said. "They mutate because they want to survive."

Half of Teachers Did Not Return to Chicago Public Schools as Ordered on Monday, District Says

Just over half of all teachers ordered to report to Chicago Public Schools on Monday did not show up to prepare for in-person instruction as the district rolls out its reopening plan, CPS says.

Should teachers and staff continue to not report to schools as expected, the district may begin a progressive discipline policy that could lead to their firing, CPS' CEO indicated Tuesday.

A total of 60.2% of all school-based staff required to return reported to work Monday, CPS CEO Dr. Janice Jackson said during a news conference Tuesday. That included 49.7% of all teachers and 70% of all paraprofessionals, she said.

Jackson said that the 60% figure was "significant, considering the fact that they were pressured" not to return by the Chicago Teachers Union, which has repeatedly expressed safety concerns over the district's plan to return to classrooms as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Jackson noted that approximately 83% of employees were present on the first two days after winter break in early 2020, which she said was the district's typical attendance expectation.

Read more here.

Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Map: See Where People Have Been Vaccinated by ZIP Code

Which parts of Chicago have seen the most vaccinations against the coronavirus? The city is sharing public data on COVID-19 vaccine doses administered each day, sorted by ZIP code.

The ZIP code that has seen the most vaccinations as of Monday is 60622 on the Near West Side, according to the city's data, which says 1,815 first doses of the vaccine have been administered to residents of that area.

After that, 1,801 residents of the 60657 ZIP code on the North Side have received their first doses of the vaccine, while 1,708 residents of the 60611 ZIP code on the Near North Side have gotten their first shots.

You can see how many people have been vaccinated in each of Chicago's ZIP codes, as well as what percentage of the population that is, in the map below.

Cook County Releases COVID Vaccine Registration Form for Residents

Suburban Cook County residents are now able to fill out a survey from the Department of Public Health to express interest in receiving the new coronavirus vaccine in the coming weeks and months, a step the department says is critical to rolling out the treatment to the county’s 2.5 million residents.

The survey, originally open to health care and essential workers who work in the suburban portions of the county, is also now open to residents interested in receiving the vaccine, the department announced late Monday.

There had been some confusion over whether residents could fill out the survey earlier in the day, but those questions were resolved in the evening as officials seek to gain a fuller understanding of how they will roll out the treatment as more doses become available.

“We are seeking to deliver updated, transparent information directly to the public so that the giant task of immunizing up to 2.5 million residents can be accomplished efficiently and equitably over the coming weeks and months,” the department said in a press release.

The survey, which can be found at the county’s website, can be filled out by residents living in CCDPH’s jurisdiction, and healthcare workers living in the jurisdiction of the health department can fill out a separate survey available on the website.

Officials are cautioning residents that the public health department’s jurisdiction does not include Chicago, Evanston, Skokie, Oak Park or Stickney Township, which all have their own health departments and are handling the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in different ways.

Those who fill out the survey will be put on a list to receive more information about the vaccine, and the list will also be used to disseminate information on when the vaccine will be available to the general public, according to officials.

Those who do not have access to the internet and still want to be added to the county’s contact list can call the COVID hotline at 708-836-4755, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Read more here.

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