coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Halloween Guidelines, Mask Mandate, Vaccines for Kids

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Halloween weekend has arrived, but what precautions should you take this year?

Plus, a Chicago suburb is defying the state's mask mandate and making masking optional.

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

Public School Attendance, Academic Achievement Dropped Sharply Last Year Amid Remote Learning

Data released by the Illinois State Board of Education on Friday sheds new light on the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on public schools, from academic performance down to students’ very attendance - with one in five students statewide marked chronically absent last year, a figure that was even higher in Chicago and among some demographic groups.

Statewide public school enrollment during the 2020-2021 school year was down by nearly 70,000 students from the previous year, a 3.6% drop from pre-pandemic levels, according to ISBE's newly released Illinois Report Card data. While ISBE said officials anticipated a decrease in line with declining enrollment trends in prior years, they attributed 2.5% of that drop to the pandemic alone, but noted that the decrease is "on par" with other states across the U.S.

ISBE said they still aren't sure where those 70,000 students went – but the greatest decreases were in pre-kindergarten classes, which saw a 17% drop in enrollment, and in kindergarten, which fell by 8%, according to ISBE.

Last academic year, one in five Illinois students was listed as chronically absent, defined as missing at least 10% of school days with or without a valid excuse. That number climbs even higher for English learners, students with disabilities, low-income students as well as Black and Hispanic students.

Read more here.

Chicago City Council Turns Down Attempt to Repeal Vaccine Mandate

With a 13-30 vote, the Chicago City Council on Friday rejected a proposed ordinance to repeal the city's employee vaccine mandate, the second such attempt by several council members.

A special meeting was called by approximately a dozen aldermen, including those who support the efforts of the Fraternal Order of Police, which has been embroiled in a showdown with city officials for weeks, refusing to comply with the mandate.

Read more here.

What Still Needs to Happen Before Shots Can Be Administered to Children Under 12?

As the Food and Drug Administration gives Pfizer's child-size COVID vaccine emergency use authorization Friday, children as young as 5 could soon be eligible for coronavirus vaccines nationwide.

However, one more step must be taken.

Full-strength Pfizer shots already are recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school.

Friday's vote was the next step in a review process that will still require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to approve the vaccine.

Read more here.

Here's How to Add Your Vaccine Card to Apple Wallet on iPhone

With a new software update, Apple has created a way to access your COVID-19 vaccination card from your phone.

Apple's iOS 15.1 operating system allows users to add "verifiable" COVID vaccination information in the Wallet app, making it easier to provide proof of vaccination as opposed to carrying a physical card.

Here's how to add your vaccination information to your digital wallet:

  1. You must have a QR code or downloadable file from your vaccination provide to start. Your iPhone must also be updated with to iOS 15.1 software
  2. If you have a QR code, open the camera app and hold it over the code. When a Health app notification appears, tap and select "Add to Wallet & Health"
  3. Using a downloadable file, pull it up on your phone and tap the download link. Then, select "Add to Wallet & Health"

Read more here.

Where to Get COVID Booster Shots in the Chicago Area

Where and when can you get the additional vaccine dose, if eligible?

Chicago clinics began offering Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine booster shots across the city beginning Monday.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said that the booster shots are free and available at hundreds of locations across the city, including at CDPH clinics and events.

Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson booster doses will be available at all CDPH pop-up clinics, including joint flu-COVID vaccination opportunities and Protect Chicago at Home events, health officials noted.

To find a Chicago clinic, click here.

Go here for more places to find a COVID booster shot.

FDA Paves Way for Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccinations in Young Kids

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday paved the way for children ages 5 to 11 to get Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine.

The FDA cleared kid-size doses — just a third of the amount given to teens and adults — for emergency use, and up to 28 million more American children could be eligible for vaccinations as early as next week.

One more regulatory hurdle remains: On Tuesday, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make more detailed recommendations on which youngsters should get vaccinated, with a final decision by the agency’s director expected shortly afterwards.

Read more here.

Illinois Health Officials Issue Updated Holiday Guidance

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Friday issued updated holiday guidance "to help people celebrate more safely as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic," including considerations for travel, gatherings and holiday guests.

"Last year, many people held off getting together with family and friends during the holiday season due to the pandemic,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. "This year, we have a safe and effective vaccine to help protect against severe illness due to COVID-19 that will allow friends and families to more safely celebrate together."

Here's what to know.

How Accurate Are At-Home COVID Tests? Here's What Experts Say

With businesses, events and places of work now requiring negative COVID tests in many cases, demand for testing has increased in recent months, but for those using at-home testing methods, how accurate are they?

There are a number of at-home options now available, the most recent of which received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration this week. But concerns sparked earlier this month after some tests were recalled due to false-positive results.

Here's what you should know.

Trick-or-Treating, Masks and More: Here's the Halloween Guidance for Illinois

Getting ready for Halloween this weekend? You might want to check out some of the guidance from Illinois health officials surrounding the holiday.

“Although we’re still in the pandemic, this Halloween and Fall festivities season will look a little different than last year thanks to the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines that are readily available,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “However, we must still take precautions as not everyone is vaccinated and a vaccine for children younger than 12 year is not yet available."

Here's a complete breakdown of the guidance from Illinois' health department.

Weaker Conscience Law Heads to Pritzker Following Senate Approval

The Senate approved on Thursday night a weakened and criticized plan to preserve ramifications for those who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Democrats who control both houses of the General Assembly struggled through caustic debate all week in pushing a COVID carve-out of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act. The Senate endorsed the plan 31-24 on the last day of the Legislature's fall session.

Initially approved in the 1970s to protect physicians from repercussions for refusing, based on religious beliefs, to perform abortions, supporters argue the law was never intended to give similar protections to people who refuse to get a preventive shot in a worldwide pandemic.

The proposal, which now goes to Pritzker, doesn't require anyone to be vaccinated. It targets the law's language prohibiting retribution, such as dismissal from a job, in the case of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Read more here.

How Long Should You Wait for a Booster Shot After a Breakthrough COVID Case?

How long until you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot after being diagnosed with a breakthrough coronavirus case? Chicago Department of Public Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady weighed in Thursday.

"There is no time that you need to wait after getting a breakthrough infection to get a booster, assuming that you are that breakthrough infection time," Arwady said in a Facebook Live event.

In any case of COVID, a patient is required to isolate for 10 days, she added. Should a person complete their quarantine and "feel fine," then that individual can receive a booster shot.

Arwady said the only exception to that rule is if treated for the coronavirus infection with monoclonal antibodies, an infusion typically done for those with high-risk immune systems.

Read more here .

Suburban Elk Grove Village Says Masks Now Optional in Businesses Despite State Mandate

A suburban community has announced that it will no longer abide by the terms of a mask mandate issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health and Gov. J.B. Pritzker, saying that masks will now be optional in businesses.

Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson made the announcement this week. He says that the village has been following science, and is now acting to make masks optional as the number of COVID patients in the community, and in the state, continue to decline.

According to the latest data from IDPH, 67.33% of Elk Grove Village residents who are eligible for the vaccine are fully vaccinated, with just over 70% of residents having received at least one dose.

Meanwhile, the state of Illinois, which hasn’t given metrics that would allow for mask mandates to be eased, has not commented on the decision by Elk Grove Village officials to make facial coverings optional.

Read more here.

What You Should Do If You Lost or Damaged Your COVID Vaccine Card

A growing number of establishments and employers are requiring individuals to prove their COVID-19 vaccination status, but as the months pass following the appointments to get the shots, what do individuals have to do if they end up losing or damaging their cards?

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may have its logo on COVID vaccination cards, it does not readily have the information available to print off new ones. Instead, state health departments and health providers will, and that’s where the search for a new card should begin.

Here is who individuals should contact if they need to get a new copy of proof of their COVID vaccinations, according to the CDC.

Read more here.

Should J&J Recipients Get an mRNA Booster? Chicago's Top Doc Explains

Which COVID vaccine booster should you get based on your initial vaccination?

Chicago's top doctor, Dr. Allison Arwady, broke down Tuesday the best options.

Arwady said that while the first doses of the vaccine remain the most important, choosing your booster dose can also be an important decision.

The FDA opened the way for anyone eligible for a booster to get any of the country's three authorized brands for their extra dose. The CDC and its advisors also endorsed “mixing and matching” brands for the extra dose -- a key step in the federal push to broaden booster access for the U.S. public.

But neither agency gave recommendations surrounding combinations of vaccines and booster doses.

So how can you choose?

Here's what Arwady had to say.

Here Are the Most Common Side Effects of COVID Booster Shots

People have reported side effects like chills, fever and nausea after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, but do you need to worry about developing such symptoms after getting a booster shot?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of the booster appear to largely mirror how people felt after their second dose.

The side effects were mostly considered mild or moderate, and arm pain, fatigue and headache were the most commonly reported symptoms after the third shot.

Read more here.

Moderna and J&J COVID Booster Shots Now Available. Here's Who's Eligible

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed additional doses of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccines, but who exactly does the updated guidance cover?

Certain people who received Pfizer vaccinations months ago already were eligible for a booster and on Thursday, the CDC said specific Moderna and Johnson & Johnson recipients qualify, too.

And in a bigger change, the agency is allowing the flexibility of “mixing and matching" that extra dose regardless of which type people received first.

Read more here.

Here's When You Need to Get Your COVID Vaccine to Be Fully Vaccinated By the Holidays

As Illinois health officials advocate for vaccinations ahead of the holiday season and cold winter months, Chicago's top doctor revealed when you would need to get your shots if you want to be fully vaccinated for holiday gatherings.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady gave dates to receive the first and single vaccine doses in order to be fully vaccinated by Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.

Here are the deadlines.

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.

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