A prominent Chicago infectious diseases expert is warning that "lots of people" will contract COVID-19 at Lollapalooza this weekend - but Mayor Lori Lightfoot has dismissed that warning as coming from "critics on the sidelines."
At the same time, Lightfoot is warning that Chicago could reinstate its mask requirement and other additional COVID-19 safety precautions if the city continues to see a rise in cases.
Meanwhile, three more winners were chosen during the third $100,000 drawing of Illinois' COVID vaccine lottery.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Illinois Officials, Parents React After CDC Revises Mask Guidelines for Vaccinated Americans
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that fully vaccinated Americans wear masks indoors if they live in coronavirus hot spots, Illinois officials and residents are pondering the path forward for the state.
The CDC made the recommendation change on Tuesday, saying that the delta variant has changed the calculus on wearing masks. The office says some vaccinated individuals could potentially carry higher levels of the virus than previously understood, and could play a role in spreading it to others.
The agency recommended that students, teachers and staff wear masks in schools this fall, regardless of vaccination status.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says that it will align its standards with that of the CDC, aiming to stop the spread of the delta variant with the start of school just weeks away.
Illinois ‘Fully Aligns' With CDC's Updated Indoor Masking Guidance
The Illinois Department of Public Health is "fully adopting" the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's updated masking guidance, the state's health department said Tuesday, recommending that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with substantial and high transmission.
IDPH also will follow the CDC's new recommendations for masking indoors at K-12 schools, recommending it be done universally among teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
"While data continues to show the effectiveness of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized in the U.S., including against the Delta variant, we are still seeing the virus rapidly spread among the unvaccinated," said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike in a statement, noting that COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to increase, especially among those who are unvaccinated against the virus.
Watch Live: Chicago's Top Doctor to Give COVID Update, Unveil New Vaccine Incentives
Chicago's top doctor is scheduled to give an update on the city's COVID-19 response Tuesday, expected to detail the latest metrics, unveil new vaccine incentives and announce an expansion of the in-home vaccination program.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. from City Hall, according to CDPH. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
The update comes at a time when the average daily number of new cases in Chicago is up to 165 per day as of Tuesday - a 76% increase over last week.
The city's average daily case rate was at 94 per day last week and 41 per day the week before that, meaning it's quadrupled in roughly three weeks - though it is still significantly lower than the more than 700 cases per day the city was seeing earlier this year and last, before vaccines were widely available.
Hospitalizations in Chicago are up 5% from last week, while deaths are down, and the positivity rate in testing is up to 2.6% as of Tuesday, up from 1.5% last week and 1% the week before.
Chicago to Update COVID Travel Advisory
Chicago is set to update its travel advisory Tuesday, detailing which states will be on the list advising anyone entering the city from those areas to test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.
Last week, the city added three more states - for a total of five states and one territory - back to the advisory, which will be updated each week moving forward, rather than every two weeks as it was earlier this year when case rates and other coronavirus metrics were lower.
Florida, Louisiana and Nevada, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands were added last Tuesday as all 50 states see a rise in coronavirus cases, the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
The week before, Missouri and Arkansas were both added to the travel advisory after several weeks with no states on the list. Both states remained on the advisory last week.
Chicago's Mask Mandate Could Return as COVID Cases Rise, Lightfoot Says
Chicago could reinstate its mask requirement and other additional COVID-19 safety precautions if the city continues to see a rise in case numbers, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has revealed.
In a conversation with the New York Times published Monday, Lightfoot said, "We're not there yet" when it comes to making such a move, but noted Chicago has reported an uptick in daily case numbers and a slight increase in hospitalizations.
"...We are working very hard to make sure that our daily case rate is below 200," the mayor explained. "If we start to see consistently going over that, we're not only going to look at a mask mandate, we're going to look at other tools we've been compelled to use."
At an unrelated event later Monday, Lightfoot expanded on that when asked about a mask mandate potentially returning.
"We are not in a danger area based upon the metrics that we follow," she said. "But I do think it's smart for people to wear masks. When you're in a group, you don't know who's vaccinated or not."
"We know that the risk to the unvaccinated is extremely high, not only for them getting sick, but also transmitting. So I think everybody's got to make their decisions about what makes the most sense for them," Lightfoot continued. "But if we see a surge anything like we've seen in the past couple cycles, then everything's on the table, but right now, I feel confident with the measures that are in place. But everything is subject to change."
Chicago Doctor Fears Lollapalooza-Related COVID Spike, but Lightfoot Dismisses Criticisms
A prominent Chicago infectious diseases expert is warning that "lots of people" will contract COVID-19 at Lollapalooza this weekend - but Mayor Lori Lightfoot dismissed that warning as coming from "critics on the sidelines."
Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medical Center, says that the event is a “spreader” event, and that she fears individuals who become infected with COVID, vaccinated or not, could start “wildfires of infection” across the United States.
“I think a lot of people are going to get COVID at Lollapalooza,” she said. “The real problem is not so much that a bunch of young people who come into Chicago getting COVID at this event. The real problem is them taking it back to places that have very low vaccination rates"
“Lolla has let us down with respect to how vigorously they’re restricting people based on the things that they sort of initially told us (about how) ‘we’re going to be really strict’ and now it’s like they’ve lightened up quite considerably on checking vaccines and negative tests,” she said.
Lightfoot disagreed with Landon’s assessment of the situation, calling the physician a “critic standing on the sideline” and saying that she trusts the medical team put together by the city and festival organizers.
“God bless the critics standing on the sidelines, but I feel confident that the Lolla folks have a good, solid plan in place, and we’re obviously going to hold them accountable to make sure that the plan is enforced,” she said.
Landon, who has appeared at events with Lightfoot during the COVID pandemic, says that she hasn’t spoken to city or state officials in “weeks,” and says that small changes to Lollapalooza could have made it safer, even amid the COVID pandemic.
Lollapalooza Expands COVID Testing Window Even as Cases Climb
As questions linger about whether Lollapalooza should return this summer following a rise in COVID-19 cases, the music festival - Chicago's largest - has extended the window in which concert-goes can undergo a COVID test.
As announced earlier this year, event organizers said a full COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results within 24 hours before attending the festival would be required for admission. But according to the Lollapalooza website, as of Monday, event attendees had to receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of attending the event, not 24. However, it's unclear when exactly the testing window expanded.
Voicing concerns about the event taking place amid a surge in cases, Dr. Emily Landon, widely regarded as one of Chicago's top coronavirus experts, said the 72-hour parameter is too lenient, and that the city is risking a massive spike in cases by allowing the event to move forward as planned.
Chicago Dr. Emily Landon Calls for Added COVID Precautions at Lollapalooza
Revealing city and state officials haven't asked for her advice in recent weeks, Dr. Emily Landon, widely regarded as one of Chicago's top coronavirus experts, bluntly stated Lollapalooza - the city's largest music festival - should likely be canceled, citing a rise in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant.
In an interview Monday, Landon, the executive medical director of infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago Medicine, acknowledged canceling the event, set to take place this weekend, is unlikely.
"And remember how much people are motivated by money," she said. "It really is all about money. People in many cases will throw you, your health, your family's health, grandmother's health under the bus in order to make a few more dollars."
Chicago Doctor Offers Advice for Lollapalooza Attendees Amid COVID Concerns
Lollapalooza is set to take place this weekend in Chicago, and even with the precautions put in place by concert organizers and city health officials, a prominent disease specialist has a very simple message for those attending: Assume that you have been exposed to coronavirus.
With recent increases in cases, mostly driven by the more-contagious delta variant, Dr. Emily Landon, executive medical director for infection prevention and control at the University of Chicago, says that festival-goers must assume that they have come into contact with someone infected with coronavirus, whether or not they themselves are vaccinated.
She said there are steps attendees should take in the days after Lollapalooza to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
$100K Illinois Vaccine Lottery Winners Chosen, From Bolingbrook, Champaign County, Vernon Hills
Three winners were chosen Monday during the third $100,000 drawing of Illinois' COVID vaccine lottery.
The winners, located in Bolingbrook, Champaign County and Vernon Hills, will be notified by the Illinois Department of Public Health by phone or email starting Monday afternoon. Each will be awarded a $100,000 cash prize.
"Illinoisans from those cities and counties should keep their phones on and check their emails regularly to find out if they’ve won," IDPH said in a statement.
Health officials will call from 312-814-3524 and/or email from DPH.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's How the Delta Variant Symptoms Differ From the Initial COVID Strain
About 83 percent of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. have been fueled by the delta variant, and as the surge continues, the number of associated cases is expected to rise even higher in the coming weeks, according to health officials.
Approximately one month ago, on June 19, the delta variant accounted for just over 30 percent of new cases. On July 3, it crossed the 50 percent threshold to become the dominant variant in the U.S. Public health experts nationwide have focused their efforts on encouraging vaccinations as most of those who've contracted the variant haven't been vaccinated.
Studies have shown that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective against multiple variants, including the delta variant. However, when it comes to symptoms, there appear to be key differences.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 7,983 New COVID Cases, 47 Deaths, 139K Vaccinations in the Past Week
Illinois health officials on Friday reported 7,983 new COVID-19 cases in the past week, along with 47 additional deaths and more than 139,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,407,929 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported this week bring the state to 23,401 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 241,150 tests since last Friday, officials said, bringing the total to more than 26 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests rose to 3.3% from 1.9% the week before and 1.5% two weeks prior - meaning the positivity rate has more than doubled in the past two weeks. The rolling average seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested rose to 3.5%, up from 1.7% then 2.3% in the past two weeks, officials said.
Over the past seven days, a total of 139,495 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to Illinois residents. That brings the state’s average to 19,928 daily vaccination doses over the last week, down from the figures reported last Friday, per IDPH data.
State officials say Illinois this week crossed the threshold of 13 million vaccine doses administered since vaccinations began in December. More than 58% of adult residents in the state are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with 73% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight, 670 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 135 are in intensive care units, and 44 are on ventilators. All three metrics are a reported increase since last Friday.
Masks Required For All CPS Students This Fall, Officials Announce
Students and teachers will be required to wear face coverings and social distance while indoors this upcoming academic year, Chicago Public Schools announced Thursday.
Based on a letter sent to CPS families, students and staff will have to wear a mask regardless of COVID vaccination status while indoors, except when eating and drinking.
Face coverings will be able to be removed during recess and outdoor sports, the letter noted.
CPS will also require students remain three feet apart "whenever possible" and will use enhanced safety protocols, such as air purifiers, hand sanitizer and disinfecting.
Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Coronavirus Strain Causing a Surge in COVID Cases
Public health officials are sounding alarm bells throughout the United States, as the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus has led to a massive surge in cases in recent weeks.
What exactly is the delta variant? What makes it different from previous strains of the COVID-19 virus? Do vaccines protect you against it?
Here's an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.
159 Dead, 593 Hospitalized in Illinois Breakthrough COVID Cases
More than 150 people have died and nearly 600 have been hospitalized in Illinois due to COVID-19 in "breakthrough" cases after they were fully vaccinated, according to state health officials.
According to data updated Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 159 people in Illinois have died due to COVID-19 or complications after being fully vaccinated. That figure equates to 2.3% of COVID-19 deaths in the state since Jan. 1, officials said.
At least 593 fully vaccinated people have been hospitalized in Illinois, IDPH said. The state only reports breakthrough infections among those who have been hospitalized or died, following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH said.
Those totals mean eight more fully vaccinated individuals have died and 30 more have been hospitalized in the past week since the state last updated its reported numbers.
The state does not publicize the number of residents who tested positive after being fully vaccinated but did not die or require hospitalization in order to "help maximize the quality of the data collected on cases of greatest clinical and public health importance," IDPH's website reads.