coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Moderna Vaccine Shipments, State Surpasses 900K Cases

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

The state of Illinois hit another coronavirus milestone on Sunday, as the state has now reported more than 900,000 cases of the virus since the pandemic began earlier this year.

Meanwhile, hospitals in the Chicago area and across the state are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Moderna's vaccine, approved by the FDA on Friday.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 21):

Illinois Reports 4,699 New Coronavirus Cases, 98 Additional Deaths Monday

Illinois health officials reported 4,699 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 98 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to the latest numbers from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois now has 905,069 probable or confirmed cases of coronavirus during the pandemic.

Monday's 98 additional fatalities bring the state to 15,299 deaths as a result of the pandemic, with another 1,228 deaths classified as “probable” COVID-19-related fatalities, according to IDPH data.

Over the last 24 hours, 86,454 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, according to IDPH data.

In all, 12,520,979 tests have been performed in the state since the pandemic began.

The state saw its hospitalization numbers continue to decline on Monday, with 981 currently in intensive care units and 546 of patients on ventilators.

Chicago Hospital Prepares for Arrival of Moderna's COVID-19 Vaccine

Employees at Loretto Hospital on Chicago's West Side are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, the second vaccine approved in the U.S. to fight the coronavirus.

"We see the vaccine as a glimmer of hope," said Dr. Afya Khna, who serves as the hospital's director of infection control.

The latest vaccine, which was cleared by the FDA on Friday, comes at a time when hospitals across the country continue to see a rise in case numbers.

"We're having a thousand deaths each day, and we're expecting to see that rise especially during the holidays," Khan said. "So the release of having two vaccines, we really hope to break the curve and increase the herd immunity among our patients."

On Sunday, U.S. Marshals escorted the first vials of the Moderna vaccine from a Mississippi warehouse to the FedEx Corporate Headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee where the vials will be distributed. The first vials will head to 4,000 destinations nationwide.

Unlike Pfizer's vaccine, Moderna's does not have to be kept in ultra-cold storage.

"There is an advantage," Khan said. "...Definitely the storage. We see that Moderna vaccines will definitely help our rural hospitals as well as our outpatient clinics."

At first, only 40% of the staff at Loretto Hospital said they would receive the COVID-19 vaccine, Khan said, but that number increased after the hospital put on question and answer sessions.

The doctor added many staff members have recently expressed their feelings about the vaccine to their patients.

"We are getting a lot of good feedback, and we really hope to get this communication within our hospital internally with our patients as well as the rest of our community," Khan said.

The doctor expects shipments of the vaccine to arrive in Chicago Sunday night, and anticipates receiving doses at Loretto Hospital sometime during the next week.

Illinois Surpasses 900,000 Cases of Coronavirus Since Pandemic Began

The state of Illinois hit another coronavirus milestone on Sunday, as the state has now reported more than 900,000 cases of the virus since the pandemic began earlier this year.

According to health officials, 6,003 new cases of the virus were reported on Sunday, bringing the statewide total number of cases to 900,370 amid the ongoing pandemic.

The state also reported 79 additional deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 15,202. Another 1,205 deaths are being classified as “probable” COVID-19 fatalities.

Over the last 24 hours, a total of 78,079 tests were performed, bringing the statewide total number of tests performed to 12,434,525, according to IDPH data.

The state’s hospitalization rates declined sharply on Sunday, with 4,389 patients currently hospitalized statewide because of the virus. Of those patients, 991 are currently in intensive care units, while 546 are on ventilators, officials say.

Lake County Jail COVID-19 Outbreak Infects 35 Inmates

A total of 35 inmates housed in one pod at the Lake County Jail in north suburban Waukegan have tested positive for COVID-19, officials with the Lake County Sheriff's Office said Sunday.

On Dec. 14, the sheriff's office, which oversees the jail, learned that four inmates in housing pod 5-North contracted the coronavirus, a news release stated.

As a result, the jail introduced strict mitigation measures, which included only allowing specific employees inside the pod while wearing medical-grade personal protective equipment.

On Sunday, the sheriff's office received information that 35 of the 53 inmates housed in pod 5-North tested positive for COVID-19. The positive inmates in the pod were asymptomatic and in good condition, jail officials said Sunday.

All of the individuals have had increased contact with the jail's medical staff, the sheriff's office added.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Lake County Jail has implemented additional precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 including enhancing medical screening for inmates and employees, increasing cleanings of jail pods and utilizing PPE for all jail staff.

Vaccinations to Resume at Suburban Hospital After Being Paused Due to Adverse Reactions

Officials at Advocate Condell Medical Center in suburban Libertyville say they will resume coronavirus vaccinations of staff members on Sunday after pausing the injections following reactions in four staffers who received the treatment this week.

The decision to pause vaccinations was made Friday after four individuals who received the treatment experienced tingling and elevated heartrates shortly after receiving the injection.

After consulting with infectious disease experts and state and federal officials, the decision was made to resume vaccinations, with officials saying that the four individuals who suffered adverse reactions were recovering quickly.

Gen. Perna Apologizes for ‘Miscommunication' Over Available COVID-19 Vaccine Doses

With multiple states, including Illinois, announcing this week that they anticipated receiving far fewer doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine than previously revealed, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed says he is taking personal responsibility for “miscommunication” over the dispersal of the vaccine.

Army General Gustave Perna, the COO of Operation Warp Speed, spoke to the press on Saturday morning, says that officials are working hard to provide accurate numbers to states, but that he was forced to lower allocations of the vaccine because of limits in the amount of “releasable doses” available to various agencies in the coming weeks.

“I want to assure everybody, and I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication. I know that’s not done much these days, but I am responsible, and I take responsibility for the miscommunication,” he said. “The number of doses available to us to allocate ended up being lower, so as we gave forecasts to the jurisdictions and governors and states worked their priorities against those forecasts, what we had to decide was what was going to be shipped out, I had to lower the allocations to meet the releasable doses that were presented to me.”

Central Illinois Charities Facing Tough Obstacles Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

With the winter holidays approaching, charities and non-profit organizations throughout the United States traditionally amplify their year-round calls to remember the less fortunate.

During the 2020 holidays season, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has swelled the ranks of the less fortunate, while rendering the organizations whose mission it is to help them less fortunate themselves. Tazewell County non-for-profit organizations like We Care of Morton and the Tazewell County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) in Pekin depend heavily each year on in-person fund-raising events like golf outings and trivia nights. But physical distancing protocols during the pandemic have forced organizations throughout central Illinois to cancel in-person events, which had led to a significant drop in community donations.

Mike Hutchinson, executive director of We Care of Morton, estimated that the group’s annual golf outing in June at the Pekin Country Club raises about $22,000.

Pritzker to End Daily Coronavirus Briefings; Will Hold Updates ‘As Needed'

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that he and state health officials will no longer be holding daily coronavirus briefings, but will provide updates "as needed."

Pritzker said he and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will end in-person COVID-19 updates because coronavirus numbers are "moving in the right direction."

"I’ll start with some housekeeping that might bring some relief to our tireless press corps this holiday season," Pritzker said. "We are moving away from daily press conferences, and instead returning to an as-needed basis."

Friday marked the 42th consecutive weekday coronavirus press briefing for the Illinois officials and the 155th since the pandemic began.

"I can promise you’ll still be hearing from Dr. Ezike and me often, as we provide regular updates on vaccine distribution, the status of our regions in the Restore Illinois plan, and general statewide COVID-19 trends," Pritzker said.

Friday also marked a major milestone in Illinois' fight against the coronavirus, as state officials report over 17,000 people in the state outside Chicago have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pritzker announced.

Illinois' Top Doc Says 'We Did Not See the Significant Surge' After Thanksgiving

Illinois avoided a "significant surge" following the Thanksgiving holiday, the state's top doctor said Friday.

"I am really excited, I am really happy to say that we did not see the significant surge that we were very much concerned about in relation to all the reports that we saw of the large amount of travel for here in the state of Illinois," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "I think people know that in the Midwest, generally, while others on the coasts are surging, I think we had that a little bit earlier and are on the way down and I think all the mitigations that we had in place in advance of Thanksgiving have been helpful. So no, we did not see a surge following Thanksgiving."

Similar to Thanksgiving, state officials are urging people to avoid holiday gatherings and travel.

Pritzker Says Tier 3 Mitigations to Continue Through Holidays, Despite Decline in Some Metrics

As some regions in Illinois begin to reports coronavirus data below the state's requirements for mitigations, some are wondering if restrictions might be eased in their regions ahead of the holidays.

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the answer is likely no.

"As you know, a couple of weeks ago, out of concern for the idea that we would have a surge here, we basically stepped back from taking regions out of Tier 3, in hopes that we could bring the numbers down significantly across state," Pritzker said Thursday. "They're coming down, not by enormous numbers, but they're going the right direction. And we're very hopeful that things will continue in the right direction. But as Dr. Ezike said, you know, when you're still talking about 8,000-plus cases, for example, in a day, that means, as you were mentioning earlier, that as you project forward, that quite a number of people will still pass away as a percentage of that. And so just deeply concerned that we bring the numbers down to a level where, you know, we're we're seeing a much better numbers, even our positivity rates, although they've come down, still are not near the WHO recommended 5%."

Pritzker said Friday that while the numbers "seem to be heading in the right direction," state officials are "concerned the numbers have not come down as precipitously as we would have liked to have seen by now."

He has noted that potential holiday gatherings remain a concern across the state.

"They should know that we're following the science. As I said, when I talked about this a couple weeks ago, not just Dr. Fauci, but the whole, you know, raft of doctors that we rely upon for their good advice as we move forward with this novel coronavirus are saying that we need to be deeply concerned about the gatherings that people may have around the holidays," Pritzker said. "And so that's that's why we made the decisions that we did."

Pritzker acknowledged that such restrictions could be lifted after the holidays, however, if the area doesn't see a surge and regions remain below the threshold.

"It's certainly our intention as we get through these holidays to begin to look at, you know, without having holidays ahead, right after the New Year to get to reducing the tiers for various of our regions," he said.

Contact Us