More students and staff at Chicago Public Schools return to classrooms on Monday for the first time in nearly a year.
Meanwhile, the newest episode of NBC Chicago's docuseries "Vaccinated State" has dropped on Roku and other TV apps.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Illinois Anticipates More Than 100K Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week
Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments began Monday and already, Chicago and Illinois are preparing for an estimated dose count above 100,000 this week.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said doses are expected across the state, with roughly 22,000 planned for Chicago and another 83,000 for the remaining regions.
"We anticipate these doses in Illinois on Wednesday," the department said in a statement. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to providers across the state."
FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for Saliva-Based COVID Test Developed at U of I
The Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for a saliva-based coronavirus test developed by the University of Illinois, allowing the test to be used at universities around the state and around the country.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans for the state to dedicate $20 million in funding to deploy one million tests to other public universities in the state.
“My administration has been proud to work hand in hand with U of I since the earliest days of this development, which has had an enormously positive effect on keeping COVID-19 at bay in the U of I System, and we’re wasting no time in deploying this technology throughout the state,” the governor said in a statement.
According to the school, the university has already conducted more than 1.5 million tests using covidSHIELD technology at its campuses in Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.
U of I President Tim Killeen said the school is eager to share the test.
The test only requires a deposit of saliva, rather than a nasal swab. It takes minutes to collect the sample, and results are returned within 24 hours of the sample reaching a lab.
The tests are also significantly cheaper than nasal swabs and other widely-available tests, and the tests have been shown to be just as effective as other tests in clinical studies.
Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson: Comparing the 3 COVID Vaccines Now Available
With a third coronavirus vaccine now approved in the U.S., what is the difference between the vaccines and should you opt for one over the other?
According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S., which include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, each offer some level of protection.
Already, Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines have been circulating across the U.S., both requiring two shots for full protection.
But according to an analysis by U.S. regulators, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine also offers strong protection against severe COVID-19.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
Published results from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel showed Pfizer's vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time. Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine provides a similar level of protection, 94.1%, and requires two shots, 28 days apart.
It is not known if any of the three vaccines prevent the spread of the virus by people who are asymptomatic.
Read more here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,143 New Cases, 20 Deaths, Nearly 51K Vaccinations
Health officials in Illinois on Monday reported 1,143 new cases of coronavirus, along with 20 additional deaths and nearly 51,000 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Monday's new confirmed and probable cases brought the state to 1,187,839 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.
The 20 new deaths reported Monday bring the state to 20,536 fatalities during the pandemic, according to IDPH.
In the last 24 hours, 42,234 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, officials said, lifting the total number of tests performed to 18,178,487.
The state’s rolling 7-day average positivity rate remained at a record low of 2.4% Monday, the same as the day before. For individuals tested for the virus, the positivity rate stands at 2.7%, according to IDPH data.
A total of 50,897 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours, state health officials said. That puts the state at an average of 77,876 vaccinations per day over the last week, according to officials.
The state has administered 2,756,831 doses of the vaccine so far, out of 3,183,805 doses delivered to providers in Illinois or allocated to long-term care facilities in the state.
Chicago Expected to Receive Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week
Just days after Johnson & Johnson's single-shot coronavirus vaccine was approved for emergency use, shipments were being sent out, some of which could arrive in Chicago this week, officials said.
Chicago's Department of Public Health said the city anticipates its first doses of the third approved vaccine will arrive this week.
"The Emergency Use Authorization approval for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is great news for the city of Chicago’s vaccination efforts," the department said in a statement. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, especially in preventing severe illness and death, requires a single dose and has fewer reported side effects than other available COVID-19 vaccines."
The department said further information on how the newest vaccine will be distributed will be released "when we can."
Read more here.
Brookfield Zoo Reopens After Months of Closure Due to COVID
Brookfield Zoo reopened its doors Monday after two months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The west suburban zoo said facilities will reopen with restrictions for the guests and staff such as limited animal viewing, required face coverings and mandatory reservations.
As the zoo reopens, indoor spaces, with the exception of restrooms, will remain closed, along with all attractions. Goat feeding will also stay closed for the season.
Reservations must be made prior to a visit and allotted times will be available in 20-minute increments. The zoo noted that no tickets will be sold onsite during this time.
More CPS Students and Staff Return to Schools for In-Person Learning
More students and staff at Chicago Public Schools return to classrooms on Monday for the first time in nearly a year under the district's phased plan to resume in-person learning.
Students in kindergarten through fifth grade return to schools Monday, as well as staff of grades 6 through 8, with those students slated to return next week.
Pre-K and cluster program students and teachers returned last month after CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union reached a deal to reopen schools after weeks of acrimonious negotiations over safety protocols, vaccinations and more.
There is currently no timeframe in place for high schools to return, though CPS officials said last week that negations between the district and the union are underway and that CPS plans to welcome them back this spring.
Here's Where to Receive a COVID Vaccine in Illinois
As much of Illinois moves into Phase 1B Plus of coronavirus vaccinations, residents continue to search for locations to receive the shot. Here's a breakdown of where to find a COVID vaccine for those eligible and what is needed:
NOTE: For a statewide vaccination locations map click here.
National Guard and State-Run Sites
Grocery Stores, Drug Stores and Pharmacies
Vaccinations are now available at several CVS, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Mariano’s, Meijer, Walgreens, and Walmart pharmacies in Illinois.
Vaccinations are also available via hospitals and health systems and county health departments.
For a full list, click here.
Last week, the state expanded vaccine eligibility to those with high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, among others. The list also includes those with obesity and women who are pregnant.
Phase 1B initially opened up vaccinations to people age 65 years and older as well as "frontline essential workers," which includes first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers and more.
Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Watch: NBC Chicago Docuseries ‘Vaccinated State'
The newest episode of NBC Chicago's docuseries "Vaccinated State" has dropped on Roku and other TV apps, and you can also check out the show here.
Phase 1C of COVID Vaccinations Could Begin in March, Officials Say
Phase 1C of coronavirus vaccinations could come next month, according to Chicago officials, but will depend on how many vaccine shipments Illinois receives in coming weeks.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady has said Phase 1C could come at the end of March and Phase 2, which includes all residents over the age of 16, could begin May 31.
"It may be sooner than expected, but that timeline that we laid out actually continues to look pretty consistent with our numbers," Arwady said. "If you recall, we really said the end of March, March 29, was where we were guessing we might be at a point to be able to move ahead into 1C and then, the end of May is when we might be able to move ahead to Phase 2 and I haven't seen anything that really suggests major, major differences from that."
Arwady added that should Chicago receive "a lot more vaccine" in March, it's possible that officials could begin vaccinating those with underlying conditions. However, she said the focus currently is to ensure people at the highest risk are vaccinated.
Though Illinois as a state has yet to announce planned dates for future vaccine phases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the question Wednesday saying he's "anxious" to get to subsequent phases but doesn't have a timeline.
"I don't want to speculate. It's very hard to say exactly because I don't have a projection out far enough to really know, but I'm anxious, I think like we all are, to get to phase 1C and beyond," Pritzker said during a press conference. "We want to get everybody vaccinated as soon as possible but we're trying to get to all of the most vulnerable populations first."
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