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 most crucial weeks of the coronavirus pandemic so far could still be ahead, according to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
With health officials still monitoring for a post-Thanksgiving spike, experts warn that a "surge within a surge" would push the state's healthcare system.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 8):
Illinois County Coroner Buys Refrigerated Trailer as Virus Surges
A northern Illinois coroner’s office has purchased a refrigerated trailer in the event deaths related to COVID-19 overwhelms his office’s capacity to store bodies.
The purchase of the $30,000 trailer was made as space in the county’s morgue neared capacity, Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz said.
“The way our numbers were rising at an alarming level, and I do say alarming, I did not want to be caught without any spaces left,” he said.
O'Hare, Midway Airports to Roll Out ‘Comprehensive' COVID-19 Testing Programs For Travelers, Staff
O’Hare and Midway International Airports will both deploy new coronavirus testing programs later this month, which the Chicago Department of Aviation calls the “most comprehensive airport testing option” in the United States.
Both airports will house testing facilities administering two different types of coronavirus tests, with rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests available at both airports.
“With two types of tests available at both airports, as well as our strict adherence to public health guidelines requiring face coverings and social distancing, we aim to provide the traveling public and the wider airport community with a safe environment and peace of mind,” CDA Commissioner Jamie Rhee said in a statement.
Health Officials Aim to Provide ‘Real Facts' About COVID-19 Vaccines as Approval Likely Nears
With approval nearing on a coronavirus vaccine, Illinois health officials are working to provide information to residents skeptical of the treatment, saying that only robust administration of the vaccine will work to help end the pandemic.
During a daily coronavirus press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that her department will work to spread “real facts” and to help dispel misinformation that has been going around social media about the vaccine.
“We just need to get to the real facts, and then let people make their best decisions for themselves and their families,” she said. “We want them to understand the risk-benefit ratio of the decisions that they might be contemplating.”
Illinois Officials ‘Expecting' First Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccine Next Week
State health officials say that while there has been some uncertainty over when Illinois will begin to see the arrival of the first doses of approved coronavirus vaccines, officials are planning to have those treatments in hand as soon as next week.
During his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that he has been told that the vaccine will likely start to arrive during the “week of Dec. 13 to the 19th,” but cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the federal government, have been giving the state some mixed signals on an exact delivery date.
That being said, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the state is still planning to receive doses of the vaccine during that time frame.
'I'm Here': One of First Patients in Moderna Vaccine Trial at UIC Reveals Her Experience, Side Effects
Bonnie Blue, one of the first participants in the Moderna vaccine trial at the University of Illinois Chicago, spoke about her experience Tuesday, saying she took a "huge risk" in doing the trial.
Blue, who joined Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily coronavirus update, is a 68-year-old former Senior Case Manager in the HIV program at Provident
Hospital of Cook County with asthma who said her "body is fragile."
She chose to take part in the trial despite objections from loved ones due to being so at-risk.
"For a person that has been on life support so many times, for me to take part in this trial was a huge risk, a risk my family and friends weren’t happy I was taking, but I’m here," she said.
Read more here.
Illinois Reports 7,910 New Cases of Coronavirus, 145 Additional Deaths Tuesday
Illinois health officials reported 7,910 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 145 additional deaths Tuesday.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuseday's new cases bring the state’s total to 804,174 since the start of the pandemic, with 13,487 total fatalities.
The state returned 95,825 new tests to state laboratories in the last 24 hours. In total,11,274,608 tests have been performed since the pandemic began.
Illinois health officials reported a 9.9% seven-day positivity rate, based on the latest data from IDPH, which is 0.4% lower than one day prior.
As of midnight, 5,199 coronavirus patients are hospitalized in the state. Of those patients, 1,071 are currently in intensive care units, and 626 are on ventilators.
City Issues 2 Citations to Chicago Alderman's Restaurant After Diners Allowed Inside
Chicago's Ann Sather restaurant, owned by Ald. Tom Tunney, was given two citations and could face a hefty fine after Tunney admitted the eatery allowed "regular diners" inside in violation of the statewide coronavirus mitigations suspending indoor dining.
The restaurant's Lakeview location, at 909 W. Belmont Ave., was "issued two citations [Tuesday] for violating the statewide order prohibiting indoor dining," the mayor's office said.
The establishment will have to appear for a hearing before the Department of Administrative Hearing and could face a potential fine of up to $10,000 for one citation.
The restaurant was one of several to receive citations in the last week, with the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection citing seven establishments since Dec. 3 for violating COVID-19 regulations.
Illinois' Top Doctor Urges Flu Vaccines as State Reports COVID-19 and Flu Coinfections
Illinois' top doctor urged residents to prioritize getting their flu vaccination Monday as she revealed that some patients in the state have contracted flu and COVID-19 coinfections.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, didn't provide a number of affected patients at the state's daily coronavirus briefing, but noted "we're not anywhere near the peak of flu season."
Coinfections have been reported in other parts of the country, such as El Paso, Texas, which emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot in the previous months, CNBC reported.
As part of National Influenza Vaccination Week, which started Monday, Dr. Ezike encourages everyone six months and older to receive the seasonal flu vaccine to avoid coinfection.
“Not only could being infected with both a flu virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 result in severe health complications for individuals, it also places a tremendous burden on our health care system and health care workers who are being stretched due to the increase in COVID-19 cases," Dr. Ezike said in a news release.