Cook County launched a new large-scale community COVID vaccination site in suburban Matteson on Wednesday for all Illinois residents ages 16 and older.
Meanwhile, as coronavirus cases continue to rise, several of the state’s health care regions are nearing metrics thresholds that could potentially cause them to tighten COVID restrictions in coming days.
And more than 1,000 cases of four COVID variants currently circulating in the U.S. have been identified in Illinois, health officials say, though that number is likely underreporting the true presence of variants in the state.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Several Illinois Regions Could be Nearing Additional COVID Mitigations
As coronavirus cases continue to rise in the state of Illinois, several of the state’s health care regions are nearing metrics thresholds that could cause them to tighten COVID restrictions in coming days.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, at least four regions, including Regions 2, 7, 8 and 9, could potentially qualify for increased mitigations due to increases in positivity rates and hospitalizations.
In Region 2, located in western Illinois, the positivity rate is now up to 7.3%, increasing on seven of the preceding 10 days. The region’s ICU bed availability has been below 20% for six consecutive days, and hospitalizations have increased each of the last 10 days.
In Region 7, comprised of Will and Kankakee counties, the positivity rate is at 6.1%, but has increased eight of the last 10 days. Hospitalizations have also increased eight of the last 10 days.
In Region 8, comprised of Kane and DuPage counties, the positivity rate is now at 7.4%, increasing seven of the last 10 days, with hospitalizations increasing each of the last 10 days.
In Region 9, comprised of McHenry and Lake counties, the positivity rate stands at 4.7%, but has increased eight of the last 10 days. Hospitalizations have also increased eight of the last 10 days.
Read more here.
New Cook County COVID Vaccination Site Opens in Suburban Matteson
A new large-scale community COVID vaccination site, located at 4647 Promenade Way in southern Cook County, launched Wednesday for all residents ages 16 and older.
The Matteson site will be run through Cook County Health with assistance from the Illinois National Guard.
The new vaccination site opened Wednesday at 1 p.m. to all Illinois residents ages 16 and older after Illinois moved to Phase 2 of vaccine eligibility on Monday.
Read more here.
Are COVID Vaccines FDA Approved? Here's How the Process Works
News that Moderna was inching closer to requesting full approval of its COVID vaccine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has led to some questions surrounding the approval process for the coronavirus vaccines this week.
Currently, no coronavirus vaccine is fully approved by the FDA, but three were given emergency use authorization by the agency.
They include vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, the last of which regulators recommended be paused Tuesday while they investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots in a small number of women.
Emergency use authorization allows a vaccine to become available prior to full approval in the case of public health emergencies. The FDA can revoke the EUA at any time.
Read more here.
Here's How Many Cases of the 4 COVID Variants Have Been Identified in Illinois
More than 1,000 cases of four COVID variants currently circulating in the U.S. have been identified in Illinois, state health officials say, as data from a state lab has found the variants are becoming "much more prominent" amid a continued rise in cases.
A total of 1,051 cases of the four variants have been identified as of Tuesday, when the Illinois Department of Public Health last updated the variant case numbers. But experts have cautioned that the number of cases of variants may be higher because not all positive COVID tests are being tested to determine which variant they may be.
The four variants are: the U.K. variant known as B.1.1.7, the South African variant called B.1351, the Brazil variant known as P.1 and a fourth variant out of California called B.147/429.
Read more here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 3,536 New COVID Cases, 31 Deaths, 138K Vaccinations
Illinois health officials reported 3,536 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 31 additional deaths in the last day, along with more than 138,000 vaccinations administered.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Wednesday's new cases brought the state to 1,288,934 since the pandemic began last year. Wednesday's 31 additional deaths brought the state to 21,570 confirmed COVID fatalities during the pandemic.
The state reported 138,538 vaccinations administered in the last day, according to the latest data. Tuesday's vaccinations brought the seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered to 132,810 doses.
As of midnight, 2,076 patients are currently hospitalized due to COVID, with numbers gradually ticking upward over the last month. Of those patients, 453 are in ICU beds and 198 are currently on ventilators in the state.
IDPH Says J&J Vaccine Pause ‘Will Not Have a Large Impact' on State Vaccinations
Illinois' decision to pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "will not have a large impact" on the state's vaccination plans, health officials said Tuesday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced plans to temporarily halt the administration of the single-dose vaccine following a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as they investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.
“Public health officials made a commitment that any safety signals that came up concerning COVID-19 vaccines would be fully addressed in a transparent manner, which is what is occurring right now with the J&J vaccine,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “The blood clot cases appear to be extremely rare and there are no reported cases associated with either the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna vaccines. IDPH is taking immediate action to ensure as little disruption to Illinois residents as possible during this pause, and I strongly encourage people to continue to get vaccinated. Millions upon millions of people have already been safely vaccinated and it will take millions more before we can put this pandemic behind us.”
Health officials say a majority of Illinois' vaccine doses are from Moderna and Pfizer's vaccines. Of the expected 483,720 doses the state is set to receive next week, 5,800 were set to be Johnson & Johnson.
Read more here.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Blood Clots: Symptoms to Watch For, Who is at Risk
What are the symptoms you should watch for if you received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine prior to U.S. regulators recommending a “pause” to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST?
To learn more about what you should watch for, click here.
How the ‘Extremely Rare' J&J Reaction Differs From Other Blood Clots, According to Chicago's Top Doctor
U.S. regulators on Tuesday recommended a nationwide pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine amid an investigation into six reports of "extremely rare" but potentially dangerous blood clots.
Those clots occurred in six women between the ages of 18 and 48, six to 13 days after vaccination, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said. All six experienced clots in the veins that drain blood from the brain - known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis - and occurred together with low platelets, health officials said.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., the vast majority with no or mild side effects.
So why did these cases necessitate a pause on the J&J vaccine and how do they differ from other blood clots? Chicago's top doctor explained the reasoning and what experts are watching for in a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday.
IDPH Says Masks No Longer Required for IHSA Athletes Competing in Baseball, Other Low-Risk Sports
The Illinois High School Association’s board of directors announced Tuesday that the Illinois Department of Health has eliminated a requirement for mask-wearing among athletes competing in low-risk outdoor sports, including track and field and baseball.
According to an IHSA press release, the decision impacts athletes competing in several in-season sports, including baseball, bass fishing, softball, tennis and track.
Officials involved in the aforementioned sports must continue to wear masks. Athletes who are not actively competing, including those sitting on the bench, must also wear masks, according to the new IDPH guidance.
Read more here.
COVID Hospitalizations Have Nearly Doubled in Illinois Over Last Month: IDPH
As health officials monitor rapid increases in coronavirus cases in the state of Illinois, hospitalizations have also been on the rise, nearly doubling over the course of the last month.
According to statistics provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 2,028 individuals are currently hospitalized in the state because of severe coronavirus symptoms. Of those patients, 466 are in intensive care units, and 185 are on ventilators.
Those numbers are still well below where the state was at its peak in late 2020, but also represent a sharp increase from the low watermark that was set in mid-March, according to IDPH
Read more here.
Illinois Allocating 50K First Doses to Chicago Over the Next Week
After Illinois and Chicago both paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine amid a federal review on Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will allocate 50,000 first doses of the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to Chicago over the next seven days.
The state will then allocate another 50,000 doses in time for second shots to be administered, Pritzker said.
"As cases climb across the country, I encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible," he tweeted. "We can end this pandemic together."
Illinois to Pause Johnson & Johnson Vaccine After FDA and CDC Recommendation
Illinois will pause use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine "out of an abundance of caution" following a recommendation from the CDC and FDA, the state's health department said Tuesday.
"IDPH has notified all Illinois COVID-19 providers throughout the state to discontinue use of the J&J vaccine at this time," the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a statement. "In order to keep appointments, IDPH is strongly advising providers to use Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines."
"IDPH will continue to update the public as additional information becomes available," the department's statement read.
Chicago Pauses J&J Vaccine After CDC and FDA Recommendation
Chicago is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, the city said Tuesday, based on U.S. regulators' recommendation.
"Vaccine safety is always our top priority. In accordance with a recommendation from the CDC and FDA, the City of Chicago has paused administering the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine while federal health officials complete a review," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
"We are working closely with our partners at the federal and local level to determine how this impacts the city’s vaccine operations," the statement said.
"We are not aware of any local cases. While incredibly rare, anyone who has received the J&J vaccine who develops severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after their vaccination should contact their health provider," the city said. "This recommendation does not affect Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in any way. Vaccination remains critical to protect Chicagoans from COVID-19 and we will share more information as we receive it."
Chicago has received a total of 91,000 doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine in five shipments since February, according to the city's data. It's not clear how many of those doses have already been administered.
Cook County to Pause Use of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Amid Federal Review
Cook County is pausing use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, county health officials said Tuesday.
"Following guidance released this morning from the US Food and Drug Administration and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cook County Health will pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until the FDA and CDC complete their review," a spokeswoman for Cook County Health said in a statement Tuesday morning.
Individuals with appointments for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week will instead receive the first dose of either Moderna or Pfizer's vaccine, depending on the vaccination site, the county said. Anyone who has a scheduled appointment but does not want the Moderna or the Pfizer vaccine should call 833-308-1988 to cancel or reschedule their appointment, officials said.
"The Cook County Department of Public Health has asked all Johnson & Johnson partners to pause using the vaccine as well," the county said, adding that it will provide additional information "as it becomes available."
COVID-19 Funeral Financial Assistance Now Available
The staggering tolls from COVID-19 led the federal government to declare the pandemic a disaster, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to step in an offer financial help to the more than half million families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus.
"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate."
Starting Monday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST), anyone who qualifies can call (844) 684-6333, the dedicated toll-free phone number to get an application completed with help from FEMA's representatives.
Illinois COVID Vaccine Eligibility Opens: Here's What You Need to Know
Illinois COVID vaccine eligibility expanded to anyone age 16 and older, except for in the city of Chicago, on Monday.
For a look at what you need to know, click here.
Chicago Residents ‘Welcome' to Sign Up For COVID Vaccine Appointments in Suburbs, Officials Say
Chicago residents are welcome to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at Illinois mass vaccinations sites throughout the suburbs, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said last week.
"They're absolutely welcome to," Pritzker said. "I want to make sure that people in Chicago know that they are welcome to sign up for our mass vaccination sites."
Pritzker said he knows Chicago opens vaccine eligibility to all residents age 16 and older on April 19. Hence, he said, people should feel able to make appointments in the suburbs as the rest of Illinois opens eligibility on Monday.
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.
Which COVID Vaccine is Best For You and How Long Do They Last?
As new studies surrounding COVID vaccine efficacy and how long both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines last continue to emerge, how can you know which is best for you? According to medical experts, the vaccines currently available in the U.S. each offer some level of protection.
For a breakdown, click here.
What Makes You More Likely to Get Side Effects From COVID Vaccine?
Side effects are possible after receiving either one or two doses of any of the coronavirus vaccines currently being administered in the U.S., but not everyone experiences them. Experiencing side effects isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it's a sign your body is responding.
So what makes someone more likely to experience them than others?
Women and younger people are more likely to report side effects, experts say, while side effects could also vary depending on whether or not you've had coronavirus.
People are more likely to report side effects after their second dose, Chicago's top doctor said, echoing reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But not getting side effects isn't negative, health experts say.