Thousands of new COVID-19 vaccination appointments opened for Cook County residents at noon Tuesday.
Meanwhile, several COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in Chicago and Cook County are closed Tuesday as a result of the major snowstorm that hit the area.
Here are the latest COVID headlines from around the state:
Winter Weather Causing Delays in Federal COVID Vaccine Delivery in Illinois
The federal government said Tuesday that shipping delays are expected across the country, including in Illinois, as winter weather wreaks havoc on several states.
According to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office, "the federal government has notified all states of COVID-19 vaccine delivery delays across the entire country due to adverse weather and road conditions."
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Operation Warp Speed deliveries slated for Tuesday would be "significantly impacted" as adverse weather impacted operations at facilities where "vaccines and ancillary supply kits originate."
The departments warned that delays could continue throughout the week.
"To help offset delayed vaccine deliveries, the state of Illinois proactively ordered vaccine to be delivered to its Strategic National Stockpile Receipt, Store, and Stage site in anticipation of adverse weather," Pritzker's office said in a release. "Illinois is distributing that vaccine to many providers around the state today and tomorrow, as weather permits, to continue to support vaccination operations."
Suburban Cook County Increases Indoor Dining Capacity, Effective Immediately
Suburban Cook County will increase indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars after reaching the threshold of coronavirus metrics that officials provided earlier this month.
Cook County officials announced Tuesday that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 40% capacity or to a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower. Prior to Tuesday, indoor dining was limited to the lesser of 35% capacity or 50 people per room or floor.
“The COVID-19 metrics continue to improve, allowing us to align with the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Stickney Township Public Health District and ease mitigation restrictions in suburban Cook County,” Dr. Kiran Joshi, Senior Medical Officer at Cook County Department of Public Health said.
The new mitigation order adds that any person over the age of two who can medically tolerate wearing a mask should do so in public areas.
More Than 100 Providers Didn't Get COVID Vaccine Shipments in Chicago as Snowstorm Sparks Delays
The winter storm that dumped more than a foot of snow across much of the Chicago area this week has led to a delay in vaccine shipments to the city, leaving more than 100 providers without their expected shipments, officials said Tuesday.
Already, city-run testing and vaccinations sites were closed Tuesday following the massive snowstorm.
"The inclement weather in the Midwest has also led to a delay of vaccine shipments coming into Chicago over the upcoming days," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a release. While there is currently no estimated time of arrival on the orders, we anticipate daily updates from CDC. All COVID shipments are requested as overnight shipping so we expect vaccine shipments and supply with catch up quickly."
Officials noted that deliveries from Chicago's allocation to vaccine providers will also be delayed due to the travel impacts from the storm.
Officials urged anyone with appointments at private healthcare centers to contact their providers and check on the status of their appointments.
"The city is assessing the overall impact from the storm and will make further decisions regarding testing and vaccine operations on a day-to-day," CDPH stated.
CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city usually receives its weekly shipments on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. But with Monday being a federal holiday, followed by a dangerous winter snowstorm, "we didn't get the vaccine we were expected."
"There's more than 100 providers that didn't get their vaccine like we were hoping today," Arwady said in a Facebook Live video Tuesday. "We just need to wait for that vaccine to get here."
She added that she's hopeful the shipments will arrive in the next days or two.
Arwady said the city's pod vaccination sites were rescheduling residents' appointments due to closures from the storm as well as the shipping delays.
"You do not need to get back online and try to fight and find another appointment," she said.
As for other providers, Arwady said many will also be rescheduling patients.
Illinois Reports 1,348 New Cases, 32 Deaths, 40K More Vaccinations
Health officials in Illinois reported 1,348 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, along with 32 additional deaths and more than 40,000 doses of vaccine administered the day before.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuesday's new confirmed and probable case numbers lifted the statewide total to 1,164,922 cases since the pandemic began.
The death toll now stands at 20,034, according to IDPH.
Chicago Again Increases Indoor Dining Capacity After Hitting 4 Coronavirus Metrics
Chicago is again increasing indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars after the city reached the threshold in multiple COVID-19 metrics that officials laid out in a framework to ease some restrictions earlier this month.
City officials announced Tuesday that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 40% capacity or to a maximum of 50 people, whichever is lower. Prior to Tuesday, indoor dining was limited to the lesser of 35% capacity or 50 people per room or floor.
The expansion of indoor service comes after the city recorded less than 400 new COVID-19 cases per day on a seven-day rolling average for each of the last three days, the city said.
That lowered the city to a "low" or "moderate" risk in all four metrics health officials designated earlier this month to determine indoor dining capacity.
Testing and Vaccination Sites Close Tuesday Due to Snowstorm
Several COVID-19 vaccination and testing sites in Chicago and Cook County are closed Tuesday as a result of the major snowstorm.
The Cook County Health Department said it will close the majority of its vaccination sites, administering vaccinations only at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, Provident Hospital and the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center.
The rest of Cook County's sites will be closed Tuesday, including the large-scale sites at South Suburban College in South Holland, the Tinley Park Convention Center and Triton College in River Grove. The Arlington Heights Health Center, Blue Island Health Center, Cottage Grove Health Center, Morton East Adolescent Health Center, North Riverside Health Center and Robbins Health Center will all also remain closed.
Those who are scheduled for appointments on Tuesday will be contacted and rescheduled this week.
All vaccination and testing sites operated by the city of Chicago will also be closed on Tuesday, the Chicago Department of Public Health said late Monday night. Those with scheduled appointments will be notified of changes, CDPH said, noting the department would assess the storm's impact and make decisions about operations on a day-to-day basis.
Thousands of New COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments Open Tuesday in Cook County
A total of 5,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccination appointments will open for Cook County residents at noon Tuesday, according to the Cook County Health Department.
Appointments can be made at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov. Those without internet access or who need assistance scheduling can call 833-308-1988 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Vaccinations at all Cook County Health sites are by appointment only. As of Monday, three large-scale vaccination sites were open: South Suburban College in South Holland, the Tinley Park Convention Center and Triton College in River Grove.
Additional vaccination sites throughout the county are expected to open in the coming weeks.
Illinois Reports 1,420 New Cases of Coronavirus, 41 Additional Deaths Monday
Health officials in Illinois have reported 1,420 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 41 additional deaths.
According to the state Department of Public Health, Monday's new case numbers were the lowest reported in a single day since early October. In all, 1,163,574 cases of the virus have been recorded in Illinois since the start of the pandemic, along with 20,002 confirmed fatalities.
Over the last 24 hours, a total of 52,389 tests have been administered to Illinois residents, bringing the state total to nearly 17.2 million since the pandemic began.
The positivity rate on all tests conducted in the last seven days stands at 2.9%, according to a press release from IDPH. The positivity rate on individuals tested is at 3.5%.
As of Sunday night, 1,789 people were in Illinois hospitals with coronavirus. Of those, 389 patients were in the ICU and 184 patients were on ventilators.
More than 39,800 doses of coronavirus vaccine were administered in Illinois over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 1,823,208 doses. The state has set a new record for its rolling seven-day daily average, according to IDPH, with 66,320 vaccine doses administered per day over the last week.
Can You Visit Grandparents After They Get the COVID Vaccine? Here's What Experts Say
After grandparents or older parents receive the coronavirus vaccine, can you visit them? The answer is likely no, but it depends. One expert from Northwestern University said essentially “nothing changes after the vaccine."
"We will still need to socially distance and wear our masks. We should avoid our frail elders, because we just do not know the strength of their immune response to the vaccine and whether they have built up sufficient antibodies," Northwestern Medicine geriatrician and professor Dr. June McKoy said.
According to the physician, older adults naturally have diminished immune responses as they age, which continues to put them at risk for the coronavirus.
That was echoed by Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fauci told TODAY that if members of a family are all vaccinated, getting together poses much less risk, but if one member is vaccinated and others aren't "then you gotta be careful."
"Because grandma could still get virus in her nasopharynx, even though the vaccine is preventing her from getting physically ill. She still could have virus in her nasopharynx... Until we have the overwhelming majority of people vaccinated, and the level of virus is very low. When you're vaccinated, it would be prudent to wear a mask," Fauci said.
So when can families reunite with their older relatives?
McKoy said that until the U.S. has reached herd immunity, she would not advise visiting grandparents or older adults. She added that if grandparents live in a long term care facilities, they will likely remain unable to take visitors in accordance with state rules.
Chicago Opens 4 COVID-19 Vaccine Sites for School Employees
Four COVID-19 vaccination sites dedicated to Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff are expected to be fully operational in the coming week, district officials said.
Starting Monday, Chicago will reserve 1,500 shots weekly for employees in the nation's third-largest school district. That’s on top of about 2,000 doses offered in recent days to teachers who are at higher risk of illness or starting back in classrooms sooner as the district gradually reopens. Some pre-K and special education students started in-person classes Thursday.
The vaccination sites are at four schools, including Clemente High School where some educators have already received shots. District officials said employees will be excused from work duties during their vaccination appointments.
Check How Your County's COVID Vaccination Data Compares to the State
As Illinois enters the third week of COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B, health officials have administered more than 1.7 million doses. Check the chart below to see how your county's vaccinations compare to the state.
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.
Here's Who Will Be Eligible for the COVID Vaccine in Illinois Starting Next Week
Illinois plans to expand the list of people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B of its rollout beginning next Thursday.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state expects to add people with "a high-risk medical condition" or comorbidity. The list includes those with cancer, diabetes, obesity, women who are pregnant, and those with several other conditions.
"In light of a steadily increasing federal vaccine supply, Illinois is making plans to expand Phase 1B eligibility on February 25 to people who have comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the CDC," the governor's office said in a release. "In addition, Illinois will also prioritize individuals with disabilities."
The list of qualifying high-risk medical conditions (which is subject to change) includes:
- Chronic Kidney Disease
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Heart Condition
- Immunocompromised State from a Solid Organ Transplant
- Pulmonary Disease
- Sickle Cell Disease
“Those who are under 65 and live with comorbidities, such as cancer survivors or those living with heart disease, have an elevated risk of serious complications or death if they contract COVID-19," Pritzker said in a statement. "Illinois is moving forward in accordance with guidance from the CDC to expand our eligible population as supply allows, getting us closer to the point when the vaccine is widely available to all who want it. In the meantime, I encourage all Illinoisans to wear our masks and follow the mitigations so that more of our neighbors are healthy and alive when it’s their turn in the vaccination line.”
The expansion applies to those 16 and older who weren't otherwise covered in previous eligibility categories, the state said, adding that it plans to work with local health departments and other providers as eligibility increases.
For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.