Health officials identified Lake County's first case of the COVID-19 variant Saturday that has been circulating the U.K.
Meanwhile, Chicago officials urged that residents remember coronavirus safety protocol ahead of anticipated Super Bowl Sunday gatherings.
Here are the latest COVID-19 headlines from around the state:
Tentative Agreement Reached Between CPS, CTU as In-Person Learning Set to Resume
After weeks of negotiations, the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools have reached a tentative agreement to return children and teachers to classrooms, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Sunday.
The deal, which will need to be ratified by the CTU's House of Delegates, will allow teachers and students to return to classrooms in the coming weeks, with pre-K and cluster students expected to return this week.
"We are here to announce the very good news that our children will be returning to in-person learning this week," Lightfoot said. "These past 11 months have been a whirlwind for our entire city, pushing us to limits countless times. We’ve lost jobs, we’ve lost loved ones. We have all been on a nonstop emotional rollercoaster that we have individually and collectively tried to navigate."
Illinois Reports 2,060 New Coronavirus Cases, 48 Additional Deaths Sunday
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported just over 2,000 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 48 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest IDPH data, 2,060 cases have been reported over the last 24 hours. Those new cases bring the statewide total to 1,146,341 since the pandemic began.
The 48 additional deaths bring the state to 19,633 deaths during the pandemic.
Lake County Reports First Case of COVID-19 Variant
The first case of the COVID-19 variant was identified in Lake County, health officials announced Saturday.
The Lake County Health Department reported the first case of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which is the strain more commonly circulating the U.K. in recent months.
The individual infected with the variant had traveled internationally and was in contact with a sick person before leaving to return back to the U.S. in late December, health officials said.
According to the department, the individual did not experience any symptoms of the coronavirus.
“We expect to see more cases of these new variants in Lake County as they seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for LCHD, said. “It is extremely important that you follow quarantine recommendations and get tested if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19."
Health officials reminded that studies suggest the currently available COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the new strains.
For more on the new coronavirus strain, click here.
Chicago Officials Urge Safety Amid Super Bowl Celebrations This Weekend
As the coronavirus pandemic continues across Chicago, city officials reminded residents to celebrate Super Bowl Sunday safely.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady on Friday advised people to follow safety precautions, especially while the city is seeing the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates since October.
“We have made so much progress in recent weeks – now is not the time to let down our guard,” Lightfoot said. “I’ll be watching the game with my wife and daughter at home, and I call on all Chicagoans to do the same and avoid gatherings. Let’s not make the Super Bowl a super-spreader event!”
City officials reminded that traditional Super Bowl gatherings have potential to be super-spreader events for the coronavirus, which is why they are urging residents order take-out from a local bar or restaurant, as well as avoid mixed-household parties.
According to Lightfoot and Arwady, the best way to avoid indoor gatherings with people outside of the household. However, if guests are indoors, health officials said people should maintain six feet of distance and wear face coverings.
"While Super Bowl parties of any kind are strongly discouraged, Chicagoans are reminded that, per health order, indoor residential gatherings must be limited to no more than ten individuals," a release said.
Because the city in is Phase 4 coroanavirus mitigations, the following regulations apply if going to bars or restaurants:
- Six people per table
- Six feet of distance between tables
- Indoor capacity limited to the lesser of 25% or 25 individuals
Business Affairs and Consumer Protection workers will be visiting entertainment establishments throughout the city of Chicago prior to the big event Sunday, according to a release.
Kroger to Pay Workers $100 to Receive the COVID-19 Vaccine
Kroger is offering a $100 incentive for employees who receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to encourage associates to become vaccinated, the Cincinnati-based grocery retailer announced Friday.
The vaccine payment will be offered to all associates who present proof of vaccination to their human resources representative, according to a news release from the company.
Employees who cannot receive the vaccine due to medical or religious reasons will have the option of completing an educational health and safety course to receive the payment.
The company also announced an additional $50 million investment to thank and reward employees, including a $100 store credit and 1,000 fuel points for hourly frontline grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center associates.
Chicago-area grocer Mariano's is a subsidiary of Kroger.
For a complete look at ways you can make an appointment or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.