Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that state health officials are encouraging anyone who traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to get tested for coronavirus between five and seven days after returning home.
Meanwhile, Chicago's top doctor says the city could see the first doses of coronavirus vaccines within the month.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 2):
Gov. Pritzker Says He Will Get COVID Vaccine Once One is Approved
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he plans to get the coronavirus vaccine once one is approved.
The governor said he would "absolutely" get the vaccine to help ease any possible concerns but "not jumping ahead of someone more at risk."
Pritzker said decisions on who get the vaccine and when will be determined by the FDA, but noted that a vaccine advisory team will also be analyzing trial data to determine if the vaccines are safe.
"There are competing views where some want to be at the front and some don't want to at all," Pritzker said.
Pritzker said the state is expecting more than 100,000 doses, according to early estimations, for its initial shipment.
The CDC said the first doses should go to healthcare workers who care for COVID-19 patients and those working in nursing homes when a vaccine becomes publicly available.
The "first mass air shipment" of COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Friday as airlines and pharmaceutical companies continued to prepare for large-scale distribution.
Hospital Stay Lengths Decrease in Second Wave of COVID-19: Illinois' Top Doctor
Compared to the spring, patients have remained in the hospital for a shorter period of time in the second wave of the coronavirus, according to Illinois' top doctor.
During a daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said patients, on average, stay in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven to nine days as opposed to nine to eleven days in the first wave.
"There is some good news," Ezike said. "You have a much better chance of surviving COVID in hospitals as opposed to wave one."
She added that though the average has dropped, some patients' stays can last up to weeks or months at a time. Ezike said hospital stays for patients in long term care facilities also shrunk by "a day or two."
Much of the reason for the shorter hospital stays has to do with increased medical research and more tools such as utilizing proning, Remdesivir and antibodies, according to Ezike.
Illinois Reports Highest Coronavirus Deaths in Single Day With 238 Deaths and 9,757 New Cases
Illinois health officials on Wednesday reported the highest number of coronavirus deaths in a single day since the pandemic began with 238 fatalities, as well as 9,757 new cases.
The one-day death toll was the largest ever reported in a 24-hour period, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The 238 deaths brought the statewide death toll to 12,639 since the pandemic began. The previous record was set on May 13, when 192 deaths were reported.
The 9,757 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus lifted the total number of cases to 748,603, officials said. IDPH noted that some data reported was delayed from the past holiday weekend but did not specify which data was delayed.
A total of 85,507 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, IDPH said. That number was down from more than 116,000 conducted the day before, which was the first time in five days that it was back in the six-figure range after a slowdown over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when daily testing numbers were in the 60,000 to 80,000 range.
In all, the state has performed 10,699,586 tests since the pandemic began, officials said.
The state’s average rolling positivity rate on all tests conducted increased again to 10.6% on Wednesday, up from 10.4% Tuesday which was an increase from 10.2% the day before. In the last seven days, the average positivity rate for individuals tested for the virus stands at 12.5%, which was an increase from 12.2% on Tuesday.
A total of 5,764 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide as of Tuesday night, officials said. Of those patients, 1,190 were using ICU beds, authorities say, and 714 were on ventilators.
Here's What Gov. Pritzker Has Said About Another Stay-at-Home Order for Illinois
As health officials across the U.S. brace for a potential surge in coronavirus cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, might Illinois see another statewide stay-at-home order? Here's a look at what Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said most recently on the topic.
He last discussed the possibility on Monday, saying in his daily briefing on the pandemic that he has always kept another stay-at-home in his consideration, but that his hope was to avoid one.
"I've been very transparent with everybody that when we put the Tier 3 mitigations in place, it's short of a stay-at-home order, because we may be able to avoid a stay-at-home order. And that's our goal. That's our hope," Pritzker said, referring to the enhanced restrictions that took effect in all of the state's 11 health care regions last month to slow the spread of the deadly virus. "And if everybody follows the mitigations and if we don't see as big a surge as is being discussed nationwide, we'll be able to avoid a stay-at-home order."
Pritzker added that Tier 3, which shut down indoor bar and restaurant service and imposed restrictions like stricter capacity limits on several industries was "right up against the list of mitigations that you could put in place."
"Obviously there are a number of other things that are left but a stay-at-home order is about the furthest that one could go," he continued.
If the state's metrics do not continue to improve or if there is a major surge following the Thanksgiving holiday, Pritzker said another stay-at-home order is possible but it would be different from the one issued in March at the outset of the pandemic.
"It wouldn't be exactly like the one in the spring if it did happen, but it's not something right now that we think we're going to have to do," he said.
"What we're worried about is when you see the hospitalization numbers - we're at a peak that we haven't seen before, at least we've just come off that peak by a little bit," Pritzker continued. "If we got a surge like we've had over the last three to four weeks come on top of where we are now, that would be something that would be extraordinarily worrisome for all of us."
Read more here.
Pritzker Recommends COVID-19 Testing for Residents Who Traveled for Thanksgiving Holiday
During his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Pritzker said that the Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging residents who traveled for the holiday to get tested for the virus between five and seven days after their return to the state.
“If you didn’t socially distance at Thanksgiving and spent time with people who are not in your own family bubble, you may feel fine now – but you could nevertheless be passing COVID-19 onto others without knowing it,” he said.”
Physicians Urge Drug Makers to Step Up Efforts to Ensure COVID Vaccine is Safe for Children
Several coronavirus vaccines awaiting FDA approval have shown high levels of effectiveness in adults, but the results from phase three clinical trials haven’t included children, and a group of physicians is hoping to change that.
The lack of testing on children has led to concerns about how quickly vaccines can be rolled out and administered to the general public.
“We do not have any data right now about vaccine safety or efficacy in children,” Dr. Ronda Oram, an infectious disease physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital, said.
Arwady, Pritzker Don't Anticipate COVID-19 Vaccine Will be Mandated by Officials
As the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago prepare to receive the first doses of approved coronavirus vaccines in the coming days and weeks, public health officials say there are still no plans in place to mandate that residents receive the treatment.
Dr. Allison Arwady, director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, says that she “does not anticipate” that the vaccine will be required for city residents.
“We would not anticipate vaccine mandates in any setting,” she said. “I think time will tell as more vaccine becomes available on what decisions that have to be made in that regard.”
Chicago Could See Coronavirus Vaccine Within the Month, Health Officials Say
Chicago health officials said the city could receive the first doses of coronavirus vaccines within the month.
Chicago Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday that she expects the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines for emergency use authorization over the next few weeks.
"Based on the preliminary information that's been shared, we expect that they will be granted emergency use authorization because both companies have at least preliminarily showed excellent safety data and excellent efficacy data with a vaccine that looks to be more than 90 to even 95% protective," Arwady said. "But the first step is that the FDA has to grant that emergency use authorization."
Should the FDA grant emergency use authorization, Arwady said she expects the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make the recommendation to vaccinate the highest risk healthcare workers and long term care facilities first.
When the city eventually receives a COVID-19 vaccine, Arwady explained health officials plan to begin vaccinating all 37 Chicago hospitals for workers, but waiting on patients, as well as all 128 long term care facilities and assisted living facilities.
"That work has already been done," Arwady said. "We're in the final stages of completing the paperwork. But that's where we'll start. And then we've got a lot of plans to go from there as more vaccine is available and rolled out."
Arwady and a medical director for the Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Candace Robinson both said the city could see a vaccine in the third or fourth week of December should the approval process go as anticipated.
Robinson explained that initial vaccine supplies will be limited, with likely not enough for all healthcare works immediately.
"Based on some numbers recently released by the federal government, our initial planning is based on us receiving, Chicago specifically receiving, somewhere between 20 and 25,000 doses of vaccine," Robinson said.
In clarifying the city's plan, Arwady said the 20,000 to 25,000 range is the first doses of the vaccine, with expectations to receive allotments every week once available.
Robinson added that health officials will adjust their initial vaccination plan depending on how many doses Chicago receives.
Arwady said she is uncertain of an exact timeline for Chicagoans to be vaccinated, but antipated the campaign will last over one year. If an individual has already contracted COVID-19, she said he or she should still receive the vaccine.
Chicago Includes 46 States, Puerto Rico in Coronavirus Travel Order Update
Chicago health officials updated the city's coronavirus travel order Tuesday to include 46 states and Puerto Rico requiring a 14-day quarantine or pre-arrival negative test.
The emergency travel order requiring a 14-day quarantine for travelers from certain locations was issued in July in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus and is updated every two weeks.
Last month, the city changed the way it reports states being added to its travel order, categorizing states in a color-coded map to determine which requirements are in effect for travelers, from the original requirement of a 14-day quarantine to a negative test result depending on the severity of the state's outbreak.
Two weeks ago, the order was updated to include 46 states and Puerto Rico - but Tuesday's update moved more states in the "red" category, which has the most stringent quarantine requirements.
As of Tuesday, 19 states were categorized as "red" states, meaning travelers must quarantine for 14 days when coming to Chicago from these states: South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, Alaska, Indiana, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma and Idaho.
Only three states are listed as "yellow," meaning they do not require a quarantine: Maine, Hawaii and Vermont.
The remaining 27 were listed as "orange," meaning they require a 14-day quarantine or negative test prior to arrival in Chicago.
Illinois Reports 12,542 New Coronavirus Cases, 125 Deaths
Illinois health officials reported 12,542 new cases of coronavirus and 125 additional deaths on Tuesday as testing numbers returned to higher levels following the long holiday weekend.
The new cases reported Tuesday brought the total number to 738,846 statewide since the pandemic began, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Tuesday's figures also lifted the death toll to 12,403, officials said.
A total of 116,081 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, IDPH said. That marked the first time in five days that that number was back in the six-figure range after a slowdown over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when daily testing numbers were in the 60,000 to 80,000 range.
In all, the state has performed 10,614,079 tests since the pandemic began, officials said.
The state’s positivity rate climbed to 10.4% Tuesday on all tests conducted, an increase from 10.2% on Monday, which was up a tenth of a point from the day before. In the last seven days, the positivity rate for individuals tested for the virus stands at 12.2%, the same as the day before.
A total of 5,835 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide as of Monday night, officials said. Of those patients, 1,195 were using ICU beds, authorities say, and 721 were on ventilators.
Chicago Officials Shut Down 300-Person Party in Wicker Park
City of Chicago officials shut down a party with more than 300 attendees in Wicker Park over the weekend for violating the city's coronavirus rules.
The party took place in the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 29 in the basement of Vault/All Access, 1612 W. Division Ave., according to Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
A task force focused on shutting down large gatherings issued multiple citations, cease and desist orders as well as closure orders for throwing a "dangerous and unlicensed commercial party."
None of those in attendance were practicing social distancing or wearing face coverings, officials said.
"It’s extremely upsetting and disappointing that we have some operators that are completely trying to fly under the radar and not adhering to the guidelines," said Rosa Escareno, commissioner of Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
Escareno said the task force was investigating another location when they came across the establishment, which appeared to have a lot of people going in and out.
"This is basically a slap in the face of the businesses that are operating and trying to do the things that are correct," she stated.
Since Oct. 30, BACP has issued 20 citations and 54 notices to correct to bars, restaurants and other business that permitted indoor dining and/or drinking.
Additionally, officials have issued one-day closure orders to nine businesses, four of which were given long-term closure orders for egregiously violating the COVID-19 regulations.
Since March, BACP has conducted more than 6,500 COVID-19 investigations and cited more than 330 businesses for violating regulations.
The following establishments have been issued one-day closure orders for egregious and/or repeated violations of Chicago's COVID-19 regulations:
- Chicago Sport Complex - 2600 W. 35th St. – Hosting a party with over 600 attendees, no face coverings or social distancing
- Wildberry Pancake - 196 E. Pearson St. - Repeatedly allowing indoor dining despite multiple Notices to Correct and Citations
- The Ballroom - 6351-59 S. Cottage Grove Ave. - Hosting a party with over 200 attendees, no face coverings or social distancing
- Fat Fish Bar & Grill - 234-236 W. 31st St. - Egregiously violating social distancing and face coverings requirements on outdoor patio
- Black Cat Lounge - 1640 W. 115th St. - Patrons drinking indoors, no face coverings or social distancing
- The Delta - 1745 W. North Ave. - Egregiously violating social distancing and face coverings requirements on outdoor patio
- Mariscos La Diabla - 4222-24 W. 63rd St. - Patrons eating indoors, no face coverings or social distancing
- Effe Inc - 4216 W. 63rd St. - Patrons eating indoors, no face coverings or social distancing
- Linda's Place - 1044 W. 51st - Patrons eating indoors, no face coverings or social distancing
No Illinois Regions Will End Tier 3 Mitigations in the Next Few Weeks, Pritzker Says
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that no Illinois regions will lessen coronavirus restrictions in coming weeks.
Due to an increase in hospitalizations and an expected surge following the Thanksgiving holiday, Pritzker said the Illinois Department of Public Health with downgrade no regions in Illinois from Tier 3 mitigations in "the next few weeks."
"With the advice of IDPH and other infectious disease experts, no region will be downgraded from our current Tier 3 mitigations for the next few weeks even if they might be on track to meet those metrics," Pritzker said. "We are still very much in a precarious place, and we have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments."
As of mid-November, all of Illinois has been under Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations imposed by the state.
The new restrictions have forced the closures of several businesses and spaces, including casinos and museums, among others. There has also be new limitations for non-essential businesses like gyms and salons.
Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 Surge Could Overwhelm Illinois' Health Care System
Citing national health experts who've expressed concerns over the possibility of a post-Thanksgiving surge in coronavirus cases, Illinois' Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a stern warning to residents Monday, saying the state's health care system could become overwhelmed if Illinoisans aren't careful.
At his daily coronavirus briefing Monday, Pritzker said no region will be downgraded from Illinois' Tier 3 mitigations in the upcoming weeks, even if they meet the threshold to move to other levels.
Pritzker said he came to the decision after discussions with local health experts and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who told the governor "this is no time to pull back on mitigations," with the nation gearing up for another potential surge.
While statewide metrics have offered a "hint of potential progress," Illinois officials said, the number of hospitalized patients fighting COVID-19 is 23% higher than the state's spring peak.
Pritzker added he hopes Illinois can fend off the surge in the next few weeks in order to get to a healthier holiday time in the second half of December.
"We are still very much in a precarious place, and we have got to take the time to
evaluate any Thanksgiving effect before we make any premature adjustments," he said.
Investigations Underway After 28 Veterans Die in Coronavirus Outbreak at Illinois VA Home
Two investigations are underway after Illinois officials say nearly 200 residents and staff members tested positive for coronavirus at the state-run LaSalle Veterans Home and 28 veterans at the facility have died since late October.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday every aspect of the issue should be looked at, but at a press conference earlier in the day, Republican state lawmakers demanded hearings and more transparency.
"The lack of urgency from this administration should be very concerning to every Illinoisan about what is happening, and we must do better," said state Rep. David Welter.
"We have a responsibility to provide oversight, to call witnesses and to get to the bottom of what exactly happened," said state Rep. Randy Frese.
According to the state's Department of Veterans Affairs, there are currently two independent investigations into the incident.
The state says a hand sanitizer at the facility was not effective against the virus, and it has since been switched out for a more effective variety.
Investigators also are looking into a report that a number of employees who tested positive were at the same off-site Halloween party.
Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger tweeted that the people of Illinois "deserve action and answers."
"There was protocol and the ball was dropped in many places," Welter said, "and we need those answers so we can move forward in an effective way to make sure we save lives."
Pritzker said Tuesday that if there’s a failure of procedure or wrongdoing, people should be held accountable.
"It’s never acceptable when we see rampant infections somewhere," Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus briefing. "Now remember, this virus is virulent. Whenever it gets into a facility like this, and it usually comes in through somebody who’s coming in to the door, it’s not the people who are there already who are negative."
The state says it has strengthened the screening process for employees as they arrive to work.