coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Vaccine Distribution Details, State Wants Unemployment Money Back

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Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

Hospitals and health departments statewide have officially received their first full COVID-19 vaccine shipments, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced.

Meanwhile, emails have begun arriving in the inboxes of people who received pandemic unemployment assistance, saying that they were overpaid and now have to pay that money back.    

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 18):

Coronavirus Testing Opens at O'Hare International Airport

Coronavirus testing opened at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on Friday for passengers and employees.

Both rapid antigen and PCR COVID-19 test are available at the Chicago-area airport at a walk-up facility located in the bus and shuttle center, according to a tweet.

The testing site is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first level of the main garage between elevators 3 and 4, the airport said.

On Dec. 22, a drive-up COVID-19 testing location is expected to open at O'Hare offering both rapid and PCR tests in the economy parking lot H.

According to the airport's website, a rapid coronavirus test costs $120 and a PCR test costs $145 due prior to the visit. Payments must be made to schedule an appointment.

For more information, click here.

Pritzker to End Daily Coronavirus Briefings; Will Hold Updates ‘As Needed'

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that he and state health officials will no longer be holding daily coronavirus briefings, but will provide updates "as needed."

Pritzker said he and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike will end in-person COVID-19 updates because coronavirus numbers are "moving in the right direction."

"I’ll start with some housekeeping that might bring some relief to our tireless press corps this holiday season," Pritzker said. "We are moving away from daily press conferences, and instead returning to an as-needed basis."

Friday marked the 42th consecutive weekday coronavirus press briefing for the Illinois officials and the 155th since the pandemic began.

"I can promise you’ll still be hearing from Dr. Ezike and me often, as we provide regular updates on vaccine distribution, the status of our regions in the Restore Illinois plan, and general statewide COVID-19 trends," Pritzker said.

Friday also marked a major milestone in Illinois' fight against the coronavirus, as state officials report over 17,000 people in the state outside Chicago have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Pritzker announced.

Illinois' Top Doc Says 'We Did Not See the Significant Surge' After Thanksgiving

Illinois avoided a "significant surge" following the Thanksgiving holiday, the state's top doctor said Friday.

"I am really excited, I am really happy to say that we did not see the significant surge that we were very much concerned about in relation to all the reports that we saw of the large amount of travel for here in the state of Illinois," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "I think people know that in the Midwest, generally, while others on the coasts are surging, I think we had that a little bit earlier and are on the way down and I think all the mitigations that we had in place in advance of Thanksgiving have been helpful. So no, we did not see a surge following Thanksgiving."

Similar to Thanksgiving, state officials are urging people to avoid holiday gatherings and travel.

More Than 17K Vaccine Doses Administered in Illinois So Far, Pritzker Says

The number of vaccinations administered in Illinois by Friday was more than five times higher than the number reported just one day earlier.

According to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the state had administered more than 17,000 doses as of Friday afternoon - and that number doesn't include Chicago. On Thursday, that number sat at 3,500.

Pritzker touted the numbers as he noted that, should the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approve the Moderna vaccine this week, additional shipments could arrive in Illinois early next week.

"This is yet another very exciting development and it reinforces and brightens the light at the end of the COVID tunnel," Pritzker said.

Pritzker Says Tier 3 Mitigations to Continue Through Holidays, Despite Decline in Some Metrics

As some regions in Illinois begin to reports coronavirus data below the state's requirements for mitigations, some are wondering if restrictions might be eased in their regions ahead of the holidays.

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the answer is likely no.

"As you know, a couple of weeks ago, out of concern for the idea that we would have a surge here, we basically stepped back from taking regions out of Tier 3, in hopes that we could bring the numbers down significantly across state," Pritzker said Thursday. "They're coming down, not by enormous numbers, but they're going the right direction. And we're very hopeful that things will continue in the right direction. But as Dr. Ezike said, you know, when you're still talking about 8,000-plus cases, for example, in a day, that means, as you were mentioning earlier, that as you project forward, that quite a number of people will still pass away as a percentage of that. And so just deeply concerned that we bring the numbers down to a level where, you know, we're we're seeing a much better numbers, even our positivity rates, although they've come down, still are not near the WHO recommended 5%."

Pritzker said Friday that while the numbers "seem to be heading in the right direction," state officials are "concerned the numbers have not come down as precipitously as we would have liked to have seen by now."

He has noted that potential holiday gatherings remain a concern across the state.

"They should know that we're following the science. As I said, when I talked about this a couple weeks ago, not just Dr. Fauci, but the whole, you know, raft of doctors that we rely upon for their good advice as we move forward with this novel coronavirus are saying that we need to be deeply concerned about the gatherings that people may have around the holidays," Pritzker said. "And so that's that's why we made the decisions that we did."

Pritzker acknowledged that such restrictions could be lifted after the holidays, however, if the area doesn't see a surge and regions remain below the threshold.

"It's certainly our intention as we get through these holidays to begin to look at, you know, without having holidays ahead, right after the New Year to get to reducing the tiers for various of our regions," he said.

Illinois Surpasses 15K Coronavirus Deaths as State Reports 181 Additional Deaths, 7,377 New Cases

The death toll of the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois surpassed the grim milestone of more than 15,000 lives lost on Friday as the state reported an additional 181 deaths and 7,377 new confirmed and probable cases.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's figures bring the total number cases of the virus to 886,805 and the number of deaths to 15,015 statewide.

In the last 24 hours, state officials say 112,292 test specimens have been turned in to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total to 12,259,595 during the pandemic.

The rolling seven-day positivity rate on all tests conducted during that span is currently at 8.0%, a decrease from the day before, while the positivity rate for residents tested for the virus is at 9.7%, officials say.

Hospitalizations related to the virus declined again to 4,690, with 1,023 of those patients occupying ICU beds and 589 on ventilators, according to health officials.

Workers Who Cared for the First Identified Coronavirus Patient in Illinois to Be Vaccinated

The doctor and nurses who cared for the very first identified COVID-19 patient in Illinois at the beginning of the pandemic will be vaccinated against the coronavirus on Friday.

The vaccinations will take place at 6:30 a.m. at AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center, the health care system said. Those receiving the vaccine will be infection disease specialist Dr. Lynwood Jones, who oversaw the first patient's treatment plans, as well as two nurses: Claire Antemann, who initially suspected the patient may have COVID-19, and Alyssa Miller, who assisted in caring for the patient.

That first patient tested positive for coronavirus on Jan. 24 at AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center Hoffman Estates, becoming the first case to be identified in Illinois and the second in the U.S. That woman's spouse later became the first known person-to-person transmission of the virus in the nation.

"The physicians, nurses, infection control specialists and other caregivers scrambled with the help of the CDC and IDPH to care for the patient and later her spouse," a statement from the hospital says. "Now, nearly a year later, these same caregivers are rolling up their sleeves to receive the COVID-19 vaccination so they can continue to practice what they’ve learned in treating COVID-19 positive patients."

Read more here.

Illinois Overpaid Coronavirus Unemployment Claims: Now The State Wants Its Money Back

What’s already been a financially challenging year for thousands of Illinois residents, just became even more complicated for some of them.

Last week, emails started arriving in the inboxes of people who received pandemic unemployment assistance, or PUA, that they were overpaid and now have to pay that money back.    

People who received Pandemic Unemployment Assistance have begun seeing emails from the state saying they were overpaid and have to return the money. NBC 5's Lisa Parker reports.

The letter from the Illinois Department of Employment Security stated, “You are receiving this notice because you were paid more in federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) than you were eligible to receive. Upon review of recent information, a monetary redetermination was made. Federal guidance requires that this money be paid back in full. We understand this may cause additional economic hardship, but we do not have the authority to waive repayment per federal law”

Read more here.

Illinois Hospitals, Health Departments Receive First Full Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccines

Hospitals and health departments statewide have officially received their first full COVID-19 vaccine shipments, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.

"I’m pleased to say that all shipments arrived safely and securely at their destinations over the course of the last two days," Pritzker said in his daily coronavirus briefing.

Pritzker said that on Monday, the state of Illinois, aside from Chicago, received the first 43,000 doses of the vaccine, which is approximately half of the total allotment.

After arriving in the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile, the vaccine doses were then sent to Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers and then delivered to area hospitals by local health departments, according to state officials.

"Doses were delivered first to our Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers and also direct to DuPage County, then on to 45 counties and local health departments, finally, arriving at 77 hospitals all across the state," Pritzker said.

As of Thursday morning, the Illinois governor said about 3,500 vaccinations had been given to healthcare workers throughout the state with more scheduled into the weekend.

In Cook County, 41,000 additional doses of the vaccine arrived Thursday to the county's Department of Public Health, as well as to the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center; Madison County Health Department; and St. Clair County Health Department.

Read more here.

Here's How Many Doses of the Coronavirus Vaccine Each Hospital in Illinois is Receiving

Hospitals across the state reported Thursday that they have officially received their doses of the coronavirus vaccine in accordance with their vaccination plan.

After arriving in the Illinois Strategic National Stockpile, the vaccine doses were then sent to Regional Hospital Coordinating Centers and then delivered to area hospitals by local health departments, according to state officials.

However, Cook, Lake, Madison and St. Clair counties are receiving vaccine shipments directly from the federal government and expect doses to arrive before the end of the week.

See how many doses have been distributed to each hospital here.

Chicago Fire Department Paramedic Dies of COVID-19

A third member of the Chicago Fire Department has died from COVID-19.

Paramedic Robert Truevillian, who joined the department in 2000, died from complications of the virus, Chicago fire officials said Thursday in a statement posted to Twitter.

Truevillian was assigned to ambulance 71, which operates out of the firehouse at 10458 S. Hoxie Ave. in South Deering, officials said.

He’s the third active CFD member to die from complications of the coronavirus.

Coronavirus Vaccine and Allergic Reactions: What We Know So Far

Questions surrounding the coronavirus vaccine and allergic reactions heightened this week after a health care worker in Alaska developed a severe reaction requiring hospitalization shortly after receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, despite having no history of allergies.

Here's what we know so far about the coronavirus vaccine and potential allergic reactions.

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