coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Vaccine Rules Begin for Some, Pritzker Gives Update

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New COVID mitigations begin in parts of the Chicago area, requiring proof of vaccination for certain indoor spaces.

Meanwhile, as Illinois continues to report its highest numbers of the coronavirus pandemic so far, Gov. J.B. Pritzker addressed the recent surge in a press conference Monday.

Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

COVID Hospitalizations Reach Pandemic Record in Illinois, State Data Shows

Hospitalizations for people with COVID-19 reached a record for the entire pandemic in Illinois Monday, according to data from the state's health department, and officials fear the number will only grow at the start of the new year in wake of holiday gatherings.

As of Monday's metrics, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,294 people were hospitalized with coronavirus. The previous record for hospitalizations was set in November 2020, when numbers sat at 6,175 on Nov. 20.

The previous record had been set on Dec. 24, when 21,131 cases were reported, according to IDPH data.

Read more here.

Should Illinois Schools Shift to Remote Learning as COVID Soars? Here's What Pritzker Says

As the rapidly-spreading omicron variant fuels a surge in COVID-19 cases, calls have grown throughout Illinois for school districts to reinstate remote learning.

At least two Chicago-area districts - Niles Township High School District 219 and West Chicago District 33 - have shifted to online instruction, particularly due to staffing issues brought on by COVID infections and employee absences.

Despite calls from the Chicago Teachers Union and some parents, Chicago Public Schools welcomed students back to the classroom from winter break Monday, saying its COVID policies will ensure safety among students, faculty and staff.

Statewide there are no plans to reinstate online learning as the decision is typically made at a school district level.

Read more here.

Gov. Pritzker Gives Update on Latest COVID-19 Surge in Illinois

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave a COVID-19 update in Illinois Monday, where he warned that "hospitalizations are nearly as high as they were last winter when vaccines weren’t yet widely available."

"With the holidays still only a week or two in the rearview mirror, I fear the
climb will continue as the virus incubates in those who were exposed at the
end of December," he said.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike added that the state is seeing an average of 550 people admitted to Illinois hospitals each day "and 90% of those people are not vaccinated."

"Although initial information indicates that omicron may not cause as severe illness as delta, we are not seeing fewer people in the hospital because there are just so many more people with COVID, period," she said.

Booster Shots and Omicron: What to Know About Efficacy, Eligibility and More

The omicron variant has led to an expansion of booster shots in the U.S. as the country navigates its latest surge in the coronavirus pandemic.

With children as young as 12 expected to soon be eligible for the added dose, what do we know about booster shot efficacy, safety and more, particularly surrounding the omicron variant?

Here's what we know so far.

Proof of COVID Vaccination Now Required for Some Indoor Spaces in Chicago, Cook County

A new vaccine requirement for certain indoor spaces takes effect in Chicago and many surrounding suburbs Monday, requiring proof of full COVID vaccination in places like restaurants, bars, gyms and more.

As the new requirements take effect for many, where will you need to have your vaccine records handy?

Here's a breakdown.

Advocate Aurora Health to Hold Press Conference as Hospitalizations Reach Pandemic High

Advocate Aurora Health experts are scheduled to give a COVID-19 update as the health system’s hospitalizations reach a pandemic high.

With COVID-19 cases surpassing pandemic highs, three Advocate Aurora Health experts are expected "to give the health system’s latest pandemic updates, how people can best to seek care when they need it, and why public health precautions are as important as ever."

The address is set for 10 a.m. and can be watched live in the player above.

Chicago Mayor to Visit Businesses Amid Start of New Vaccine Requirement

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is scheduled to visit businesses impacted by the city's new vaccine requirement for certain indoor spaces.

The mayor's public schedule says she will "visit local businesses and thank them for supporting the new vaccine requirements for restaurants, bars, gyms, and other indoor public places" beginning at 3 p.m.

Live coverage will appear in the player above if available.

Thousands of COVID Tests ‘Invalid' as CPS Prepares to Return From Winter Break

Thousands of COVID tests for Chicago Public Schools students and staff members have been deemed "invalid" as the district prepares for a return to classrooms following the winter break.

With cases across the state and within the district surging, CPS reported 35,590 tests were completed between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1, but 24,843 were ruled "invalid," according to data posted on the district's website.

According to the Chicago Teachers Union, many parents received emails from the company handling the tests saying some samples were deemed "unsatisfactory" after being delayed in transit to the lab because of holiday shipping issues and weather. 

Read more here.

Illinois Driver Services Facilities Close Due to Increased COVID Cases

Illinois driver services facilities and Secretary of State departments will close for the first half of January due to increased COVID-19 cases statewide, Secretary of State Jesse White announced.

The offices will not conduct in-person transactions from Jan. 3 through Jan. 17, 2022, though online services will remain open on the Illinois Secretary of State website, officials said.

“After careful consideration and out of an abundance of caution, we have decided to close all Driver Services facilities beginning Jan. 3, 2022, through Jan. 17, 2022, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases,” White said. “The health and safety of employees and the public remains paramount, and face-to-face transactions potentially increase the further spread of the virus. Our goal is to safely reopen all offices and Driver Services facilities on January 18 for face-to-face transactions.”

Read more here.

Chicago FOP President John Catanzara Says He Has COVID

Amid an ongoing legal battle over Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s vaccine mandate for city workers, the controversial president of Chicago’s largest police union announced this weekend that he tested positive for COVID-19 in a breakthrough infection.

In a video posted to YouTube Saturday, John Catanzara told members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 that he “came down” with the virus last week as cases surged to unseen levels and the union and the city remained locked in arbitration over the vaccine mandate. Catanzara, who retired from the police department in November and teased a mayoral run, noted his symptoms were “mild” and “already subsiding.”

But he also used the five-minute video to take shots at city leaders — and the vaccine shots he baselessly claimed are ineffective.

One expert called Catazara's remarks "dangerous."

Read more here.

CTU Plans Vote for This Week On Whether to Work Remotely Without CPS Approval

Chicago Teachers Union leaders told members during a closed-door town hall call Sunday evening to report to school Monday, but they plan to gauge support for a district-wide remote learning action later this week.

On Tuesday, the CTU plans to call a meeting of its House of Delegates, elected members who represent their schools, to discuss a citywide action. The union will also hold an electronic vote of its members on whether they approve of working remotely without CPS permission. If both are in favor, the union plans to take action and do so starting Wednesday, demanding better COVID-19 safety protocols, including increased testing and access to better masks.

Read more here.

Sore Throat? Runny Nose? The Common Omicron Symptoms to Know About

Breakthrough infections of the coronavirus are increasing in Chicago and Illinois, but health experts say it's likely that the symptoms you experience will depend on the vaccine.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the city's top doctor, said the omicron variant isn't necessarily bringing with it a new set of symptoms, but with vaccines now widely available, many are experiencing milder cases, depending on their vaccination status.

"The symptoms that we're seeing are not different with omicron than they were with delta, than they were with the original. It's just that we are seeing more what we call breakthrough infections," Arwady said Wednesday. "So the vaccines continue to protect, but not as well against infection, although they continue to protect beautifully against severe illness."

Read more here.

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