coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: First Vaccine Shipments Expected, Trial Participant Speaks Out

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

State health officials say that while there has been some uncertainty over when Illinois will begin to see the arrival of the first doses of approved coronavirus vaccines, officials are planning to have those treatments in hand as soon as next week.

Meanwhile, one of the first participants in the Moderna vaccine trial at the University of Illinois Chicago spoke about her experience Tuesday, saying she took a "huge risk" in doing the trial.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 9):

Even With Vaccine Nearing, Illinois Will Continue Ramping Up COVID-19 Testing, Pritzker Says

Even with several coronavirus vaccines likely to hit the market by the end of the year, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state will “not take our foot off the gas” in continuing to ramp up COVID-19 testing capabilities moving forward.

Pritzker praised the state as one of the nation’s leaders in coronavirus testing models, calling Illinois the “best testing state between the coasts” during a press conference Wednesday in Chicago.

“So even as we look ahead to 2021, here in Illinois, we’re not taking our foot off the gas in our efforts to ramp up testing even further, increasing our ability to identify positive cases quickly so we can eliminate community spread and stop further outbreaks in their tracks,” he said.

Pritzker praised state officials for clearing significant goals in coronavirus testing, with the state cracking 100,000 tests per day on numerous occasions in recent weeks. Pritzker says the state has averaged 96,000 new coronavirus tests per day in the last seven days, calling it a remarkable achievement considering that most of the work to step up those testing efforts has been done on the state level.

“Together with governors of both parties, I have called for a national testing strategy since the early days of this pandemic,” he said. “Such a comprehensive effort would make a tangible difference in our response right now, and I’ve conveyed to the presidential transition team our new hope to see a thorough testing expansion plan at the very start of the new administration.”

The governor says that vaccines, which will be rolled out aggressively in coming weeks and months, will help put an end to the pandemic eventually, but that residents must continue to be vigilant, and that officials must continue to do the hard work necessary to limit the spread of the virus in the intervening time.

Chicago Health Officials Say 'Bothersome Side Effects' Possible With COVID Vaccine

"Some bothersome side effects" are possible with the coronavirus vaccine, Chicago health officials said Wednesday as the country braces for the potential authorization and ultimate distribution of a vaccine. But the city's top doc said the risks of vaccine side effects are "far outweighed."

Health officials said side effects associated with the vaccine can last between one and two days and include fatigue, muscle aches and the occasional fever.

“The risk of side effects for 1-2 days after vaccination is far outweighed by the risk of severe illness and loss of life caused by COVID-19 infection,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

Read more here.

Who in Chicago Will Be First in Line for the COVID Vaccine and Why

Who in Chicago will be first in line to receive the coronavirus vaccine once it's approved and sent to the city? Chicago's mayor and top health official outlined the city's plan on Wednesday, detailing the loose order in which residents will be vaccinated.

First in line will be "healthcare workers who treat COVID patients or conduct procedures that put them at high risk for COVID-19 spread" at all 34 hospitals in Chicago, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

Those initial doses could be allocated beginning as early as next week, officials said, pending approval from federal regulators slated to be considered in the coming weeks. Both Pfizer and Moderna have submitted for emergency use authorization of their vaccines to the FDA.

Chicago health officials said there are roughly 400,000 health care workers in the city, including doctors, nurses and other hospital staff.

After frontline health care workers, the city says priority will be given to: residents and staff at long-term care facilities, workers in essential and critical industries including emergency services personnel, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions and people ages 65 and older.

City officials say the goal is for all adults in Chicago to be vaccinated at no cost to the individual in 2021 through doctors' offices, retail pharmacies, hospitals, health centers and more.

CDPH is prioritizing long-term care facilities for several reasons, health officials said, namely because the pandemic has severely impacted these facilities, as well as because of the history of structural racism that has created mistrust in the Black community. Officials noted that many residents and staff of long-term care facilities are Black Chicagoans.

“Importantly, we also have plans to ensure equal vaccine access throughout the city," Arwady said. “We know that some communities, particularly the Black community, are less likely to get the flu vaccine, and we need to be honest about historic harm and structural racism that has created this mistrust. That’s why we’re working so closely with community partners and the mayor’s Racial Equity Rapid Response Team.”

Read more here.

If COVID Vaccine is Approved, First Doses Could Be Given Out in Chicago Next Week

Should a coronavirus vaccine by approved this week, Chicago could be giving out its first doses as early as next week, city officials announced Wednesday.

The city is preparing to receive 23,000 doses in its first shipment of the Pfizer vaccine, which could be the first vaccine to receive an emergency use authorization in the U.S.

Pfizer's vaccine is currently the center of a Thursday meeting where the Food and Drug Administrations' independent advisers will debate if evidence is strong enough to recommend vaccinating millions of Americans with the shot, which is already being administered in the United Kingdom.

The FDA is also expected to discuss a request for emergency use authorization for the Moderna vaccine on Dec. 17.

Frontline healthcare workers, specifically those who treat COVID-19 patients, will receive priority for the first shipments of the vaccine, if approved. Those healthcare workers will be followed by residents and staff of long-term care facilities, then workers in essential and critical industries, those at high risk for severe infections due to underlying medical conditions and people 65 and older, according to CDPH.

In addition to the initial shipment of 23,000 doses, Chicago's Department of Public Health expects to receive additional doses of the vaccine each week, with a goal of vaccinating all adult residents in 2021 "at no cost to any individual."

“The situation is very fluid as we don’t know how many we’ll be getting from week to week, and that will require us to be nimble in how we respond. But I have complete confidence in the team we have assembled to handle this,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

Illinois Reports 8,256 New Cases of Coronavirus, 179 Additional Deaths Wednesday

Illinois health officials reported 8,256 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 179 additional deaths Wednesday.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Wednesday's new cases bring the state’s total to 812,430 since the start of the pandemic, with 13,666 total fatalities.

The state returned 92,737 new tests to state laboratories in the last 24 hours. In total,11,367,345 tests have been performed since the pandemic began.

Illinois health officials reported a 9.6% seven-day positivity rate, based on the latest data from IDPH, which is 0.1% lower than one day prior.

As of midnight, 5,284 coronavirus patients are hospitalized in the state. Of those patients, 1,176 are currently in intensive care units, and 647 are on ventilators.

No, There's No Coronavirus in the Coronavirus Vaccine

Unlike many vaccines, the coronavirus vaccine being considered for approval this week by the Food and Drug Administration doesn't have a "deactivated version" of the virus in it.

The vaccine is what is called an mRNA vaccine, or messenger RNA, relatively new technology that uses genetic material to provoke an immune response.

"Unlike many standard vaccines, mRNA vaccines don’t require any deactivated version of the virus they prevent to produce – that’s a breakthrough that allows vaccines to be produced efficiently and affordably in a lab at a much faster rate than in years past," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday.

The technology is the foundation of the Pfizer vaccine. BioNTech, Pfizer's German counterpart in the vaccine, was founded over a decade ago specifically to study mRNA technology, Pritzker noted.

Typically, a vaccine puts a weakened or inactivated virus into our bodies to trigger an immune response, which then produces antibodies. Those antibodies are what ultimately protect us from getting infected if we ever encounter the real thing.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mRNA vaccines "teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies."

"That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies," the CDC stated.

The technology has also been used in cancer research,

Watch Live: Lightfoot, Chicago's Top Doctor to Update on City's Coronavirus Vaccine Plan

Chicago's mayor and top doctor plan to deliver an update Wednesday on the city's coronavirus response and its vaccination plan.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady are expected to hold a news conference on COVID-19 at 1:30 p.m. from City Hall.

The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.

COVID-19 Vs. Flu: Knowing the Difference in Symptoms

As the coronavirus pandemic collides with flu season and health officials brace for the possibility of what's being called a "twindemic," many might be wondering if their symptoms are a sign of the flu or COVID-19.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have already been reports of "coinfections" of both coronavirus and the flu in the state. IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike didn't provide a number of affected patients, but noted Monday "we're not anywhere near the peak of flu season."

Here's a look at the difference between coronavirus and flu symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:


According to the CDC, "both COVID-19 and flu can have varying degrees of signs and symptoms, ranging from no symptoms (asymptomatic) to severe symptoms."

Common symptoms reported for both illnesses include:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue (tiredness)
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Headache
  • Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults
As the coronavirus pandemic collides with flu season and health officials brace for the possibility of what’s being called a “twindemic,” many might be wondering if their symptoms are a sign of the flu or COVID-19.


Flu viruses can cause mild to severe illness, including common signs and symptoms listed above.

COVID-19 seems to cause more serious illnesses in some people. Other signs and symptoms of COVID-19, different from flu, may include change in or loss of taste or smell.

Another difference could be when symptoms arrive. Flu patients typically develop symptoms within four days, while coronavirus patients could develop them as late as two weeks after infection.

Someone with the coronavirus could also be contagious for longer than someone with the flu. Most people with flu are contagious roughly one day before they begin experiencing symptoms.

For COVID-19, the length of spread is still being studied, but the CDC reports "it’s possible for people to spread the virus for about two days before experiencing signs or symptoms." COVID-19 patients could also remain contagious for at least 10 days after signs or symptoms first appeared.

Read more here.

Wicker Park Club Cited After Hosting 142-Person Indoor Party

A club in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood was cited by the City of Chicago for violating COVID-19 regulations after hosting a 142-person indoor party last week.

Authorities found a line of people with a bouncer outside an event called "Wicker Loft," located in the second floor of 1257 N. Milwaukee Ave., "early in the morning" of Dec. 5.

"Upon entry, investigators found 142 attendees not social distancing and/or without face coverings at this commercial event in a residential building," city officials said in a statement. "The Task Force issued multiple citations for egregiously violating COVID-19 regulations as well as Cease and Desist Orders for operating an illegal, unlicensed club."

Officials added that the second floor of the building was closed by the city's Department of Buildings for "numerous building and fire code violations, including an obstructed rear egress and no smoke detectors."

Authorities issued the following enforcement to Wicker Loft for the illegal party:

  • Four Cease and Desist Orders for illegal business activity
  • Eight citations, including two for coronavirus violations, one for indoor smoking and fivr for business license violations
  • Department of Buildings Closure Order for dangerous and hazardous conditions, which include no smoke alarms, no carbon monoxide detectors, obstructed rear egress, fire escape "not possible," sagging stair system and other violations

Read more here.

Illinois County Coroner Buys Refrigerated Trailer as Virus Surges

A northern Illinois coroner’s office has purchased a refrigerated trailer in the event deaths related to COVID-19 overwhelms his office’s capacity to store bodies.

The purchase of the $30,000 trailer was made as space in the county’s morgue neared capacity, Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz said.

“The way our numbers were rising at an alarming level, and I do say alarming, I did not want to be caught without any spaces left,” he said.

O'Hare, Midway Airports to Roll Out ‘Comprehensive' COVID-19 Testing Programs For Travelers, Staff

O’Hare and Midway International Airports will both deploy new coronavirus testing programs later this month, which the Chicago Department of Aviation calls the “most comprehensive airport testing option” in the United States.

Both airports will house testing facilities administering two different types of coronavirus tests, with rapid antigen tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests available at both airports.

“With two types of tests available at both airports, as well as our strict adherence to public health guidelines requiring face coverings and social distancing, we aim to provide the traveling public and the wider airport community with a safe environment and peace of mind,” CDA Commissioner Jamie Rhee said in a statement.

Health Officials Aim to Provide ‘Real Facts' About COVID-19 Vaccines as Approval Likely Nears

With approval nearing on a coronavirus vaccine, Illinois health officials are working to provide information to residents skeptical of the treatment, saying that only robust administration of the vaccine will work to help end the pandemic.

During a daily coronavirus press briefing Tuesday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that her department will work to spread “real facts” and to help dispel misinformation that has been going around social media about the vaccine.

“We just need to get to the real facts, and then let people make their best decisions for themselves and their families,” she said. “We want them to understand the risk-benefit ratio of the decisions that they might be contemplating.”

Illinois Officials ‘Expecting' First Shipments of COVID-19 Vaccine Next Week

State health officials say that while there has been some uncertainty over when Illinois will begin to see the arrival of the first doses of approved coronavirus vaccines, officials are planning to have those treatments in hand as soon as next week.

During his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that he has been told that the vaccine will likely start to arrive during the “week of Dec. 13 to the 19th,” but cautioned that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with the federal government, have been giving the state some mixed signals on an exact delivery date.

That being said, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, says the state is still planning to receive doses of the vaccine during that time frame.

'I'm Here': One of First Patients in Moderna Vaccine Trial at UIC Reveals Her Experience, Side Effects

Bonnie Blue, one of the first participants in the Moderna vaccine trial at the University of Illinois Chicago, spoke about her experience Tuesday, saying she took a "huge risk" in doing the trial.

Blue, who joined Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker in his daily coronavirus update, is a 68-year-old former Senior Case Manager in the HIV program at Provident
Hospital of Cook County with asthma who said her "body is fragile."

Participants in the coronavirus vaccine trial in Chicago are speaking out about their experiences. Natalie Martinez has details.

She chose to take part in the trial despite objections from loved ones due to being so at-risk.

"For a person that has been on life support so many times, for me to take part in this trial was a huge risk, a risk my family and friends weren’t happy I was taking, but I’m here," she said.

Read more here.

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