With Illinois seeing a rapid rise in COVID cases as colder temperatures move in, what will that mean for restrictions and masking, despite numbers remaining well below those seen during an earlier delta variant surge?
Plus, which age group is behind the most recent outbreaks in Chicago?
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
What to Know About COVID Boosters as Pfizer, Moderna Ask FDA to Expand Eligibility
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With booster shot eligibility potentially expanding to even more U.S. adults, what can those who have yet to receive their extra dose expect?
An influential U.S. advisory panel will discuss expanding eligibility for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots to all adults Friday, a move that could make the shots available as early as this weekend.
The panel advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in setting vaccination recommendations for U.S. doctors and the general public.
Who is Driving COVID-19 Outbreaks in Chicago? Unvaccinated Teenagers
As COVID-19 cases in Chicago continue to creep up, the highest rate of transmission the city is seeing is among unvaccinated 12- to 17-year-olds.
"Unvaccinated teenagers are not only driving a lot of our outbreak right now, but they are [at a] much, much higher risk of getting COVID,” said Dr. Allison Arwday, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, during a Facebook Live event Tuesday.
Chicago's seven-day vaccination average shows the lowest percent of vaccines administered among 5- to 11-year-olds, followed by 12- to 17-year-olds.
Read more here.
No Indication of COVID Lockdown in Chicago During Upcoming Winter Months, City's Top Doctor Says
Though concerned for an uptick in COVID-19 cases during upcoming colder months, Chicago's top doctor said there's been no indication that the city is in store for a full lockdown this winter.
"I think where settings are fully vaccinated, I see very little...there's not really an indication for doing some of those shutdowns," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "I'm certainly not expecting to see the major lockdowns like we saw early on."
Should a new variant emerge, however, Arwady said that "all bets would really be off," though she doesn't expect that based on the latest data.
Read more here.
Coronavirus by the Numbers: Illinois Sees 70% Increase in Cases in Recent Weeks
Although numbers are still far behind what the state saw during the delta variant-driven summer surge, COVID cases in Illinois are rapidly increasing, going up by more than 70% in the last three weeks alone.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state is averaging 3,560 new cases of COVID per day over the last week. That is 72% more than the 2,069 new cases that the state was seeing each day on Oct. 27, the low-point since the delta-driven surge.
While the recent increases in cases are causing some concerns among officials, the upticks are still not nearly what they were over the summer.
Read more here.
Here's When Chicago's Mask Mandate Could Be Removed, According to the City's Top Doctor
When will Chicago be able to forgo face coverings throughout the city? Here's what the health department's top doctor says.
"We've been talking with the state about this," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. "If we could get back under 200 cases per day, the masks would come off. No question about it."
Speaking to reporters in a press conference Tuesday, Arwady said the city's 200 cases per day marking has been a threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Chicago is "sticking to it."
Read more here.
Bret Bielema Positive for COVID-19, Will Miss Illinois-Iowa Game
The Fighting Illini will be without their head coach when they take on the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes this Saturday. Bret Bielema announced in a statement on Tuesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to coach this weekend’s game. Bielema is vaccinated.
“Through technology, I will be as present as possible,” Bielema said in the statement. “However, when I can’t be present our assistant head coach George McDonald will handle those moments. George and I have had discussions before today if this situation would arise and I have full confidence in him and our staff in preparation for Iowa. If all stays on the current path, I should be available and present for next week. Our team has shown repeatedly this year that next man up is the standard not the exception and this will be another example of this mentality in our Illini FamILLy.”
Read more here.
Chicago Health Officials to Hold Vaccine Update Tuesday
Chicago's top doctor and other health officials are expected to hold a COVID-19 vaccination update Tuesday to "highlight and promote COVID-19 vaccination in Chicago communities of color, particularly in light of recent approval of vaccines for children ages 5 to 11"
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is expected to join several others at the 1 p.m. event at City Hall.
"Early data that shows vaccine up-take in these communities lags behind for children and adults, as well," CDPH said in a release.
Watch live in the player above.
3 States Removed, 1 Returns as Chicago Travel Advisory Updated Before Thanksgiving
Three states were removed and one added back onto Chicago's travel advisory Tuesday, dropping the number of states on the city's warning list to 38 states and one territory days before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee came off the travel advisory, but Arkansas returned, health officials announced.
Arkansas was the lone state to drop out of the city's "orange category" on the advisory last week, though officials noted that several states were on the verge of dropping off the list.
As of Tuesday, every U.S. state or territory is on the advisory except for Alabama, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and the Virgin Islands.
The list could still change ahead of Thanksgiving with the advisory set to be updated every Tuesday.
Read more here.
Suburban Cook County Says No Adults Will Be Denied COVID-19 Booster Shots
Cook County health officials said Monday that all adults would be eligible for COVID-19 booster shots as the county prepares to step up its fight against the global pandemic, but later adjusted those claims to indicate that "no one seeking a booster will be turned away from a vaccination site."
After originally stating that all adults could receive a booster shot, despite federal guidelines recommending otherwise, the Cook County Department of Public Health adjusted its guidance to state that the following groups are eligible for booster shots:
- residents who are 65 years and older
- residents who are 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions
- residents 18 years and older who live in long-term care settings at least 6 months after completing the primary series
"It is important to note that no one seeking a booster will be turned away from a vaccination site," the health department said in its updated guidance.
COVID and Thanksgiving: Here's How Chicago Doctors Say You Can Celebrate Safely
Thanksgiving will be noticeably different and less restrictive compared to last year, but COVID-19 is still a top concern for those hoping to celebrate safely.
A spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the agency fully expects families and friends will gather for the holidays this year. The best way to celebrate safely, according to the CDC, is to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Speaking at a news conference Friday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot echoed the message, saying it's "a must" for those who intend on gathering with loved ones for the holiday season.
Read more here.
Illinois Sees 29% Increase in COVID Cases Over Past Week, Data Shows
After seeing metrics decrease for several months, the state of Illinois experienced a more than 20% increase in coronavirus cases within the past week, according to the latest data reported Friday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health recorded a 29% increase in cases from the week prior, with numbers jumping from 17,462 to 22,600 cases in one week.
COVID Booster Eligibility: Who Can Get the Third Vaccine Dose Now?
COVID-19 vaccine booster shots are available for millions across the U.S., but what qualifies you to receive the third dose?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorsed extra doses of all three of the nation’s vaccines last month, causing health departments across the Chicago area to create plans to put additional shots in arms.
For those eligible, patients should receive a booster dose of the COVID vaccine at least six months after their first series of shots, health officials noted.
Here's a complete breakdown of who is eligible for Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID vaccine booster shot, according to the CDC.