Some Illinois regions can begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions Friday, but that doesn't mean the return of indoor dining yet.
Meanwhile, health care providers can begin giving coronavirus vaccines to people over age 65 who live or work in Chicago in a modified next phase of the city's vaccination plan, officials announced Thursday.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 15:
Pritzker Announces When Illinois Will Move to Phase 1B of Vaccinations
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that the state will begin its next phase of vaccinations against the coronavirus later this month, moving forward with vaccinating residents age 65 and older.
Phase 1B of the state's vaccination plan will begin on Jan. 25, Pritzker announced in a COVID-19 briefing.
Phase 1B will center on residents age 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," including first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers, and more.
Read more here.
Here's When Indoor Dining Can Resume in Illinois and What Regions Need to Get There
As some Illinois regions begin to lift Tier 3 mitigations, and return to Tier 2 after months of heightened restrictions, the move still won't mean the return of indoor dining.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that indoor dining can resume in part as regions begin to move into Tier 1 and even further as they return to Phase 4.
"The closure of indoor service still applies in regions that remain in Tiers 2
and 3 – in other words, those with a positivity rate at or above 8 percent,
along with failing to meet either of the hospital metrics – until they are able
to meet the Tier 1 standards," Pritzker said.
Those that do reach Tier 1, will be able to open indoor dining for 25 people or at 25 percent capacity per room, whichever is lower, with only four people allowed per table.
"And of course, any regions that have improved enough to move into Phase
4, can resume some greater indoor operations at bars and restaurants as
long as tables are kept six feet apart, just like last summer," Pritzker said.
Pritzker Announces 3 Illinois Regions Can Lift Tier 3 Mitigations
Three Illinois regions are now able to lift Tier 3 mitigations under the state's guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday.
Those regions, which can now move to Tier 2, include:
Region 1: Northern Illinois (Jo Davies, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, Dekalb, Carrol, Ogle, Whiteside, Lee, Crawford)
Region 2: North-Central Illinois (Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Putnam, Kendall, Grundy, Mercer, Knox, Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Fulton, Stark, Marshall, Peoria, Tazwell, McLean, Woodford, Livingston, Lasalle)
Region 5: Southern Illinois (Marion, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Perry, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Massac, Pulaski)
"Of our remaining regions, the data shows that most are on track to leave Tier 3 in the coming days if current trends hold," Pritzker said Friday.
Illinois Reports 6,642 New Coronavirus Cases, 123 Additional Deaths Friday
Illinois health officials on Friday reported 6,642 new coronavirus cases and 123 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's new cases bring the statewide total to 1,059,324 cases since the pandemic began, along with 18,049 deaths.
Over the last 24 hours, 107,156 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, IDPH said, bringing the statewide testing total to 14,564,776.
The preliminary seven-day rolling statewide positivity rate on all tests performed dropped to 6.5% from 6.8% the day before. The positivity rate on unique individuals tested also dropped, to 7.7% from 8% the day before.
As of Thursday night, 726,475 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been delivered statewide, with 268,525 doses of the vaccine allocated to pharmacies administering to long term care facilities.
That brings the state's total number of doses distributed to 995,000, according to IDPH. Of those, a total of 447,348 vaccines have been administered, including 56,624 at long-term care facilities.
New UK COVID-19 Strain Found in Chicago, Officials Say
The new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom has been found in Chicago, city health officials announced Friday.
"The case was identified by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine through sequencing analysis of a specimen from bio-banked samples of COVID-19 positive tests," the Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement.
A CDPH investigation found that the individual had traveled to the UK and the Middle East in the 14 days prior to diagnosis, officials said, noting that the department had worked to identify the person's close contacts to alert them to quarantine and isolate.
“This news isn’t surprising and doesn’t change our guidance around COVID-19. We must double down on the recommended safety strategies we know help stop the spread of this virus,” CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “In order to protect Chicago, please continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands often, do not have outside guests in your home, and get vaccinated when it is your turn.”
This marks the first known case to be identified both in Chicago and Illinois, though the state's top doctor has repeatedly warned that the strain was likely already present and could become dominant in just months.
Pritzker to Give COVID-19 Update
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to give a COVID-19 update Friday in which he's expected to detail which regions can lift Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions.
Pritzker is set to deliver the update at 12 p.m. at the Thompson Center in Chicago, according to his public schedule.
The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
Some Illinois Regions Can Leave Tier 3 Friday, But Others Won't. Here's What to Expect
Some Illinois regions could begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions Friday, but how far back will they go and what will it mean?
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to end the work week by announcing which regions can start to roll back the restrictions that have been in place for months, suspending indoor dining across the state and closing down museums and casinos.
All of Illinois' 11 regions have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20.
According to the governor's office, some regions are set to move back to Tier 2, others possibly to Tier 1, and some will remain in Tier 3 - under the data reported Thursday afternoon.
"It will be a mixed bag," a spokesperson for the governor's office said.
As of Thursday, however, no region was meeting the guidelines to bring back indoor dining, though some were close, the spokesperson said.
While it remains unclear what exactly the governor will announce for each region Friday, under the state's guidelines, a region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if it sees a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available, as well as declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.
Regions with a positivity rate averaging between 6.5 percent and 8 percent, will likely be under Tier 1 guidelines, though the state could still choose to monitor before lifting restrictions further.
To move to Phase 4, however, the positivity rate must average less than or equal to 6.5 percent over a 3-day period. (For a complete region-by-region breakdown click here)
New Variant of COVID-19 'Dominant in US' Reportedly Discovered by Ill. Researchers
A new, possibly "more transmissible" variant of COVID-19 that is specific to the United States, believed to be behind half of the country's coronavirus cases, has been reported by Illinois researchers.
In a study currently awaiting peer review, a team led by Southern Illinois University Carbondale researcher Keith Gagnon reported a new variant "specific to and dominant in the United States," which would mark the latest mutation discovery following those reported in the United Kingdom and South Africa. The discovery was submitted Monday to BioRxiv, a preprint server aimed at disseminating research while it undergoes peer review.
“It’s here. We found it,” Gagnon said in a statement. “It’s definitely home-grown and widespread, and we’re the first to characterize it.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic."
SIU researchers say their reported variant, called 20C-US, which has not yet been listed as an emerging variant by the CDC, has been traced as far back as May in Texas. Since then, it has mutated at least twice and is now most prevalent in the Upper Midwest.
Read more here.
How to Register for Chicago COVID-19 Vaccine Updates, Find Out When You Can Get Vaccinated
Chicago officials announced Thursday that the city will move into a modified version of its next phase of coronavirus vaccinations, allowing health care providers to begin vaccinating people over the age of 65.
But, city officials warned, even if you qualify to be vaccinated in this next phase, you can't register through the city's vaccination sites yet.
Chicago officials say the best way to get updates on the vaccination rollout is through "Chi COVID Coach," a platform the Chicago Department of Public Health is using to monitor symptoms, giving information on testing in the city and help you get the latest details on the city's vaccination plan - including notification when you can register to get your vaccine.
Chicago Health Care Providers Can Begin Modified Next Phase of COVID-19 Vaccinations Next Week
Health care providers can begin giving coronavirus vaccines to people over age 65 who live or work in Chicago in a modified next phase of the city's vaccination plan, officials announced Thursday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced the shift alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference from a new mass vaccination site.
Hospitals and outpatient sites enrolled as COVID-19 vaccine providers are instructed to continue to prioritize health care workers, particularly non-hospital based health care workers in Phase 1A, per the city's updated vaccination plan.
But beginning Jan. 18, if providers have doses of the vaccine available and do not have health care workers scheduled for vaccination, they can move to a new Phase 1B that allows those over age 65 to get the vaccine.
Prioritization will be given to those over age 75 or those over age 65 who have significant underlying conditions, Arwady said.