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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: State Anticipates 100K Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

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Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments began Monday and already, Chicago and Illinois are preparing for an estimated dose count above 100,000 this week.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for a saliva-based coronavirus test developed by the University of Illinois.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Could Begin Vaccinating Phase 1C Earlier Than Expected, Officials Say

After previously announcing Phase 1C would likely begin at the end of March, Chicago's top doctor said Tuesday that the city could begin the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations earlier than anticipated.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city could begin vaccinating those eligible in Phase 1C at an earlier date, based on an increase of available COVID vaccine doses in the state."

However, Arwady noted that as of Tuesday, the estimated state date would not change, nor any eligibility criteria.

"We'll make adjustments to that as we always have, as we see how vaccine doses come in," Arwady said. "But honestly, the way they've been coming in is about how I've expected them to come in. March is going to look a lot better than February did related to vaccine. And I think April is going to look a lot better than March."

Arwady has said Phase 1C would likely begin March 29 and Phase 2, which includes all residents over the age of 16, could begin May 31.

Advocate Aurora Health Exploring Opening Mass Vaccination Site at Wrigley Field

While the United Center will transform its parking lots into a mass coronavirus vaccination site later this month, another iconic Chicago stadium could potentially follow its lead.

According to Advocate Aurora Health, a mass vaccination site is being explored at Wrigley Field, aiming to help even more Chicago-area residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a statement by health system officials, there are still a few hurdles to clear for the site to become a reality, including authorization by the city of Chicago.

“We are proud to partner on a possible Wrigley Field mass vaccination site, which would potentially be authorized by the city of Chicago,” the hospital system said in a statement. “If the site is designated, and city vaccine supplies become available, Advocate Aurora Health would provide clinical staffing and technical infrastructure.”

According to hospital officials, the location at Wrigley Field is under consideration because of its proximity to several CTA bus lines and the CTA Red Line, “ensuring residents of disproportionately impacted communities have access to the vaccine as supplies are available.”

Read more here.

Some Fans Could Be Allowed to Return to Chicago Stands 'This Season,' Mayor Says

Chicago could potentially see the return of some fans into the stands, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday, as the city prepares for baseball season to kick off.

"Not at this time, but I think there will be a point sometime this season where you'll see fans in the stands of both Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate field, which I still call Sox Park," Lightfoot said.

The Cubs are set to kick off their home opener at Wrigley Field on April 1, while the White Sox are scheduled to return home on April 8 after starting their season on the road.

Lightfoot's comments come as some fans begin to return to stands in places long shut down, like Barclays Center in New York.

"What I've said before is that we're in discussions with both of the sports teams," Lightfoot said. "I think they've come up with a very good plans and when we are ready, we will announce what the future will look like for other potential spectators in the stands."

More Than 100K United Center COVID Vaccine Appointments to Open Thursday

More than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the United Center's new mass vaccination site will open this week, Chicago and Illinois officials announced Tuesday.

Appointments will open exclusively to Illinois residents age 65 and over at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement, noting that there will be two ways to sign up.

Click here for instructions

Appointments will initially be open only to seniors for an exclusive registration period through Sunday afternoon, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live update on Tuesday morning.

"Appointments will only be open to people 65 years and older," Arwady said. "Appointments will stay open only for seniors, people 65 and plus, from Thursday at 8:30 a.m. all the way through Sunday at 4 p.m. So Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday is the time that if you are over the age of 65, you know someone over the age of 65, please help them get an appointment."

"Then, once we get to Sunday, if we don't see all of the appointments taken by people over 65, starting 4 p.m. on Sunday is when we would then open up to people with underlying conditions," Arwady added.

Chicago Increases Indoor Dining Capacity, Eases Other Restrictions as COVID Metrics Drop

Chicago is again increasing indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars and easing several coronavirus restrictions as the city's coronavirus positivity rate continues to drop to levels not seen since the pandemic began.

City officials announced Tuesday that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 50% capacity. Prior to Tuesday, indoor dining was limited to 40% capacity.

Still, restaurants, bars and event venues will be limited to 50 people within any one space.

In addition, the curfew for restaurants and bars is being extended from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Alcohol sales from liquor stores and other establishments can also continue until 11 p.m., after nearly a year of being limited to a 9 p.m. stop time.

Other industries, such as performance venues, health and fitness centers, movie theaters and personal services, can also increase to 50% capacity, with no more than 50 people within any one space and 20 people in indoor fitness classes, the city announced.

Read more here.

White House Commits to Sending Illinois 100K Vaccine Doses Per Day by Mid-March, Pritzker Says

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that the federal government has committed to sending Illinois 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per day later this month to increase supply as elected officials and residents alike have continued to express frustration over limited availability of vaccinations thus far.

That figure includes doses of the single-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, the third vaccine that the Food and Drug Administration approved for emergency use on Saturday, enabling shipments to begin this week.

Vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer - both requiring two doses given weeks apart - were approved in December and have since been in use in Illinois and across the U.S.

“As the weeks have progressed, we've seen increasing amounts of vaccine distributed by the manufacturers," Pritzker said at a news conference Monday.

"And with this third vaccine now in the lineup from J&J, and with public commitments from the White House to send an average of at least 100,000 doses per day to Illinois by mid-March, we are getting closer and closer to widespread availability that we all want," he continued.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on Pritzker's remarks.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials to Share How to Sign Up for United Center COVID Vaccine Appointments

Chicago officials on Tuesday will detail how to sign up for COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, and Medical Director Dr. Geraldine Luna, as well as Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno are scheduled to hold a news conference at 1 p.m. at City Hall.

The news conference will include "an update on reopening guidance and how to sign up for appointments at the United Center vaccination site," CDPH said in a statement. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

Read more here.

Mass Vaccination Site Opens at Largest Black Church in Aurora

A mass vaccination clinic centered on "equitable distribution" of the coronavirus vaccine opened at the largest black church in Aurora Tuesday, with more than 750 people set to receive doses on the first day.

The Black Vax Aurora Community Vaccination Clinic is being held at the Cathedral of Grace St. John AME Church, the oldest and largest Black church in Aurora, located at 2950 Bilter Rd.

According to officials, the clinic is being supplied with doses by both Kane and DuPage County's health departments.

"I've said from the beginning that we have to be intentional about our effort to vaccinate Black and brown Illinoisans and communities that have been left out and left behind," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said after touring the site Tuesday. "We must consistently work to overcome the healthcare inequities that have existed for a very long time, long before COVID-19 inequities that I'm committed to eliminating."

While registration is mandatory, the event reached capacity within 24 hours of opening up availability. For more information on how to register click here.

Registration requirements include any of the following:

  • AGE: 65 years and older
  • OCCUPATION: Healthcare, First Responder, Education, Food & Agriculture, Manufacturing, Corrections Worker, US Postal Service, Public Transit Worker, Grocery Store Worker, Shelters/Adult Day Care
  • MEDICAL CONDITION: Diabetes, Obesity, Pulmonary Diseases, Smoking, Heart Conditions, Chronic Kidney Disease, Cancer, Immunocompromised, Sickle Cell, Pregnancy, Person with a Disability

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, as of Tuesday, 2.7% of Kane County’s more than 90,000 vaccines have been distributed to the Black community. Data showed that number is even lower in DuPage County, where Black residents received just 2.3% of the roughly 200,000 distributed doses.

Read more here.

Illinois Anticipates More Than 100K Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week

Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments began Monday and already, Chicago and Illinois are preparing for an estimated dose count above 100,000 this week.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said doses are expected across the state, with roughly 22,000 planned for Chicago and another 83,000 for the remaining regions.

"We anticipate these doses in Illinois on Wednesday," the department said in a statement. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to providers across the state."

FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization for Saliva-Based COVID Test Developed at U of I

The Food and Drug Administration has granted an emergency use authorization for a saliva-based coronavirus test developed by the University of Illinois, allowing the test to be used at universities around the state and around the country.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans for the state to dedicate $20 million in funding to deploy one million tests to other public universities in the state.

“My administration has been proud to work hand in hand with U of I since the earliest days of this development, which has had an enormously positive effect on keeping COVID-19 at bay in the U of I System, and we’re wasting no time in deploying this technology throughout the state,” the governor said in a statement.

According to the school, the university has already conducted more than 1.5 million tests using covidSHIELD technology at its campuses in Champaign, Chicago and Springfield.

U of I President Tim Killeen said the school is eager to share the test.

The test only requires a deposit of saliva, rather than a nasal swab. It takes minutes to collect the sample, and results are returned within 24 hours of the sample reaching a lab.

The tests are also significantly cheaper than nasal swabs and other widely-available tests, and the tests have been shown to be just as effective as other tests in clinical studies.

Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson: Comparing the 3 COVID Vaccines Now Available

With a third coronavirus vaccine now approved in the U.S., what is the difference between the vaccines and should you opt for one over the other?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S., which include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, each offer some level of protection.

Already, Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines have been circulating across the U.S., both requiring two shots for full protection.

But according to an analysis by U.S. regulators, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine also offers strong protection against severe COVID-19.

The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

Published results from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel showed Pfizer's vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time. Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine provides a similar level of protection, 94.1%, and requires two shots, 28 days apart.

It is not known if any of the three vaccines prevent the spread of the virus by people who are asymptomatic.

Read more here.

Lake County Reports First Case of COVID-19 Variant

The first case of the COVID-19 variant was identified in Lake County, health officials announced Saturday.

The Lake County Health Department reported the first case of the coronavirus variant B.1.1.7, which is the strain more commonly circulating the U.K. in recent months.

The individual infected with the variant had traveled internationally and was in contact with a sick person before leaving to return back to the U.S. in late December, health officials said.

According to the department, the individual did not experience any symptoms of the coronavirus.

“We expect to see more cases of these new variants in Lake County as they seem to spread more easily and quickly than other variants,” Dr. Sana Ahmed, Medical Epidemiologist for LCHD, said. “It is extremely important that you follow quarantine recommendations and get tested if you have traveled or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19."

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,143 New Cases, 20 Deaths, Nearly 51K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Monday reported 1,143 new cases of coronavirus, along with 20 additional deaths and nearly 51,000 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Monday's new confirmed and probable cases brought the state to 1,187,839 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The 20 new deaths reported Monday bring the state to 20,536 fatalities during the pandemic, according to IDPH.

In the last 24 hours, 42,234 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, officials said, lifting the total number of tests performed to 18,178,487.

The state’s rolling 7-day average positivity rate remained at a record low of 2.4% Monday, the same as the day before. For individuals tested for the virus, the positivity rate stands at 2.7%, according to IDPH data.

A total of 50,897 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours, state health officials said. That puts the state at an average of 77,876 vaccinations per day over the last week, according to officials.

The state has administered 2,756,831 doses of the vaccine so far, out of 3,183,805 doses delivered to providers in Illinois or allocated to long-term care facilities in the state.

Chicago Expected to Receive Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week

Just days after Johnson & Johnson's single-shot coronavirus vaccine was approved for emergency use, shipments were being sent out, some of which could arrive in Chicago this week, officials said.

Chicago's Department of Public Health said the city anticipates its first doses of the third approved vaccine will arrive this week.

"The Emergency Use Authorization approval for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is great news for the city of Chicago’s vaccination efforts," the department said in a statement. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe and effective, especially in preventing severe illness and death, requires a single dose and has fewer reported side effects than other available COVID-19 vaccines."

The department said further information on how the newest vaccine will be distributed will be released "when we can."

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

 

More CPS Students and Staff Return to Schools for In-Person Learning

More students and staff at Chicago Public Schools returned to classrooms on Monday for the first time in nearly a year under the district's phased plan to resume in-person learning.

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade returned to schools Monday, as well as staff of grades 6 through 8, with those students slated to return next week.

Pre-K and cluster program students and teachers returned last month after CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union reached a deal to reopen schools after weeks of acrimonious negotiations over safety protocols, vaccinations and more.

There is currently no timeframe in place for high schools to return, though CPS officials said last week that negations between the district and the union are underway and that CPS plans to welcome them back this spring.

Read more here.

Here's Where to Receive a COVID Vaccine in Illinois

As much of Illinois moves into Phase 1B Plus of coronavirus vaccinations, residents continue to search for locations to receive the shot. Here's a breakdown of where to find a COVID vaccine for those eligible and what is needed:

NOTE: For a statewide vaccination locations map click here.

National Guard and State-Run Sites

Here's a full list of which locations are currently open.

Grocery Stores, Drug Stores and Pharmacies

Vaccinations are now available at several CVS, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Mariano’s, Meijer, Walgreens, and Walmart pharmacies in Illinois.

Vaccinations are also available via hospitals and health systems and county health departments.

For a full list, click here.

Last week, the state expanded vaccine eligibility to those with high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, among others. The list also includes those with obesity and women who are pregnant.

Phase 1B initially opened up vaccinations to people age 65 years and older as well as "frontline essential workers," which includes first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers and more.

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