Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is "making progress" in its coronavirus metrics and could soon enter the "Bridge Phase" of its reopening plan.
Meanwhile, the state is prepared to reach out to individuals believed to have skipped their second shots of the two-dose COVID vaccines.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Chicago Vax Pass Could Get Vaccinated People Special Perks, Discounts, Arwady Says
Feeling out of the loop? We'll catch you up on the Chicago news you need to know. Sign up for the weekly Chicago Catch-Up newsletter here.
Chicago's possible new Vax Pass could provide vaccinated people with special perks and discounts throughout the area, the city's top doctor said Tuesday.
Coming in May, according to Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, the Vax Pass would give vaccinated individuals exclusive deals at summer concerts, driver's facilities and salons, among others.
"So certainly, as we build vaccine confidence and convenience, we're interested in thinking about ways to incentivize people to get the vaccine," Arwady said. "I would hope that for most people, their their main incentive is to be able to stay healthy, keep their families healthy, keep their communities healthy. But we also know, younger people in particular, may be excited about the idea of getting into events."
Although she said non-vaccinated people will still be eligible to attend concerts this summer, those with the Vax Pass could receive limited access, along with other "incentives."
Arwady hinted that Chicago's popular Lollapalooza could be held this summer, following last year's virtual celebration, and offer deals for those who receive the COVID vaccine.
The city's new "Vax and Relax" campaign could also extend to barber shops and salons, giving people the chance to get a free haircut or discount on treatments, according to Arwady. She said vaccinated people could also be allowed to get a closer spot in lines at area driving facilities, grocery stores and laundromats.
Read more here.
Do You Need to Wear a Mask for Outdoor Dining? What the New CDC Guidance Means
With new guidelines released for wearing masks outside, many are questioning if they will need to have a mask in order to dine outdoors?
The CDC guidance says that fully vaccinated or not, people do not have to wear masks outdoors when they walk, bike or run alone or with members of their household. They also can go maskless in small outdoor gatherings with fully vaccinated people.
But from there, the CDC has differing guidance for people who are fully vaccinated and those who are not.
Read more here.
Chicago Announces Major Changes to United Center Vaccinations Beginning Next Week
Major changes are coming to the United Center's COVID-19 vaccine rollout next week, Chicago's top doctor announced Tuesday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said this week will be the last chance to receive walk-in Pfizer vaccinations at the United Center, among other modifications.
From May 4 through May 10, the vaccination site will strictly offer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for walk-in appointments, Arwady added. After next week, the center will no longer offer first dose vaccines.
Starting May 8, the United Center will host drive thru vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which will likely continue through June, according to Arwady.
Read more here.
Chicago's Top Doctor Weighs in on New CDC Mask Guidelines, What it Means for City
The CDC revealed Tuesday that vaccinated people don't need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. Officials said a focus in the coming weeks will be on easing guidance for vaccinated people, both in recognition of their lower risk and to provide an incentive to get shots.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said she supports the decision, but noted that changes depend heavily on the future of vaccinations.
"The point here in everything as we're moving ahead is that when you are vaccinated, that is the big difference between whether you are at significant risk for COVID," Arwady said. "And so what's different about the fact that, you know, yes, we still have almost 550 new cases of COVID every day. That's high risk. In general, the way we've already thought about COVID it means that when you're gathering in a setting there can be a significant risk, but the thing that is different now is that that risk is completely bifurcated on whether it's a highly vaccinated setting. If you are in a highly vaccinated setting, if you yourself are vaccinated and the great majority of the people around you are vaccinated, the risk of you getting COVID, even with 550 cases in Chicago, is very, very, very, very, very low."
Arwady said she expects the city to begin "turning that dial" and allowing further reopening in the coming days and weeks, depending on vaccine uptake. She did not specify what that reopening might include, however.
Read more here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,556 New COVID Cases, 23 Deaths, 81K Vaccinations
Illinois health officials reported 2,556 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 23 additional deaths in the last day, along with over 81,000 vaccinations administered.
The newly reported coronavirus cases Tuesday bring the state total to 1,325,726 cases since the pandemic began and lift the total death toll to 21,858, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
In the last 24 hours, 62,724 coronavirus test specimens were returned to state laboratories, with more than 22 million now conducted during the pandemic.
Read more here.
Pritzker Says Illinois ‘Making Progress,' Could Reach Bridge Phase Soon
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is "making progress" in its coronavirus metrics and could soon enter the "Bridge Phase" of its reopening plan, a new transition phase before reaching a full reopening.
"As you have seen in the numbers, they've been coming down gradually, which is terrific," Pritzker said during a press conference to discuss an expansion of resources and vaccine accessibility in the state Monday. "We have a period of time that we wait - I think it's another, I'll have to look at the IDPH website lately, but it's, you know, five or six more days of decline, which will allow us to move to the Bridge Phase and then on to Phase Five."
To move into the Bridge Phase, the entire state needed to reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintaining the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
Illinois met the vaccination metric required to move to the Bridge Phase at the end of March, officials said, but did not advance because of increasing hospital admissions and COVID cases.
COVID Vaccine Hesitancy: Illinois Looks to Contact Those Who May Have Skipped 2nd Dose
After a new report revealed that millions of Americans have potentially skipped their second coronavirus vaccine doses, Illinois health officials say that they are prepared to continue following up with individuals who may have received one dose but not the follow-up shot.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five million people, or nearly 8% of those who were given a first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, have missed their second doses.
While it is unclear how many of those individuals live in the state of Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the state is trying to do everything it can to overcome skepticism and fear of the treatments.
Pritzker says some of the disparity in numbers between doses one and two can be explained by getting the shots in different places, which can cause some issues in terms of properly counting those who have been vaccinated, but the state is prepared to reach out to individuals believed to have skipped their second shots.
Illinois Plans to Follow CDC Masking Guidelines: IDPH
With the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expected to update its guidance for wearing masks outdoors, what could that mean for Illinois? The state's health department said it plans to follow CDC masking guidelines.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,137 New COVID Cases, 10 Deaths, 50K Vaccinations
Illinois health officials reported 2,137 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 10 additional deaths in the last day, along with over 50,000 vaccinations administered.
The newly reported coronavirus cases Monday bring the state total to 1,323,170 cases since the pandemic began. The additional deaths rose the total death toll to 21,836, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Researchers Looking Into Link Between COVID Vaccine and Menstruation
Anne Thompson received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine April 12, on what should have been the last day of her period. Her next period came a week a half early, prompting Thompson to wonder if the vaccine had somehow impacted her menstrual cycle.
It’s a question researcher Katherine Lee asked after her own experience. Lee reached out to Kate Clancy, an associate professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, who then tweeted about it.
The overwhelming response prompted the researchers to create a survey, which they posted on social media. In all, 59,000 people have started the survey, describing varying experiences.
Cook County Now Accepting Walk-Ins at Mass COVID Vaccination Sites
Starting Monday, suburban Cook County's mass COVID vaccination sites will begin accepting walk-ins.
The following mass vaccination sites will offer walk-ins:
- Tinley Park, 18451 Convention Center Drive (Moderna, age 18+)
- Matteson, 4647 Promenade Way (Pfizer, age 16+)
- River Grove- Triton College, 2000 5th Avenue (Pfizer, age 16+)
- South Holland- South Suburban College, 15800 State Street (Pfizer, age 16+)
- Des Plaines, 1155 E Oakton Street (Pfizer, age 16+)
- Forest Park, 7630 West Roosevelt Road (Pfizer, age 16+)
Walk-ins will be accepted from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, according to health officials. While individuals can now register at each site, appointments can still be made online or by calling 833-308-1988.
Chicago Offering Walk-In COVID Vaccinations at City-Run Sites
Chicago is now offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations at city-run sites as availability allows.
With vaccine eligibility expanded citywide to include residents age 16 and 17, Chicago Department of Public Health Dr. Allison Arwady encouraged people to bring family members to walk-up and be vaccinated.
“Let’s make this a family affair. Bring your parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and neighbors,” Arwady said. "The only way we can stop this pandemic and get back to the things we love is for all Chicagoans to step up and get vaccinated.”
Pause Lifted on Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine; Shots Resume in Chicago Area
U.S. health officials on Friday lifted the 11-day pause on the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID vaccine, allowing vaccinations to resume following reports of an extremely rare blood clot.
Both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determined the benefits outweigh the risks, emphasizing both have confidence the vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19.
In Illinois, providers who've already received doses of the vaccine were permitted to resume giving doses immediately, the state's Department of Public Health said Friday night. Of the 760,000 doses allocated to the state of Illinois before the pause, a total of 290,000 were administered, health officials said.
'COVID Arm': What to Know After Getting the Moderna, Pfizer Vaccines
For many who get an mRNA COVID vaccine like Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech, arm soreness is a common experience post-vaccination. But in some cases, there's also what's being called "COVID arm."
"COVID arm" is used to describe delayed skin reactions such as rashes, which appear days after injection.
"If it is going to arise, it usually appears about a week after your vaccine,” Dr. Brita Roy, an internal medicine physician and director of population health for Yale Medicine said. “It‘s a red, swollen area at the site of the shot."
Read more here.