Illinois is set to expand the list of people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B of its rollout, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced.
On Thursday, some staff and students at Chicago Public Schools return to classrooms under a new framework approved by the district and the Chicago Teachers Union earlier this week.
Meanwhile, Chicago is expanding indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars as it looks to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Here are the latest COVID-19 headlines from around the state:
More Than 300 New COVID Vaccination Locations Open in Illinois
The state of Illinois added more than 300 new COVID-19 vaccination sites in the last day, health officials announced Thursday, with hundreds more Walgreens stores across the state and some CVS locations now administering vaccinations.
An additional 339 Walgreens locations in Illinois opened as vaccination sites since Wednesday, state officials said, as well as four CVS locations.
That brings the total number of vaccination sites in the state to 860.
You can find a full list of vaccination sites in Illinois here.
Chicago and Cook County Will Not Join Illinois in Expanding Phase 1B Eligibility for COVID Vaccine
Chicago and Cook County will not join Illinois in expanding who is eligible for coronavirus vaccinations under Phase 1B later this month, officials said Thursday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President announced the decision in a joint statement, saying that the city and county are not receiving enough doses of the vaccine to allow them to expand eligibility along with the rest of the state in a decision Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the day before.
"Our goal is to get as many people vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. That said, our greatest challenge in doing so is the very limited supply of vaccine we are receiving. While we are making progress every day with vaccinating people in 1a and 1b, at this time we are not being supplied with enough doses that would allow us to expand eligibility in these phases," the statement reads.
"Doing so in Chicago and Cook County would add well over one million additional people to 1b, and the result would be that those currently eligible, including seniors, frontline essential workers and those in our most heavily COVID-burdened communities, would have an even harder time getting a vaccine," Lightfoot and Preckwinkle continued.
"These phases were established after careful study and consideration, and are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We recognize the Governor must make tough choices and consider needs across this diverse state, but given the limited supply of vaccine, we must also make the tough choices as the leaders of the most populous city and county in the state. We look forward to expanding eligibility as vaccine supply improves."
Some CPS Teachers and Students Return to Schools Under New Plan for In-Person Learning
Some staff and students at Chicago Public Schools return to classrooms on Thursday under a new framework approved by the district and the Chicago Teachers Union earlier this week.
Pre-K and cluster program students and teachers return to classrooms Thursday, with elementary school staff and students slated to return in the coming weeks. The return to schools comes a little over one day after members of the CTU voted to approve an agreement union leaders reached with the district in negotiations over the weekend.
The CTU said said 13,681 union members voted in favor of the proposal, representing 67.5% of the ballots cast, with another 6,585 members voting against the deal, which brings some teachers and students back to classrooms as early as Thursday.
The agreement was reached on Sunday after weeks of contentious negotiations.
CPS and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said on Sunday that the schedule for teachers and students to return is as follows:
|Group/Grade||Staff Start Date||Student Start Date|
|Pre-K & Students in intensive and moderate cluster classrooms||February 11||February 11|
|Kindergarten—Grade 5||February 22||March 1|
|Grade 6—Grade 8||March 1||March 8|
CPS said about 20% of students have opted for a return to in-person learning, with 80% continuing with remote learning for the time being. The district said Sunday that families who chose to continue remote learning will have another opportunity to return to schools before the start of the fourth quarter that begins in April.
Chicago to Increase Indoor Dining Capacity for Restaurants, Bars in Easing of Coronavirus Restrictions
Chicago is expanding indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars as it looks to ease restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday, releasing a new framework and metrics to lift some of those mitigations.
Additional restrictions can be lifted - including the increase of indoor capacity up to 40% - once the city reaches a "moderate risk" level in certain metrics: COVID-19 cases diagnosed per day and test positivity, among others officials said.
The metrics required to increase capacity to 40% under the new plan are as follows:
- COVID cases diagnosed per day: currently averaging 466, in the “High-Risk” level. This number must be below 400 new cases per day to reach the “Moderate-Risk” level.
- COVID test positivity: currently averaging 4.7%, in the “Low-Risk” level
- Emergency Departments visits for COVID-like illness: currently averaging 69 per day, in the “Moderate-Risk” level
- ICU beds occupied by COVID patients: currently averaging 148, in the “Moderate-Risk” level
Capacity can then increase to 50% after two weeks of successfully maintaining "moderate risk" levels across all four metrics, according to the city.
Click here for more.
Suburban Cook County Increases Indoor Dining Capacity in Alignment With Chicago's Coronavirus Guidelines
Suburban Cook County is increasing indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars to bring the county into alignment with new guidelines the city of Chicago announced Wednesday.
The Cook County Department of Public Health announced Wednesday that it will increase capacity limits in bars, restaurants and event spaces to the lesser of 25% or 50 people in alignment with Chicago's new guidelines.
Illinois to Expand Vaccine Eligibility Under Phase 1B Later This Month
Illinois is set to expand the list of people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations in Phase 1B of its rollout, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.
The state expects to increase eligibility beginning Feb. 25, allowing for people with "a high-risk medical condition" or comorbidity to be vaccinated. The list includes those with cancer, diabetes, obesity, women who are pregnant, and those with several other conditions.
"In light of a steadily increasing federal vaccine supply, Illinois is making plans to expand Phase 1B eligibility on February 25 to people who have comorbidities and underlying conditions as defined by the CDC," the governor's office said in a release. "In addition, Illinois will also prioritize individuals with disabilities."
Click here for more on who will be eligible in the expanded phase.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 2,825 New Cases, 53 Deaths, Nearly 63K Vaccinations Reported Wednesday
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported more than 2,800 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with 53 additional deaths attributed to the virus and nearly 63,000 doses of the vaccine administered the day before.
According to the latest IDPH data, 2,825 confirmed and probable cases have been reported over the last 24 hours. Those new cases bring the statewide total to 1,152,995 since the pandemic began.
The 53 additional deaths bring the state to 19,739 deaths during the pandemic.
In the last 24 hours, state laboratories have reported 82,885 new specimens for testing. The state’s seven-day rolling positivity rate for all COVID tests stayed at 3.3%, the same from the day before, as did the positivity rate on individuals tested, still sitting at 4%.
Tuesday saw 62,923 doses administered, IDPH said, noting that the state is on track to have administered more than 1.5 million doses of the vaccine by Thursday.
Read more on the latest state metrics here.
More Than 100 New COVID Vaccination Locations Open in Illinois
The state of Illinois has added more than 100 new COVID-19 vaccination sites in the last week, according to a news release from state health officials Wednesday.
Since Feb. 4, the state said it has added 22 local health department, medical center and hospital locations, along with two new mass vaccination sites and 110 retail pharmacy stores, including Walmart and Meijer locations.
For a complete look at where and how you can make an appointment in Illinois or where you can receive vaccine information for your area, click here.
The added locations bring Illinois' total vaccination sites to 517.
Phase 1C of COVID-19 Vaccinations Could Be Pushed Back, Arwady Says
As Chicago awaits more doses of the coronavirus vaccine, the city's top doctor said Tuesday that the next phase of vaccinations could be pushed back.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city needs to see a significant increase in vaccine doses from the federal government in order to move into Phase 1C as previously announced.
"If we don't get significantly more vaccine, like we're anticipating, it's possible we could have to push the date for 1C back," Arwady said. "At this point we're sort of going with a projection that there will be quite a bit more vaccine."
Chicago was originally planning to move into Phase 1C on March 29, followed by the entry of Phase 2 on May 31. Phase 1C includes all essential workers not covered in earlier phases, as well as Chicagoans between the ages of 16 and 64 who have underlying medical conditions, Arwady said.
"Looking ahead to Phase 2, which is really when a vaccine is available to all Chicagoans, we're tentatively saying that might begin May 31, the end of May. All of these numbers for Phase 1C and Phase 2 is subject to change but just to give people a high level sense of what we're thinking," Arwady said.
As of Tuesday, Chicago was receiving 6,000 first doses of the vaccine per day, though there are more than 700,000 Chicagoans eligible for vaccinations in Phase 1B, according to Arwady.
Chicago Travel Order Updated: 46 States Now on List Requiring Quarantine or Negative Test
Chicago updated its emergency travel order on Tuesday, now including 46 U.S. states and one territory in the orange tier that requires either a 10-day quarantine or negative COVID-19 test before arrival in the city.
Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota and Puerto Rico were moved to the yellow tier Tuesday, which does not require quarantine or a pre-arrival coronavirus test but remains under an advisory to avoid non-essential travel, the Chicago Department of Public Health said.
All 46 other states and the District of Columbia remain in the orange tier. Updates to the order are issued every other Tuesday and take effect the following Friday.
"Though the Chicago case numbers have dropped of late, this is not a time to let our guard down," CDPH said in a statement. "To maintain the current trajectory, we must double down on what we know prevents COVID spread. This includes wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands and staying at home as much as you can. Chicago residents are strongly advised to cancel non-essential travel."
Walgreens, Uber Partner to Offer Free Rides to COVID Vaccine Appointments
Walgreens and Uber Technologies are joining together in a new partnership to give free rides to coronavirus vaccine appointments in underserved communities, the Illinois-based pharmacy chain announced Tuesday.
The new initiative will roll out over the coming months with pilot programs launching in several U.S. cities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Houston and El Paso.
Though no exact dates were given, the companies said they plan to offer free transportation to Walgreens stores and vaccine clinics.
Patients who make an appointment will receive an email "extending the offer to schedule a ride."
Read more here.