Illinois reached a testing milestone in its fight against coronavirus Saturday, topping 14 million tests conducted throughout the state since the pandemic began.
Meanwhile, a Chicago area family warns of the psychological affects of the coronavirus after their son dies from an apparent suicide.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 9:
Who's Included in Phase 1B of Illinois' Vaccination Plan?
More than 3 million Illinois residents are expected to be included in Phase 1b of the state's coronavirus vaccine rollout.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new guidelines for the next phase, including a change in the age requirement for Illinois.
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.
The age requirement in Illinois is 10 years lower than the recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, "in order to reduce COVID-19 mortality and limit community spread in Black and Brown communities," the governor said.
According to data, the average age of COVID-19 death is 81 for white residents, 72 for Black residents and 68 for Latino residents.
The next phase will be "when Phase 1a is substantially complete," Pritzker said.
Phase 1b will include roughly 3.2 million Illinois residents, according to the state.
For exactly who is included in the next vaccination phase, click here.
Illinois Reports 6,717 Cases of Coronavirus, 101 Additional Deaths Saturday
Illinois health officials reported 6,717 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, including 101 deaths Saturday.
A total of 1,024,039 COVID-19 infections have been diagnosed across the state's 102 counties since March, one of the highest totals in the nation.
Saturday's 101 additional deaths brings the state's total death toll to 17,494 fatalities since the pandemic began.
“As this disease continues to wreak havoc on our nation — with the United States setting another record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a day just yesterday — it is critical that we take extra caution today and in the months ahead to reduce the spread, bring down hospitalization rates, and save lives,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement.
In all, 102,903 tests have been returned to state laboratories in the last 24 hours, a marked increase from the day before. The latest testing numbers brought the state total to 14,025,514 tests conducted throughout the pandemic.
The rolling seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of tests dropped to 8.3% as of Saturday, according to IDPH. The positivity rate of all tests was 9.3%, a decrease from the day before.
As of Friday night, 3,589 patients were in hospitals across the state for the coronavirus. Of those, 742 were receiving intensive care and 393 were on ventilators.
Suburban Football Star Dies in Apparent Suicide; Family Says COVID Worsened Depression
A top student athlete at Glenbrook North High School died Thursday in an apparent suicide just months before graduation after his family said the teen's struggle with depression worsened significantly during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dylan Buckner, 18, was found unresponsive at the Deerfield Embassy Suites Thursday afternoon, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Deerfield police confirmed they were called to the hotel.
Buckner's father, Chris Buckner, said the teen had been battling depression the last few years but "his depression worsened significantly after COVID hit."
"The family believes that had COVID not happened, or the country's response to COVID had been more effective, Dylan would still be alive today," Chris Buckner wrote in a statement, adding "we are really, really going to miss him."
Buckner, who played quarterback and was captain of the school's football team, was expected to graduate with honors and hoped to play football at MIT in the fall, his family said. He had received 14 offers to play football at Division III schools, according to his father.
Read more here.
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: Here is information on suicide prevention from the National Institute of Mental Health. If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting ‘Home’ to 741741.
Teachers Who Don't Show Up to Work Monday Won't Be Paid, CPS Says
Chicago Public Schools officials announced Friday that teachers who do not show up to work on Monday will not be eligible for pay.
"We know that a small portion of staff members may choose not to return. Those individuals will be deemed absent without leave, and they will not be eligible for pay going forward," CPS CEO Janice Jackson said.
Jackson said the disciplinary measure is not taken lightly by CPS and can be avoided is staff chooses to return to school Monday.
Lightfoot Confirms In-Person Learning Will Resume Monday For Some CPS Students
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools officials confirmed Friday the first round of students will return to classrooms on Monday as part of the district's plan for all students to eventually return to in-person instruction, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
"What this all boils down to is giving families the option to make the best decision for themselves," Lightfoot said, noting 77,000 families have indicated to CPS they want their children to return to the classroom. "Many of whom rely upon their school communities to make sure that their children get a warm meal and a safe place to be so they can fulfill their God-given talents."
Lightfoot dispelled myths about poor building ventilation and lack of PPE, saying the district spent $8.5 million to equip every classroom and front office with a HEPA filter and to provide masks and other needed equipment to ensure safety of teachers, students and staff.
Read more here.
Tier 3 Mitigations Could Soon be Lifted for Some. Here's What That Means for Indoor Dining
Illinois' 11 regions can begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions as early as next week if they've met the right metrics, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday, but what does that mean for indoor dining at restaurants?
Tier 3 mitigations have continued a long suspension of indoor dining during winter months across Illinois, but should a region move to Tier 2, indoor dining is still not allowed.
Under Illinois' tiered mitigation plan, it is not until Tier 1 that a region can resume indoor dining with capacity limitations.
All of Illinois have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20, which have lowered capacity limitations for outdoor dining and other activities, suspended indoor dining entirely, shut down indoor recreation venues like theaters and casinos and increased other restrictions.
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.