Of the more than 100,000 appointments that were made available at the United Center mass vaccination site on Thursday, officials say more than 27,000 have been filled.
Meanwhile, Chicago officials are still warning against St. Patrick's Day celebrations even as the city continues to lift restrictions.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Illinois' First Case of More Contagious Brazilian COVID-19 Variant Reported in Chicago
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The Chicago Department of Public Health reported the city's first case of the Brazilian COVID-19 variant Friday, which also marked the first such case in Illinois, according to health officials.
The case of the coronavirus variant P.1, which was identified by a research team at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, was confirmed in an individual who hasn't recently traveled outside Illinois.
The Brazil variant is a distinct variation from those seen in Britain and South Africa and thought to be more transmissible than the coronavirus strain that was prevalent at the beginning of the pandemic.
Read more here.
Chicago Could Enter Phase 1C This Month, But What About Illinois?
Chicago health officials say the city could enter the next phase of its vaccine rollout as early as this month, but what about the rest of the state?
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday that an estimated date was not yet available, saying the state is still working to vaccinate residents under its expanded Phase 1B Plus.
"I don't have a date for you yet again because we're trying to get through we have millions of people still in 1B Plus, 1B and 1A that have not been vaccinated," Pritzker said Friday. "But we want to make sure that we get to a certain level, you know, probably beyond 50% in each of the categories that's allowed before we start to open it up to another category."
Illinois entered Phase 1B Plus in late-February, expanding eligibility to include people with certain underlying conditions and comorbidities, but much of the Chicago area, including the city itself, opted not to join in that expansion, citing a lack of doses.
Chicago, however, remains on track to enter Phase 1C at the end of March, the city's top doctor said earlier this week, adding that the next phase could begin even earlier than anticipated.
Read more here.
O'Hare Hilton Opens as Vaccine Site for Public Transit Employees
The Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel on Friday began administering coronavirus vaccines to public transportation workers.
The site, which is not open to the public, will dispense shots from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, according to a statement from the Chicago Department of Aviation.
“These vaccines provide a source of optimism for a return to normal operations as we continue working to keep Chicago connected to the world throughout this pandemic,” CDA Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee said in a statement.
Appointments will be required for all vaccinations and walk-ins will not be allowed. The site will administer the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which requires only one dose.
Read more here.
Leftover United Center Appointments Expected to Open to Other Eligible Residents Sunday
If any of the 100,000 appointments now available for seniors at the United Center mass vaccination site remain unclaimed by Sunday afternoon, they are then expected to open up to other eligible Illinois residents, officials said.
The appointments will be reserved for residents 65 years of age and older until 4 p.m. Sunday, according to the city. After that time, if some appointments are still available, they would then open up to an additional group, city health officials 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," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said this week. "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."
Of the more than 100,000 appointments that were made available at the United Center mass vaccination site on Thursday, just over 27,000 had been claimed by Thursday evening, health officials said.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,442 New Cases, 33 Deaths, Over 131K Vaccinations
Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 1,442 new cases of coronavirus, along with 33 additional deaths and more than 131,000 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Friday's new confirmed and probable cases brought the state to 1,194,702 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.
The 33 new deaths reported Friday bring the state to 20,700 fatalities during the pandemic, according to IDPH.
Read more here.
All 1st Dose Appointments Booked at Cook County Mass Vax Sites, Health Dept. Says
If you were hoping to sign up at one of Cook County's four mass vaccination locations, including the newly-opened Des Plaines site, it appears all first-dose appointments have been booked for now, county officials said.
As of Thursday afternoon, an alert on Cook County's vaccine registration website said "there are no more first dose appointments available at Cook County Community Vaccination locations."
The county urged patience and said vaccine supply is expected to "increase in the coming weeks."
It was not immediately clear when more appointments would become available, but the alert remained on the site as of Friday afternoon.
For a look at how you can sign up for a COVID vaccine appointment in Illinois, click here.
Pritzker to Discuss New Partnership, Announce Vaccine Campaign
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to discuss a new partnership to work on equitable distribution of the vaccine in Cook County, as well as launch a new awareness campaign on Friday.
Pritzker will speak at 11 a.m. at Family Christian Health Center, located at 31 W. 155th Street in Chicago, according to his public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
New Program Brings COVID Vaccine to Homebound Chicago Residents
As seniors seek out vaccine appointments at the United Center and other locations, a new program is bringing the vaccine to residents unable to leave home.
Paramedics with the Chicago Fire Department on Thursday administered its first vaccines in a citywide pilot program intended to inoculate homebound seniors and those with disabilities.
Residents can register for the program on the city’s website. The program is open to people who can’t leave home because doing so requires “considerable and taxing effort.”
Those eligible must be:
- A senior or a person with a disability and require in-home assistance; or
- Someone who uses equipment (like a ventilator, crutches, a walker, a wheelchair, etc.) or requires accessible transportation to leave home.
Paramedics will administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which doesn’t need ultra-cold storage and requires only one dose.
The program began as residents 65 and older began to register for vaccine appointments at the United Center, where vaccinations will begin next week.
Report: Cubs, White Sox Present Plan for 30% Opening Day Capacity
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said this week the Cubs and White Sox "have come up with very good plans" for hosting fans at games this season. One new report offered a potential look at what that could look like.
ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported on "Waddle & Silvy" Thursday the Cubs and Sox recently put together a joint presentation for the state of Illinois and city of Chicago where each club proposed hosting fans at 30% capacity starting April 1.
That would put somewhere around 12,000 fans in both the Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field seats.
The two clubs are waiting to hear back on the proposal, which also includes socially-distanced seating, and mobile pay and the ability to pre-order concessions, according to Rogers.
The Cubs open the season at home on April 1. The White Sox home opener is a week later, on April 8.
Read more here.
Lightfoot Directs City Departments to Prepare for Potential Events, Concerts this Summer
Major Chicago events like Lollapalooza, the Taste of Chicago and other summer festivals and concerts in Chicago may return this summer so long as COVID-19 indicators continue to trend in the correct direction.
On Thursday, city officials said that while nothing is for certain, they’ve asked various departments to prepare for the possibility of summer events to return.
“While we are not formally planning nor permitting events at this time, our COVID-19 indicators continue to trend in the right direction and we are hopeful that some events that align with health guidelines may be possible later this year,” Christine Carrino of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s press office said in a statement to NBC 5.
“As such, Mayor Lightfoot has directed City departments to prepare for the possibility of events this summer and ensure any resources that could be necessary are available.”
Last summer, events like Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago were canceled and for the last year concert halls and theatres have been shuttered or forced to operate at a limited capacity.
On Thursday, the Metro announced shows at GMan Tavern, located next to the iconic concert hall that are scheduled for later this month with limited capacity.
However, some, like JAM Productions owner Jerry Mickelson are already selling tickets online for his outdoor music venues in hopes they can soon reopen at full capacity this summer and with precautions in place.
Read more here.
St. Patrick's Day in Chicago: Top Doc Warns Against Parties This Year
Though Chicago may be opening up more as the city increases indoor dining capacity for restaurants and bars and eases other restrictions, officials are still warning against St. Patrick's Day celebrations.
Last year, the holiday marked the beginning of the pandemic, with the city canceling its parade yet crowds still filling streets, bars and restaurants.
"We were getting into March, this very compressed time period, kind of leading into St Patrick's Day where we were starting to see some more cases and I think in a lot of ways canceling the St. Patrick's Day parade was one of the first big things that people started recognizing that this was going to be a major impact," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday during a Facebook Live.
Now, as cases continue on a downward trend with vaccinations increasing daily, there's hope. But that doesn't necessarily mean the parties can resume, Arwady said.
"We are in a much better place than we were a few months ago, right? You saw we were able to expand bars and restaurants to 50% capacity, some expanded hours there, but we've got to keep the COVID precautions in place and I would just ask people - not the year yet for a big celebration," Arwady said. "I'm very hopeful that, you know, in a few months if things keep heading the way that they're going we are going to be sort of more and more open. We're certainly having conversations about later in the spring, in the summer if things keep heading the way that they're heading, but the middle of March is is not yet a point to sort of think that COVID is just over."
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.