Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned this week that if Illinois' COVID metrics don't decline, "significantly greater mitigations" could be imposed in the state.
At the same time, one of the state’s healthcare regions has just one ICU bed available.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Chicago Announces COVID Vaccine Mandate for All City Workers
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The city of Chicago will require COVID vaccinations for all city employees, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.
The policy will take effect on Oct. 15 and requires all city employees and volunteers to be fully vaccinated by that date. Employees can apply for medical or religious exemptions, but such requests will be reviewed by the Department of Human Resources on a case-by-case basis, the city said.
“Fully vaccinated” is defined as two weeks past the second dose of a two-dose mRNA vaccine or two weeks past a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Employees will need to submit proof of vaccination through an online COVID-19 Vaccine Portal.
What Could Be Next After Gov. Pritzker Warns of Potential for Stronger Mitigations?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned this week that if Illinois' COVID metrics don't decline, "significantly greater mitigations" could be imposed in the state. But what might that include?
The governor said Tuesday that "if we are not able to bring these numbers down, if hospitals continue to fill, if the hospital beds and ICUs get full like they are in Kentucky... we're going to have to impose significantly greater mitigations."
Pritzker said heightened mitigations could include things like "phases," which brought restrictions on both a regional and statewide level earlier in the pandemic, though he did not offer many specifics.
"Those are things that we don't want to go back to," he said, "Those are, you know, phases, situations, things on the menu that I think we don't want to go to but right now."
Previous phased mitigations have included things like capacity limitations, indoor dining limitations, restrictions on some indoor businesses like gyms and salons and more.
Read more here.
J&J Says Its COVID Vaccine Booster Shot Generated a Promising Immune Response in Early Trials
Johnson & Johnson said Wednesday a booster shot of its Covid-19 vaccine generated a promising immune response in early-stage clinical trials – though the information provided by the company in a press release was light on some details.
Coronavirus by the Numbers: Illinois Region Nearly Out of ICU Beds as COVID Cases Surge
As Illinois continues to see a surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations, one of the state’s healthcare regions is being hit especially hard, with just one ICU bed available for an area covering 20 of the state’s 102 counties.
According to the latest figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state’s Region 5, located in the far southern tip of Illinois, there is only one intensive care unit bed available out of the 84 that the region possesses.
That has occurred because the region has seen its intensive care population increase on 29 of the last 30 days, according to IDPH figures. Hospital bed availability has plummeted in that time, and the region’s positivity rate on COVID tests has increased from 8.1% on July 23 to 10.8% as of Aug. 21, the last date for which data is available.
Other regions are currently dealing with ICU bed availability issues as well.
According to IDPH, at least 37 counties in Illinois are at a “warning level” for intensive care unit bed availabilities, meaning that fewer than 20% of the ICU beds in those counties are available.
Pritzker Warns of ‘Significantly Greater Mitigations' If COVID Metrics Don't Decline
Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Tuesday that if Illinois' COVID metrics don't decline, "significantly greater mitigations" could be imposed in the state.
"We're consistently looking at the menu of options that we may need to impose in order to bring down the numbers," Pritzker said during a press conference. "I will remind you that if we are not able to bring these numbers down, if hospitals continue to fill, if the hospital beds and ICUs get full like they are in Kentucky -that's just next door to Illinois - if that happens, we're going to have to impose significantly greater mitigations."
As of Tuesday, 37 Illinois counties and Chicago were at a "warning level" for intensive care unit bed availability, according to data from the state health department.
For a county to reach "warning level," it must have below 20% ICU bed capacity, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.
Chicago Travel Advisory: 4 States Added as COVID Cases Continue to Rise
Chicago on Tuesday added four states to its travel advisory, recommending that unvaccinated people entering the city from those areas test negative for COVID-19 or quarantine upon arrival.
The four new states added include: Maryland, South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado.
The addition brings the total number of states on the advisory to 43 states, along with two territories.
The District of Columbia, which was added last week, was removed after falling below the threshold, city officials said.
Chicago to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines for City Workers, Lightfoot Says
The city of Chicago will soon instate a vaccine requirement for city employees, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday, however the city has yet to negotiate the specifics with workers' unions.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference, the mayor said discussions with labor unions have been "going on for a couple of weeks" and announcements will be made "in the coming days."
"We absolutely have to have a vaccine mandate, it's for the safety of all involved, particularly members of the public who are interacting with city employees on a daily basis," Lightfoot said. "It's important for colleagues to also feel like they have a workplace that is safe."
Where You Can Get the Pfizer Vaccine in Illinois, Now That FDA Has Granted Full Approval
With the Pfizer vaccine fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration, here's a look at where you can get vaccinated and how to schedule an appointment.
While full approval has been granted for those age 16 and older, the vaccine is still under emergency use authorization for children 12 to 15 years old. During the beginning of the vaccine rollout earlier this year, a number of mass vaccination sites were set up in an effort to vaccinate a large number of people as quickly as possible.
Now with the Pfizer vaccine's full approval, another uptick in vaccinations is possible as the U.S. sees a rise in cases of the rapidly-spreading Delta variant.
Families Concerned About Lack of Physical Distancing at Suburban High School
As cases of the delta variant soar nationwide and worries about COVID-19 grow, some parents and students have expressed uneasiness about the lack of physical distancing at a suburban Berwyn high school.
Videos and pictures from inside Morton West High School show masked students in crowded hallways, cafeterias and classrooms.
Nadia Ortiz, whose daughter, Mylani Hernandez, attends the school, told NBC 5 the lack of distancing simply makes her scared.
Her daughter agrees.
"We are supposed to be social distancing," she said. "Even though we have masks on, it may not help."
In-person classes started Aug. 16 for Hernandez, who is not vaccinated because of a medical condition, according to her mother. Ortiz said she worries about her daughter and other students, as well as teachers and staff, contracting COVID.