What has experts worried about the delta coronavirus variant - and what should you know?
Meanwhile, the city of Chicago's travel order has now become an advisory, as no new states have been added to the list in the last three updates.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Delta Variant: What to Know About the New Version of Coronavirus Sparking Concern
Concerns surrounding the delta coronavirus variant are rising in both Chicago and Illinois, but what is it about the new variant that has some worried?
Here's an exhaustive list of what we know so far about the variant itself and what is being seen in Chicago and Illinois.
Chicago Laboratory Keeping Close Tabs on Spread of Delta Variant COVID Cases
As concerns grow over the delta coronavirus variant, which is spreading rapidly across the United States, a Chicago laboratory is tracking cases in the city and providing a glimpse into just how quickly the variant has taken hold.
Scientists at the Regional Innovative Public Health Lab at Rush have been contracted by the city of Chicago to analyze coronavirus samples, tasked with finding out which strains of coronavirus are spreading in the city.
“We just need to know what’s in the city, (to examine) if there is a change in the dominant strains that are here,” Dr. Stefan Green, director of Genomics and Microbiome Core Facility at Rush, said.
Illinois Vaccine Lottery: Wednesday Marks Last Day to Get COVID Vaccine to Be Entered in First Drawing
Wednesday marks the final day Illinois residents can get their first dose of the COVID vaccine in order to be entered in the first drawing of the state's new vaccine lottery next month.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the vaccine lottery earlier this month, offering a total of $10 million in prize money to residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19.
The "All In for the Win" lottery will give out the $10 million in the form of $7 million in cash prizes for adults and $3 million in scholarships for youth, all distributed through weekly drawings, Pritzker said.
The Illinois Lottery will draw names each week beginning July 8, Pritzker said. The cash prizes will range from $100,000 to $1 million, he said, while children can win a Bright Start college savings plan worth $150,000 apiece.
Anyone who gets at least one vaccine dose in Illinois is eligible to win, Pritzker said, noting there are "no sign-up, no forms, no waiting in line" and that anyone who gets their first dose before July 1 will be eligible for the first drawing on July 8 and every drawing thereafter.
Will Masking Guidelines Change Due to Delta Variant? Chicago's Top Doc Weighs In
Will masking guidelines change as cases of the delta variant continue to rise globally as well as in Illinois and Chicago?
On Monday, the Los Angeles County Health Department said it "strongly recommends everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places as a precautionary measure" due to the spread of the delta variant.
The World Health Organization on Friday urged fully vaccinated people to continue to wear masks, social distance and practice other COVID-19 pandemic safety measures as the delta variant spreads rapidly, CNBC reported.
"People cannot feel safe just because they had the two doses. They still need to protect themselves," Dr. Mariangela Simao, WHO assistant director-general for access to medicines and health products, said during a news briefing from the agency's Geneva headquarters.
"Vaccine alone won't stop community transmission," Simao added. "People need to continue to use masks consistently, be in ventilated spaces, hand hygiene ... the physical distance, avoid crowding. This still continues to be extremely important, even if you're vaccinated when you have a community transmission ongoing."
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady noted during a Facebook Live Tuesday, however, that Chicago and Illinois are continuing to follow CDC guidance.
Chicago's Travel Order Now an Advisory as No States on Restricted List for 3rd Update
Chicago's travel order is now an advisory as no states remain on the list requiring travel restrictions for the third consecutive update, city officials announced.
According to Chicago's health department, no state has reached the 15 cases per day threshold per 100,000 residents in the last month, allowing for the travel order to shift to an advisory, but the emergency guidelines can be reinstated at any time "if significant surges are seen in any state."
All U.S. states and territories remain in the "yellow" tier of the travel order as of Tuesday, with fewer than 15 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, the Chicago Department of Public Health said.
The last time a state had reached the threshold requiring travelers to quarantine or provide a negative COVID test was May 18, the department said.
Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and the Delta Variant: Will A Booster Shot be Needed?
What does the rise in delta variant cases around the globe mean for those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
While preliminary data shows both two-shot mRNA vaccines continue to offer protection against the new delta coronavirus variant spreading globally, questions over whether the single-shot J&J vaccine offers the same level of protection have been raised.
Currently, little data has been released showing just how effective the Johnson & Johnson is at protecting against the Delta variant, though it is believed that the single-shot vaccine does offer protection against the variant.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, reportedly said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to be about 60% effective against the delta variant.
While studies have shown that the available vaccines work against variants, including the delta variant, all two-dose vaccines offer significantly more protection following their second dose.
Researchers in England studied how effective the two-dose AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were against it, compared with the alpha variant that was first detected in the U.K.
The vaccines were protective for those who got both doses but were less so among those who got one dose.
Delta COVID Variant Could Be Dominant in Illinois By Fall, Pritzker Says
The delta coronavirus variant, which scientists believe may be the most aggressive and contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus seen so far, is expected to become the dominant strain for Illinois cases by the fall, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
Pritzker took a moment to address the ongoing pandemic during an unrelated press conference, stating "the delta variant that sent Israel back into mitigation is a growing presence in Illinois" as he continued to encourage residents to get vaccinated.
"We expect it to dominate our cases statewide by the fall," he said.
Pritzker, who wore a mask to the public event, said he was doing so out of an "abundance of caution" as concerns surrounding the delta variant rise.
"The lessons here at home and across the world are a harbinger of what could happen here, particularly in low vaccinated areas, if we don't see a higher uptake of the vaccine across Illinois," he said. "This is very real. I implore all residents, if you have friends and family on the fence, share with them the life-saving benefits of these free vaccines and encourage them to remain masked until they are fully vaccinated."
So far, the Illinois Department of Public Health has identified 84 cases of the variant in the state as of data reported Sunday. That's compared to 6,505 cases of the variant first reported out of the U.K. known as the alpha variant, which is likely the most prolific-strain in the state of Illinois.
Cases of the delta variant are roughly doubling every two weeks, a trajectory that has some officials worried.
Pritzker also encouraged residents to continue to "use your mask accordingly."
"I would say from my own perspective if you're going into a heavily crowded area, you don't know if somebody is not vaccinated and so you should just bring your mask with you and keep safe," he said.
Illinois Summer Camp Linked to COVID Outbreak With More Than 80 Cases: IDPH
An Illinois summer camp has been linked to a COVID outbreak that led to more than 80 cases earlier this month, state health officials said.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, at least 85 teens and some adult staff of a summer youth camp held in mid-June in central Illinois have tested positive for the virus. One unvaccinated young adult was hospitalized, the health department said.
“The majority of the 85 COVID-19 cases associated with the youth camp are among teens,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can cause long-term health issues. Additionally, infected youth who may not experience severe illness can still spread the virus to others, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or those who don’t build the strong expected immune response to the vaccine.”
The camp was not checking vaccination status and did not require masks indoors, according to IDPH.
Illinois Considering ‘Return-to-Work' Incentive for Unemployed Residents
As some states have started offering incentives to convince unemployed individuals to return to the workforce, Illinois is now considering such an action, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
"We're looking at all the options," the governor noted as he addressed reporters at the opening of the K-Town Business Center in Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood.
As first reported in late May, nearly all the nation’s Republican governors decided to cut off a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit that they and many business executives blame for discouraging the unemployed from seeking jobs.
However, Gov. Pritzker stated at the time that wouldn't be the case in Illinois, explaining unemployed residents will receive an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits until the payments expire on Sept. 6.
Pritzker previously said he doesn’t support ending the benefits or reinstating job search requirements because there are people who have “legitimate reasons for remaining on unemployment” that are directly related to the pandemic.
Illinois Secretary of State Extends Drivers License, ID Card Expiration Dates to 2022
Illinois residents who need to renew their driver’s licenses or state ID cards now have more time to do so under an extension granted by Secretary of State Jesse White’s office.
The extension moved the deadline for renewing driver's licenses and ID cards five months to Jan. 1, 2022, including for those that expire between July and December of this year.
The previous deadline had been set for Aug. 1, but White's office said it was extended "so customers do not need to rush into Driver Services facilities, especially during hot weather."
“Extending expiration dates until January 1, 2022, means people with an expired driver’s license or ID card do not need to rush into a Driver Services facility immediately,” White said in a statement. “During hot weather, I would suggest residents consider delaying visits to Driver Services facilities. But if you must visit a facility, please come prepared to wait outside due to continued social distancing efforts, which limits the number of people inside a facility at one time. We are allowing more people in the facilities at one time due to relaxed protocols.”
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,744 New COVID Cases, 66 Deaths, 201K Vaccinations Over Past Week
Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 1,744 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in the past week, along with 66 additional deaths and more than 201,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,390,432 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported last week bring the state to 23,199 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 276,760 tests since the previous Friday, bringing the total to more than 25 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests again was 0.6%, while the seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested was 0.8%.
Over the past seven days, a total of 201,587 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to state residents. That brings the state’s average to 28,798 daily vaccination doses over the last week, according to IDPH data.
State officials said 54% of adult residents in the state are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with nearly 71% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight, 435 patients were currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 99 are in intensive care units, and 53 are on ventilators.
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