Negotiations remain ongoing between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools over bringing teachers and students back into classrooms, leaving the district to ask students who have returned to go back to remote learning Wednesday,
Meanwhile, two regions in the Chicago suburbs moved into Tier 1 COVID-19 mitigations on Tuesday, allowing for the return of limited indoor dining, among other changes.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 27:
Pritzker Pushes Back on Claim That Ill. Ranks Among Bottom of States for COVID Vaccine Distribution
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday pushed back on claims that Illinois ranks near the bottom of all 50 states for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The New York Times' tracker of vaccine distribution across the country ranks Illinois 44th of all 50 states for percentage of the population that has received at least the first of two doses of the vaccine, with 4.7% of Illinois residents having received at least their first dose.
The tracker also ranked Illinois at 43rd in the U.S. for percentage of doses used, noting that Illinois has administered 48% of vaccine doses that it has received.
Illinois health officials on Wednesday said a total of 1,253,300 doses of the vaccine had been delivered to providers in Illinois so far, as well as 537,050 doses allocated to the federal government's Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, for a total of 1,790,350 doses delivered to Illinois.
The Illinois Department of Public Health said that of those, 773,623 doses have been administered in the state, including 117,983 at long-term care facilities. That total number of doses that have been administered equates to just over 43% of the doses that IDPH said have been received.
Read more here.
Illinois Reports 3,751 New Coronavirus Cases, 81 Additional Deaths Wednesday
Illinois health officials on Wednesday reported 3,751 new cases of COVID-19 as well as 81 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Wednesday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,112,181 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Wednesday lifted the death toll to 18,964.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 80,124 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,633,443 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 4.5%, down slightly from the day before. The positivity rate for unique individuals tested also dropped slightly to 5.6% Wednesday.
As of Tuesday night, 591 patients in Illinois were in intensive care units, while 300 were on ventilators.
Also as of Tuesday night, 1,253,300 coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to providers across Illinois, while 537,050 doses had been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, IDPH said. That brought the total number of doses sent to Illinois to 1,790,350.
A total of 53,628 doses were administered Tuesday, officials said, lifting the total number of vaccine doses given in the state to 773,623, including 117,983 for long-term care facilities. The latest figures brought the 7-day rolling average administered daily to 33,698 doses, according to IDPH data.
Hy-Vee Begins COVID Vaccinations at Several Illinois Locations
Hy-Vee is joining the list of grocery and pharmacy chains now offering coronavirus vaccinations in Illinois as the state enters its next stage, opening up doses to millions of residents.
Beginning Wednesday, several Hy-Vee locations in Illinois started vaccinating residents eligible under Phase 1B of the state's rollout, officials announced Tuesday.
The company, which has 16 locations in central and southern Illinois, said it hopes to offer up to 200 vaccinations per day. It is also beginning vaccinations in Iowa as well.
• To make an appointment, eligible individuals can register at https://www.hy-vee.com/my-pharmacy/covid-vaccine-consent
• Monday-Friday: 7am – 7pm and Saturday-Sunday: 9am – 5pm (most locations)
Hy-Vee has stores in Bloomington, Canton, Galesburg, Hamilton, Milan, Moline, Macomb, Peoria, Peru, Rock Island, Silvis, Springfield, and Sycamore.
Pritzker to Tour Lake County Fairgrounds Vaccination Site
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is scheduled to tour a suburban vaccination site on Wednesday.
Pritzker will join local officials to tour the Lake County Fairgrounds vaccination site, located at 1060 East Peterson Road, at 11 a.m., according to his public schedule. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
CPS Tells Parents to Keep Children Home Wednesday After CTU Vote
Chicago Public Schools students who have been learning in-person are being asked to stay home Wednesday after the Chicago Teachers Union voted to have teachers switch to remote-only learning this week, according to a press release from the district.
In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday evening, CPS officials say that parents will be asked to keep children at home as a result of the CTU vote, which took place over the weekend.
“For the past three weeks, thousands of CPS students have been safely learning in person, and the union’s action will prevent these students from receiving the classroom support their parents needed and chose,” CPS said in a statement. “While we are greatly concerned for our youngest and highest-need students, who are suddenly without a safe, in-person learning option, we are continuing to make all possible efforts to reach an agreement that addresses the union’s priorities and provides families a much-needed resolution.”
The Chicago Teachers Union is calling for mediation as the union pushes to remain remote until teachers are vaccinated.
"We are willing to keep teaching, but CPS has said they will lock us out," CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement. "We are willing to keep negotiating, but CPS has refused to back down from insisting that 80% of educators and support staff person in every elementary school be back in class on Feb. 1 to serve less than 20% of the students. Another 10,000 of our members became eligible for vaccinations on Jan. 25. We can make schools safe with a phased reopening and enhanced COVID-19 testing for members of school communities."
Read more here.
Why You Might Be Having Trouble Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment in Illinois
Illinois and Chicago have both entered Phase 1B of their COVID-19 vaccine rollout this week, standing up new vaccination sites and increasing eligibility to millions of residents.
But there have been many reports of people having difficulty booking appointments to get vaccinated, even if they qualify in this new phase of vaccinations. Why are appointments so difficult to get for some?
State and local officials have addressed this issue on several occasions, asking for patience with the problem they've attributed to vaccine shipments from the federal government that have contained fewer doses of both available vaccines than initially anticipated - a trend playing out nationwide since shipments began last month.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned last week that even though the state is moving into this new phase as scheduled, there are still limitations to appointments based on how much vaccine is received.
"This does not mean, however, that right away you will be able to get the vaccine as easily as you can get the flu shot," Pritzker said. "Because federal vaccine production was hampered by the failure of the previous administration to properly invoke the Defense Production Act, vaccine supply is still limited all across the nation. There are additional vaccines in the pipeline that may soon seek FDA approval, and that will help. But there are 3.2 million Illinoisans in Phase 1B, so there will be far greater demand than supply for the near term – to put it in perspective, we’re expecting approximately 126,000 first doses to arrive next week outside of Chicago. That’s less than 4% of the 1B population. Until the vaccine supply improves, we will all need to be patient."
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said last week that the city is not receiving "anywhere near enough" doses from the federal government to vaccinate everyone in the city who is eligible in Phase 1B.
"Let me highlight that we do not have anywhere near enough vaccine to vaccinate anywhere near the number of people who are going to want to get vaccinated beginning on Monday," Arwady said Thursday.
Arwady acknowledged in a livestream again on Tuesday that vaccine availability is limited but offered a note of optimism that the system CDPH has been setting up - particularly enrolling health care providers as vaccine administrators - would enable the city to increase availability as soon as larger shipments begin to come in.
"I know vaccine envy is real," Arwady said. "I feel for those of you who are really wanting to get that vaccine and just can't get a slot yet. Please rest assured, there will be slots available."
Should You Wear Two Masks? Here's What Illinois' and Chicago's Top Docs Say
There's been plenty of discussion lately on whether or not wearing two masks at one time provides greater protection for people during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly as new and more contagious variants of the virus begin to surface in the U.S.
If one mask is better than none, is two actually better than one?
According to the top public health officials in both Chicago and Illinois, the answer is maybe.
Both were asked in recent days what their thoughts were on the subject.
"I've certainly been following the information on that. The most important thing always, is if people are taking COVID seriously their risk is really quite low," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Monday. "Where we see people get into trouble is where they think they don't need the mask, they can get in big gatherings, they can put aside the things that we know work. There has been some thought about the second masking because of, you know, variants coming and some of that. If people feel more secure wearing a second mask, they can. I am wearing a single mask at this point. If there is guidance that comes out that's based on some studies and some evidence that the CDC recommends we would make that updated recommendation, but at this point, we know that where people wear masks, they do the distancing, they wash their hands, they don't gather - all the things that we've started to take for granted - the risk of COVID spread is actually very low."
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike agreed.
"There are things that don't change as we're learning more about the variant and so those important things are the things that are going to make the difference- you know, continuing to be masked," Ezike said Friday. "It's not inappropriate to say, 'If I can breathe comfortably with one and I can do that with two, maybe two will give us that extra level of protection.' That, you know, large gatherings unmasked, indoor is obviously more risky than outdoors - like all of those things we've been saying that the message doesn't really change. It just means it's more important now, more important than even before, to adhere to them. So we'll continue to follow the science."
City Finds High Levels of Compliance on First Weekend of Indoor Dining
City officials said they found a “high level of compliance” from restaurants and bars over the first weekend of indoor dining, citing only one business that allegedly served dozens of people who weren’t social distancing.
The Drip G, 5529 W. Chicago Ave., was cited for allowing 79 patrons to eat and drink indoors, according a spokesperson for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
No other violations of the Tier 1 Mitigation Measures were found on Saturday and Sunday.
2 Suburban Regions Move to Tier 1 COVID-19 Mitigations, Resume Indoor Dining
Two regions in the Chicago suburbs can now move into Tier 1 COVID-19 mitigations, allowing for the return of limited indoor dining, among other changes, state health officials announced.
Region 8, which includes west suburban DuPage and Kane counties, and Region 9, home to north suburban Lake and McHenry counties, will both enter Tier 1 effective Tuesday, health officials said.
Illinois Reports 3,667 New Coronavirus Cases, 87 Additional Deaths Tuesday
Illinois health officials on Tuesday reported 3,667 new cases of coronavirus as well as 87 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuesday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,108,430 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Tuesday lifted the death toll to 18,883.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 69,285 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 15,553,319 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 4.6%, down slightly from the day before. The positivity rate for unique individuals tested also dropped slightly to 5.7% Tuesday.
As of Monday night, 608 patients in Illinois were in intensive care units, while 320 were on ventilators.
Also as of Monday night, 1,227,625 coronavirus vaccines had been delivered to providers across Illinois, while 537,050 doses had been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership Program for long-term care facilities, IDPH said. That brought the total number of doses sent to Illinois to 1,764,675.
A total of 27,232 doses were administered Monday, officials said, lifting the total number of vaccine doses given in the state to 719,995, including 110,403 for long-term care facilities. The latest figures brought the 7-day rolling average administered daily to 30,180 doses, according to IDPH data.
8 Additional Cases of More Contagious Variant of COVID-19 Reported in Illinois
Illinois health officials have confirmed eight additional cases of a COVID-19 variant that spreads more rapidly than previous strains of the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the state to nine.
The virus, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, is known as variant B.1.1.7. It has been shown in laboratory studies to spread more quickly than previous iterations of the virus, and has been located in several states, sparking fears of a new wave of the virus.
“Early studies have found that this variant spreads more easily than what we have seen with the current prevailing variant,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said in a statement.
One case was reported earlier this month in Chicago, according to state health officials.
Phase 1B Vaccinations: Here's Everything We Know So Far in Illinois
Illinois and Chicago have both entered the next phase of their vaccination rollout, called Phase 1B, increasing the eligibility to millions of residents.
Phase 1B opens up vaccinations to people age 65 years and older as well as "frontline essential workers," which includes first responders, education workers like teachers and support staff, childcare workers, grocery store employees, postal service workers and more.
There are several ways eligible residents will be able to get vaccinated, but state officials have urged patience as the new phase opens up.
Click here for a look at everything we know so far, including: who is eligible, where you can get vaccinated, what you need to get your vaccine and more.
COVID Vaccination Locations in Illinois: IDPH Launches New Statewide Map
The Illinois Department of Public Health now has a map on their website where residents can find vaccination locations near them, as well as appointment information.
According to the department, the map will be updated daily as the state receives additional doses, new sites join in and more appointments become available.
More information and the map can be found here.