Coronavirus Pandemic

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Officials Monitor New COVID Variant, Bulls Player Tests Positive

Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

As Illinois officials entered the new year vaccinating long term care facility residents, the state continues to monitor the new coronavirus variant making its way through the U.S.

Meanwhile, a Chicago Bulls player tested positive for COVID-19, causing coach Billy Donovan to place several other players into the NBA's health and safety protocol due to close contact.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Jan. 1)

Illinois Reports 4,762 New Coronavirus Cases, 29 Additional Deaths Saturday

Health officials in Illinois reported 4,762 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Saturday along with 29 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now reported 975,352 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, along with 16,674 total fatalities.

Over the last 24 hours, 61,987 new tests returned to labs across the state. In all, 13,436,652 tests have been performed during the pandemic, according to IDPH data.

The state's seven-day positivity rate for tests increased to 9.6% Saturday, up from 9.5% Friday, while the positivity rate for cases rose to 8.3%.

Hospitalizations in the state held steady Saturday at 3,799 patients receiving care for the coronavirus. The number of patients in intensive care units dropped to 783, while there are currently 458 patients on ventilators in the state due to COVID-19.

Bulls Announce Chandler Hutchison Tested Positive for COVID-19, 4 in Protocol

Chandler Hutchison tested positive for COVID-19, according to Bulls coach Billy Donovan, a development that placed teammates Lauri Markkanen, Tomáš Satoranský and Ryan Arcidiacono into the NBA's health and safety protocol because of close contact.

Donovan confirmed Hutchison's news with the third-year forward's permission, and Hutchison remained in Washington, D.C. That's where his positive test occurred, sidelining him and the three teammates just before Thursday's tipoff against the Wizards.

The Bulls traveled to Milwaukee for Friday's back-to-back game, leaving the four players behind. Donovan said the three players besides Hutchison who were placed into the league's protocol system have returned to Chicago.

"Chandler is still going through all the NBA safety protocols," Donovan said.

Per the league's return-to-play rules, Hutchison must sit out a minimum of 10 days from first testing positive -- and that's if he's asymptomatic. If he's symptomatic, that 10-day period begins from when those symptoms subside. In either scenario, players must pass a series of cardiac tests and practice solo for two days before being allowed to rejoin the team.

As for the players placed in the league's protocol because of close contact, they must continue to produce negative tests and self-quarantine at home. When Satoranský experienced a similar situation during the preseason after exposure to the since-waived Noah Vonleh, he had to miss nine days until he rejoined the team.

Chicago-Area Gyms Hopeful for Boost in Business With Start of New Year

The pandemic has changed how and where many people exercise. 

So will the start of 2021 and peoples’ New Year’s resolutions create a boost of business for Chicago-area fitness centers already operating at limited capacity?

Mike Tenerelli, owner of CrossFit Alpha Dog in Lombard, said his gym practices social distancing, taking temperatures and disinfecting equipment.

"I’m seeing a little bit of interest with New Year’s resolutions," Tenerelli said. "I think the next couple of days will be real telling, especially once the work week starts back up on Monday."

Tenerelli also said while he is hesitant because the nation is still dealing with the virus, he thinks a lot of gyms will survive and new ones will open.

“It’s going to be a little bit, but I think slowly, but surely with the vaccine and people understanding the virus more, I think optimism is on the climb and I hope 2021 is kind of the start of that,” Tenerelli said.

Fitness experts, however, said it’s not just about getting people back inside gyms.  They said it’s about peoples’ overall health and conditioning.

This goes for people who now work from home and may be missing out on the exercise and walking they did at work before the pandemic.

Illinois Department of Public Health Monitoring New Coronavirus Variant

The Illinois Department of Public Health is monitoring a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 after the first confirmed case in the United States was discovered in Colorado earlier this week.

The new variant, which was initially identified in the United Kingdom, has been discovered in Southern California and Florida, as well as Colorado. Those two cases are not known to be linked to travel, which could indicate community spread, according to the IDPH.

No cases of the new variant have been found in Illinois, but IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike says they’re closely monitoring the situation.

“Viruses are constantly changing through mutation and variant virus are expected,” said Dr. Ezike in a statement.  “At this time, we have no evidence that infections by this variant cause more severe disease or death. However, early study shows the variant may spread more easily and quickly. We will continue to work with academic partners, laboratory researchers, physicians, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor for cases.” 

The variant was first discovered in the United Kingdom in September and is thought to be faster-spreading than the initial strain of the virus.

“A lot of countries not so much in the United States, but many other countries have been sequencing all new infections trying to look for these changes in the virus over time,” said Dr. Aniruddha Hazra with the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Pritzker Administration Announces First Round of COVID-19 Vaccine Administered to Residents and Staff at State Veterans' Homes

Residents and employees of the Illinois Veterans’ Homes have had the COVID-19 vaccine made available to them, according to the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.

The first dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine was administered to residents and staff that opted in to receive it, according to the IDVA.

“Our veterans are heroes who bravely served us and deserve quality care. With the vaccine now available, my administration worked quickly and efficiently to distribute vaccines to veterans and staff in our state-run homes,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

The veterans’ homes, other long-term care facilities and health care workers were all prioritized in the first round of Illinois’ vaccination plan, according to the IDPH.

“IDVA has already facilitated the vaccination of 74% of all veterans’ home residents and we will continue to rely on guidance from IDPH in our effort to protect those in our care,” said IDVA Director Linda Chapa LaVia.

The second dose will be administered at the homes in three weeks.

Calculate Your Spot in Illinois' Coronavirus Vaccine Line

Vaccinations for health care workers are underway in the Chicago area and across Illinois.

When could you and your family get the coronavirus vaccine, according to rollout recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine?

Find your estimated spot in line by selecting your Illinois county and answering the questions in the tool here to calculate your risk profile.

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