More than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the United Center’s new mass vaccination site will open this week, Chicago and Illinois officials announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Chicago is again increasing indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars and easing several coronavirus restrictions as the city’s coronavirus positivity rate continues to drop.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Illinois Launching 2 More Mass Vaccination Sites, Including 1 in Des Plaines

Illinois will soon launch two new mass vaccination sites, including one in Des Plaines, officials announced Wednesday.

The state-supported sites are set to launch Thursday in both Des Plaines and Quincy, bringing the total number of mass vaccination sites in Illinois to 18. The Des Plaines site, located in a former K-Mart at 1155 E. Oakton St., marks the fourth such site in Cook County alone.

“The COVID-19 vaccine site in Des Plaines is our latest step forward in vaccinating Cook County and our most vulnerable communities,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “This new site, which is conveniently located for many residents of the northwest suburbs, will be utilized over the coming months as we progress in our program and vaccine supply increases.”

For more information click here.

Chicago Could Begin Vaccinating Phase 1C Earlier Than Expected, Officials Say

After previously announcing Phase 1C would likely begin at the end of March, Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday that the city could begin the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations earlier than anticipated.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the city could begin vaccinating those eligible in Phase 1C at an earlier date, based on an increase of available COVID vaccine doses in the state.”

However, Arwady noted that as of Tuesday, the estimated state date would not change, nor any eligibility criteria.

“We’ll make adjustments to that as we always have, as we see how vaccine doses come in,” Arwady said. “But honestly, the way they’ve been coming in is about how I’ve expected them to come in. March is going to look a lot better than February did related to vaccine. And I think April is going to look a lot better than March.”

Arwady has said Phase 1C would likely begin March 29 and Phase 2, which includes all residents over the age of 16, could begin May 31.

Advocate Aurora Health Exploring Opening Mass Vaccination Site at Wrigley Field

While the United Center will transform its parking lots into a mass coronavirus vaccination site later this month, another iconic Chicago stadium could potentially follow its lead.

According to Advocate Aurora Health, a mass vaccination site is being explored at Wrigley Field, aiming to help even more Chicago-area residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to a statement by health system officials, there are still a few hurdles to clear for the site to become a reality, including authorization by the city of Chicago.

“We are proud to partner on a possible Wrigley Field mass vaccination site, which would potentially be authorized by the city of Chicago,” the hospital system said in a statement. “If the site is designated, and city vaccine supplies become available, Advocate Aurora Health would provide clinical staffing and technical infrastructure.”

According to hospital officials, the location at Wrigley Field is under consideration because of its proximity to several CTA bus lines and the CTA Red Line, “ensuring residents of disproportionately impacted communities have access to the vaccine as supplies are available.”

Read more here.

Some Fans Could Be Allowed to Return to Chicago Stands ‘This Season,’ Mayor Says

Chicago could potentially see the return of some fans into the stands, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday, as the city prepares for baseball season to kick off.

“Not at this time, but I think there will be a point sometime this season where you’ll see fans in the stands of both Wrigley and Guaranteed Rate field, which I still call Sox Park,” Lightfoot said.

The Cubs are set to kick off their home opener at Wrigley Field on April 1, while the White Sox are scheduled to return home on April 8 after starting their season on the road.

Lightfoot’s comments come as some fans begin to return to stands in places long shut down, like Barclays Center in New York.

“What I’ve said before is that we’re in discussions with both of the sports teams,” Lightfoot said. “I think they’ve come up with a very good plans and when we are ready, we will announce what the future will look like for other potential spectators in the stands.”

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,577 New Cases, 47 Deaths, Over 61K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Tuesday reported 1,577 new cases of coronavirus, along with 47 additional deaths and more than 61,000 vaccine doses administered in the past 24 hours.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Tuesday’s new confirmed and probable cases brought the state to 1,189,416 cases of coronavirus since the pandemic began.

The 47 new deaths reported Tuesday bring the state to 20,583 fatalities during the pandemic, according to IDPH.

In the last 24 hours, 56,181 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, officials said, lifting the total number of tests performed to 18,234,668.

The state’s rolling 7-day average positivity rate remained at a record low of 2.4% Tuesday, the same as the day before. For individuals tested for the virus, the positivity rate stands at 2.8%, according to IDPH data.

As of Monday night, 1,231 individuals were reported to be hospitalized for COVID-19 statewide, with 281 patients in the ICU and 148 on ventilators, officials said.

A total of 61,061 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the last 24 hours, state health officials said. That puts the state at an average of 77,876 vaccinations per day over the last week, according to officials.

The state has administered 2,817,892 doses of the vaccine so far, out of 3,630,085 doses delivered to providers in Illinois or allocated to long-term care facilities in the state.

According to IDPH, Illinois will receive 83,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine by Wednesday, which only requires one shot and can be stored at higher temperatures.

More than 90% of the newly authorized vaccine will go to mass vaccination sites throughout the state, with the remaining doses shipped to other providers, officials said. IDPH noted that the total doses does not include those going to Chicago, which will receive its own allocation.

More Than 100K United Center COVID Vaccine Appointments to Open Thursday

More than 100,000 appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations at the United Center’s new mass vaccination site will open this week, Chicago and Illinois officials announced Tuesday.

Appointments will open exclusively to Illinois residents age 65 and over at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement, noting that there will be two ways to sign up.

Click here for instructions

Appointments will initially be open only to seniors for an exclusive registration period through Sunday afternoon, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live update on Tuesday morning.

“Appointments will only be open to people 65 years and older,” Arwady 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.”

“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,” Arwady added.

Chicago Increases Indoor Dining Capacity, Eases Other Restrictions as COVID Metrics Drop

Chicago is again increasing indoor dining capacity at restaurants and bars and easing several coronavirus restrictions as the city’s coronavirus positivity rate continues to drop to levels not seen since the pandemic began.

City officials announced Tuesday that, effective immediately, restaurants, bars and events can offer indoor service at 50% capacity. Prior to Tuesday, indoor dining was limited to 40% capacity.

Still, restaurants, bars and event venues will be limited to 50 people within any one space.

In addition, the curfew for restaurants and bars is being extended from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Alcohol sales from liquor stores and other establishments can also continue until 11 p.m., after nearly a year of being limited to a 9 p.m. stop time.

Other industries, such as performance venues, health and fitness centers, movie theaters and personal services, can also increase to 50% capacity, with no more than 50 people within any one space and 20 people in indoor fitness classes, the city announced.

Read more here.

White House Commits to Sending Illinois 100K Vaccine Doses Per Day by Mid-March, Pritzker Says

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that the federal government has committed to sending Illinois 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines per day later this month to increase supply as elected officials and residents alike have continued to express frustration over limited availability of vaccinations thus far.

That figure includes doses of the single-shot vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, the third vaccine that the Food and Drug Administration approved for emergency use on Saturday, enabling shipments to begin this week.

Vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer – both requiring two doses given weeks apart – were approved in December and have since been in use in Illinois and across the U.S.

“As the weeks have progressed, we’ve seen increasing amounts of vaccine distributed by the manufacturers,” Pritzker said at a news conference Monday.

“And with this third vaccine now in the lineup from J&J, and with public commitments from the White House to send an average of at least 100,000 doses per day to Illinois by mid-March, we are getting closer and closer to widespread availability that we all want,” he continued.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on Pritzker’s remarks.

Read more here.

Mass Vaccination Site Opens at Largest Black Church in Aurora

A mass vaccination clinic centered on “equitable distribution” of the coronavirus vaccine opened at the largest black church in Aurora Tuesday, with more than 750 people set to receive doses on the first day.

The Black Vax Aurora Community Vaccination Clinic is being held at the Cathedral of Grace St. John AME Church, the oldest and largest Black church in Aurora, located at 2950 Bilter Rd.

According to officials, the clinic is being supplied with doses by both Kane and DuPage County’s health departments. While registration is mandatory, the event reached capacity within 24 hours of opening up availability. For more information on how to register click here.

Registration requirements include any of the following:

  • AGE: 65 years and older
  • OCCUPATION: Healthcare, First Responder, Education, Food & Agriculture, Manufacturing, Corrections Worker, US Postal Service, Public Transit Worker, Grocery Store Worker, Shelters/Adult Day Care
  • MEDICAL CONDITION: Diabetes, Obesity, Pulmonary Diseases, Smoking, Heart Conditions, Chronic Kidney Disease, Cancer, Immunocompromised, Sickle Cell, Pregnancy, Person with a Disability

According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, as of Tuesday, 2.7% of Kane County’s more than 90,000 vaccines have been distributed to the Black community. Data showed that number is even lower in DuPage County, where Black residents received just 2.3% of the roughly 200,000 distributed doses.

Read more here.

Illinois Anticipates More Than 100K Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine This Week

Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments began Monday and already, Chicago and Illinois are preparing for an estimated dose count above 100,000 this week.

The Illinois Department of Public Health said doses are expected across the state, with roughly 22,000 planned for Chicago and another 83,000 for the remaining regions.

“We anticipate these doses in Illinois on Wednesday,” the department said in a statement. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be distributed to providers across the state.”

Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson: Comparing the 3 COVID Vaccines Now Available

With a third coronavirus vaccine now approved in the U.S., what is the difference between the vaccines and should you opt for one over the other?

According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available in the U.S., which include the newly-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, each offer some level of protection.

Already, Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines have been circulating across the U.S., both requiring two shots for full protection.

But according to an analysis by U.S. regulators, Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine also offers strong protection against severe COVID-19.

The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.

Published results from a mass vaccination campaign in Israel showed Pfizer’s vaccine was 92% effective at preventing severe disease after two shots and 62% after one. Its estimated effectiveness for preventing death was 72% two to three weeks after the first shot, a rate that may improve as immunity builds over time. Meanwhile, the Moderna vaccine provides a similar level of protection, 94.1%, and requires two shots, 28 days apart.

It is not known if any of the three vaccines prevent the spread of the virus by people who are asymptomatic.

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

Here’s Where to Receive a COVID Vaccine in Illinois

As much of Illinois moves into Phase 1B Plus of coronavirus vaccinations, residents continue to search for locations to receive the shot. Here’s a breakdown of where to find a COVID vaccine for those eligible and what is needed:

NOTE: For a statewide vaccination locations map click here.

National Guard and State-Run Sites

Here’s a full list of which locations are currently open.

Grocery Stores, Drug Stores and Pharmacies

Vaccinations are now available at several CVS, Hy-Vee, Jewel-Osco, Kroger, Mariano’s, Meijer, Walgreens, and Walmart pharmacies in Illinois.

Vaccinations are also available via hospitals and health systems and county health departments.

For a full list, click here.

Last week, the state expanded vaccine eligibility to those with high-risk medical conditions and comorbidities, including cancer, diabetes, heart conditions, pulmonary disease, among others. The list also includes those with obesity and women who are pregnant.

Phase 1B initially opened 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.

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