Chicago’s top doctor on Wednesday is expected to deliver an update on the city’s COVID-19 data and announce the next steps and phases of the vaccination rollout.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools has announced that high school students and faculty can return to in-person learning next month, though the Chicago Teachers Union says no agreement has been reached.

And a mass vaccination site at the Schaumburg Convention Center will open Wednesday to seniors in several suburban communities.

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

Chicago’s Top Doctor to Update on COVID-19, Phase 1C of Vaccinations

Chicago’s top doctor on Wednesday is expected to deliver an update on the city’s COVID-19 data and announce the next steps and phases of the vaccination rollout.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is scheduled to hold a news conference to deliver the update at 12 p.m. from City Hall, according to CDPH. The event can be watched live in the video player above.

The news conference will include “an update on COVID-19 data and the continued vaccine distribution in Chicago, including planned next steps and phases,” CDPH said.

Arwady hinted at the announcement in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday, saying Chicago is expected to move ahead to its next phase of vaccinations, Phase 1C, at the end of the month, with details to be released Wednesday.

Schaumburg Convention Center Opens to 11 Chicago Suburbs Wednesday for COVID Vaccines

The Schaumburg Convention Center will open Wednesday to administer COVID-19 vaccines to several suburban communities in partnership with Jewel Osco.

As part of the vaccination event, first does of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered to eligible residents, while second doses will be given on Wednesday, April 7, according to a release.

Only people age 65 and older who live in the following communities will be eligible to receive the vaccine at the site: Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Streamwood and Wheeling.

Appointments at the Schaumburg site, which are available at a first-come first-serve basis, can be reserved here. Residents will be required to show proof of age and residency upon arrival, the news release stated.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials Question Why Trump Tower Workers Receive COVID Vaccines From West Side Hospital

Trump Tower workers received coronavirus vaccinations from Loretto Hospital staff on Chicago’s West Side, though officials said Tuesday the reason for administering the vaccines is unclear.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said in a statement that the city was not aware of the vaccination event at Trump Tower, located at 401 N. Wabash, and that officials have reached out for more details.

“Hotel workers are in Phase 1C, which we hope to enter at the end of the month,” CDPH said in a statement. “These phases align with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and are designed to ensure the vaccine gets to the most impacted communities and individuals. In addition, this was not a Protect Chicago Plus event, which are focused on high-need communities according to the CCVI (COVID Community Vulnerability Index).”

Loretto Hospital confirmed Tuesday that their infectious disease team vaccinated 72 “predominately Black and brown restaurant, housekeeping and other hotel support personnel” at Trump International Chicago.

The hospital said West Side residents who work at the hotel requested the Loretto Hospital staff come to provide vaccinations, saying they were “unable to leave their jobs to be vaccinated during regular in-hospital hours.”

Read more here.

CPS Announces In-Person Learning Start Date For High Schools

High school students and faculty across the city can return for in-person learning next month, Chicago Public Schools announced Tuesday, as teachers continue to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

On April 19, the first day of CPS’ fourth quarter, those in ninth through 12th grades can return for classroom instruction, though teaching models will vary with each school, officials announced.

“Providing high school students the option to safely return on April 19 is a top priority for the district, and we will continue meeting regularly with [Chicago Teachers Union] representatives as we strive to reach a consensus that provides the smoothest possible transition for our families and staff,” CPS said in a release.

CPS said negotiations with the teachers union remain ongoing, but that the return of high school students was based on a discussion with the joint task force created to ensure a safe return for students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

Teachers Union Says There’s ‘No Agreement’ With CPS on High School Return to In-Person Learning

The Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement Tuesday evening saying no agreement has been reached on a return to in-person learning.

“Let me be clear: We have no agreement on returning to in-person learning in high schools on any date, nor will there be an agreement until we know our school buildings can reopen safely,” CTU said in a statement.

The union said high school students should be actively part of discussions on when would be a safe time to return to the classroom amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here.

NBC 5 Responds’ No. 1 Consumer Complaint: Illinois’ Embattled Unemployment System

Among the most urgent challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic are unemployment payments and the massive fraud perpetrated on the aging and fragile infrastructure of some state systems. Illinois’ is no exception.  

As we mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, to say our Responds unit heard an ”earful” about Illinois’ Department of Employment Security (IDES) would be an understatement.

Among the most urgent challenges raised by the coronavirus pandemic are unemployment payments and the massive fraud perpetrated on the aging and fragile infrastructure of some state systems. Illinois’ is no exception. NBC 5’s Lisa Parker reports.

Illinois residents reached out to NBC 5 Responds more than 700 times over the past year. Many of them were out of patience and, more importantly, out of money. At the beginning of the pandemic, just filing a claim for benefits was the struggle. Now, claims are being filed in record numbers, just by the wrong people. 

Read more here.

Chicago Will Enter Phase 1C of Vaccinations on March 29, Top Doc Says

Chicago is expected to move ahead to its next phase of coronavirus vaccinations, Phase 1C, at the end of the month, the city’s top doctor said Tuesday.

The city is slated to move to Phase 1C, which opens up eligibility to people with certain underlying health conditions and other essential workers not already eligible under Phase 1B, on March 29, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.

“We are intending March 29 to move ahead with 1C, which means moving ahead to the people who have the list of the underlying conditions as well, to be clear, as the frontline workers who are unable to work from home,” Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday.

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,997 New COVID Cases, 19 Deaths, 78K Vaccinations Reported

Health officials in Illinois on Tuesday reported nearly 2,000 new coronavirus cases and 19 additional deaths, along with more than 72,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours that lifted the seven-day average to its highest number to date.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 1,997 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,212,110 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 19 new deaths lifted the state’s death toll to 20,973 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

In the last 24 hours, state health officials say 51,240 new test specimens were returned to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total to 19,221,483 tests performed. According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.3%, while the positivity rate for individuals tested is at 2.6%.

As of Monday evening, 1,152 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 250 were in ICU beds, and 124 were on ventilators.

A total of 78,287 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the past 24 hours, IDPH said, bringing the rolling seven-day average for daily vaccinations to 102,564, the highest it’s been since vaccinations began in December. In all, Illinois has received 5,397,125 doses of the vaccine and of those, a total of 4,181,097 have been administered in the state.

Gov. Pritzker Expected to Reveal New Phased Reopening Plan This Week

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce a new coronavirus reopening plan for Illinois this week that could lay out new guidelines for the state as cases and deaths continue to fall.

Currently, Illinois is under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan the governor announced early in the pandemic last year. Next up would be Phase 5, which marks a full reopening, but requires a widely available vaccine or highly effective treatment for coronavirus.

But in a state Senate health committee meeting Monday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said a new reopening plan could be announced “later this week.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Ezike said “there may be one more phase” between Phase 4 and Phase 5. Few details have been revealed, but one thing is certain: masks will continue to be mandated in the state, she said, adding that “masks have to continue to be a mainstay.”

A spokesperson for the governor confirmed Pritzker has been in “discussions with industry and health experts.”

Read more here.

Phase 1C in Illinois? Pritzker Says Vaccine Eligibility Will Expand, But Gives No Timeline

When might Illinois expand vaccine eligibility to Phase 1C of its rollout?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said while he anticipates opening up vaccine eligibility – particularly in the months ahead to meet President Joe Biden’s deadline of having all adults eligible by May 1 – the exact timing of Illinois’ expansion isn’t clear.

“No announcements yet about what 1C would look like, I just think that people should start to think very much about you know the fact that we’re going to open this up to everybody relatively sooner than I think people expected,” Pritzker said during the interview Monday. “Certainly by May 1 and we’ll do it sooner than that I believe in the state of Illinois.”

Read more here.

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