Cook County is releasing thousands of first-dose COVID vaccine appointments Wednesday for five suburban vaccination sites in Des Plaines, Forest Park, Riverside and more.

Meanwhile, Illinois and Chicago health officials have expressed concern over a recent increase in coronavirus metrics that could signal another potential spike in the city and state.

And Chicago’s top doctor says city officials “continue having to swat down rumors” about eligibility for the United Center’s mass vaccination site.

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

Cook County to Open 16K First-Dose COVID Vaccine Appointments for 5 Sites

Cook County is releasing thousands of first-dose COVID vaccine appointments Wednesday for five suburban vaccination sites in Des Plaines, Forest Park, Riverside and more.

Cook County Health officials said approximately 16,000 new first-dose Pfizer appointments will be made available at 12 p.m. on Wednesday. The appointments will be open to all Illinois residents eligible under the state’s vaccination plan in Phases 1A, 1B and 1B Plus.

Appointments can be made on the Cook County vaccine website or by calling the county’s hotline at (833) 308-1988 on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The appointments will be for four of the five total mass vaccination sites in suburban Cook County. Those four sites are:

  • South Suburban College, 15800 State St. in South Holland
  • Triton College, 2000 5th Ave. in River Grove
  • A former K-Mart at 1155 E Oakton St in Des Plaines
  • Former HOBO at 7600 West Roosevelt Road in Forest Park

Appointments opening Wednesday will also be available at the county’s vaccination clinic at North Riverside Health Center, located at 1800 S. Harlem Ave. in Riverside.

Read more here.

Chicago Halts Vaccine to Innovative Express Care After More Than 6K Doses ‘Misallocated’

Chicago has halted vaccine supply to Innovative Express Care, the health provider contracted to vaccinate Chicago Public Schools employees, after the city’s health department said more than 6,000 doses were knowingly “misallocated.”

According to the city, Innovative Express Care “administered vaccine to non-CPS individuals without prior authorization.”

“Based on CPDH’s review of IEC’s vaccine allocations and administration, we have determined that they knowingly misallocated more than 6,000 doses of vaccine—including using vaccine allocated for second doses for first dose appointments instead,” the health department said in a statement Tuesday. “This is completely unacceptable behavior.”

Innovative Express Care said they “strongly disagree” with the decision and that all doses not used by CPS employees in a given week were then given to another eligible patient for their first dose.

“The decision by CDPH officials today leaves us bewildered, saddened, and frankly disappointed in our local government,” the clinic said. “CDPH officials never made it clear to us as a provider that we should be storing vaccines in a refrigerator for people awaiting second doses. Rather, we have been following the nation’s commitment to get as many vaccines in eligible patients’ arms, as quickly as possible.”

Read more here.

Multiple COVID Outbreaks Traced Back to Sporting Events in Chicago

As coronavirus cases inch upward in the city of Chicago, CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says that there have been at least seven COVID outbreaks or clusters related to sporting events in recent weeks.

“We are continuing to see clusters and outbreaks in Chicago, and a lot of those are in younger Chicagoans, which is no surprise,” she said.

According to Arwady, there have been at least seven different sports-related clusters of coronavirus cases in the city of Chicago. Those outbreaks ranged from four to 17 new COVID cases apiece, according to Arwady, and impacted sports at the high school, college, and adult recreational levels.

Arwady says that two of the outbreaks occurred in connection to football games, while two others occurred around basketball events. Clusters were also reported as a result of swim meets, hockey games and softball games.

Read more here.

Chicago Officials ‘Having to Swat Down Rumors’ About United Center Vaccine Eligibility, Top Doctor Says

Chicago’s top doctor said Tuesday that city officials “continue having to swat down rumors” about eligibility for the United Center’s mass vaccination site.

“Nothing has changed related to eligibility at the United Center,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a news conference. “I know there were things again circulating on social media saying you should take this code and use it because the city wants anybody to sign up. That is not true.”

Seniors age 65 and up who live anywhere in Chicago as well residents who live in one of 17 “vulnerable, under-vaccinated ZIP codes” and have underlying conditions are currently eligible to get vaccinated at the United Center.

Those ZIP codes are: 60608, 60609, 60619, 60620, 60621, 60623, 60624, 60628, 60629, 60632, 60636, 60639, 60644, 60649, 60651, 60652,  60653.

Seniors and residents of those ZIP codes can book appointments by calling (312) 746-4835 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Targeted outreach is also being done in those communities to help register residents, per the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Read more here.

Chicago Set to Begin Phase 1C of COVID Vaccinations Monday, Officials Say

Chicago is set to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to residents in Phase 1C on Monday as previously announced, according to the city’s top doctor.

“We are moving to 1C exactly on schedule,” Dr. Allison Arwady said in a press conference on Tuesday.

After moving through vaccinations in Phase 1C, Arwady had initially announced Phase 2, which incudes all Chicagoans, would begin May 29. However, she announced that date will likely move up to May 1, depending on the amount of vaccines the city receives.

Read more here.

Rising Chicago COVID Metrics Reminiscent of Last Fall Surge, Doc Says

Illinois and Chicago health officials have expressed concern over a recent increase in coronavirus metrics that could signal another potential spike in the city and state.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the current trends in city metrics, many of which have risen in recent weeks particularly in young adult populations, are similar to the trends seen ahead of the fall surge that led to coronavirus mitigations across the city and state.

“Unfortunately, these sorts of increases are just what we were seeing in October as we were starting to see the beginnings of what became our huge surge,” Arwady said during a coronavirus update Tuesday. “It was really the same case rates and younger adults that started this.”

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady discusses a recent increase in coronavirus cases in Chicago, as well as several outbreaks linked to sporting events in the city.

The city’s positivity rate sat at 3.2% Tuesday, remaining in the low-risk category, but marking an increase from a recent low of 2.7%, Arwady said.

“Seeing that go up about a half a percentage point over the last, you know, week and a half to two weeks is not progress,” she said during an earlier Facebook Live Tuesday.

Even more concerning, she said, is that case counts in the city are also starting to rise, with a current average of 350 cases per day, compared to 285 one week earlier.

“Sometimes people ask, isn’t it just that you’re doing more testing? No, because if it were just testing, we would see testing up 23% and cases up 23%. This is a true increase,” Arwady said.

Chicago Travel Order Update: 26 States Now on List Requiring Quarantine or Negative COVID Test

Chicago updated its emergency travel order on Tuesday, moving multiple states between the yellow and orange tiers that dictate guidelines for travelers to quarantine or test negative for COVID-19 prior to their arrival in the city.

The “orange tier,” which requires a quarantine or pre-arrival negative test before coming to Chicago, now includes 26 states, while the lesser yellow tier now includes 23 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Which tier states are in depends on case rate adjusted for population.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,832 New COVID Cases, 13 Deaths, 70K Vaccinations

Health officials in Illinois on Tuesday reported 1,832 new coronavirus cases and 13 additional deaths, along with more than 70,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.

According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 1,832 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,224,915 cases since the pandemic began last year.

The 13 new deaths lifted the state’s death toll to 21,116 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.

Read more here.

Rep. La Shawn Ford Resigns From Loretto Hospital Board Over Vaccine Controversy

Illinois State Rep. La Shawn Ford resigned from his position on the Loretto Hospital board this week saying he “strongly disagreed” with how the hospital’s leadership was reprimanded in the midst of a vaccine controversy.

“I am very disappointed with the recent developments at The Loretto Hospital regarding its use of coronavirus vaccine entrusted to the hospital,” Ford said in a statement Tuesday. “Yesterday, I submitted my resignation to The Loretto Hospital’s Board Chairman Edward Hogan because I strongly disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled.”

Multiple officials at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital have received reprimands, but are expected to retain their positions after several instances in which coronavirus vaccines were purportedly given to individuals with connections to the hospital’s board, as first reported by Block Club Chicago.

Read more here.

Illinois Vaccinations

When Can You Get the COVID Vaccine in Illinois? Here’s a Breakdown

When can you get the COVID vaccine in Illinois? The answer is: it depends. While Illinois is expanding its eligibility guidelines, Chicago is on its own plan.

Eligibility will expand to all residents over the age of 16 outside of Chicago in April, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has announced. But some people are already eligible or will become eligible before then.

Here’s a look at who is eligible to get the vaccine now and who will become eligible in the coming weeks.

Looking for a COVID Vaccine Appointment in Illinois? Here’s a List of Places to Check

With both Illinois and Chicago opening vaccinations to millions of residents under varying guidelines, many are wondering where they can get vaccinated and how they schedule an appointment.

There are several ways eligible residents will be able to get vaccinated, but state officials have urged patience as doses continue to trail demand.

Click here for a breakdown of where you can get vaccinated and how to get an appointment, when available.

Illinois COVID Vaccine Eligibility Expands to More Essential Workers: Here’s Who and When

Some essential workers who were not previously eligible under Illinois’ Phase 1B Plus guidelines now qualify for the COVID vaccine beginning Monday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Friday that Illinois will expand eligibility beginning Monday to higher education staff, government workers, and media. Then, beginning March 29, food and beverage workers, construction trade workers, and religious leaders will be eligible for the vaccine.

Here’s a look at the full schedule of vaccine eligibility.

Are You Eligible? Here’s Who Qualifies for COVID Vaccine Under Chicago’s Phase 1C

As Chicago prepares to expand vaccine eligibility to more residents as it moves to Phase 1C later this month, who will become eligible?

Phase 1C, set to begin on March 29, will include those with underlying health conditions and essential workers like restaurant employees, those in personal care services, retail workers and more, officials announced Wednesday.

But the list of underlying conditions is not the same as the one being used for the state’s Phase 1B Plus. Vaccinations at city-run sites will also be limited to city residents only.

For a full list of who is eligible in Chicago’s Phase 1C, click here.

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