Severe cold and heavy snow will likely contribute to lower COVID-19 vaccinations in Illinois “over the next several days,” state officials warned Tuesday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide disaster proclamation in response to the winter storm, while Chicago closed all city-operated vaccination and testing sites.
Additionally, more than a hundred vaccine sites in Chicago didn’t get their shipments Tuesday following heavy snow overnight, the city’s public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said while promising people will get their appointments rescheduled and doses will not go to waste.
Also on Tuesday, the city of Chicago said it is easing indoor dining restrictions for a second consecutive week, allowing bars and restaurants to offer service at either 40% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
Meanwhile, Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported 1,348 new confirmed and probable cases and 32 additional deaths. That brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1,164,922, with 20,034 confirmed fatalities.
The state administered 40,354 vaccinations Monday, reaching a total of 1,863,562. The number of Illinois residents who have been fully vaccinated reached 430,489, or 3.38% of the total population. Over the past seven days, the state averaged 63,772 vaccines administered daily. One week ago, that number was 55,455.
Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
2:55 p.m.: Alliance of religious schools in Cook County arranges for vaccines for all full-time employees
Religious leaders from Catholic, Jewish and Lutheran schools in Chicago and suburban Cook County are joining forces beginning this week to provide COVID-19 vaccines for 6,300 educators, officials said Tuesday.
The new Alliance of Faith Based Schools plans to partner with Chicago and Cook County departments of public health and Loyola University Medical Center to provide coronavirus vaccines to full-time employees in their private schools, officials said in a news release.
Officials said school employees will receive emails in the coming days with specific registration details, with the plan including school employees who work in Cook County, including Chicago. Employees in Lake County “have already begun receiving the vaccine through the Lake County Health Department,” according to the release.
All full-time employees of schools in the alliance will receive the vaccine, regardless of job title, officials said.
While employees are not required to get the vaccine, they are being “encouraged to do so,” according to the release.
Vaccinations will be provided at four sites:
- Loyola University Medical Center, 2160 S. 1st Ave., Maywood
- Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, 701 W. North Ave., Melrose Park
- MacNeal Hospital, 3249 S. Oak Park Ave., Berwyn
- Joan Dachs Bais Yaakov Elementary Hebrew Day school, 3200 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago
2 p.m.: Millennial renters are giving up on homeownership, as COVID-19 and financial struggles make 1 in 5 say it’ll never happen
Laura Klauser sometimes finds herself looking at home listings online and can’t help but laugh.
“When I look at the cost of buying a place, especially on my own, it’s not doable,” said Klauser, 33, who rents an apartment in Avondale and works as a freelance makeup artist. “I’m currently in a place where I’m splitting rent with someone, so my living expenses are a lot lower.”
Klauser is among the almost 1 in 5 millennial renters who believe they will never own a home, according to a recent report from ApartmentList.com. Up from 12% a year ago, 18% of U.S. renters ages 24 to 39 said they expect they will always rent, and 74% of those renters said it’s because they cannot afford to buy a home.
Some attribute the rise to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on housing. With ongoing moratoriums on evictions, a surge in home sales and falling rents, the volatility of a rapidly shifting market have some millennials questioning the need for such a life-altering financial investment.
“I don’t want to be financially tied to something, just in case,” said South Shore resident Kelly Williams, 36. “I worry about things like that, sometimes probably more than I should. For now, this feels safe.”
1 p.m.: Pritzker issues statewide disaster proclamation over winter storm; snow and cold expected to slow COVID-19 vaccinations in Illinois for several days
Severe cold and heavy snow will likely contribute to lower COVID-19 vaccinations in Illinois “over the next several days,” state officials warned Tuesday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide disaster proclamation in response to the winter storm Tuesday, while Chicago closed all city-operated vaccination and testing sites.
The state administered 40,354 vaccinations Monday, reaching a total of 1,863,562. The number of Illinois residents who have been fully vaccinated — receiving both of the required two shots — reached 430,489, or 3.38% of the total population.
Over the past seven days, the state averaged 63,772 vaccines administered daily. One week ago, that number was 55,455.
Public health officials on Tuesday reported 1,348 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 — the lowest daily count since early September — and 32 additional fatalities. The total number of known infections in Illinois is 1,164,922 and the statewide death toll is 20,034.
The state also reported Tuesday three additional cases of the coronavirus variant from the United Kingdom, bringing the statewide total to 25. Officials earlier reported that single case of the COVID-19 variant from South Africa has been identified.
12:57 p.m.: Chicago allows indoor dining to resume at 40 percent
The city of Chicago said Tuesday it is expanding indoor dining restrictions for a second consecutive week, allowing bars and restaurants to offer service at either 40% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less.
Most recently the city had allowed those businesses to serve customers at either 25% capacity or 50 people. When allowing indoor dining to resume in late January after a three-month pause, limits were capped at 25% or 25 people.
The city said the rollback is due to Chicago recording fewer than 400 new COVID-19 cases per day, based on a seven-day rolling average, for three consecutive days.
12:24 p.m.: Snowstorm causes more than 100 Chicago vaccine sites to miss shipments, but public health commissioner says doses will come soon
More than a hundred vaccine sites in Chicago didn’t get their shipments Tuesday following a heavy snowstorm overnight, the city’s public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said while promising people will get their appointments rescheduled and doses will not go to waste.
Because most of the city’s vaccine supply comes from Tennessee, one of the many Southern states that this week’s winter storm brought to a standstill, more than 100 vaccine providers did not get their expected shipments on Tuesday, Arwady said during an online question-and-answer session. That led to wide-scale appointment cancellations, including at city-run mass vaccination sites, but Arwady said those slots will be rescheduled.
”We can control a lot of things, but we can’t control the weather,” Arwady said. “Obviously we can’t have people coming if we don’t have vaccine to put in arms.”
Typically Chicago’s weekly vaccine shipments come between Monday and Wednesday, but with the Presidents Day holiday falling on Monday and the snowstorm effecting Tuesday, that timeline will be delayed this week, Arwady said. She said she projects the shipment won’t take longer than a few days to arrive, and in the meantime there is no concern of the doses spoiling because the storage facilities have the proper temperature controls.
Her advice to people unsure of the status of their Tuesday appointments is to call their provider before traveling into the snow. At the city-run sites, the Chicago Department of Public Health is in the midst of emailing those affected, including people waiting on their second dose, about rescheduling appointments, she said. Those people should see the new appointment made for within two weeks, she said, and additional vaccine sites are being explored to meet the demand.
12:10 p.m.: 1,348 new and confirmed cases of COVID-19, 32 deaths reported Tuesday
Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported 1,348 new confirmed and probable cases and 32 additional deaths. That brings the total number of cases since the pandemic began to 1,164,922, with 20,034 confirmed fatalities.
There were 46,630 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate as a percent of total test is 2.8%.
There were 40,354 vaccinations administered on Sunday. There will likely be lower numbers of vaccines reported in the next few days due to sites being closed because of the weather, officials said.
10:40 a.m.: Bulls’ next game — Wednesday against the Charlotte Hornets — is postponed because of COVID-19 contact tracing
The Chicago Bulls’ game against the Charlotte Hornets, originally scheduled to be played Wednesday night in North Carolina, has been postponed, the NBA announced Tuesday.
The postponement comes after the NBA called off several upcoming games for the Hornets and San Antonio Spurs, who played Sunday night in Charlotte. The Spurs since have had four players test positive for COVID-19.
6 a.m.: For pandemic-era high school students, the thrill is gone: ‘They took away all of the joy, and left us with nothing but homework’
Nearly one year after the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, students across Chicago and the suburbs say when it comes to high school, the thrill is gone, with simple pleasures such as huddling with friends in the hallways and catching up over lunch in the cafeteria displaced by a dystopian landscape of remote learning and virtual extracurriculars.
Some high schools outside of Chicago have reopened classrooms to offer limited in-person instruction, but student attendance overall has been abysmal. Many teens have concluded that as everything they cherished about high school is now forbidden, they might as well get some extra sleep, and sign on to remote learning from their bedrooms.
After 11 months of remote learning, and what many teens describe as the soul-crushing disappointment of canceled after-school activities, experts say a burgeoning number of teens — some of whom have never before faced mental health issues — are now struggling with anxiety and depression due to heightened levels of stress and social isolation.
Still, stories shared recently by a dozen high school students from Chicago and the suburbs provide a glimmer of hope that for some, the pandemic-era heartbreak might forge a generation of resilient young adults who will be better equipped to deal with life’s twists and turns.
Lakeshia Hiraldo serves a customer at Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken on Feb. 8, 2021, in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)
Uncle Remus weathers the pandemic, all along supporting the community with jobs and free meals
The 94-year-old founder of Uncle Remus Saucy Fried Chicken in Chicago has never stopped working during the pandemic.
“I got my COVID shot today so that adds to my great day, but all of my days are great anyway,” said Gus Rickette, laughing. “I’m still on the battlefield. My work schedule is the same, I’m off one day. We’ve had our masks on. I really don’t have anything that hurts me, by the blessing of God, unlike normal people, so maybe I’m a little abnormal.”
He and his late wife, Mary Rickette, opened their first restaurant, G & G Chicken Shack, in 1963, then Royal Chicken in 1964, where they secretly fed the Black Panthers during the riots of 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
The Uncle Remus name came in 1969 from a sign left behind at a shop, sold cheap to the couple. The oldest location on the West Side has evolved into an iconic institution with Chicago-style fried chicken that’s scratch-made, double-battered and extra crunchy, then drizzled or drenched in the singular condiment known as mild sauce.
Their daughter Charmaine Rickette, 57, now owns the business. As CEO, she’s expanded to three more locations, including one on the South Side in the Bronzeville neighborhood on 47th Street, and two in the suburbs, in Broadview and Bolingbrook. The latter opened just last November.
Oak Park to expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility; supply remains limited
With the pool of those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to expand later this month, officials in Oak Park stress that availability of the vaccine remains limited.
Per state orders, those ages 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning on Feb. 25. As such, the village of Oak Park has updated its pre-registration form to reflect the change.
Interim Oak Park public health director Joseph Terry said only those newly-eligible residents should complete the pre-registration form once it’s updated. Residents 65 years old and older who have pre-registered already do not need to update their information since they are already on the eligibility list.
“Oak Park residents currently eligible for vaccination number in the thousands,” Terry said. “Further expanding the eligibility criteria will just create a bigger list, a reality every health department in the state and country is facing. The process still is at the mercy of the vaccine supply.”
Filling out a pre-registration form does not schedule a vaccination, Terry said, but rather it collects information necessary to contact those eligible as vaccination opportunities arise.
Read the full story here. — Steve Schering, Pioneer Press
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