A mass COVID-19 vaccination site capable of inoculating 6,000 people per day is set to open next month in a parking lot at the United Center, part of a local, state and federal effort to protect more older Illinoisans and people in the communities hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials announced Friday.
The site is scheduled to open March 10, with vaccinations available to any Illinois resident who currently qualifies under state guidelines, including those 65 and older, health care workers and other front-line workers in essential industries, and as of Thursday, people with certain preexisting health conditions. Appointments will be made available first to those 65 and older.
Here’s what’s happening this weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
National reports of people cheating to get COVID-19 vaccine don’t reflect NW Indiana health care settings, officials say
While two Florida women recently dressed up as older folks to try to scam their way into getting a COVID-19 vaccine, that likely won’t pass muster in Northwest Indiana, officials say.
In fact, it’s rare for anyone to try to get a vaccine offered by the Porter County Health Department who isn’t eligible, a group that prioritizes those 60 and up, first responders and health care workers, said Dr. Maria Stamp, the department’s health officer.
“There’s no people dressed up like little old ladies,” she said.
With high demand for the vaccine increasing as more people become eligible and a limited supply of the doses, ethics professors at local universities said gaming the system to get a vaccine out of turn is morally questionable at best and points to inadequacies in the way the vaccine is distributed in the communities where that’s occurring.
“I have heard that especially the elderly are at risk of getting pushed out by people who think they’re more deserving,” said Anja Matwijkiw, a professor of professional ethics and human rights at Indiana University Northwest in Gary. “I find it pretty shocking.”
A lot of us have engaged in some bold mixing-and-matching during the pandemic — office attire on top, pajama pants on bottom, for instance — and been none the worse for it.
Imagine doing the same with COVID-19 vaccines, perhaps pairing a first dose of the AstraZeneca product with a second dose supplied by Novavax. Will the consequences of such mixing be any graver?
British researchers are trying to find out. This month, a team of vaccinologists from Oxford University began recruiting 800 or so people age 50 or older for a complex study to see whether vaccine switching could actually work.
Using an eight-armed clinical trial, they’ll test vaccine regimens using various combinations and intervals of the two vaccines currently being dispensed in Britain: one made by Pfizer and BioNTech, and another developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca.
1,780 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 34 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Saturday announced 1,780 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 34 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,185,447 and the statewide death toll to 20,494 since the start of the pandemic.
Officials also reported 81,668 new tests in the last 24 hours. The seven-day statewide test positivity rate was 2.7% for the period ending Friday.
The 7-day rolling daily average of administered vaccine doses is 69,736, with 83,048 doses given on Friday. Officials also say a total of 2,626,668 vaccines have now been administered.
Where are you in the Illinois vaccine line? We charted out who is eligible and who is not.
With around half of Illinois’ population eligible to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the report card for the state’s effort is mixed. Now in the second part of phase 1b, those older than 65 as well as people from a range of occupations — police officers to grocery store workers to some in manufacturing and more — are eligible to receive the vaccine.
When Illinois enters phase 1c, the Illinois Department of Health estimates 900,000 more essential workers will be eligible. That will include large groups of restaurant workers, construction workers, accountants, lawyers and other types of workers.
IDPH didn’t provide estimates on workers by industry, so the Tribune looked at the number of Illinois employees in the sectors identified by the state using the same Bureau of Labor Statistics data set the state said it used.
The Tribune charted all of the vaccine groups by phase to give a little more context to just who might be next in line.
—Jonathon Berlin, Kori Rumore and Jemal R. Brinson
Seeing rise in suicides among Black Cook County residents, city officials and mental health experts work on outreach
Mental health challenges among young and older Black Chicagoans were amplified in 2020 by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and trauma from police brutality.
With 97 Black Cook County residents dying by suicide last year, ranging in age from 9 to 84, according to the medical examiner’s office, city officials and mental health advocates say they have been working on ways to respond.
Dr. Wilnise Jasmin, medical director of behavioral health for the Chicago Department of Public Health, says the city has been planning an awareness campaign aimed at decreasing stigma around mental illness that will launch in late spring or early summer.
Using billboards and bus stop ads are among its efforts to increase awareness, says Jasmin. The city also plans to fund mental health response teams that will travel to meet patients and serve predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.
One way local groups are helping is by training people to recognize signs of mental health issues. Late last year, for example, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Chicago offered trainings targeting faith-based communities.
“We have to be building the community support,” said chief operating officer Jen McGowan-Tomke.
Doctors fighting COVID-19 push back against stigma of seeking mental health treatment: ‘We’re humans, just like everyone else’
Chicago emergency room doctor Meeta Shah wiped down her face shield and stethoscope as she rushed from one patient to the next, some of them very sick with COVID-19, some of them dying.
At home, she worried about how to keep her husband — also an ER doctor — and her two young children safe from the virus: Shower at work? Stop hugging the kids?
“It just really started to feel like a lot. It felt like my mind was loud, all the worry was so loud and I just wasn’t sleeping as well as I should,” said Shah, 43, who works at Rush University Medical Center.
“One of my friends always said, ‘I don’t understand why people don’t just talk to a therapist. There’s no shame in it.’ So I just started talking to somebody, and it was really a nice outlet.”
Doctors have long faced daunting obstacles to receiving the most basic mental health services, with studies showing that many avoid therapy and counseling due to intense stigma, as well as fear that they will be penalized by supervisors and state medical boards.
But now, with COVID-19 adding to their stress, doctors are increasingly pushing back against a “grind” workplace culture that celebrates stamina at the expense of self-care, as well as state medical boards that ask intimidating questions about mental health.
COVID-19 patients are testing wearable sensors to catch worsening symptoms before it’s too late
After testing positive for COVID-19, Angela Mitchell initially felt OK. As an employee of UI Health in Chicago, she went on home quarantine, but agreed to let a nurse monitor her vital signs remotely. Mitchell wore a small sensor that looks like a bandage to track her heart, breathing and activity rates.
Looking back at that decision, she said, “I think it probably saved my life.”
The remote monitoring system that helped save Mitchell is now the subject of a clinical trial that aims to test the device on 1,600 patients. Doctors believe it could be an early-warning system to catch COVID-19 symptoms before they become severe, so they can be treated much more quickly and successfully.
The study pokes at the basic mystery of COVID-19, which is why are some patients are fine and others die.
The sensor is sensitive enough to tell if someone is sleeping and on what side, said Karen Larimer, lead investigator for Chicago biotech firm physIQ Inc. By using machine learning, the researchers develop an algorithm to find which combination of variables sounds the alarm that the patient is getting sicker.
“It’s figuring out what is the fingerprint of COVID that begins to show us something is going wrong,” Larimer said.
Once the study results are published, the data will be available for public research on a National Institutes of Health database.
Source by www.chicagotribune.com