Chicago public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady warned Thursday that the statewide uptick in COVID-19 cases could cause a significant increase in illness, hospitalizations and deaths.
On Friday, public health officials reported 3,235 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, a day after the state reported the highest case count since Feb. 5.
The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests is 3.5%, the highest level since the same rate was recorded for the week ending Feb. 2.
Arwady said the growth in cases in Chicago is being driven primarily by young people. She said that as the numbers have increased here officials have been watching what’s happening in Michigan.
Over the past 14 days, as of Wednesday, that state has experienced a 56% increase in deaths and a 125% increase in hospitalizations. By comparison, the 14-day change in Illinois is a 9% decrease in deaths and a 21% increase in hospitalizations.
Meanwhile, the Cubs home opener Thursday marked one of the city’s first mass events since the pandemic began, requiring fans and Wrigley Field employees to adhere to myriad protocols that would have seemed completely alien and wholly unnecessary just 13 months ago: Ticket entries were timed, everyone had to wear a mask, and attendance was limited to just 25% of the park’s 41,000-seat capacity.
Here’s what’s happening Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
5:15 p.m.: A tempest in a test tube? How controversy arose this week over a COVID-19 test used by dozens of local schools
School administrators say a relatively cheap and fast saliva test for COVID-19 has been a crucial tool in allowing them to resume in-person classes. So why are they now scrambling to defend its use?
The SafeGuard test was developed by a Chicago virologist and suburban school board member and is being used by dozens of public and private schools in the region.
But SafeGuard got caught up in regulatory questions this week over whether schools were handling the test results appropriately and using it as a diagnostic tool rather than for surveillance. What’s the difference and why the controversy?
Read more here. —Elyssa Cherney, Karen Ann Cullotta and Steve Schering
2:55 p.m.: Mass vaccination event set for Naperville residents
Naperville is partnering with Jewel-Osco and the Mall of India to host a mass vaccination event exclusively for city residents from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, at the former Sam’s Club building at Route 59 and Ogden Avenue.
The plan is to administer 2,700 one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the building immediately south of the Mall of India at 776 S. Route 59.
Vaccinations are by appointment only, and Naperville residents must schedule appointments online here.
Anyone seeking an appointment must live in Naperville and meet one of the following criteria:
- 65 or older;
- age 18 or older with a disability or medical condition, such as obesity, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, smoking, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, cancer, solid organ transplant, sickle cell disease or pregnancy;
- age 18 and older and work in the fields of health care, long-term residential care, government, news media services, higher education, food and beverage service, construction trades, religious leadership or business supporting building and infrastructure repair.
2:08 p.m.: Gary Roosevelt vaccine clinic in Indiana opens sign-ups; 8-week site opens Wednesday
Registration is now open for the drive-thru COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic that begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday at Gary Roosevelt High School, 730 W. 25th Ave. Walk-in appointments are also being accepted.
To register, go here and click on the “find a vaccination site” link, then go to Lake County and click on the FEMA Gary Roosevelt Park VAX link and make an appointment by filling out the information asked on the site.
Indiana Gov. Eric J. Holcomb, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, D-Highland, and Gary city officials are expected to stop by on the first day of the eight-week clinic that runs to June 2. Vaccinations will be offered seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The vaccination clinic is open to anyone age 16 and over, but officials hope Gary residents take advantage of the vaccination opportunity.
12:12 p.m.: 3,235 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 24 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Friday announced 3,235 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,251,346 and the statewide death toll to 21,349 since the start of the pandemic.
Officials also reported 90,575 new tests in the last 24 hours. The statewide positivity rate for cases is 3.5%.
The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 108,811, with 124,870 doses given on Thursday. Officials also say a total of 6,043,292 vaccines have now been administered.
10:51 a.m.: Six Flags’ water park Hurricane Harbor announces May 29 reopening
Hurricane Harbor Chicago water park in Gurnee will open for the season on May 29 as a separate attraction from the adjacent Six Flags Great America amusement park, operators announced Friday.
The water park will have its own entrance so ticket holders can visit without entering Six Flags, though Six Flags season pass holders will still receive free admission to the water park.
10:49 a.m.: Fully vaccinated Americans can travel within the US without testing or quarantine, according to new CDC guidelines
Add travel to the activities vaccinated Americans can enjoy again, according to new U.S. guidance issued Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance to say fully vaccinated people can travel within the U.S. without getting tested for the coronavirus or going into quarantine afterward.
Previously, the agency had cautioned against unnecessary travel even for vaccinated people, but noted that it would update its guidance as more people got vaccinated and evidence mounted about the protection the shots provide.
“Every day you get more data, and you change your guidance based on the existing data,” said Dr. Ali Khan, dean of the University of Nebraska’s College of Public Health.
8:05 a.m.: Childhood tantrums, nightmares and headaches are up in Chicago during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey from Lurie hospital
The emotional health of Chicago children has taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey out of Lurie Children’s Hospital.
The survey of 1,500 parents from across the city found that nearly half had talked to their children’s primary care doctors about mental or behavioral health concerns within the last six to 12 months.
Among younger children, ages 2 to 11, 23% were acting out more during the pandemic with behaviors such as tantrums; 19% were showing more clinginess, 11% had more nightmares, 8% had more headaches and 8% had more stomach pains.
7 a.m.: Chicago’s music professionals facing greater hurdles as live entertainment begins to re-open
“I think we have all split off into very different realities physically, emotionally, socially,” says Rebecca Baruc, a visual artist and the former full-time music programmer and director at Uncommon Ground. Baruc, like many other professionals within the music industry, said the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic were unlike anything she had experienced before.
Already embroiled in a fight to avoid closure from hungry developers, the beloved music venue The Hideout Inn made the early decision to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19 on March 13, 2020, by temporarily shutting its doors. Days later, the rest of the city, country and world followed suit. More than a year after the initial lockdowns began, those ramifications continue to complicate the future of a music scene quietly opening up to a changed world.
5 a.m.: Column: What to do when your friends or family resist a COVID vaccine? Persist. Gently.
Mary Murtaugh is a recently retired nurse who says she has never been shy about promoting good health. She wasn’t shy the day she asked her favorite grocery store cashier if she’d been vaccinated.
The cashier was emphatic. No. And she wasn’t going to be. After listening to the cashier explain that she’d had a bad reaction to a flu shot, Murtaugh persisted.
“I told her that I would be worried if she contracted COVID,” Murtaugh says, and the clerk promised to think about it.
Promising to think about something is often no more than a polite deflection. But the cashier did think about it. She later reported she’d gotten two doses of the Pfizer vaccine and thanked Murtaugh for the “gentle push.”
“Sometimes,” Murtaugh says, “all you need to do is plant a seed.”
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