Nearly half of Illinois residents 16 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, putting the state inches from a milestone that could have triggered a full reopening under the plan Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced one month ago.
But rising hospitalizations and cases, along with the looming threat of COVID-19 variants, are holding the state back from loosening restrictions.
Meanwhile, following more than week of canceled in-person classes and a stay-at-home directive for undergraduate students living on campus, the University of Chicago began easing COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, two days earlier than anticipated, based on promising testing data.
Chicago got some more good news Tuesday, when Navy Pier said it will reopen this summer with a phased reopening beginning April 30. The fireworks will be back on the lakefront as well, as well as in many of Chicago’s suburbs.
Illinois public health officials Tuesday reported 2,587 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, and 9 additional deaths. There were 81,963 doses of the vaccine administered Monday.
Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
12:25 p.m.: Christian rights group objects to Glenview school system’s vaccine policy, but district says it’s already granting religious waivers to employees
A religious rights organization intervened after some employees of a school district in suburban Chicago said they objected to getting COVID-19 vaccines.
But officials at north suburban Glenview School District 34 said this week that employees were already allowed — and some have been granted — religious or health exemptions, even before the district was contacted by the conservative Christian group.
In an April 7 letter to District 34 Superintendent Dane Delli, Florida-based Liberty Counsel said it was “writing on behalf of six employees … who have engaged us to secure their constitutional and statutory rights not to be required to undergo COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of their employment.”
“Undoubtedly, many of their colleagues have similar convictions, and we write on their behalf as well,” Liberty Counsel representatives Richard L. Mast and Horatio G. Mihet wrote. In a news release, the group called “forced vaccination” a “violation of fundamental individual, economic, and religious liberties.”
But District 34 officials disagreed with the group’s contention that its involvement had prompted a change in the district’s stance. Officials said the school system was already allowing employees to seek vaccine exemptions.
12:05 p.m.: 81,963 vaccine doses, 2,587 new cases and 9 deaths reported Tuesday
Illinois public health officials Tuesday reported 2,587 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, and 9 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,306,787 cases and 21,694.
There were 62,406 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the statewide positivity rate as a percent of total test is 3.8%.
There were 81,963 doses of the vaccine administered Monday. The seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 122,531.
11:53 a.m.: A vaccination clinic for students is coming to Highland Park, Deerfield high schools
After recently opening its doors for full-day, in-person classes, Township High School District 113 is now offering students access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Through a partnership with Passport Health, a travel medicine service, District 113 will host a free vaccination clinic for students at Highland Park High School and Deerfield High School who are ages 16 and older, according to a news release.
The COVID-19 vaccine became available for all Illinois residents age 16 and older on Monday, April 12.
”As is always the case, our first priority is student and staff safety, and we are opening this clinic as soon as we possibly can in an effort to provide our students with access to the vaccine and the protection it provides,” said Superintendent Bruce Law, in the release.
11:13 a.m.: Lightfoot says she expects Bulls, Blackhawks fans will be allowed inside the United Center ‘before season’s end’
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she expects fans to be allowed at the United Center for Bulls and Blackhawks games before the end this season, but the city is waiting for cases to continue decreasing after a recent surge coronavirus cases.
The mayor made the comments at an unrelated news conference after being asked about allowing fans indoors. She said the city has been talking with the Bulls and Blackhawks and they have “very solid plans” but noted the recent surge in cases.
“We feel like we might be plateauing and even, dare to dream, going down. Going down is the right time to have that conversation,” Lightfoot said. “So, we’ll continue with that. I expect before season’s end there will be fans in the United Center.”
11:09 a.m.: Navy Pier beginning phased reopening April 30, fireworks resume in May
Navy Pier will reopen this summer with a phased reopening beginning April 30, the Pier announced Tuesday. And lest you need a reminder today that summer is indeed coming, the fireworks will be back on the lakefront as well, as well as in many of Chicago’s suburbs.
The initial reopening will include the Navy Pier parking garages, Polk Bros Park, the North and South Docks, Pier Park, East End Plaza, tour boats and cruises, the new Sable hotel, and select restaurants at limited capacity. The Centennial Wheel, Pepsi Wave Swinger and Carousel rides will all be open. Indoor spaces and retail stores will remain closed, and the Chicago Children’s Museum and Chicago Shakespeare Theater also are not part of the reopening.
Hours of operation will be from Sunday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
To celebrate the reopening, Navy Pier will host a 10-minute fireworks show at 9 p.m. every Saturday in May until Memorial Day weekend. According to the announcement, the first fireworks presentation on May 1 will be dedicated to health care professionals and frontline workers.
There also likely will be Fourth of July fireworks, with a full summer schedule to be announced later.
A bicyclist passes by migratory ducks on Botany Pond on the University of Chicago campus on March 24, 2021. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune)
10:30 a.m.: University of Chicago lifts COVID-19 restrictions after outbreak linked to spring break travel and student gatherings
Following more than week of canceled in-person classes and a stay-at-home directive for undergraduate students living on campus, the University of Chicago began easing COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday, two days earlier than anticipated, based on promising testing data.
The university, located in Hyde Park, first implemented the clampdown April 8 due to a surge in positive cases — including a record high of 97 new infections in the first week of April. Officials expanded the stay-at-home directive to include off-campus undergraduates last week and attributed the spike to spring break travel, multiple gatherings and new variants of the virus.
In-person classes for undergraduates will be reinstated Thursday, and students are prohibited from attending unmasked gatherings through April 26, according to a university message sent late Monday. The stay-at-home directive was lifted at 7 a.m. Tuesday.
The message also warned that “some students already have faced serious consequences, including dismissal from on-campus housing and referral to area discipline, for clear violations of requirements before and during the recent stay-at-home period.” It wasn’t clear Tuesday how many students this affects.
At the height of the outbreak, U. of C. recorded 157 new cases between April 2 and April 15, according to university data. But the numbers are flattening, with only one new case detected Sunday out of 1,361 tests and five on-campus cases identified since last Wednesday.
10:22 a.m.: 155 students are in quarantine at Hersey High School after more than a dozen COVID-19 cases reported
More than a dozen cases of COVID-19 have forced more than 150 students into quarantine at John Hersey High School in northwest suburban Arlington Heights, officials said.
“Out of 1,943 students at John Hersey High School, we have 13 active infections and 155 students are in a required quarantine, which means they would have had close contact with an individual who was infected,” Township High School District 214 spokesman David Beery said Tuesday.
Beery said close contact means “anyone who has been within 6 feet, with or without a mask, for a cumulative 15 or more minutes over a 48-hour period.”
Based on conversations with infected students, Beery said it appears that transmission is occurring outside of school.
9:30 a.m.: Cook County Health to release 10k COVID-19 vaccine appointments Tuesday
Cook County Health will open up 10,000 first-dose appointments for the coronavirus vaccine at noon Tuesday.
People can sign up by visiting vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling 833-308-1988, Monday – Friday from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.
The appointments will be split between Pfizer and Moderna, and those 16 or 17 must sign up for the first option and be accompanied with a parent or guardian.
The new slots follow all individuals outside Chicago 16 or older becoming eligible for the vaccine April 12, while in Chicago that benchmark was passed on Monday. — Alice Yin
9:12 a.m.: After year of largely remote learning, in-person graduations planned for Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion-Benton high schools
After more than a year of remote learning, some Waukegan High School seniors will have four weeks of in-person learning with their classmates and then a live graduation ceremony modified to accommodate social distancing requirements related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Waukegan’s Class of 2021, with roughly 1,000 students, will graduate in three identical ceremonies May 19, 20 and 21, at the school’s Weiss Field, with approximately a third of the group at each along with two ticketed guests so all are socially distanced.
Plans for an in-person graduation ceremony are also in the works for North Chicago Community High School May 15, while Zion-Benton High School District 126 hopes to recommend live ceremonies to its Board of Education for its two campuses June 3 and 4.
7:15 a.m.: Chicago announces Arts 77, a huge increase in arts funding, with $60 million for artists, concerts and new public art at O’Hare
In the biggest show of civic support for the arts in years, if not decades, City of Chicago officials are expected to announce Tuesday a major new initiative called Arts 77, drawing its name from the 77 Chicago neighborhoods. The plan, they claim, represents a new city investment of over $60 million to support local artists and organizations throughout the city.
“It’s unprecedented and it’s right for the times,” said Mark Kelly, the commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), in an interview Monday. “It means it is no longer ‘DCASE delivers the arts’ but the entire city government is now involved. It’s embedding the arts in the city. Think of this as a new Works Progress Administration project for the entire city.”
To illustrate what he said was a sea change in thinking, brought about by the pandemic, Kelly said that the past budget for public art in the City of Chicago has been a very modest $100,000 per year. Going forward, he said, the amount will increase $3 million a year over the next five years, with funds flowing from the city’s capital budget.
There will also be an additional $3.5 million in funding to acquire new public art for the new international terminal currently in planning for Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, designed to “celebrate the work of Chicagoland artists through large-scale commissions and acquisitions, and to provide international visitors a dynamic and welcoming first impression of our city.”
The city claimed that up to 30 Chicago-area artists will participate in this program, which it said will represent “the largest single acquisition of works by Chicago artists by the city in the last 30 years.”
6:25 a.m.: Lightfoot, Arwady to tour Chicago State University mass vaccination clinic
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady were scheduled to join Chicago State University President Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott to tour the city’s mass vaccination clinic at the university Tuesday morning.
The site, which opened April 5, is overseen by the Health Department, with national nonprofit Community Organized Relief Effort running the site and vaccinations given by Howard Brown Health.
The clinic is designed to handle 1,200 walk-up and 1,000 drive-thru vaccinations a day, although it’s by appointment only. — Chicago Tribune staff
6 a.m.: Massive supply imbalance fueled by vaccine hesitancy: Illinois’ latest struggles with COVID-19 mass vaccination
In southern Illinois, public health officials struggle to fill coronavirus vaccine appointment slots as the region sits on a three-week supply of doses.
It’s far different in north suburban Lake County, where slots for vaccinations fill up so fast that the region is able to maintain barely four days’ supply.
Four months into Illinois’ mass vaccination program, a Tribune analysis of state and local data found deep imbalances in vaccine supply and demand.
The state for weeks kept sending doses to places where it was a struggle to sign up enough people to get vaccinated, while other areas — such as greater Chicago — scrambled to find enough doses for the flood of people eager to get a shot.
That has led to large disparities in vaccine supply such as those seen comparing southern Illinois and Lake County, where the thin inventory makes it hard to add more appointment slots in clinics or ship more doses to doctors and pharmacists hungry for them.
After the Tribune began asking questions about the imbalance last week, the state announced it would send nearly 50% more first doses to local health departments in the suburbs. That could soon help make it just as easy to get shots near Chicago as it is in many downstate regions.
6 a.m.: Some people are reporting abnormal periods after a COVID-19 vaccine. U. of I. professor is looking for answers.
When Katy Fyksen got a heavy period a few days after she received her second dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, she didn’t consider there might be a link.
The 43-year-old Plainfield woman hadn’t had a period in over a year and a half because of her Mirena IUD, so the sudden red flow was a surprise. But she didn’t think about the timing in relation to when she received her vaccine until she saw a Twitter thread.
The tweet was from Kathryn Clancy, an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who posted April 7 about a new survey she’s running to catalog people’s menstrual experiences after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.
The survey is a joint effort between Clancy and Katharine Lee, a postdoctoral research scholar at Washington University School of Medicine. As of Monday, Lee said more than 25,000 people have filled it out.
So far, there have been only anecdotal reports of menstruation changes following the COVID-19 vaccines, and experts emphasize there is no sign of danger in getting the vaccine, nor is this a reason to skip getting vaccinated.
Clancy and Lee were inspired by their own experiences with abnormal menstruation following their inoculation, and wanted to document the experiences of others. They said they initially expected 500 people to respond to the survey; instead they hit that mark in a few hours.
Breaking coronavirus news
Stay up to date with the latest information on coronavirus with our breaking news alerts.
Here are some recent stories related to COVID-19
Source by www.chicagotribune.com