The federal CDC and FDA lifted an 11-day pause on the use of the vaccine after an advisory panel said it was safe to do so in combination with a new warning about the risk of blood clots, particularly among women under 50.
Cook County health officials announced Saturday appointments won’t be necessary at suburban mass vaccination sites starting Monday after they and the city said they are once again administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, Friday marked an unofficial start of a final push to get shots into the arms of all Chicagoans as city mass vaccination sites opened to walk-ins, regardless of city ZIP code or employment status.
Despite the potential for a crush of shot seekers, lines were short as the sun shone on the United Center on Friday during the lunch hour. Large metal corrals set up like bank rope lines were quickly traversed and no one leaving the facility reported a visit that took longer than 25 minutes.
Here’s what’s happening this weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
As the pandemic got underway, a team of priests formed to go into hospitals to anoint the sick, give last rites: ‘It brought them such consolation’
The Rev. David Simonetti walked onto the hospital grounds at the height of the first wave of the pandemic and felt the “surreal” atmosphere.
There were special tents set up for nurses and doctors, bright, glaring lights and security guards at the entrance screening visitors before allowing them in. Visiting the COVID-19 floor required donning special masks, shields, shoe covers and instructions from nurses before entering patient rooms.
Finally inside a room at Franciscan Health Olympia Fields, Simonetti used a cotton ball soaked in holy oil to anoint the unconscious patient. He then carefully disposed of the cotton ball according to safety guidelines.
Simonetti, pastor of Christ Our Light parish in Hegewisch, formerly St. Florian parish, said he was too focused on his mission to be frightened. After all, this was his way of giving spiritual comfort to both the patient and family, and an integral part of the Catholic faith.
”I wasn’t scared because I was convinced I was being called to really ultimately do what I was ordained to do,” Simonetti said. “When I came home after that first visit and sat in the chapel … I said, you know, I really am willing if I’m called upon to do something that risks my life for the sake of my Lord.”
74,461 doses administered, 2,035 new cases and 24 deaths reported
Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 2,035 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19, and 24 additional deaths, bringing the state’s totals to 1,321,033 cases and 21,826 fatalities.
There were 61,299 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.5%.
There were 74,461 doses of the coronavirus vaccine administered Saturday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 107,976.
Two Southland school districts that increased in-person teaching see rise in COVID-19 isolations
Two Southland high school districts that recently boosted the number of days of in-classroom teaching have seen upticks in students and staff having to quarantine at home due to COVID-19.
Districts 218 and 230 report the increases are largely due to student athletes having to isolate due to close contact.
The numbers of COVID-19 positive cases in the two districts remain small, with the increases stemming from close contact, according to information on the district’s websites.
Walk-ins allowed at all Cook County mass vaccination sites starting Monday
Cook County health officials announced Saturday appointments won’t be necessary at suburban mass vaccination sites starting Monday after they and the city said they are once again administering the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after an 11-day pause.
With that in mind, Cook County announced Saturday that mass vaccination sites will allow walk-ins with no previous appointments starting April 26 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
“We’re trying to make the right thing to do the easy thing to do,” Dr. Kiran Joshi said. Sites in Tinley Park and Matteson started taking walk-ins on April 21.
As for when Cook County residents can relegate their masks to the bottom of the sock drawer?
Rubin said it’s possible masks will be mandated or recommended into 2022, but that it’s too soon to tell for sure. Public health guidance will be driven by studying how effectively the vaccines curtail community spread of COVID-19, which depends in part on how the virus mutates — so-called variants. The more people that are vaccinated, the less likelihood of variants.
It may be possible, Rubin said, masks would continue to be recommended when mixing with unrelated people in a crowd, such as at a baseball game or concert.
2,907 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 25 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Saturday announced 2,907 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,318,998 and the statewide death toll to 21,802 since the start of the pandemic.
Officials also reported 94,766 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 113,814, with 125,524 doses given on Friday. Officials also say a total of 8,736,002 vaccines have now been administered.
The soaring number of students in quarantine is the latest obstacle for schools and sports teams trying to get back to normal
Although the vast majority of Illinois students are now learning in-person at least part-time after more than a year of pandemic-prompted remote instruction, the surging number of kids forced into quarantine has been the latest source of disruption and frustration in the prolonged and difficult effort to reopen schools.
With the shifting metric for social distancing in schools — where 3 feet is now the allowable standard but exposure within 6 feet of an infected student can still result in a quarantine — the ability to remain in class is sometimes a game of inches.
Chicago nursing homes had 22 COVID-19 infections among the fully vaccinated, CDC report says, making ‘breakthrough’ infections rare
Across 78 Chicago skilled nursing facilities, 22 people tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated, suggesting that such “breakthrough” infections are relatively rare, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 22 people who tested positive as of the end of March, 12 were residents and 10 were staff. Nearly two-thirds of those people had no symptoms, two had to be hospitalized because of COVID-19 and one died because of multiple other infections.
In all, at least 14,765 skilled nursing facility residents and staff in Chicago had received two vaccine doses as of the end of March, meaning the 22 people who tested positive represent less than 0.2% of the total number of staff and residents who had received two doses.
Nursing home staff and residents were among the first people to receive COVID-19 vaccines, starting in December, as part of a federal partnership with Walgreens and CVS Health.
“The results in this report highlight the importance of COVID-19 vaccination in high-risk congregate settings such as SNFs (skilled nursing facilities); most fully vaccinated persons were not infected, did not have COVID-19–like symptoms, and did not have severe illness,” the report said.
Being shot at age 15 made her want to be a caregiver. As a COVID-19 nurse, she’s turned to art as therapy.
Nurses experienced things they could never explain.
People talking, then dead. Replacing family members by holding the hand of the dying. Losing the ability to comfort through a smile.
To process these moments, some picked up a pencil, or a paintbrush.
A new exhibit at the International Museum of Surgical Science, “Nurses’ Relaxation and Renewal Through the Arts,” features art by medical workers, including some who used artwork to process what they experienced treating COVID-19 patients. The Gold Coast museum’s exhibit was supposed to open last April. Scuttled because of the pandemic, it is now open through May 23.
One of the artists is Maribel Huerta. Ever since she was a trauma patient, lying in intensive care after being shot in the head at age 15, she knew she wanted to be a nurse.
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