As more Illinois residents get vaccinated against COVID-19, Cook County officials said half of its six suburban mass vaccination locations will close permanently Thursday.
The need for a centralized rollout has given way to a new strategy of meeting hard-to-reach residents where they are, so the Tinley Park, South Holland and River Grove mass vaccination centers will be “consolidating” into the remaining locations. That means residents seeking a mass vaccination site in the suburbs must go to Forest Park, Des Plaines or Matteson for an inoculation shot, either with an appointment or walk-in.
In reopening news, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the return of a classic Chicago beach season will run through Labor Day, with 22 lakeshore spots in the city reopening all amenities except drinking fountains. And Chicago’s Pride Parade has been officially moved to Sunday, Oct. 3, a pandemic-induced departure from its usual last Sunday in June date.
Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
5:50 p.m.: Once bustling vaccination site in Tinley Park gives it one last shot
After administering its last COVID-19 vaccine shot at about noon Thursday, Cook County officials said the Tinley Park Convention Center, the county’s first mass vaccination site, had exceeded expectations.
During a walk through and clap out to celebrate staff and members of the Illinois National Guard who had worked at the site since it opened Jan. 26, Israel Rocha, chief executive of Cook County Health, said the results accomplished were “above and beyond whatever we though was possible.”
“It was a huge undertaking and a huge success,” said Iliana Mora, Cook County Health’s chief operating officer.
The site near the interchange of Interstate 80 and Harlem Avenue administered nearly 136,000 doses. It was closed along with a mass vaccination site at South Suburban College in South Holland. The college site opened in early February and administered more than 71,000 doses, according to the county.
Cook County still operates a south suburban mass vaccination site in Matteson, at 4647 Promenade Way, near U.S. 30 and Cicero Avenue.
Cook County rented the convention center space for $300,000 per month, and Tinley Park police, firefighters and emergency management personnel were on site each day with the village providing security. The village hopes to get reimbursement for those personnel costs through grants, said Pat Carr, assistant village manager and director of emergency management operations.
12:43 p.m.: Chicago White Sox are offering COVID-19 shots to fans on Friday and Saturday
The White Sox and Cook County Health are holding a COVID-19 vaccination event for fans attending games Friday and Saturday, when the Sox host the Baltimore Orioles.
Ticket-holders who get their Johnson & Johnson vaccines at the Guaranteed Rate Field pop-up clinic will receive $25 White Sox gift cards for use inside the ballpark, the team said.
The first 10,000 fans attending those two Sox-Orioles games also are supposed to receive Tim Anderson Bat Flip Bobbleheads.
The vaccination event is scheduled for the Patio by Gate 1. Those planning to attend the games can book appointments through the Cook County Health website at bit.ly/soxvax.
Slots are available from when the gates open — 90 minutes before scheduled first pitch — through the end of fifth inning. There also may be walk-up appointments, pending availability.
12:18 p.m.: Chicago to see scattered showers Friday when beaches reopen, but Memorial Day weekend looks sunny
Chicago is expected to see a sunny Memorial Day weekend after showers Friday, according to the National Weather Service.
Scattered showers are likely to move northeast Friday, when Chicago’s lakefront beaches will reopen for the first time since September 2019. Temperatures are forecast to be in the low 50s.
Friday will see onshore winds bringing low temperatures near the lake. The rain is expected to end Friday evening, said meteorologist Kevin Donofrio of the National Weather Service. The water temperature of the lake will be in the 50s, he added.
12:06 p.m.: 63,717 vaccine doses administered, 891 new cases and 42 deaths reported Thursday
Illinois public health officials on Thursday reported 891 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 42 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,379,279 cases and 22,718 deaths.
There were 67,705 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate as a percent of total test is 1.9%.
There were 63,717 doses of the vaccine administered Sunday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 67,485. Officials said 66% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 49% of adults are fully vaccinated.
11:16 a.m.: Wrigley Field moves to 60% capacity on Friday — with masking restrictions lifted for fully-vaccinated fans: ‘I think it will give us a nice boost’
When the Chicago Cubs return from a six-game road trip Friday, manager David Ross expects a “rocking” atmosphere at Wrigley Field.
The city of Chicago is allowing the Cubs to increase their capacity to 60%, starting with this weekend’s series against the Cincinnati Reds. The Cubs previously allowed a little more than 10,000 fans to meet the 25% capacity limit due to COVID-19 precautions. They are selling tickets in pods of up to six people.
Ross said the boost the Cubs will get from more fans to be “significant.” It will be the biggest crowd the Cubs have played in front of at Wrigley Field in 20 months — since before the Cubs hired Ross as manager in October 2019. Ross, of course, has seen Wrigley at its most energetic when playing for the 2015 and 2016 Cubs teams.
11:05 a.m.: Malcolm X College vaccine ambassador program aims to curb hesitancy, debunk myths. ‘This work is vital to our community and our country.’
Community organizer Natalia Mojica likes to be a part of finding solutions to social problems in the West Town neighborhood, whether it be participating in food or clothing drives, or working as a foot soldier.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has shifted her attention toward a new front: health and vaccine equity.
Mojica is one of nearly 1,300 people who have enrolled in the Malcolm X College vaccine ambassador course — a joint project between the City Colleges of Chicago and the Chicago Department of Public Health — directed at debunking myths and misinformation surrounding the three U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved COVID-19 vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
The course, which was announced in mid-May, is a free, two-hour online training available in both English and Spanish and features a variety of informational videos, surveys, quizzes and interviews with health professionals. People who complete the course are encouraged to share the information with their communities in an effort to increase awareness and reassure vaccine hesitancy.
11:02 a.m.: CTA to reduce fares on daily and multiday passes this summer as part of Chicago reopening efforts
CTA is cutting fares on daily and some multiday passes this summer as Chicago looks to bring back events and festivals and restaurants reopen.
Beginning Saturday, one-day passes will be $5, down from their usual $10. Three-day passes, geared toward weekend riders, will be cut to $15 from $20 and seven-day passes will be reduced to $20 from $28. The reduced fares will last through Sept. 6.
“I am happy to see a safe return of increasing ridership to the iconic and vital CTA service,” Chicago public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a statement. “My team has worked with CTA through this pandemic to ensure that public health protocols are in place to keep our transit riders safe and healthy.”
The reduced fares are part of CTA’s efforts to draw back riders and attract new customers. The “When you’re ready, we’re ready” campaign includes advertising, special events and customer incentives, and aims to provide information about mask requirements, cleaning efforts and investments in service and technology, such as an updated Ventra app.
6 a.m.: Will we need a COVID booster shot? It’s an open question, but so far immunity appears ‘durable.’ Illinois providers say they are ready if necessary.
Dr. Richard Novak, professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Illinois Chicago’s Department of Medicine, is already getting questions from the participants of the university’s vaccine clinical trial about whether they will need a booster shot.
Those participants were among the first people to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and some are anxious that, if immunity wanes, they will also be first to confront that possibility.
It’s a question on the mind of many people who are now fully vaccinated: Will they need a booster shot to stay that way?
So far, scientists and doctors say it remains an open question, but the evidence — at least right now — doesn’t point to a need for another shot.
After months of administering the initial rounds of the vaccine — a rollout that has faced problems with inequities and confusion — Illinois vaccine providers say they will be ready to distribute a booster shot if it becomes necessary. The Illinois Department of Public Health said its current vaccine program is a blueprint if they need to handle rollout of a booster.
6 a.m.: Gary makes COVID-19 vaccination push as Roosevelt site’s days are numbered: ‘This is really a critical time to get a good message out’
As FEMA winds down the mass vaccination site at Roosevelt High School in Gary, city officials say they will continue to encourage vaccination among its residents.
Dr. Roland Walker, the city’s health commissioner, said less than 30% of Gary’s residents are fully vaccinated compared to about 34% both national and at the state level.
Walker said demand for the vaccine has been declining across the country and the Gary site is no exception to that.
He said there are generally two pockets of resistance to vaccinations, one in urban areas for reasons tied to suspicion concern vaccines among minority communities and one in rural areas where people are hesitant for political reasons.
Aurora awards third round of grants to businesses hurt by pandemic
The Aurora City Council this week awarded a third round of grants to local businesses that lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The third round went to eight businesses, and the grants totaled $45,500. It comes on the heels of two previous rounds of awards, the first totaling $659,000 and the second $178,500.
In total, the city has now awarded $963,000 to 128 businesses.
Read more here. — Steve Lord, Aurora Beacon-News
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