When Chicago and Illinois enter phase 5 on Friday, it will be the first time in more than a year that there are no limitations on the size of gatherings and most public activities.
Despite the state’s reopening, the village of Oak Park announced its annual 4th of July parade and fireworks have been canceled, with officials saying that hosting large events is still not recommended.
Meanwhile, Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported 365 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. Officials also said there were 44,174 doses of the vaccine administered Monday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 42,852.
Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
4:25 p.m.: US is on pace to fall short of President Biden’s aim to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4
For months, President Joe Biden has laid out goal after goal for taming the coronavirus pandemic and then exceeded his own benchmarks. Now, though, the U.S. is on pace to fall short of his aim to have 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4.
The White House has launched a month-long blitz to combat vaccine hesitancy and a lack of urgency to get shots, particularly in the South and Midwest, but it is increasingly resigned to missing the president’s vaccination target. The administration insists that even if the goal isn’t reached, it will have little effect on the overall U.S. recovery, which is already ahead of where Biden said it would be months ago.
About 16 million unvaccinated adults need to receive at least one dose in the next four weeks for Biden to meet his goal. But the pace of new vaccinations in the U.S. has dropped to about 400,000 people per day — down from a high of nearly 2 million per day two months ago.
3:55 p.m.: Should people who have already been fully vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer, also get a J&J shot? Will this improve protection?
“There is no evidence that extra doses of vaccine are necessary at this time,” said Dr. John Segreti medical director of infection control and prevention at Rush University. “The response seems robust, durable and real-life surveys have confirmed high level of efficacy seen in the trials.”
He added that no matter which vaccine, the only way a vaccinated person can add to their protection is by helping get others vaccinated.
2:55 p.m.: What will it take for Chicago parents to be OK with sending their kids back to school full-time this fall?
Most Illinois families won’t have a choice other than to send their children back to school full-time in the fall. But Chicago Public Schools is still trying to determine what officials can do to make parents most comfortable about the return of in-person classes five days a week.
To that end, CPS is conducting a survey of parents on whether such measures like mask-wearing, social distancing and in-person school tours would provide more peace of mind.
“We need feedback from our families to help shape what next school year will look like,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade — who are both departing from CPS this summer — said in joint statement last week.
“CPS has created the Fall 2021 Survey as a way to connect with families around planning for the new school year,” officials said, adding that the anonymous survey is also available in Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Arabic, Urdu, and Polish, and responses need to be received by June 18.
While officials said the survey will help them better understand how families are feeling about the upcoming school year, they stated, “it is not an opt-in form for in-person learning.”
“Consistent with state guidance, nearly all students will be learning in person next year,” officials said, adding that they are “working on a virtual option for the relatively small number of students who cannot return due to medical reasons, and more information on this plan will be shared with families in the near future.”
The survey also asks how likely parents are to pursue a remote option for a medically fragile child through a “special review process.”
12:05 p.m.: 44,174 vaccine doses administered, 365 new cases and 11 deaths reported
Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported 365 new and probable cases of COVID-19 and 11 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,385,854 cases and 22,974 deaths.
There were 36,408 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate is 1.1%.
There were 44,174 doses of the vaccine administered Monday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 42,852. Officials said 68% of Illinois adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 51% of adults are fully vaccinated.
Michael Sean Comerford just finished bicycling Route 66 from Chicago to L.A. collecting stories from “regular folks” about COVID-19. (Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)
7:38 a.m.: A Chicago writer traveled across COVID country USA, following the fabled Route 66. On his bicycle.
In February Chicagoan Michael Sean Comerford made what he calls a “snap decision” to tackle Route 66 by bicycle.
“The idea came to me in a dream,” he told me. “I knew the time was perfect since I would be riding during some of the major milestones of the country’s portion of the pandemic, including crossing the 500,000 mark for deaths, the one-year anniversary of the CDC declaring it a pandemic and a record vaccine rollout that in May would see half the country vaccinated.”
And so he rode, pedaling through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and ended on Santa Monica Pier, in California in mid-May.
His journey attracted some modest attention and admiration. Sam McManis, a reporter for the Arizona Daily Sun, wrote this: “Part Studs Terkel’s ‘Working,’ part Steinbeck’s ‘Travels with Charley’ and part Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo reportage, Comerford has encountered all manner of Americans with widely divergent stories and opinions, from COVID deniers to those dealing with severe illness to just common folks trying to cope in this most uncommon of times.”
Most people, Comerford says, were eager to talk, and he was impressed at how “articulate they were, how heartfelt their opinions.” He is respectful of even the most outlandish stories, such as that from a rancher who told of curing himself by taking a friend’s advice to drink a de-wormer used on cattle.
He gathered 100-some of these interviews on “The Story Cycle” YouTube channel, through a partnership he formed with The University of Florida’s Samuel Proctor Oral History Program. They are, if you care to sample, compelling, odd, moving and spooky. But there is no doubting the sincerity of the people talking.
“These people and what they had to say deepened my respect for the variety of opinions out there,” says Comerford.
By the middle of May, after 75 days on the road, he reached the end of Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier. Reporter Clara Harter of the Santa Monica Daily Press met him there and later wrote, “From fatalism to folk wisdom, conspiracy theories to church services, and science to superstition, Comerford discovered a vast range of ways people are coping with pandemic life.”
7:01 a.m.: AP analysis: COVID prolonged foster care stays for thousands, Illinois only state of 34 that kept pace
SEATTLE (AP) — Leroy Pascubillo missed his daughter’s first step, her first word and countless other milestones. After being born addicted to heroin, she’d been placed with a foster family, and he counted the days between their visits as he tried to regain custody. But because of the pandemic, the visits dwindled and went virtual, and all he could do was watch his daughter — too young to engage via computer — try to crawl through the screen.
They’re among thousands of families nationwide whose reunifications have been snarled in the foster care system as courts delayed cases, went virtual or temporarily shut down, according to an Associated Press analysis of child welfare data from 34 states.
The decrease in children leaving foster care means families are lingering longer in a system intended to be temporary, as critical services were shuttered or limited. Vulnerable families are suffering long-term and perhaps irreversible damage, experts say, which could leave parents with weakened bonds with their children.
The AP’s analysis found at least 8,700 fewer reunifications during the early months of the pandemic compared with the March-to-December period the year before — a decrease of 16%. Adoptions, too, dropped — by 23%. Overall, at least 22,600 fewer children left foster care compared with 2019. Illinois was the only state that kept apace on foster care exits. Others in AP’s analysis acknowledged drops but said each case has unique circumstances beneath the numbers.
Read more here. — Sally Ho and Camille Fassett, The Associated Press
6 a.m.: With state reopening, is vaccine needed? Absolutely, health experts warn
It could be a sign of hitting the vaccine wall or a confused assumption that the state’s “reopening” equates to the COVID-19 fight being over.
Whatever the reason, west-central Illinois counties are seeing significant slowdown in the number of those getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.
It’s a trend that mirrors what is happening across the state. It’s also one health officials hope to stop.
Almost 51% of Illinois adults have been fully vaccinated as of Friday, and more than 67% have received at least one of two required doses, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Fifty percent is a milestone because it was a key metric in the decision to fully reopen the state starting Friday.
West-central Illinois counties are playing catch-up to get to that halfway mark. Although statistics tend to run a few days behind, as of Monday most counties in the region were under 40% full vaccination — Sangamon County being the exception, at 44.41%.
Largely because the earliest vaccination efforts began with the vulnerable 65-or-older group, the percentages of older residents fully vaccinated are significantly higher. Most west-central Illinois counties are in the range of 70% to 80% or above.
Some health agencies said the percentages could be slightly skewed because they include those who are too young to receive the vaccine. The state just recently opened availability to those age 12 to 16.
Regardless, the goal now is to continue urging people to get protected and making sure vaccination opportunities are there.
“During the beginning, many of those interested in getting the vaccine in the county were able to, so we were ahead of the curve,” Cass County Health Department public health coordinator Andrew English said. “We had a high percentage early on, but now things have started to level off [in the county] while the state continues to grow.” — David C.L. Bauer, Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree, Jacksonville Journal-Courier
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