Illinois is hoping the new year will bring relief from the coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the nation and the globe and that made 2020 a 365 days that will be hard to forget — no matter how much we might try.
Here’s what’s happening this long, holiday weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
A few COVID-19 survivors don’t have their sense of taste or smell back, and doctors aren’t sure they ever will
A diminished sense of smell, called anosmia, has emerged as one of the telltale symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. It is the first symptom for some patients, and sometimes the only one. Often accompanied by an inability to taste, anosmia occurs abruptly and dramatically in these patients, almost as if a switch had been flipped.
Most regain their senses of smell and taste after they recover, usually within weeks. But in a minority of patients like Hansen, the loss persists, and doctors cannot say when or if the senses will return.
4,762 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 29 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Saturday announced 4,762 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 975,352 and the statewide death toll to 16,674 since the start of the pandemic.
Officials also reported 61,987 new tests in the last 24 hours. The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 8.3% for the period ending Friday.
It’s rare, but some COVID patients develop severe psychotic symptoms
Doctors are reporting similar cases across the country and around the world. A small number of COVID patients who had never experienced mental health problems are developing severe psychotic symptoms weeks after contracting the coronavirus.
In interviews and scientific articles, doctors described:
A 36-year-old nursing home employee in North Carolina who became so paranoid that she believed her three children would be kidnapped and, to save them, tried to pass them through a fast-food restaurant’s drive-thru window.
A 30-year-old construction worker in New York City who became so delusional that he imagined his cousin was going to murder him, and, to protect himself, he tried to strangle his cousin in bed.
A 55-year-old woman in Britain had hallucinations of monkeys and a lion and became convinced a family member had been replaced by an impostor.
Wrigleyville bar ordered closed until further notice after New Year’s Eve gathering
The city of Chicago ordered Wrigleyville bar The Dugout to close until further notice after the establishment held an overcapacity gathering on New Year’s Eve, according to a statement from the city.
The Chicago police and fire departments late Thursday shut down a large gathering at the bar, 950 W. Addison St., the statement said.
Police then alerted the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which is reviewing the police report and will decide whether to take action against the bar, which could include citations or a long-term closure order.
157 new COVID deaths reported on New Year’s Day
State health officials announced 7,201 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 Friday for a total of 970,590. The state also announced 157 new deaths.
Read more here. —Jonathon Berlin
When will you get the COVID-19 vaccine? Illinois health systems may use electronic medical records to reach patients in next phases.
As Illinois hospitals and health systems race to vaccinate their workers, they’re thinking ahead to an even larger task: vaccinating patients.
Some are not yet revealing how they’ll do that, but several Chicago-area health systems and departments are starting to talk publicly about how they might approach a broader vaccination effort. Their early plans offer a glimpse of what vaccinations might look like for the next groups of people to qualify for COVID-19 vaccines — which will likely include seniors and essential workers.
“Every health care provider around here is developing a mass vaccination program,” said Dr. Don Hoscheit, chief medical officer at DuPage Medical Group.
DuPage Medical Group, which has about a million patients in the west and southwest suburbs, will likely use its electronic medical records to identify patients who are old enough to qualify for the next round of vaccines, Hoscheit said. It can then reach out to those people through MyChart, phone calls, text messages or emails to let them know it’s their turn, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that after health care workers and long-term care facility residents get the vaccine, the next groups include people ages 75 and older and essential workers, such as teachers, police and firefighters. After that, the CDC has recommended people ages 65 to 74 and those with certain underlying health conditions get vaccinated.
Read more here. —Lisa Schencker
A pandemic’s cruel toll: More than 16,000 Illinoisans died from COVID-19 in 2020, disproportionately the elderly, poor, people of color
A few weeks ago, as Dr. Marina Del Rios sat in a chair in front of photographers and received the first COVID-19 vaccine shot administered in Illinois, her mind focused on the easy smile of a beloved family friend.
Jose Vazquez’s face was quick to light up, Del Rios remembered, especially when he spoke about his daughters. He was just one of many people she knew, former patients and fellow heath care professionals alike, who died or lost loved ones in 2020 as the pandemic swept through the state and inflicted misery across the country.
As the spread began in earnest in March, the 51-year-old Vazquez was surrounded by thousands of people each day as a passenger service agent at O’Hare International Airport. Del Rios’ friend died March 30, an early casualty in a crisis that in Illinois had killed about 16,500 people and sickened more than 960,000, according to Dec. 31 state data.
The state had the somber distinction of having the sixth most COVID-19-related deaths in the country in 2020, behind Texas, New York, California, Florida and New Jersey, federal data shows. The total means there has been 1 coronavirus death for every 711 Illinoisans — a rate higher than the 1 in every 962 killed across the U.S. in 2020.
Read more here. —Christy Gutowski and Jonathon Berlin
Employees at suburban Milwaukee clinic unknowingly gave out 57 shots with deliberately ruined vaccine; pharmacist arrested
Authorities arrested a suburban Milwaukee pharmacist Thursday suspected of deliberately ruining hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine by removing them from refrigeration for two nights.
The arrest marks another setback in what has been a slower, messier start to vaccinate Americans than public health officials had expected. Leaders in Wisconsin and other states have been begging the Trump administration for more doses as health care workers and senior citizens line up for the lifesaving vaccine.
Advocate Aurora Health Care Chief Medical Group Officer Jeff Bahr told reporters during a teleconference Thursday afternoon that the pharmacist deliberately removed 57 vials that held hundreds of doses of the Moderna vaccine from refrigeration at a Grafton medical center overnight on Dec. 24 into Dec. 25, returned them, then left them out again on the night of Dec. 25 into Saturday. The vials contained enough doses to inoculate 570 people.
The Moderna vaccine is viable for 12 hours outside refrigeration, so workers used the vaccine to inoculate 57 people before discarding the rest. Police said the discarded doses were worth between $8,000 and $11,000.
Bahr said health system officials grew more suspicious of the pharmacist as they reviewed the incident. After multiple interviews, the pharmacist acknowledged Wednesday that he removed the vaccine intentionally over the two nights, Bahr said.
That means that the doses people received Saturday are all but useless, he said. Moderna has told Aurora that there’s no safety concerns, but the hospital system is closely monitoring the people who received the spoiled doses, he said.
Read more here. —Associated Press
Here are some recent stories related to COVID-19:
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