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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Cook County releasing 22,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccine appointments this afternoon; state reports 116,551 vaccine doses administered, 3,526 new COVID-19 cases, 25 more deaths

Thursday, April 01, 2021
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Health announced it will open up about 22,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccination slots at 4 p.m. Thursday across four suburban sites, according to a news release.

Meanwhile, as Chicago’s daily COVID-19 cases rose to nearly 500 a day this week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she’s concerned about the “quantum leap” in coronavirus numbers and won’t call for any more significant reopening plans until those numbers subside.

The citywide positivity rate as of Tuesday’s figures was 4.5%, up more than a percentage point from last week. During that same period, the seven-day rolling average of cases went up to 498, a 37% increase from the week before — despite average tests per day going down about 4%.

Additionally, suburban Cook County is now allowing remaining essential workers who have not yet been eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to qualify for the shot.

Some of those jobs include employees working in the fields of clergy, restaurants, energy, legal, retail, transportation and construction, according to a news release from the county’s public health department. The next step will be opening up vaccines to all people 16 and older, which should come in the next few weeks, the release said.

State officials Thursday reported 3,526 new confirmed and probable cases and 25 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals since the pandemic began to 1,248,111 cases and 21,326 deaths.

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In a somber milestone, the Cook County medical examiner’s office also announced that the county has surpassed 10,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19-related causes since the first such local death just over a year ago.

Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:

1:58 p.m.: Cook County releasing 22,000 first-dose appointments across four suburban sites

Cook County Health announced it will open up about 22,000 first-dose coronavirus vaccination slots at 4 p.m. Thursday across four suburban sites, according to a news release.

The locations are Triton College, South Suburban College, Des Plaines Community Vaccination Center and Forest Park Community Vaccination Center.

Anyone who is in Phase 1a, 1b or 1c can sign up at or by calling 833-308-1988 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The release of appointments covers Friday, Saturday and Monday, according to a news release. All vaccinations are by appointment only.

—Alice Yin

12:12 p.m.: 3,526 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 25 additional deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Thursday announced 3,526 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,248,111 and the statewide death toll to 21,326 since the start of the pandemic.

Officials also reported 96,177 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 109,073, with 116,551 doses given on Wednesday. Officials also say a total of 5,918,422 vaccines have now been administered.

—Chicago Tribune staff

11:04 a.m.: Over-the-counter home COVID-19 tests from Abbott, Quidel get FDA approval

U.S. health officials have authorized two more over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that can be used at home to get rapid results.

The move by the Food and Drug Administration is expected to vastly expand the availability of cheap home tests that many experts have advocated since the early days of the outbreak. The announcement late Wednesday comes as U.S. testing numbers continue to slide, even as the number of new coronavirus infections is rising again.

Read more here. —Associated Press

8:27 a.m.: Pfizer study shows COVID-19 vaccine still effective up to 6 months later

Pfizer says its vaccine continues to be effective against COVID-19 up to six months later.

Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced updated results Thursday from their ongoing late-stage study of more than 44,000 volunteers.

The companies said the vaccine was 91% effective against symptomatic disease and was even more protective in preventing severe disease. Of 927 confirmed COVID-19 cases detected through March 13, 77 were among people who received the vaccine and 850 were among people who got dummy shots.

Read more here. —Associated Press

6 a.m.: Chicago Cubs: What’s going on in and around Wrigley Field on first opening day in two years as the 2021 MLB season kicks off

The weather might not feel like it, but it really is opening day.

Opening day always is a special occasion, and the start of the 2021 baseball season is even more so with the return of fans — albeit at a reduced capacity — Thursday at Wrigley Field and next week at Guaranteed Rate Field.

The Chicago Cubs are welcoming back fans for the first time since 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which last season resulted in a shortened 60-game season with no spectators. (The White Sox start this season on the road Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels.)

Opening day will be one of Chicago’s first mass events in more than a year, so pay close attention to protocols and the various changes inside and outside the ballpark — including masks, tiered entry times, mobile tickets and cashless concessions.

Meanwhile, the city has cleared the way for the rooftops near Wrigley Field to host fans at 50% capacity or 50 people within one space.

So if you’re heading to Wrigleyday, dress appropriately: The temperature is expected to be in the mid-30s with a wind chill factor that could make it feel as if it’s below freezing.

Read more here. —Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Why are COVID-19 numbers heading up again? It could be that the public is following ‘recipe for a surge.’

Coronavirus cases in Chicago and Illinois are inching upward again, part of a nationwide pattern that is causing experts and officials to worry about another surge of the virus while cities and states race to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.

In Chicago, doctors see telling signs of a potential surge, including smaller outbreaks in some areas that they fear will coalesce into a bigger outbreak before most people are vaccinated. And Mayor Lori Lightfoot cited concern on Wednesday, pointing to a “quantum leap” in coronavirus numbers, and said Chicago won’t proceed with further reopening measures until numbers go down.

Still, as vaccines pick up, experts hope the inoculations will help lessen the uptick.

Chicago’s positivity rate as of Tuesday’s was 4.5%, an increase of over a percentage point compared with last week. The seven-day rolling average of cases went up to 498 in that same period, which was up 37% from the week prior.

Illinois public health officials announced 2,592 new cases on Wednesday, with a preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate of 3.9%, up from 3.3% the week before.

Meanwhile, nearly 17% of Illinois residents are fully vaccinated, according to the state’s department of health.

“It’s the tortoise and the hare race,” said Dr. Emily Landon, an epidemiologist at the University of Chicago School of Medicine. “The vaccine is the tortoise, and we know it’s going to win eventually. But how far is the hare going to get?”

Read more here. —Madeline Buckley and Angie Leventis Lourgos

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