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

Thursday, February 18, 2021
Chicago Tribune

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivered a staunch defense of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and a rebuke to Republicans who fought his graduated-rate income tax in a budget address that proposed $1 billion in cuts to business tax breaks backed by the GOP and its allies.

The Democratic governor’s $41.6 billion budget blueprint contains no new tax increases and avoids major service cuts. Instead, it relies heavily on ending the business tax breaks, extending repayment of state borrowing, shifting earmarked revenues to the state’s general bank account and using existing federal COVID-19 relief funding to pare down a budget deficit of more than $2.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration spent $281.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief money on Chicago Police Department personnel costs, prompting an angry response Wednesday from activists and some aldermen.

The number came to light as Lightfoot seeks City Council approval to transfer about $65 million in unspent federal COVID-19 money into the 2021 budget, after the Biden administration waived Federal Emergency Management Agency local funding matches and extended the deadline to spend federal dollars until the end of the year.



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

6 a.m.: COVID-19 vaccine site coming to New Trier High School’s Northfield campus

New Trier High School is slated to become a future COVID-19 vaccine site operated through a new partnership forged by the Cook County Department of Public Health and area first responders, officials said this week.

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The proposal to use New Trier’s Northfield campus, 7 Happ Road, as a COVID-19 vaccine site was unanimously approved by the school board at a Tuesday night meeting, officials said.

According to public records, county health department officials are now making arrangements to use multiple locations throughout suburban Cook County as COVID-19 vaccine sites.

Read more here. —Karen Ann Cullotta

6 a.m.: Life expectancy in US dropped by one year as pandemic hit, and it was worse for minority communities

Life expectancy in the United States dropped a staggering one year during the first half of 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic caused its first wave of deaths, health officials are reporting.

Minorities suffered the biggest impact, with Black Americans losing nearly three years and Hispanics, nearly two years, according to preliminary estimates Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This is a huge decline,” said Robert Anderson, who oversees the numbers for the CDC. “You have to go back to World War II, the 1940s, to find a decline like this.”

Other health experts say it shows the profound impact of COVID-19, not just on deaths directly due to infection but also from heart disease, cancer and other conditions.

“What is really quite striking in these numbers is that they only reflect the first half of the year ... I would expect that these numbers would only get worse,” said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, a health equity researcher and dean at the University of California, San Francisco.

This is the first time the CDC has reported on life expectancy from early, partial records; more death certificates from that period may yet come in. It’s already known that 2020 was the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths topping 3 million for the first time.

Read more here. —Associated Press

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