Pause on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine won’t affect United Center appointments, city’s top doc says
Appointments at the United Center’s COVID-19 mass vaccination site will go on as scheduled next week with Pfizer doses being administered instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that’s been shelved nationwide, officials said Thursday.
The city’s most prominent mass vax site has been doling out Pfizer since it launched a month ago in a parking lot across the street from the Near West Side arena.
That’ll still be the case Monday, which is when the federally run site had been scheduled to switch to J&J doses — until a handful of extremely rare blood clots tied to that vaccine prompted a temporary suspension this week while experts investigate.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide additional Pfizer doses in its place, meaning plans won’t change for anyone with a United Center appointment, according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
“Everybody who has an appointment from Monday on at the United Center can keep that appointment. You do not need to do a thing. You will just receive Pfizer instead of Johnson & Johnson,” Arwady said during an online Q&A.
12:15 p.m. US setting up $1.7B national network to track virus variants
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is setting up a $1.7 billion national network to identify and track worrisome coronavirus mutations whose spread could trigger another pandemic wave, the Biden administration announced Friday.
White House officials unveiled a strategy that features three components: a major funding boost for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to ramp up coronavirus gene-mapping; the creation of six “centers of excellence” partnerships with universities to conduct research and develop technologies for gene-based surveillance of pathogens; and building a data system to better share and analyze information on emerging disease threats, so knowledge can be turned into action.
“Even as we accelerate our efforts to get shots into arms, more dangerous variants are growing, causing increases in cases in people without immunity,” White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters. That “requires us to intensify our efforts to quickly test for and find the genetic sequence of the virus as it spreads.”
11:20 a.m. 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines appointments will be available noon Friday
Cook County Health will release 10,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccines Friday.
The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available through appointment at noon Friday, according to Cook County Health.
Appointments will be available for anyone 16 years old and older, the agency said.
10:45 a.m. After contracting COVID-19, ex-Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club boss Orvie Cochran gets early prison release
After Outlaws Motorcycle Club boss Orville “Orvie” Cochran survived a shooting outside the biker gang’s South Side clubhouse in 2000 — he slipped on some ice and fell, thus avoiding a hail of bullets — a former friend described him as “- – – damn lucky.”
Cochran’s luck still hasn’t run out.
Arrested in 2017 after being on the run for 16 years to avoid racketeering charges, he caught a break on his sentence. And now — after contracting the coronavirus in prison — Cochran has gotten a federal judge to free him from prison six months early.
The judge ordered a “compassionate” release for Cochran, who had asked for that even before getting infected because, he said, he was afraid he would and had health problems that could make COVID especially dangerous for him.
9 a.m. What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and will you need one?
What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and will I need one?
“Vaccine passports,” or vaccine certificates, are documents that show you were vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus. They could help you get into places such as stadiums or even countries that are looking to reopen safely.
The certificates are still being developed, and how and whether they’ll be used could vary widely around the world. Experts say they should be free and available on paper, not just on apps, since not everyone has a smartphone.
In the U.S., federal officials say there are no plans to make them broadly mandatory. In some states, Republican governors have issued orders barring businesses or state agencies from asking people to show proof of vaccination.
New cases & vaccination numbers
- The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,581 new cases of the disease were diagnosed Wednesday among 105,661 tests to keep the state’s average testing positivity rate at 4.2%.
- About one quarter of Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated so far, with 138,538 doses administered Tuesday. The state also reported 3,536 new cases and 31 more deaths.
- Pritzker office staffer tests positive for COVID-19. The staff member was not in close contact with Gov. Pritzker Monday, or in previous days.
- Staff member of state House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch tests positive for COVID-19. The staff member was tested Monday as part of the Legislature’s required protocols to return to in-person work in the Capitol.