Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 impacted Chicago and Illinois.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the site Friday with Mayor Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.
“The United Center is one of the best locations for vaccinating large numbers of people in America: It’s easy to get to, is in the midst of a medically underserved community, can handle large crowds and is well known to everyone in Illinois,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Thanks to FEMA, the United Center is just our most recent among a growing number of state-supported mass vaccination location for residents.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to launch the site and begin giving out shots in about two weeks, White House COVID-19 Task Force senior adviser Andy Slavitt said during a separate news briefing.
It’ll have the capacity to vaccinate about 6,000 people per day, Slavitt said.
News of the state’s highest-profile vaccination site leaked Thursday. State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Democrat whose 8th District includes portions of Chicago’s West Side, said appointments at the site will initially be limited to people over 65.
12:20 p.m. A Chicago summer? CPD is planning for it
With vaccinations surging and coronavirus cases dropping, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has asked the Chicago Police Department to prepare security plans for large-scale summer events.
The discussion about police preparations for a return to some sense of normalcy in Chicago this summer came up this week during the mayor’s regular “accountability” meeting with top police brass.
Chicago Police Department spokesman Don Terry refused to say what types of major events the mayor is contemplating. He would only say that CPD is “preparing for the summer for things to open, if they open up.”
“If we continue on this path, with people being vaccinated and the infection rate going down — and if the city opens up — we’re gonna be prepared for what happens in the summer in Chicago,” Terry said Friday.
11:40 a.m. House to vote on virus bill; arbiter says wage hike a no-go
WASHINGTON — Democrats are ready to shove a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package through the House on Friday, despite a setback that means a minimum wage boost is unlikely to be in the final version that reaches President Joe Biden.
A near party-line vote seemed certain on the measure, Biden’s first crack at his initial legislative goal of acting decisively against the pandemic. In the year since the coronavirus has taken hold, it has stalled much of the economy, killed half a million Americans and reshaped the daily lives of virtually everyone.
The relief bill would provide millions of people with $1,400 direct payments. It contains billions of dollars for vaccines and COVID-19 testing, schools, state and local governments, the ailing restaurant and airline industries and emergency jobless benefits while providing tax breaks to lower earners and families with children.
10:40 a.m. How parents can manage kids’ screen time as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jennifer Edwards’ two kids were on a limited screen-time budget. After they got home from school and through their after-school routine, they would get maybe an hour or two a day.
When the pandemic started, Edwards worked from home while the kids’ school was closed, eventually transitioning to online learning. Limits on screen time were tossed out.
Now, her kids’ schools have reopened, and they’ve returned to some of their normal routines. But Edwards, who lives in St. Augustine, Florida, says returning to those screen-time limits has “been like trying to put the toothpaste back in the bottle. The kids have gotten so used to being occupied by their screens that it is now a struggle to get them off the screens.”
COVID-19 led to school closings, which also meant disrupting after-school activities including team sports. Quarantining pushed parents working remotely to relax screen-time rules as they juggled jobs and their kids’ online schooling.
9:46 a.m. Biden marks 50M vaccine doses in first 5 weeks in office
Days after marking a solemn milestone in the pandemic, President Joe Biden is celebrating the pace of his efforts to end it.
On Thursday, Biden marked the administration of the 50 millionth dose of COVID-19 vaccine since his swearing-in. The moment came days after the nation reached the devastating milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths and ahead of a meeting with the nation’s governors on plans to speed the distribution even further.
“The more people get vaccinated, the faster we’re going to beat this pandemic,” Biden said at the White House ceremony, noting that his administration is on course to exceed his promise to deliver 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
“We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule.”
9 a.m. Artist’s portraits capture our plague year
We spend so much time complaining about wearing it, we might not have noticed how much the mask has come to define the past year, physically, emotionally and, yes, visually.
But Phil Gayter, artist and ad man, has noticed, and is painting a series of masked portraits.
“I decided to do a self-portrait, painting myself with bright yellow gloves and an N95 mask. That was the start,” said Gayter, who lives in Highland Park. “It was going to be a one-off. As the pandemic was setting in, I was spending more and more time at home, I had my daughter over, and I did a portrait of her in a mask.”
Artists tend to work in themes — blue periods, haystacks series and such. Gayter saw potential in the masked subject.
“All of a sudden I thought something’s going on here that I really, really like,” he said. “A coming together of myself as an artist and a business thinker, coming up with an idea that holds together. That’s what I do for my clients, create branded messages. The mask proved to be that point of distinction, allowing me to think of a collection of paintings that capture the moment, poignant yet whimsical.”
- Illinois set a new record for most COVID-19 vaccinations administered in a day as hundreds of thousands more people become eligible to receive them, public health officials announced Thursday.
- Illinois logged 1,884 new cases Wednesday which were diagnosed among 91,292 tests to lower the seven-day average statewide positivity rate to 2.5%, officials announced Thursday. Chicago’s regional rate is down to 3%. Both those figures soared past 13% in the worst days of the crisis last fall.
- The state also reported 32 more COVID-19 deaths, including that of a Cook County man in his 20s. Illinois is still averaging 40 deaths per day, but that rate has shrunk almost in half over the past month.
- The 130,021 shots that went into arms Wednesday shattered the state’s previous high of 95,375 inoculations given Feb. 11, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.