Spring looking like fall? COVID-19 cases creeping up, despite vaccine ramp-up: ‘We are worried about this’
COVID-19 cases are ticking back upward across Chicago and the rest of Illinois even as vaccine supply improves, the top doctors from the city and state warned Tuesday.
Infections have increased about 23% in Chicago over the past week, mostly among people age 18 to 40, according to city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
That’s the same trend Arwady’s team saw in October, before a record-breaking resurgence that saw Chicago suffer its worst days of the pandemic.
“We are worried about this,” Arwady said during an online Q&A. “We’ll be in good shape this summer, but I am really worried about this next four to eight weeks. … We are not at a point where we can assume that most people have started to get some protection from the vaccine.”
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,832 new cases of the disease were diagnosed statewide among 49,739 tests.
1:38 p.m. Chicago won’t open a 24-hour vaccination site yet, Arwady says
Chicago public health officials said they have no plans to open a vaccination site that would be open 24 hours a day — as some other cities have done.
At a press conference on the city’s vaccination efforts, officials were asked about the possibility of opening an around-the-clock center to speed up vaccines and increase accessibility for essential workers. Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the main focus right now is increasing vaccine supply.
“At this point, there’s not plans for a 24-hour situation,” Arwady said “We’ll see what the demand looks like and we’ll see what the vaccine supply looks like.”
Chicago is set to expand vaccine eligibility next Monday to additional essential workers like those in food service and hospitality, as well as those over 16 years old with underlying health conditions. Since the start of the vaccine rollout, the city has prioritized healthcare and the first group of essential workers, according to Arwady.
“We’re always interested in new ideas, but we’ve been very focused here,” Arwady said “So, we’ll keep prioritizing those workers and we’ll see if they are more creative things we need to do to reach them.”
11:51 a.m. DoorDash now offering delivery of at-home COVID-19 tests to Chicagoans, with quick turnaround time for results
DoorDash has started offering its Chicago users same-day delivery on at-home COVID-19 test kits with quick turnaround times for results.
Through a partnership with Vault Health and Everlywell, two digital health companies, DoorDash users will be able to get a saliva or nasal swab test kit delivered to their doorstep and mail in their kit directly to a lab, receiving results in 24-48 hours, DoorDash said.
The Vault Health saliva test kit is $109 and the Everlywell nasal swab test kit is $119. Both may be reimbursed through insurance, according to the company. Both versions have been approved by the FDA for emergency use.
9:30 a.m. State Rep. LaShawn Ford resigns from Loretto Hospital board over vaccine flap
State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford has resigned from the board of trustees at Loretto Hospital over how it handled revelations of improperly providing vaccinations to people not yet eligible for the shots.
“I am very disappointed with the recent developments at The Loretto Hospital regarding its use of coronavirus vaccine entrusted to the hospital,” Ford said in a statement issued Tuesday morning.
“Yesterday, I submitted my resignation to The Loretto Hospital’s Board Chairman Edward Hogan because I strongly disagreed with how the reprimand of the hospital leadership was handled. As the state representative for the hospital and as a resident in its service area, I will continue to fight for resources for The Loretto Hospital, a safety-net hospital in the Austin community.”
The hospital’s CEO George Miller and COO Dr. Anosh Ahmed have come under fire in recent days after revelations the hospital improperly provided vaccinations to workers at Trump Tower, where Ahmed lives; at a suburban church that Miller is a member of; and a luxury watch shop on the Gold Coast where Ahmed shops.
New cases and vaccination numbers
- Illinois logged another 1,220 new confirmed, and probable, cases of the coronavirus, as well as 22 deaths on Monday.
- The new cases were found in a batch of 47,374 tests. As of Sunday night, 1,182 individuals with COVID-19 were reported to be in hospitals around the state. Of that number, 233 patients were in the ICU and 98 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
- So far, nearly one in three adult Illinois residents have received the vaccine, including about 64% of those 65 and older.
Analysis and commentary
10:45 a.m. Here’s to ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ for hotels and restaurants socked by COVID-19 restrictions
It’s no surprise the state’s latest jobs figures show the leisure and hospitality industry took quite a wallop last year, given the clamp that COVID-19 restrictions and quarantines put on the entire economy.
Still, the raw numbers released this month by the Illinois Department of Employment Security are nonetheless sobering: The number of jobs in the industry statewide plummeted from 628,000 in January 2020 to 412,000 now.
The plunge took 216,000 jobs with it. No other employment sector in the state suffered as much.
But we’re hoping three developments this month can provide a lifeline to the struggling industry: federal aid to restaurants and bars as part of the latest $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package; Illinois’ expansion of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to include food and beverage workers; and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy, beginning next month, as more people are vaccinated.
“Our industry has been decimated,” Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia told us. “But we’re starting to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.”