Limited number of walk-in COVID-19 vaccine appointments start today at city-run clinics (LIVE UPDATES)on April 23, 2021 at 5:11 pm

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Limited number of walk-in COVID-19 vaccine appointments start today at city-run clinics

People receive COVID-19 vaccines at the drive-thru vaccination site at the United Center mass vaccination clinic on the Near West Side, March 23, 2021. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The vaccine “Hunger Games” are over.

After four months of frustration for thousands of residents who scrambled to claim fleeting batches of COVID-19 vaccination appointments, Chicago finally has enough doses to provide a shot to anyone who wants one, the city’s top doctor said Thursday.

Thanks to a “softening” of vaccine demand in other parts of Illinois and growth in supply provided by the federal government, “you can get one today, no excuses,” according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“We’ve been saying for months that these vaccines are safe, they are effective and now we can say they truly are available for all,” Arwady said during an online Q&A. “Our supply has just not been up to our demand month after month after month, and I know how frustrating that has been for many people, but as of now, we have enough vaccine.”

For the first time ever, the city has been able to provide doses to all vaccine providers who have requested them over the past two weeks, according to Arwady. As a result, city-run vaccination sites will start accepting limited numbers of walk-in appointments starting Friday.

“The fact that we actually have enough vaccine cannot be overstated in terms of how good of news that is for Chicago,” she said. “I want you to tell everybody that so that we can really, really, really use this vaccine, get folks vaccinated and get Chicago past COVID.”

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.


12:15 p.m. N95 masks, now plentiful, should no longer be reused: FDA

The Biden administration has taken the first step toward ending an emergency exception that allowed hospitals to ration and reuse N95 medical masks, the first line of defense between frontline workers and the deadly coronavirus.

Thousands of medical providers have died in the COVID-19 pandemic, many exposed and infected while caring for patients without adequate protection.

Critical shortages of masks, gowns, swabs, and other medical supplies prompted the Trump administration to issue guidelines for providers to ration, clean, and reuse disposable equipment. Thus, throughout the pandemic, once a week many doctors and nurses were issued an N95 mask, which is normally designed to be tossed after each patient.

Now U.S. manufacturers say they have vast surpluses for sale, and hospitals say they have three to 12 month stockpiles.

Read the complete story here.

10:45 a.m. Topless clubs in Las Vegas among Nevada businesses allowed to reopen under COVID protocols

LAS VEGAS — Topless dancers in Las Vegas can soon shed coronavirus restrictions along with some of their clothing and once again get face-to-face with patrons under rules accepted Thursday by a Nevada COVID-19 task force.

But masks still will be required for adult entertainment employees and will still be recommended for customers.

Strip clubs that went dark when Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered casinos, clubs and nonessential businesses closed in March 2020 will be able to open May 1 at 80% of fire code capacity under strict social distancing guidelines.

The rules will allow strip club entertainers to get closer than three feet to patrons if the entertainer has gotten at least a first coronavirus vaccination 14 days earlier, according to county rules or if the dancers test negative in a weekly COVID test.

Occupancy limits will be relaxed but not completely lifted at many other businesses — stores, spas and saunas, restaurants and bars, even karaoke clubs — under a new reopening plan adopted by Clark County officials.

Read the full story here.

9 a.m. National Spelling Bee revamps to ensure single champion in pandemic-altered competition.

WASHINGTON– The Scripps National Spelling Bee is undergoing a major overhaul to ensure it can identify a single champion, adding vocabulary questions and a lightning-round tiebreaker to this year’s pandemic-altered competition.

The 96-year-old bee has in the past included vocabulary on written tests but never in the high-stakes oral competition rounds, where one mistake eliminates a speller. The only previous tiebreaker to determine a single champion was a short-lived extra written test that never turned out to be needed.

The changes, announced this week, amount to a new direction for the bee under executive director J. Michael Durnil, who started in the job earlier this year.

Read the complete story here.

New cases and vaccination rates

Analysis & Commentary

11 a.m. COVID-19’s silver linings

As of this week, more than 40% of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine and 26% are fully vaccinated. Though it wasn’t planned this way, more normal human life is returning just as the redbuds, azaleas, magnolias and tulips are performing their gorgeous annual affirmation of renewal. Fears of catastrophic depression, widespread shortages and massive civil unrest are receding.

Hundreds of thousands of American families and millions worldwide are bereaved, and nearly everyone has experienced some form of disruption, pain or trauma during the past year. But not everything changed for the worse.

A recent Pew poll found that among adults whose jobs can be conveniently performed online, 54% would like to continue working from home after the pandemic is over. Another 33% said they’d like to do so part time. If employers agree, then that could mark a dramatic change in many areas of American life — less road congestion, reduced demand for office space and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from cars and buses. That also means less income for real estate landlords, bus drivers, restaurants, dry cleaners, delivery services and other businesses that serve office workers. There will be many dislocations and adjustments.

Read the full column by Mona Charen here.

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