Chicago’s top health official is set to deliver an update on the city’s travel order Tuesday as well as the latest data on coronavirus across the city.
Illinois’ top doctor said Monday that the new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 first identified in the United Kingdom is likely already present in the state and could become dominant in just months.
Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker also announced Monday that regions that meet specific criteria can roll back from Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions beginning Friday.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 12:
Chicago Officials to Update Travel Order, Detail Latest Data
Chicago’s top health official is set to deliver an update Tuesday on the city’s emergency travel order requiring a negative test or quarantine upon arrival in the city.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is scheduled to deliver the update during a news conference at 1 p.m. from City Hall. The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
The update will include the latest info on the travel order, as well as new data on the coronavirus pandemic across Chicago, and the latest details on vaccine distribution, officials say.
‘It Will be the Dominant Strain:’ Illinois’ Top Doctor Warns of New UK COVID-19 Strain
While the new, more contagious strain of COVID-19 that was first identified in the United Kingdom hasn’t been officially reported in Illinois, the state’s top doctor said Monday the strain is likely already present and could become dominant in just months.
At a news conference alongside Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the director of the state’s Department of Public Health, warned of more infectious spread as early as March, which is when she said the majority of COVID-19 cases could be from the new variant.
The British variant was first detected in September, World Health Organization officials previously announced. Since then, cases have skyrocketed across the U.K., resulting in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to impose a national lockdown.
Unlike when the virus first surfaced in the U.K., Ezike said, Illinois officials are aware the new strain “is brewing.”
“Therefore we have the opportunity to use that information and make better choices around the mitigation…around avoiding gatherings so that we can get as many people vaccinated…before this variant inevitably takes over,” she warned.
Ezike emphasized that the strain hasn’t been identified, because it’s probably circulating at such low numbers. In Indiana, health officials there confirmed the existence of the strain Monday.
Pritzker to Announce This Week When Illinois Will Move to Phase 1B for Vaccinations
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce this week when Illinois will enter Phase 1B of its coronavirus vaccine rollout, though some areas may already be allowed to do so.
“I expect to make a formal announcement later this week on when Illinois
will move into Phase 1B on a statewide basis,” Pritzker said during his coronavirus update Monday. “Of course, anyone in Phase 1A who has chosen not to get vaccinated yet will always be able to opt in during any subsequent round – this is about leaving no vaccine sitting on the shelves as we move forward.”
So far, 587,900 total doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been delivered to Illinois, 478,175 doses have been sent to public and private healthcare providers outside of Chicago and 109,725 doses have gone to providers in Chicago.
Illinois as a whole has administered approximately 334,939 vaccine doses as of Sunday night.
“We are making important progress in Phase 1A and I appreciate the hard work of healthcare providers across the state to move as quickly through this phase as possible,” Pritzker said. “In some communities, they’ve even been able to substantially complete Phase 1A. IDPH is allowing any local health department in that position to move into the early stages of Phase 1B because we want to make sure any available vaccine is administered quickly to the priority groups we’ve laid out.”
Read more here.
Pritzker Lays Out Criteria for Regions to Lift Tier 3 COVID-19 Mitigations
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that healthcare regions that meet specific criteria can roll back from Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions beginning Friday, Jan. 15.
All 11 healthcare regions in the state have been under Tier 3 mitigation rules since late November, which include reductions in capacity at businesses and a variety of other restrictions.
Beginning Friday, the governor says that regions can begin to move forward to Tier 2 mitigations if they adhere to three different statistical criteria beginning later this week.
Pritzker says that three key metrics must be met in order for a region to move forward from Tier 3 mitigations:
-A seven-day positivity rate of 12% or lower for three consecutive days.
-An availability of 20% or greater of staffed ICU and general hospital beds for three consecutive days.
-A decline in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations on seven days in a 10-day span.
Illinois Officials Report 4,776 New Coronavirus Cases, 53 Additional Deaths Monday
Illinois health officials have reported 4,776 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases in the state over the last 24 hours, along with 53 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Monday’s new cases bring the state to 1,033,526 confirmed and probable cases of the virus since the pandemic began, along with 17,627 deaths.
Another 1,736 deaths have been classified as “probable” COVID-19 fatalities, according to IDPH officials.
Over the last 24 hours, 66,697 new test results have been returned to state laboratories, bringing the statewide testing total to 14,169,986.
According to a press release from IDPH, the preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate on all tests performed dropped to 7.6%, while the positivity rate on unique individuals tested now stands at 8.9% during that time.
Hospitalizations increased slightly Monday, with 3,540 patients currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. Of those patients, 759 are currently in intensive care units, while 401 are on ventilators.
Lightfoot Explains Why Chicago’s Stay-at-Home Advisory Was Extended
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot extended the city’s stay-at-home advisory to remain “aligned” with state guidance, she said Monday.
The city’s stay-at-home advisory was extended through Jan. 22 as the coronavirus pandemic continues, officials announced Sunday.
“We extended it to make sure that it was aligned with I think what the state was doing, but we are making significant progress,” Lightfoot said during an unrelated press event Monday. “We have been coming back down even through Thanksgiving and then Christmas and New Year’s so we are making steady progress overall so the advisory is really about making sure that we’re doing everything that we can to give people the best information.”
Lightfoot noted that while some questioned why the order’s extension came at the same time Chicago Public Schools began bringing some students back to classrooms, anyone attending school or leaving for essential purposes, including teaching, was exempt “from the very beginning.”
Chicago’s top doctor echoed that claim.
“We specifically say people who are going to work who are going to school or who are performing other essential activities should continue to do so,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said, adding that the city continues to make “very good progress.”
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