The delta coronavirus variant is expected to become the dominant strain for Illinois cases by the fall, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says.
Meanwhile, an Illinois summer camp has been linked to a COVID outbreak that led to more than 80 cases earlier this month.
Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Delta COVID Variant Could Be Dominant in Illinois By Fall, Pritzker Says
The delta coronavirus variant, which scientists believe may be the most aggressive and contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus seen so far, is expected to become the dominant strain for Illinois cases by the fall, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
Pritzker took a moment to address the ongoing pandemic during an unrelated press conference, stating “the delta variant that sent Israel back into mitigation is a growing presence in Illinois” as he continued to encourage residents to get vaccinated.
“We expect it to dominate our cases statewide by the fall,” he said.
Pritzker, who wore a mask to the public event, said he was doing so out of an “abundance of caution” as concerns surrounding the delta variant rise.
“The lessons here at home and across the world are a harbinger of what could happen here, particularly in low vaccinated areas, if we don’t see a higher uptake of the vaccine across Illinois,” he said. “This is very real. I implore all residents, if you have friends and family on the fence, share with them the life-saving benefits of these free vaccines and encourage them to remain masked until they are fully vaccinated.”
So far, the Illinois Department of Public Health has identified 84 cases of the variant in the state as of data reported Sunday. That’s compared to 6,505 cases of the variant first reported out of the U.K. known as the alpha variant, which is likely the most prolific-strain in the state of Illinois.
Cases of the delta variant are roughly doubling every two weeks, a trajectory that has some officials worried.
Pritzker also encouraged residents to continue to “use your mask accordingly.”
“I would say from my own perspective if you’re going into a heavily crowded area, you don’t know if somebody is not vaccinated and so you should just bring your mask with you and keep safe,” he said.
Illinois Summer Camp Linked to COVID Outbreak With More Than 80 Cases: IDPH
An Illinois summer camp has been linked to a COVID outbreak that led to more than 80 cases earlier this month, state health officials said.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, at least 85 teens and some adult staff of a summer youth camp held in mid-June in central Illinois have tested positive for the virus. One unvaccinated young adult was hospitalized, the health department said.
“The majority of the 85 COVID-19 cases associated with the youth camp are among teens,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “The perceived risk to children may seem small, but even a mild case of COVID-19 can cause long-term health issues. Additionally, infected youth who may not experience severe illness can still spread the virus to others, including those who are too young to be vaccinated or those who don’t build the strong expected immune response to the vaccine.”
The camp was not checking vaccination status and did not require masks indoors, according to IDPH.
Illinois Considering ‘Return-to-Work’ Incentive for Unemployed Residents
As some states have started offering incentives to convince unemployed individuals to return to the workforce, Illinois is now considering such an action, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
“We’re looking at all the options,” the governor noted as he addressed reporters at the opening of the K-Town Business Center in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood.
As first reported in late May, nearly all the nation’s Republican governors decided to cut off a $300-a-week federal unemployment benefit that they and many business executives blame for discouraging the unemployed from seeking jobs.
However, Gov. Pritzker stated at the time that wouldn’t be the case in Illinois, explaining unemployed residents will receive an extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits until the payments expire on Sept. 6.
Pritzker previously said he doesn’t support ending the benefits or reinstating job search requirements because there are people who have “legitimate reasons for remaining on unemployment” that are directly related to the pandemic.
Illinois Secretary of State Extends Drivers License, ID Card Expiration Dates to 2022
Illinois residents who need to renew their driver’s licenses or state ID cards now have more time to do so under an extension granted by Secretary of State Jesse White’s office.
The extension moved the deadline for renewing driver’s licenses and ID cards five months to Jan. 1, 2022, including for those that expire between July and December of this year.
The previous deadline had been set for Aug. 1, but White’s office said it was extended “so customers do not need to rush into Driver Services facilities, especially during hot weather.”
“Extending expiration dates until January 1, 2022, means people with an expired driver’s license or ID card do not need to rush into a Driver Services facility immediately,” White said in a statement. “During hot weather, I would suggest residents consider delaying visits to Driver Services facilities. But if you must visit a facility, please come prepared to wait outside due to continued social distancing efforts, which limits the number of people inside a facility at one time. We are allowing more people in the facilities at one time due to relaxed protocols.”
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,744 New COVID Cases, 66 Deaths, 201K Vaccinations Over Past Week
Health officials in Illinois on Friday reported 1,744 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus in the past week, along with 66 additional deaths and more than 201,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,390,432 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported last week bring the state to 23,199 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 276,760 tests since the previous Friday, bringing the total to more than 25 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate on all tests again was 0.6%, while the seven-day positivity rate on individuals tested was 0.8%.
Over the past seven days, a total of 201,587 doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered to state residents. That brings the state’s average to 28,798 daily vaccination doses over the last week, according to IDPH data.
State officials said 54% of adult residents in the state are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with nearly 71% receiving at least one dose.
As of midnight, 435 patients were currently hospitalized due to COVID in the state. Of those patients, 99 are in intensive care units, and 53 are on ventilators.
Chicago Museums Guide: Hours, COVID Requirements, Free Days
As Chicago continues to reopen in Phase 5, museums citywide have begun more widely welcoming guests back for more hours and less restrictions this month.
Some Chicago museums, however, vary in capacity limits, mask requirements and hours. Here’s a breakdown.
Chicago Positivity Rate Lowest Since Start of Pandemic, City’s Top Doc Says
Chicago is seeing the lowest positivity testing rate since the pandemic began, according to the city’s top doctor, as well as some ZIP codes recording no COVID-19 cases.
As of Thursday, the city reported a 0.5% testing positivity rate, according to date from the Chicago Department of Public Health, meaning about one in nine people are diagnosed with COVID-19.
“There are starting to be ZIP codes where we are not seeing cases of COVID. That’s new for us, right,” Arwady said. “We still have plenty of COVID in the city, but certainly compared to where we were, we’re starting to see going some weeks without COVID — and in some of the zip codes, which is which is exciting.”
United Center Mass COVID Vaccination Site Closes
The United Center’s mass COVID vaccination has closed, with Thursday marking its last day administering shots as Chicago shifts its vaccine strategy away from the major sites to a more hyperlocal focus.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady and CDPH’s Assistant Commissioner Christopher Shields announced the closure during a Facebook Live broadcast Tuesday morning.
“United Center on this Thursday the 24th will provide its last vaccination and then we will return the property back over,” Shields replied.
Arwady and Shields said Tuesday that the United Center site, which opened March 9, has administered more than 301,000 doses of vaccine.
Chicago Opens In-Home COVID Vaccination Program to All Residents 12 and Up
Chicago officials on Tuesday opened the city’s in-home COVID vaccination program to all residents ages 12 and up, with $50 GrubHub gift cards to be given as an incentive to those who use the program.
Residents can register for the program on the city’s website or by calling (312) 746-4835. Appointments are available immediately and the gift card distribution will begin June 28.
Those who choose the in-home vaccination will be given a choice between the Pfizer vaccine (for ages 12 and older) or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine (for 18 and up).
Up to 10 people can be vaccinated per household, the city said, with gift cards limited to one per household.
What to Do If You Lost Your COVID Vaccine Card
Lost your COVID vaccine card? Don’t worry, Chicago’s top health official says – there are other ways you can get and show proof that you’ve been vaccinated.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a Facebook Live broadcast on Tuesday that the question of what to do if you’ve lost your COVID-19 vaccination record card is the city’s “number one question” of its frequently asked questions.
“A couple things: Number one, you can go back to your provider,” Arwady said. “So if you’ve got it at your doctor’s office, if you got it at your pharmacist, they’re not going to give you a new card. Those are held tightly, but they will give you a printout and something that will be valid, where you are needing to show your proof.”
“You can also email COVID19vaccine@cityofchicago.org,” Arwady continued.
“If you got vaccinated through a city of Chicago site or at the United Center, we will, again, send you a PDF of your proof of vaccination, or if you got vaccinated somewhere else, it is recorded in the state registry, we will look that up for you and get you those results,” she added.
Arwady noted that the state of Illinois is working on a way for residents to be able to securely access their own vaccination records to eliminate the need for health officials and other third-parties to serve as intermediaries.
“That vaccine card, of course, is your own proof, but more importantly – in a secure way that is only shared with public health – that record is there and it remains valid for if you need to show proof,” Arwady said.
Illinois Offering $10M in Lottery for Residents Who Get COVID Vaccine
A new vaccine lottery in Illinois will offer a total of $10 million in total prize money to residents who get vaccinated against COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
The “All In for the Win” lottery will give out the $10 million in the form of $7 million in cash prizes for adults and $3 million in scholarships for youth, all distributed through weekly drawings, Pritzker said.
The Illinois Lottery will draw names each week beginning July 8, Pritzker said. The cash prizes will range from $100,000 to $1 million, he said, while children can win a Bright Start college savings plan worth $150,000 apiece.
Anyone who gets at least one vaccine dose in Illinois is eligible to win, Pritzker said, noting there are “no sign-up, no forms, no waiting in line” and that anyone who gets their first dose before July 1 will be eligible for the first drawing on July 8 and every drawing thereafter.
“You did your part already, and this is a way of saying thank you,” Pritzker said. “It’s also our way of saying to those who haven’t yet been vaccinated: please join us. Vaccines are incredibly effective. And they keep you protected, but they also make your community safer.”