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Coronavirus live blog, March 27, 2021: Illinois sees second most productive COVID-19 vaccination day yet, as cases continue to rise

Here’s Saturday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

News

3:55 p.m. 2 million Illinois residents now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — but cases keep rising

A pharmacist administers the Moderna vaccine to a patient at a CPS vaccination site last month at Roberto Clemente Community Academy, 1147 N. Western Ave. More than 2 million Illinois residents have now been fully vaccinated. Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

In three weeks, up to 121,000 Chicago Public Schools students could be learning in classrooms at the start of the fourth academic quarter, doubling the number of students who returned this month.

More kids — including potentially tens of thousands of high schoolers for the first time — means a need for more adults. And bringing back more educators would require more vaccinations, per a district agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union.

As CPS races to get shots in arms by the mid-April expansion of in-person learning, how exactly is that progress coming along?

Nobody really knows.

Records published on CPS’ website show 16,200 workers — about 34% of the district — have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the district says all staff has been offered appointments to get shots. But fewer than half of CPS employees have disclosed their vaccination status to the district, meaning thousands more have likely gotten a shot but not yet told CPS.

The result is that even Matt Lyons, CPS’ human resources chief and the manager who should have the foremost knowledge of those vaccination numbers, has no solid idea how many employees have been inoculated.

Mitchell Armentrout has the full story.

2:35 p.m. How many Chicago teachers have been vaccinated? No one knows — leaving serious blind spots for CPS

In three weeks, up to 121,000 Chicago Public Schools students could be learning in classrooms at the start of the fourth academic quarter, doubling the number of students who returned this month.

More kids — including potentially tens of thousands of high schoolers for the first time — means a need for more adults. And bringing back more educators would require more vaccinations, per a district agreement with the Chicago Teachers Union.

As CPS races to get shots in arms by the mid-April expansion of in-person learning, how exactly is that progress coming along?

Nobody really knows.

Records published on CPS’ website show 16,200 workers — about 34% of the district — have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the district says all staff has been offered appointments to get shots. But fewer than half of CPS employees have disclosed their vaccination status to the district, meaning thousands more have likely gotten a shot but not yet told CPS.

The result is that even Matt Lyons, CPS’ human resources chief and the manager who should have the foremost knowledge of those vaccination numbers, has no solid idea how many employees have been inoculated.

Nader Issa has the full story here.

9:43 a.m. COVID-19 vaccine testing on kids begins

The 9-year-old twins didn’t flinch as each received test doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine — and then a sparkly bandage to cover the spot.

“Sparkles make everything better,” declared Marisol Gerardo as she hopped off an exam table at Duke University to make way for her sister Alejandra.

Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are beginning to test younger and younger kids to make sure COVID-19 vaccines are safe and work for each age. The first shots are going to adults who are most at risk from the coronavirus, but ending the pandemic will require vaccinating children too.

Read the full story here.

9:24 a.m. Now vaccinated, older adults emerge from COVID-19 hibernation

Bill Griffin waited more than a year for this moment: Newly vaccinated, he embraced his 3-year-old granddaughter for the first time since the pandemic began.

“She came running right over. I picked her up and gave her a hug. It was amazing,” the 70-year-old said after the reunion last weekend.

Spring has arrived with sunshine and warmer weather, and many older adults who have been vaccinated, like Griffin, are emerging from COVID-19-imposed hibernation.

From shopping in person or going to the gym to bigger milestones like visiting family, the people who were once most at risk from COVID-19 are beginning to move forward with getting their lives on track. Nearly 45% of Americans who are 65 and older are now fully vaccinated.

Read the full story here.

8:17 a.m. Pritzker OKs expanded vaccine eligibility as COVID-19 positivity rises, deploying ‘all our resources to halt these upticks’

Citing a “concerning possible trend” in rising COVID-19 infection rates statewide, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday deployed vaccination teams to five hard-hit counties in northwestern Illinois and authorized other local health departments to expand eligibility to get more shots into arms as quickly as possible.

Public health officials say they’ve seen demand slow down in a number of counties, leaving appointments unfilled while the average statewide coronavirus testing positivity rate has increased by 38% in less than two weeks.

That’s why the governor’s health team is allowing local health officials to start giving out doses to any resident 16 or older “at their immediate discretion,” according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Mitchell Armentrout has the full story here.


New Cases & Vaccination Numbers

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health on Saturday reported 2,678 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 25 additional deaths.
  • That makes for a total of 1,235,578 cases, including 21,228 deaths, the state said.
  • Labs on Saturday reported 96,175 specimens for a total of 20,068,566.
  • 5,418,211 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Illinois, representing about 34% of residents 16 and up receiving their first dose, the state said Saturday.

Analysis & Commentary

8:30 a.m. Loretto board can’t afford to duck its responsibility to hold wayward execs accountable

The longer the top executives at Loretto Hospital hang on, the more negative stories are going to come out about how this safety-net hospital is being run.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford knows this.

He resigned from the hospital’s board of directors Tuesday, citing his disappointment with the “reprimands” handed down to CEO George Miller and COO Dr. Anosh Ahmed, for the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination scandal.

“The reason I stepped away was to make sure the hospital regains its confidence that may have been lost, and focus on the community,” Ford told me in a telephone conversation.

“I’m very concerned about the fact that the first doses have been taken away and there are thousands of people that got their first dose and are waiting on their second dose. People are now confused,” he said.

On Wednesday, the board of trustees accepted the resignation of Ahmed, its COO and CFO.

Chairman Edward Hogan thanked Ahmed for his contributions and vowed the board “would continue to investigate any and all deviations from the rules and regulations guiding their vaccination policy.”

“If our review should uncover anything further that indicates our processes were compromised, there will be additional consequences imposed on those responsible for these actions,” Hogan said in a news release.

Read the full column from Mary Mitchell here.