Coronavirus live blog, April 16, 2021: Vaccinations return to Loretto Hospital, but the city will run things this time

Here’s Friday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, April 16, 2021: Vaccinations return to Loretto Hospital, but the city will run things this time

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6 p.m. Vaccinations return to Loretto Hospital, but the city will run things this time

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Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Coronavirus vaccinations will resume next week at Loretto Hospital in city-run clinic, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced Friday.

The new vaccination site will be focused on serving residents of the hospital’s Austin community, according to a health department news release.

On March 18, the health department had halted the delivery of vaccines to Loretto, 645 S. Central Ave., after reports surfaced that the hospital had vaccinated 72 ineligible workers at Trump International Hotel & Tower.

Read the full story by Mari Devereaux here.

5:45 p.m. Stuck outside U.S. during pandemic, burst pipe floods suburban home, and Allstate won’t pay

The COVID-19 pandemic has messed with people’s lives in countless ways, but I hadn’t heard anything quite like the travails of Floyd and Betsy Rogers.

It’s a complicated story, so settle in.

The Rogerses are retirees.

He’s 78 and used to work at IBM before retiring early to help his brother operate a now-defunct garden center. She’s 79 and went back to school for her Ph.D. after her daughters went away to college, then worked for a time as a consultant retraining industrial workers.

The Rogerses have lived since 1975 in a two-story frame home near Glen Ellyn where they raised two daughters.

Younger daughter Becky Ackermann is a paleoanthropologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she lives with her husband Kurt and their 11-year-old son, the Rogerses’ only grandchild. Their older daughter died of a blood clot in 2002.

Like many people their age with their only surviving child and grandchild far, far away, the suburban couple make annual visits to their daughter’s family in Cape Town, over time gradually extending their stays to months at a stretch.

That’s where they were in February 2020, scheduled to return that April, when Betsy Rogers broke her pelvis, requiring a long, difficult rehabilitation during which she could not be on an airplane.

That meant they were still in South Africa when the pandemic struck.

Read more of the Rogers’ story by Mark Brown here.

4:30 p.m. More than twice as many Illinoisans vaccinated than infected with COVID-19, as city prepares to expand eligibility

Public health officials on Friday announced Illinois’ second-most productive COVID-19 vaccination day yet with 166,885 doses going into arms statewide.

Nearly a quarter of all Illinoisans are now fully immunized against the coronavirus after Thursday’s shot effort, which came a week after the state set a record with almost 176,000 administered doses.

Illinois is now averaging about 130,000 shots per day as Chicago vaccine providers prepare to expand eligibility to all residents 16 and older starting Monday.

A federal pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine means there won’t be as many appointments available as officials might have thought a week ago, but the state has downplayed that obstacle. J&J doses only account for about 8% of Illinois’ vaccine supply.

Most appointments at city-run sites will go ahead as scheduled next week after shuffling around some doses, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Mass vax sites at the United Center and Chicago State University will use Pfizer doses instead of J&J, as will the off-site Walgreens clinics that are scheduled to distribute doses at houses of worship this weekend, officials said Friday. The city’s program for homebound residents has switched to Pfizer, too.

Read the full story here by Mitchell Armentrout here.

3:45 p.m. Michigan’s worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 outbreak is starting to affect automotive production

DETROIT — Michigan’s worst-in-the-nation COVID-19 outbreak is beginning to slow auto production, with a major Ram pickup truck plant reducing its output because of a high number of absent workers.

About 10% of the production work force at the Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) assembly plant in Sterling Heights, north of Detroit, either tested positive or is on quarantine, a person who has been briefed on the situation said Friday. That is equivalent to about 600 workers, said the person, who asked not to be identified because neither the company nor the United Auto Workers union is releasing details.

The 5-million-square-foot plant has about 7,450 hourly workers, but not all of them are on the assembly lines. To try to stem the shortfall, the company has pulled workers from a pickup factory in nearby Warren, Michigan, that has been forced to shut down by the global shortage of semiconductors

Read the complete story here.

2:50 p.m. How to politely ask whether someone has gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

Have the people you know and might be around been vaccinated? Many of us aren’t quite sure how to ask.

It’s a seemingly simple question whether you’re asking before going on a date with someone new or planning a long-awaited hangout with friends. But it can feel uncomfortable to ask.

Partly that’s because of polarizing opinions the pandemic has prompted.

“Not everyone places the same value on being vaccinated,” says Lynn F. Bufka, the American Psychological Association’s senior director of practice transformation and quality. “There are people who are quite clear that they do not want to be vaccinated.”

Read the complete story here.

1:05 p.m. Bulls’ Zach LaVine expected to miss several games in coronavirus protocol

Coby White appears to be lost in his bench role.

Lauri Markkanen looks like he already signed elsewhere.

Patrick Williams seems to have gone headfirst into the rookie wall.

Factor in two embarrassing losses in less than a week to the last-place Timberwolves and the tanking Magic, and, well, there’s seemingly no way things could get worse for the Bulls.

Then Thursday hit.

A noon practice was quickly cancelled after Zach LaVine entered the NBA’s health and safety protocol with a positive coronavirus test, according to a source.

The hope is LaVine only will be out a handful of days, but with the Bulls scheduled to play five games in the next seven days and with only 18 games left in the regular season, that could be the difference between holding on to the final play-in spot or sitting in a lottery position and praying for lottery luck.

Read the full story by Joe Cowley here.

12:15 p.m. US setting up $1.7B national network to track virus variants

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is setting up a $1.7 billion national network to identify and track worrisome coronavirus mutations whose spread could trigger another pandemic wave, the Biden administration announced Friday.

White House officials unveiled a strategy that features three components: a major funding boost for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health departments to ramp up coronavirus gene-mapping; the creation of six “centers of excellence” partnerships with universities to conduct research and develop technologies for gene-based surveillance of pathogens; and building a data system to better share and analyze information on emerging disease threats, so knowledge can be turned into action.

“Even as we accelerate our efforts to get shots into arms, more dangerous variants are growing, causing increases in cases in people without immunity,” White House coronavirus adviser Andy Slavitt told reporters. That “requires us to intensify our efforts to quickly test for and find the genetic sequence of the virus as it spreads.”

Read the full story here.

11:20 a.m. 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines appointments will be available noon Friday

Cook County Health will release 10,000 first-dose COVID-19 vaccines Friday.

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines will be available through appointment at noon Friday, according to Cook County Health.

Appointments will be available for anyone 16 years old and older, the agency said.

Read the full story and find out how to sign up here.

10:45 a.m. After contracting COVID-19, ex-Chicago Outlaws Motorcycle Club boss Orvie Cochran gets early prison release

After Outlaws Motorcycle Club boss Orville “Orvie” Cochran survived a shooting outside the biker gang’s South Side clubhouse in 2000 — he slipped on some ice and fell, thus avoiding a hail of bullets — a former friend described him as “- - - damn lucky.”

Cochran’s luck still hasn’t run out.

Arrested in 2017 after being on the run for 16 years to avoid racketeering charges, he caught a break on his sentence. And now — after contracting the coronavirus in prison — Cochran has gotten a federal judge to free him from prison six months early.

The judge ordered a “compassionate” release for Cochran, who had asked for that even before getting infected because, he said, he was afraid he would and had health problems that could make COVID especially dangerous for him.

Read the complete story by Robert Herguth here.

9 a.m. What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and will you need one?

What is a COVID-19 vaccine passport, and will I need one?

“Vaccine passports,” or vaccine certificates, are documents that show you were vaccinated against COVID-19 or recently tested negative for the virus. They could help you get into places such as stadiums or even countries that are looking to reopen safely.

The certificates are still being developed, and how and whether they’ll be used could vary widely around the world. Experts say they should be free and available on paper, not just on apps, since not everyone has a smartphone.

In the U.S., federal officials say there are no plans to make them broadly mandatory. In some states, Republican governors have issued orders barring businesses or state agencies from asking people to show proof of vaccination.

Read the full story here.

8:30 a.m. Pause on Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine won’t affect United Center appointments, city’s top doc says

Appointments at the United Center’s COVID-19 mass vaccination site will go on as scheduled next week with Pfizer doses being administered instead of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that’s been shelved nationwide, officials said Thursday.

The city’s most prominent mass vax site has been doling out Pfizer since it launched a month ago in a parking lot across the street from the Near West Side arena.

That’ll still be the case Monday, which is when the federally run site had been scheduled to switch to J&J doses — until a handful of extremely rare blood clots tied to that vaccine prompted a temporary suspension this week while experts investigate.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide additional Pfizer doses in its place, meaning plans won’t change for anyone with a United Center appointment, according to Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“Everybody who has an appointment from Monday on at the United Center can keep that appointment. You do not need to do a thing. You will just receive Pfizer instead of Johnson & Johnson,” Arwady said during an online Q&A.

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.


New cases & vaccination numbers

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,581 new cases of the disease were diagnosed Wednesday among 105,661 tests to keep the state’s average testing positivity rate at 4.2%.
  • About one quarter of Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated so far, with 138,538 doses administered Tuesday. The state also reported 3,536 new cases and 31 more deaths.
  • Pritzker office staffer tests positive for COVID-19. The staff member was not in close contact with Gov. Pritzker Monday, or in previous days.
  • Staff member of state House Speaker Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch tests positive for COVID-19. The staff member was tested Monday as part of the Legislature’s required protocols to return to in-person work in the Capitol.
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