Coronavirus live blog, Jan. 7, 2021: Who is next in line for the coronavirus vaccine?

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Jan. 7, 2021: Who is next in line for the coronavirus vaccine?

Illinois’ coronavirus case tally eclipsed 1 million Thursday as state public health officials announced 8,757 more people have contracted COVID-19.

Here’s what else happened in coronavirus-related news.


8:57 p.m. Residents over 65, essential workers among 3.2M next in line for vaccine, Pritzker says as state prepares to ease restrictions in some regions

Nurse Shannon Lesch administers a COVID-19 vaccination.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

About 3.2 million essential workers and people older than 65 will be next in line for the coronavirus vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday as Illinois’ pandemic death toll surpassed 17,000.

During his first COVID-19 update of the new year, Pritzker said he expects the state to advance to “Phase 1B” of its vaccine distribution plan in a few weeks as more doses become available from the federal government.

About 243,000 people have received shots in Illinois since “Phase 1A” started Dec. 19, including about 36,000 in Chicago. The state is still working to vaccinate the roughly 700,000 health care workers and 110,000 nursing home residents who are first in line under guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The “frontline essential workers” who will be next in line include first responders, teachers, grocery store workers; manufacturing, distribution and agriculture workers; postal workers, public transit employees, corrections workers and incarcerated people.

Read the full story here.

7:37 p.m. Pritzker to feds: Break loose with reserve coronavirus vaccine doses now

Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined the leaders of seven other states Thursday in calling on the federal government to start distributing millions of coronavirus vaccine doses currently held on reserve by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Leaders of the federal Operation Warp Speed vaccination effort are sitting on about half the nation’s available supply of doses “for reasons unknown,” according to an open letter signed by Pritzker and the governors of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Kansas, New York, Washington and California.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus is claiming an average of 2,600 lives per day nationwide — including about 113 per day in Illinois — and the unprecedented inoculation campaign has fallen well short of federal goals.

Reporter Mitchell Armentrout has the full story.

12:46 p.m. Illinois coronavirus cases top 1 million

Illinois’ coronavirus case tally eclipsed 1 million Thursday as state public health officials announced 8,757 more people have contracted COVID-19.

A total of 1,008,045 infections have been diagnosed across the state since early March. That’s an average of about 3,316 new cases per day — or about one person infected every 26 seconds.

It also means roughly one in every 13 Illinois residents has carried COVID-19 at some point during the pandemic — almost 8% of the state population of 12.7 million. Experts agree thousands of additional cases likely have gone undetected over the past 10 months.

More than 21 million cases have been diagnosed nationwide. Illinois has seen the fifth most of any state, trailing California, Texas, Florida and New York.

“As this disease continues to wreak havoc on our nation — with the United States setting another record for the most COVID-19 deaths in a day just yesterday — it is critical that we take extra caution today and in the months ahead to reduce the spread, bring down hospitalization rates, and save lives,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “Now that vaccine distribution has begun, we can see the light at the end of this difficult time — let’s do everything we can to ensure all of our neighbors are able to be there as we cross that finish line, healthy as well.”

Read the full story here.

9:48 a.m. 2 more Cook County court employees test positive for COVID-19

Two more employees of the Office of the Chief Judge of Cook County have tested positive for the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.

Both of the employees work at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, bringing the total number of staff cases there to 99 since the start of the pandemic, the chief judge’s office said. Seventy-nine residents of the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have tested positive in that time.

The total number of court employees who have contracted the coronavirus now stands at 243, along with 18 judges, officials said.

Read the full story here.

New cases

  • Illinois’ coronavirus death toll surpassed 17,000 Wednesday as public health officials announced the latest 139 fatalities attributed to COVID-19.

Analysis and commentary

9:33 a.m. COVID-19 vaccine should be mandatory for state workers who care for high-risk people

The first round of the long-awaited COVID-19 vaccine was administered to residents and employees of Illinois veterans’ homes in late December, but data shows that the number of caregivers vaccinated is worrisome.

Seventy-four percent of residents in the homes have been vaccinated — that’s 95% of residents in Anna, 90% in Manteno and Quincy, and 71% in LaSalle — according to the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. However, the people charged with providing care to our most vulnerable residents have been vaccinated in much lower percentages. Only 40% of the staff throughout Illinois have received the vaccine as of Dec. 31.

After waiting more than nine excruciating months for a vaccine, that is unacceptable. We believe the vaccine should be a mandatory condition of employment in all facilities in the state that care for high-risk individuals, especially the elderly. The only temporary exception would be for those who recently had COVID-19 or currently have it.

Read the full editorial here.

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