Coronavirus live blog Feb. 27, 2021: State announces 1,780 more Illinoisans diagnosed with COVID-19, more than 83,000 vaccine doses administered

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog Feb. 27, 2021: State announces 1,780 more Illinoisans diagnosed with COVID-19, more than 83,000 vaccine doses administered

News

Public health officials on Saturday announced 1,780 more Illinoisans were diagnosed with COVID-19 as more than 83,000 vaccine doses went into arms across the state.

A total of 83,048 shots were administered Friday, breaking a two-day streak of six-figure vaccination totals, including Illinois’ all-time high of more than 130,000 doled out Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know.


4 p.m. 83K more COVID-19 shots given in Illinois as positivity rate nears all-time low

Araceli Martel, 49, a teacher at James B. McPherson Elementary School in Ravenswood, receives her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine earlier this month at Weiss Memorial Hospital.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Saturday announced 1,780 more Illinoisans were diagnosed with COVID-19 as more than 83,000 vaccine doses went into arms across the state.

A total of 83,048 shots were administered Friday, breaking a two-day streak of six-figure vaccination totals, including Illinois’ all-time high of more than 130,000 doled out Wednesday.

But the state’s rolling average of shots given per day has climbed to a new high of 69,736 over the past week. As that rate steadily rises, daily tallies of new infections have fallen precipitously. The Illinois Department of Public Health has reported roughly 1,800 positive coronavirus tests each day over the last week, down from an average of about 3,500 new daily cases at the end of January.

The latest cases were diagnosed among 81,668 to lower the average statewide positivity rate to 2.4%. That suggests the virus is spreading at its slowest rate since at least June, at less than a fifth of the pace it was during the worst days of the pandemic in November. Chicago’s regional positivity rate of 2.9% is an all-time low.

More serious cases of the disease have declined as well. COVID-19 hospital admissions are back to summertime levels, with 1,353 beds occupied as of Friday night.

Still, officials reported 34 additional deaths, including those of two Cook County men in their 40s. That one-day death total is roughly average for Illinois this month, another key metric that has shrunk by about half compared to January.

Mitchell Armentrout has the full story here.2

3:27 p.m. Plunging demand for COVID-19 tests may leave US exposed

WASHINGTON — Just five weeks ago, Los Angeles County was conducting more than 350,000 weekly coronavirus tests, including at a massive drive-thru site at Dodger Stadium, as health workers raced to contain the worst COVID-19 hotspot in the U.S.

Now, county officials say testing has nearly collapsed. More than 180 government-supported sites are operating at only a third of their capacity.

“It’s shocking how quickly we’ve gone from moving at 100 miles an hour to about 25,” said Dr. Clemens Hong, who leads the county’s testing operation.

After a year of struggling to boost testing, communities across the country are seeing plummeting demand, shuttering testing sites or even trying to return supplies.

The drop in screening comes at a significant moment in the outbreak: Experts are cautiously optimistic that COVID-19 is receding after killing more than 500,000 people in the U.S. but concerned that emerging variants could prolong the epidemic.

Read the full story here:

12:18 p.m. City Council authorizes $377 million in federal stimulus spending

At a tension-filled meeting that revived an old political feud, the City Council on Friday authorized another round of federal stimulus spending despite the political furor triggered by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s decision to use $281.5 million from earlier relief funds to cover police payroll costs.

Just hours before, Lightfoot had said she was confident she would get her way 48 hours after two of her most dedicated Council critics — deposed Finance Committee Chairman Edward Burke (14th) and Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) — used a parliamentary maneuver to delay the stimulus vote.

“Our residents are literally still fighting for their lives every single day. What they want all of us to do is focus on the things that are important to them. To deliver for them,” the mayor said before the meeting.

“That’s what we ought to be focused on and not a lot of political theater and drama. Nobody has any patience or time for that.”

Fran Spielman has the full story here:

10:02 a.m. House passes $1.9T COVID relief bill on near party-line vote

The House approved a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill that was championed by President Joe Biden, the first step in providing another dose of aid to a weary nation as the measure now moves to a tense Senate.

The new president’s vision for infusing cash across a struggling economy to individuals, businesses, schools, states and cities battered by COVID-19 passed on a near party-line 219-212 vote early Saturday. That ships the bill to the Senate, where Democrats seem bent on resuscitating their minimum wage push and fights could erupt over state aid and other issues.

Democrats said that mass unemployment and the half-million American lives lost are causes for quick, decisive action. GOP lawmakers, they said, were out of step with a public that polling finds largely views the bill favorably.

Read the full story here:

9:17 a.m. How to support CPS students worried about going back to school

Some Chicago Public Schools students are counting down the hours until Monday’s in-person reopening after nearly 12 months of remote learning.

For others, returning to the classroom brings anxiety and fear.

“There is nothing wrong with being a little bit afraid or a little bit stressed — it actually could be super motivating for us,” said Alexa James, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Chicago. “The challenge is when the stress becomes so overbearing that it paralyzes us from learning, from engaging, from going.”

Social anxiety, separation anxiety and fear of the virus are just some of worries swirling around the heads of some students and families as CPS schools reopen in-person learning for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Transparency on the school day and reminding students of their support system are critical to helping smooth the transition, according to mental health experts.

Clare Proctorhas the full story here:

8:01 a.m. Are you planning to travel this spring? What Chicagoans told us.

With spring fast approaching and Chicago’s public health officials loosening travel guidelines thanks to gains in the fight against COVID-19, we asked readers: Do you plan to travel this spring? Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“Yes, we will be fully vaccinated and continue mask-wearing and hand-washing.” — Jessica Medrano

“I didn’t travel at all, and I take two to three trips a year. If it is safe to do so, I will. I am completely vaccinated, but I still can’t go to Europe because they are not playing with us.” — Veronica Dionne Holeyfield

“Hoping to make Niagara Falls for our 30th in July. Will be driving and certainly hope to be shot up long before then. Looking forward to going somewhere.” — John Egan

Satchel Price has more readers’ answers here:


New cases

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday reported 1,780new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 34 additional deaths.
  • 1,185,447 cases, including 20,494 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois, IDPH reported.
  • Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 81,668 specimens for a total of 18,069,753.As of Thursday night, 1,353 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19, IDPH said.
  • The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from February 20–26, 2021 is 2.4%.The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from February 20–26, 2021 is 2.7%.

Analysis & Commentary

9:17 a.m. Lessons from COVID-19 that are worth remembering, like not becoming numb to it all

Like gun fatalities and car crashes, you could become numb to the 500,000 coronavirus deaths and to what that number means to the families of COVID-19 victims.

Indeed, we shouldn’t dwell on the misery the deadly virus has caused, if only for the sake of our mental health.

It helps to look on the bright side.

Forced to stick close to home, many of us found joy in simple pleasures like learning how to bake the perfect apple pie.

But as President Joe Biden said at a ceremony for the nation to pay our respects to those we have lost to the pandemic: “We have to resist becoming numb to the sorrow. We have to resist viewing each life as a statistic or a blur.”

There are lessons from COVID-19 that should stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Read the full column by Mary Mitchell here.

5:20 p.m. Bringing the COVID-19 vaccine directly to public housing senior residents is a great idea

Unlike many of the people who are reluctant to take the COVID-19 vaccine, Yvonne Johnson had no particular concerns about the vaccine itself.

What Johnson doesn’t like are needles or shots of any variety, the vaccine just happening to be one version.

As a result, the 66-year-old had not been among the many senior citizens vying for a vaccination over the past month.

“I was running from it scared, until my daughter told me I need to take it,” Johnson told me at the CHA’s Alfreda Barnett Duster Apartments, where she and dozens of her fellow residents had gathered to be vaccinated.

Smart daughter.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the need for government officials to make it easier especially for older people to access vaccine appointments, the online competition being unworkable for many of them. That’s before you even get to mobility issues.

One recommendation I passed along from the Jane Addams Senior Caucus was that we start taking the vaccine directly to senior public housing residents instead of making them find their own.

What I didn’t realize is that the Cook County Housing Authority already started doing that in the senior public housing buildings it operates in the suburbs.

Read the rest of the column by Mark Brown here.

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