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Coronavirus live blog, Feb. 9, 2021: Illinois coronavirus: 7-day positivity rate stays at 4-month low as vaccinations ramp up

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

Another 58,189 shots went into arms, raising the state’s rolling average of vaccines administered per day to a new high of 55,455.

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


9 p.m. Illinois coronavirus: 2K more infected, 58K more vaccinated

Kimberly Thier, who monitors people who just received the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, sanitizes a clipboard at a Walmart in the Austin neighborhood, of Chicago, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials on Tuesday reported the number of people who received COVID-19 vaccinations a day earlier was nearly 28 times higher than the number diagnosed with the respiratory disease.

The 2,082 new coronavirus cases were diagnosed among 55,705 tests, keeping the average statewide positivity rate at a four-month low of 3.3%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And another 58,189 shots went into arms, raising the state’s rolling average of vaccines administered per day to a new high of 55,455.

The vaccination ramp-up slowly kicks into gear days after the state’s number of administered vaccine doses surpassed the state’s number of confirmed coronavirus cases. That ratio is now up to 1.4 million doses administered compared to almost 1.2 million accumulated infections.

Still, only 311,569 Illinois residents have received both required doses — not even 2.5% of the population — and experts agree tens of thousands of additional COVID-19 cases have gone undetected over the past year.

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.

3:11 p.m. CPS says winter sports, including basketball, can start on Thursday

Chicago Public Schools says that winter high school sports can begin on Thursday.

CPS Sports Director David Rosengard emailed schools on Tuesday afternoon that boys and girls bowling, boys swimming and diving, competitive cheer and dance, boys and girls basketball and badminton can begin Thursday.

“Our top priority will continue to be keeping our staff, students, and their families healthy and safe,” Rosengard wrote. “As we did for our comprehensive health and safety plan for reopening schools, the district is working closely with our public health officials to ensure sports can be offered safely. Winter Sports Guidelines have been outlined and CPS is evaluating the option of voluntary COVID-19 testing for athletes.”

According to IHSA rules basketball teams will need to practice for seven days before they can play games, which means games could begin sometime next week.

“I’m so excited that our students can have this opportunity to play given that everyone else in the state is playing,” Young basketball coach Tyrone Slaughter said.

The news comes just one day after Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s comments at a news conference revealed she was unaware that the rest of the state was playing sports and CPS was not.

Read the full story from Michael O’Brien here.

3:06 p.m. Giving 1st and 2nd doses at once complicates vaccine effort

The U.S. has entered a tricky phase of the COVID-19 vaccination effort as providers try to ramp up the number of people getting first shots while also ensuring a growing number of others get second doses just when millions more Americans are becoming eligible to receive vaccines.

The need to give each person two doses a few weeks apart vastly complicates the country’s biggest-ever vaccination campaign. And persistent uncertainty about future vaccine supplies fuels worries that some people will not be able to get their second shots in time.

In some cases, local health departments and providers have said they must temporarily curb or even cancel appointments for first doses to ensure there are enough second doses for people who need them.

After getting her first COVID-19 vaccine shot, Sarah Bouse was told she would be notified to set up the second. But the notice never came, and she frantically called the Houston Health Department to schedule the booster the evening before it was due.

“It was frustrating — the waiting game and the conflicting information,” said Bouse, who is 26 and eligible because of a health condition. After hours on the phone, she finally got through to someone and scheduled the shot.

Read the full story here.

12:25 p.m. California uses ZIP codes, outreach to boost vaccine equity

SAN FRANCISCO — Hing Yiu Chung lives in a racially diverse San Francisco neighborhood hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. While vaccines have been difficult to come by, the 69-year-old got one by showing proof she lives where she does.

She had to wait in line for two hours with other seniors, some who were disabled or leaning on canes, for a chance at a couple hundred shots available each day through a local public health clinic in the Bayview neighborhood.

“Fortunately, it wasn’t a cold or rainy day, otherwise it would have been harder,” she said in Chinese.

The experience wasn’t ideal, but targeting vulnerable ZIP codes is one way San Francisco and other U.S. cities and counties are trying to ensure they vaccinate people in largely Black, Latino and working-class communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic. In Dallas, authorities tried to prioritize such ZIP codes, which tended to be communities of color, but backtracked after the state threatened to reduce the city’s vaccine supply.

Nationwide, states are struggling to distribute vaccines equitably even as officials try to define what equity means. They’re debating what risk factors gets someone to the head of the line: those in poverty, communities of color, their job or if they have a disability. Others simply want to vaccinate as many people as possible, as soon as possible.

Read the full story here.

9:13 a.m. Illinois logs 1,747 new COVID-19 cases, 35 deaths

State public health officials reported 1,747 new and probable cases of the coronavirus Monday as well as 35 deaths, continuing a trend of lower daily case counts at levels Illinois hasn’t seen since early fall.

As of Sunday night, 2,161 people with COVID-19 were reported to be in hospitals. Of those, 469 patients were in intensive care units and 251 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases is 3.3%, health officials said.

Monday’s new cases mark the first time since October the state has seen a daily case count below 2,000. On Oct. 6, the state logged 1,617 new cases.

The 35 deaths reported Monday are the lowest daily toll since Feb. 1, when the state reported 16 deaths. Monday’s figures bring the state’s death toll to 19,668.

Read the full story from Rachel Hinton here.

New cases

  • As of Sunday night, 2,161 people with COVID-19 were reported to be in hospitals. Of those, 469 patients were in intensive care units and 251 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
  • State public health officials reported 1,747 new and probable cases of the coronavirus Monday as well as 35 deaths.

Analysis & Commentary

9:29 a.m. An NFL lesson: Masks were not seen as sign of weakness but as sign of responsibility

Last night, millions of people across the world watched the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win the Super Bowl over the Kansas City Chiefs. They saw great athletes performing at the top of their profession. They saw a game marked by hard tackling and blocking, fierce runs and complex plays. It was a big night with a big audience. The obvious question is how was the National Football League able to pull off playing the season with 32 teams and then the playoffs and the big game in the midst of a pandemic?

To even have a season and a Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL leadership must be applauded for their acts of bold and clear direction. The League elaborated clear rules, and then tightened them in response to what they learned.

They required daily testing of the players and staff, conducting more than 1 million tests for COVID-19. That allowed discovery of any infections early and imposition of isolation before the virus spread to others.

Every player wore proximity sensors that would record who they came in contact with and for how long. That data allowed league officials to track the footsteps of the infected and identify who else might have been infected. Surprisingly they found no cases of transmission on the field during games, even though players didn’t wear masks. Presumably their rapid movement and the ventilation of open-air stadiums provided additional protection.

Read the full column from Jesse Jackson here.