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Coronavirus live blog, March 13, 2021: COVID vaccine appointments open to 4 more ZIP codes at United Center

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

News

Top story: United Center vaccine appointments open to 4 more ZIP codes

A National Guard member checks the temperature of people entering the United Center mass COVID-19 vaccination site on Wednesday, Mar. 10, 2021, in Chicago. Shafkat Anowar | AP photo

Residents from four more Chicago ZIP codes can schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center in an effort to get more shots into arms of people living in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic, city officials announced Saturday.

The newly added ZIP codes are 60624, 60644, 60651 and 60653, Mayor Lightfoot’s office said in a statement. They join the 60608, 60619, 60620, 60649 and 60652 ZIP codes.

Anyone who lives in those areas can sign up for an appointment at events.juvare.com/chicago/UCPOD/ with the code “CCVICHICAGO,” or by reaching the multilingual call center at (312) 746-4835.

Read the full story here.

11:30 a.m. Illinois Dems want more vaccine sites in suburbs, state if Chicago keeps first dibs on United Center shots

Most of the Illinois Democrats in Congress on Friday stepped up pressure on the Federal Emergency Management Agency to add more vaccination sites in the suburbs and the rest of the state if most doses at the United Center super site continue to be reserved for Chicago residents.

The letter to FEMA, signed by 11 of Illinois’ 13 Democrats in the House of Representatives, comes as federal, state, county and local officials grapple with a variety of equity issues — race, income, physical condition, age and geography — and face some tough decisions as vaccines and distribution networks remain in short supply.

The United Center, on Chicago’s West Side, was one of the first federally sponsored sites opened by the Biden administration. The location was selected because of its proximity to underserved communities.

At first, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and FEMA officials said the United Center was intended for all eligible Illinois residents.

The door soon closed for people who did not live in Chicago or Cook County.

The central location and initial abundant supply of appointments made the United Center a magnet for anyone who could get there.

“It’s a desperate situation but I think time is going to solve this problem as we have more vaccines, more distribution centers,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told reporters Friday.

Lynn Sweet and Brett Chase have the full story here.

10:03 a.m. Cook County Jail to resume in-person visits Sunday

In-person visits at the Cook County Jail will resume Sunday, exactly a year after Sheriff Tom Dart first announced those visits were on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dart’s office announced Friday.

Only vaccinated inmates will be eligible, and for only two in-person visits per week, which will be held in large, outdoor tents, the sheriff’s office said. Visitors will submit to temperature checks before entering the jail, and social distancing and mask use will be enforced.

Video visitation will remain available for all inmates, Dart’s office said.

Sam Kelly has the full story here.

9:37 a.m. Governor signs bill aimed at reducing health care inequities statewide

Calling it a “giant leap forward” in the mission to reduce inequities across Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday signed into law the Healthcare and Hospital Transformation bill.

The law, which passed the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year, provides $150 million in state and federal money for the current fiscal year to bridge gaps in health care statewide, especially in under-served communities, its supporters say.

“Make no mistake, this legislation is a win for all Illinoisans, but none will benefit more than those who have been disproportionately hurt by COVID-19 — from our Black and Brown neighborhoods to our rural communities of every background to other historically under-served communities,” Pritzker said, speaking at The Loretto Hospital in Austin.

The money is aimed primarily at hospitals and clinics in poorer neighborhoods and regions of the state, as well as those areas hardest hit by the pandemic.

It’s expected to be used to set up and pay for programs that might, for example, help educate people about the importance of healthy eating in communities struggling with obesity.

Stefano Esposito has the full story here.

9:05 a.m. West Side COVID-19 vaccine sites open appointments to all adult Austin residents

All residents of the Austin neighborhood 18 years and over can now sign up for coronavirus vaccine appointments as part of an initiative to inoculate over a thousand people weekly.

One vaccine site will be operated by Rush University Medical Center at Catalyst Circle Rock Charter School, 116 N. Central Ave.

The site will dole out 1,200 vaccines every Sunday starting March 14. The site will operate through April 18.

Appointments can be scheduled by calling (312) 563-0767.

Read the full story here.

8:23 a.m. Curbside pickup, working from home and more things Chicagoans want to hang onto post-pandemic

Post-pandemic, some things might not go back to how they were beforehand. We asked readers: Tell us something that’s changed this past year because of COVID-19 that you hope stays with us. Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“Slower pace of life. Spending more time at home. Enjoying the simpler things.” — Shelly Lynn Rivera

“Normalizing mask-wearing and staying home from work, social gatherings, etc. when you have any symptoms of not feeling well. It used to be normal to ‘power through’ not feeling well at work, and I hope that will not return post-COVID.” — Carolyn Tomecek

“People standing six feet away from you in line at the checkout. The biggest pet peeve of mine before the pandemic was folks not understanding personal space in line.” — Bennie Woodell

Satchel Price has more responses here.


New cases

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health Saturday reported 1,675 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 23 additional deaths.
  • A total of 1,207,847 cases, including 20,924 deaths, were reported in 102 counties in Illinois.
  • Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 77,505 specimens for a total of 19,066,070.
  • As of Friday night, 1,082 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 235 patients were in the ICU and 95 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
  • The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from March 6-12, 2021 is 2.1%. The preliminary seven-day statewide test positivity from March 6-12, 2021 is 2.6%.

7:15 a.m. Daylight saving time could be especially hard this weekend because of COVID-19 sleep loss

The clock springs forward one hour on Sunday morning, March 14 for most people in the United States. That is not an appealing thought for those who have suffered sleep problems because of the pandemic.

Sleep this past year has been affected by a variety of factors, including anxiety, inconsistent schedules and increased screen time. This affects our health, as getting adequate sleep is important to assure our immune system can fend off and fight infections.

Even before the pandemic, about 40% of adults — 50 to 70 million Americans — got less than the recommended minimum seven hours per night.

And, many researchers were already concerned about how the twice-a-year switch affects our body’s physiology. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the largest scientific organization that studies sleep, in October 2020 suggested nixing daylight saving time and moving to a year-round fixed time. That way, our internal circadian clocks would not be misaligned for half the year. And it would eliminate the safety risk from sleep loss when transitioning to daylight saving time.

Read the full column by Michael S. Jaffee, a neurologist at the University of Florida.