Coronavirus live blog, March 29, 2021: New vaccination site will help get doses to essential union workers

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, March 29, 2021: New vaccination site will help get doses to essential union workers


6 p.m. New vaccination site will be dedicated to essential union workers


A woman receives a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine from registered nurse Gina Reed at a vaccination center established at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, on March 5, 2021.

Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced a new vaccination site in partnership with the Chicago Federation of Labor that will help get doses of COVID-19 vaccine into the arms of essential union workers.

The announcement on Monday comes as the city expands eligibility requirements to what’s called Phase 1C. That expansion includes residents ages 16 to 64 with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease or cancer.

It also will allow the vaccination of other essential workers who had not previously been eligible.

“You all know this, but it bears repeating. Chicago is 100 percent a union town,” the mayor said in making the announcement at the vaccination site, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, 2260 S. Grove St.

“It’s our union workers who make up the backbone of this city.”

The vaccination site is at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, 2260 S. Grove St. It is believed to be the first site in the nation run by the labor movement.

Read Manny Ramos’ full story here.

12:43 p.m. Pandemic masks ongoing child abuse crisis as cases plummet

An Associated Press analysis of state data reveals that the coronavirus pandemic has ripped away several systemic safety nets for millions of Americans. It found that child abuse reports, investigations, substantiated allegations and interventions have dropped at a staggering rate, increasing risks for the most vulnerable of families in the U.S.

In the AP’s analysis, it found more than 400,000 fewer child welfare concerns reported during the pandemic and 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments compared with the same time period of 2019. That represents a national total decrease of 18% in both total reports and investigations.

The AP requested public records from all 50 state child welfare agencies and analyzed more than a dozen indicators in 36 states, though not every state supplied data for total reports or investigations. The analysis compared the first nine months of the pandemic — March to November 2020 — with the same time period from the two previous years.

And there are signs in a number of states that suggest officials are dealing with more urgent and complex cases during the pandemic, according to the analysis, though most child welfare agencies didn’t provide AP thorough data on severity.

A loss in reports means greater potential for harm because “there has not all of the sudden been a cure for child abuse and neglect,” said Amy Harfeld, an expert in child abuse deaths with the Children’s Advocacy Institute.

Keep reading this story here.

11:32 a.m. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective after two doses in real-world US study

The U.S government’s first look at the real-world use of COVID-19 vaccines found their effectiveness was nearly as robust as it was in controlled studies.

The two vaccines available since December — Pfizer and Moderna — were 90% effective after two doses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. In testing, the vaccines were about 95% effective in preventing COVID-19.

“This is very reassuring news,” said the CDC’s Mark Thompson, the study’s lead author. “We have a vaccine that’s working very well.”

The study is the government’s first assessment of how the shots have been working beyond the drugmakers’ initial experiments. Results can sometimes change when vaccines are used in larger, more diverse populations outside studies.

Read the full story here.

9:50 a.m. Animals likely source of COVID, WHO report says


In this Feb. 9, 2021, file photo, Peter Ben Embarek of the World Health Organization team holds up a chart showing pathways of transmission of the virus during a joint news conference at the end of the WHO mission in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.


A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.

The findings offer little new insight into how the virus first emerged and leave many questions unanswered, though that was as expected. But the report does provide more detail on the reasoning behind the researchers’ conclusions. The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.

The report, which is expected to be made public Tuesday, is being closely watched since discovering the origins of the virus could help scientists prevent future pandemics — but it’s also extremely sensitive since China bristles at any suggestion that it is to blame for the current one. Repeated delays in the report’s release have raised questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew its conclusions.

“We’ve got real concerns about the methodology and the process that went into that report, including the fact that the government in Beijing apparently helped to write it,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a recent CNN interview. China rejected that criticism Monday.

Read the full Associated Press story here.

New cases and vaccinations

  • The latest tally of reported cases in Illinois is 2,250, diagnosed from 65,729 tests, bringing the state’s seven-day positivity rate to 3.2%. That’s the highest average recorded since Feb. 11, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Over the past two weeks, the statewide positivity rate has slowly increased from a record low of 2.1% recorded on March 13.
  • Hospitalizations have also ticked upward over the past two weeks, with COVID-19 patients occupying 1,337 beds on Saturday night. Of those, 269 were hospitalized in intensive care units and 107 patients required ventilators.
  • Officials on Sunday also reported 23 deaths linked to COVID-19, including seven people from Cook County. That brings the state’s total death toll to 21,251.
  • Meanwhile, as vaccine supply has increased and inoculations have become more widely available, another 110,211 shots went into arms on Saturday. Over 6.2 million vaccine doses have been sent to providers in Illinois and more than 2 million residents have now been fully vaccinated, officials said.

Analysis and commentary

7:43 a.m. ‘The Last Cruise’ takes you along on a real-life outbreak at sea

If a cruise ship had been quarantined in the early days of a pandemic a generation ago, we’d have only still photographs and perhaps some choppy and grainy videotape recording of events as they played out in real time.

But when the Diamond Princess liner was put on quarantine in February of 2020 with some 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members aboard, just about everyone had a cell phone handy and recorded untold hours of video — and select footage from a number of those passengers and ship employees is utilized by director Hannah Olson in the compelling if incomplete-feeling documentary “The Last Cruise,” premiering Tuesday on HBO.

Spanning just 40 minutes, “The Last Cruise” opens with title cards explaining the Diamond Princess set sail from Japan on Jan. 20, 2020, when only a few cases of the coronavirus had been reported worldwide. It certainly wasn’t a concern for the passengers and crew of the Diamond Princess, as evidenced by the home video we see at the outset of the story.

Keep reading Richard Roeper’s review of “The Last Cruise” here.

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