Coronavirus live blog, April 14, 2021: Pritzker among more than 290,000 Illinois residents who received the now-scrutinized Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Here’s Wednesday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.
6 p.m. Pritzker ‘does not have concerns’ 20 days after getting his shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine
Federal health officials who recommended shelving the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Tuesday did so just under three weeks after the one-and-done shot went into Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s left arm.
That means the chief executive of the state’s pandemic response is still within the three-week window experts have spotlighted since six vaccinated women suffered severe complications from blood clots within that time frame.
But like the overwhelming majority of the other 6.8 million Americans who have gotten the J&J jab, J.B. hasn’t had any problems, according to his office.
“The Governor does not have concerns after receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, nor has he experienced any health issues since receiving his shot,” Pritzker’s press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email.
Pritzker is among more than 290,000 Illinois residents who received the now-scrutinized vaccine before it was put on hold. None of the six severe reactions occurred in the state.
2 p.m. Europe scrambles as J&J vaccine delay deals another blow
European countries diverged Wednesday on whether they would push ahead with giving their residents Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of very rare blood clots in a handful of recipients in the United States.
While some European Union members put the vaccine on hold as recommended by the American company, Poland, France and Hungary said they would go ahead and administer the doses that had arrived as the EU’s 27 nations face continuing pressure to speed up their immunization drives.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, distributed in Europe by its subsidiary Janssen, is a key part of Europe’s vaccination campaign, which has been criticized as sluggish. Of the four vaccines currently approved for use in the EU, J&J’s is the only one that requires a single dose to be fully effective. That makes it ideal for hard-to-reach, vulnerable groups, such as those who are homeless or migrant workers.
But the drugmaker decided Tuesday to delay deliveries to Europe after the Food and Drug Administration recommended a pause in the vaccine’s use in the U.S. while the rare clot cases are examined. The decision was the latest blow to the vaccine rollout in Europe, which already experienced a similar clot scare with the vaccine developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
12:46 p.m. New federal N95 mask guidelines aim to expand their use amid sluggish sales
Federal officials have announced new measures to help get fresh, new N95 masks to healthcare workers and to expand use of the highly protective masks in other industries after scientists argued that these are essential to keep workers safe from COVID-19.
The changes come as U.S. mask-makers say demand by hospitals is so sluggish that they’ve laid off 2,000 workers and fear some new protective-gear companies could collapse.
Yet in a letter to lawmakers, hospitals cite concerns about scarce supplies, saying limits on which workers should get N95s should stay in place.
10:44 a.m. Federal detainees want judge to order COVID-19 measures at downtown jail
Federal detainees hope to convince a judge to order COVID-19 treatment and prevention measures at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center as part of a lawsuit that has offered the most insight yet into the way the downtown federal lock-up has handled the pandemic.
Their lawyers say they fear a third wave of coronavirus at the jail. They point to problems with masks and inadequate COVID-19 testing. And they say “there is no evidence” the jail has “developed a plan to rapidly vaccinate the entire residential population.” They allege that MCC staff members have even fed skepticism about the vaccines.
Government lawyers have sought to end the lawsuit on technical grounds, arguing the detainees who brought the lawsuit “took no action to seek a remedy within the Bureau of Prisons during the course of the year that has since elapsed.”
Meanwhile, a Department of Justice inspector general report published late last month found that the MCC “complied with CDC guidance and BOP policy directives for social distancing and quarantine” and “had adequate resources for sanitation.” But it also said the MCC’s design “created challenges for social distancing and separating inmates with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.”
9:11 a.m. Trump’s CDC boss Dr. Robert Redfield joins Big Ass Fans, which touts unproven COVID-killing tech
Dr. Robert Redfield, who was director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under former President Donald Trump, has joined Big Ass Fans, lending his scientific credibility to a company division that says its controversial ion-generating technology kills the coronavirus.
The company charges $9,450 for a fan with technology that academic air quality experts question.
As the company’s new strategic health and safety adviser, Redfield follows Dr. Deborah Birx, Trump’s White House coronavirus response coordinator, into the booming air purifying industry. Birx signed on last month with ActivePure, a company that also is promoting what it describes as virus-destroying technology but markets some devices that run afoul of California indoor-air quality rules, according to a KHN investigation.
The two former Trump administration coronavirus task force members bring name recognition to companies selling products advertised to make it safer for people to gather inside schools, offices, gyms and stores without needing to wear masks. The companies tout 99.9% coronavirus kill rates.Read the full story here.
New cases & vaccination numbers
- About 23% of Illinois residents have been fully vaccinated so far, with 100,729 doses administered Monday.
- COVID-19 hospitalizations have nearly doubled in the last month, with 2,028 beds occupied Monday night.
- The state reported 3,193 new cases and 17 more deaths, including those of five Cook County residents.