Coronavirus live blog, Dec. 14, 2020: Vaccine arrives in Illinois, first local inoculation will be Tuesday at Loretto Hospital

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Dec. 14, 2020: Vaccine arrives in Illinois, first local inoculation will be Tuesday at Loretto Hospital

The first doses of the coronavirus vaccine rolled into Illinois Monday, but the pandemic’s not over yet.

Here’s what happened in COVID-19 news.


8:55 p.m. Coronavirus vaccine arrives in Illinois, first local inoculation will be Tuesday at Loretto Hospital

the first patient enrolled in Pfizer’s COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

AP file

The first batch of COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Illinois on Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office said.

The state received about 43,000 does and expects additional doses in the coming weeks, his office said.

Health care workers at Loretto Hospital, 645 S. Central Ave., are expected to be the first in the city to receive the new vaccine Tuesday morning, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Read the full story by Stefano Esposito here.

5:19 p.m. CPS hiring 2,000 new workers — no Chicago residency required — to help reopen schools

Chicago Public Schools is looking to hire 2,000 new employees to take on pandemic-related duties and fill in gaps in staffing once schools return in-person in January, a plan that’s drawing a rebuke from the teachers union and that signifies one of the major challenges of reopening the third-largest district in the nation during a public health emergency.

One of the primary responsibilities for half of the new positions will be student supervision, according to a job posting. That includes supervising “students who are learning in person if [the] classroom teacher is teaching remotely,” the posting says, raising questions about what in-person instruction will look like for students who return to classrooms and signaling that the district intends to forge ahead with reopening despite a potentially massive number of staff requests for medical leave.

“Staffing is a concern, I don’t want to pretend like it’s not,” CPS human resources chief Matt Lyons said in an interview. “But I’m confident about where we are right now and that we’ll be able to provide a good learning experience for those who come in person.”

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.

4 p.m. Health officials outline coronavirus vaccine plan for suburban Cook County

As the new COVID-19 vaccine is distributed across the country, officials in the Cook County Department of Health on Monday detailed how initial doses will be doled out to suburban county residents.

“Health equity is at the core of our organization’s mission,” Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha said. “We are confident in our ability to develop a comprehensive plan to bring the vaccines to our employees, our patients and the community.”

The first batch of vaccine — about 20,000 doses — will go to 15 hospitals, according to county officials. Each hospital will decide how to allocate those doses among employees who are at the highest risk of exposure to COVID-19. Additional doses are expected to be delivered weekly.

Read the full story by Sam Charles here.

3:20 p.m. ‘Nothing too surprising there’: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are pretty standard, experts say

Experts say the ingredients in the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, which was authorized Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, looks pretty standard for a vaccine.

In a letter to the FDA, Pfizer listed the ingredients in its vaccine. They can be organized into four basic categories.

Read the complete story here

2:10 p.m. Firefighters in COVID hot zones now ‘pump more oxygen than water’

As a boy, Robert Weber chased the lights and sirens of fire engines down the streets of Brooklyn.

He hung out at the Engine 247 firehouse, eating ham heroes with extra mayonnaise and “learning everything about everything to be the best firefighter in the world,” said his wife Danielle Weber, who grew up next door.

They got married in their 20s and settled in Port Monmouth, New Jersey, where Weber joined the ranks of the more than one million firefighters America calls upon when stovetops, factory floors and forest canopies burst into flames.

Weber was ready for any emergency, his wife said. Then, COVID-19 swept through.

Firefighters like Weber are often the first on the scene following a 911 call. Many are trained as emergency medical technicians and paramedics, responsible for stabilizing and transporting those in distress to the hospital. But, with the pandemic, even those not medically trained are suddenly at high risk of coronavirus infection.

Read the full story here.

1:15 p.m. Hunger study predicts 168,000 pandemic-linked child deaths

Economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has set back decades of progress against the most severe forms of malnutrition and is likely to kill 168,000 children before any global recovery takes hold, according to a study released Monday by 30 international organizations.

The study from the Standing Together for Nutrition Consortium draws on economic and nutrition data gathered this year as well as targeted phone surveys. Saskia Osendarp, who led the research, estimates an additional 11.9 million children — most in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa — will suffer from stunting and wasting, the most severe forms of malnutrition.

Women who are pregnant now “will deliver children who are already malnourished at birth, and these children are disadvantaged from the very start,” said Osendarp, executive director of the Micronutrient Forum. “An entire generation is at stake.”

Read the full story here.

12:40 p.m. Illinois health officials report 7,214 new COVID-19 cases, 103 deaths

Illinois public health officials reported 7,214 new cases of COVID-19 and 103 deaths Monday as health workers around the country begin receiving the first round of vaccinations for the deadly virus.

Monday’s figures continue a grim streak of daily death tolls over 100 people. The deaths are largely from Cook County, which recorded 88 deaths.

The new cases came from a batch of 92,256 tests in the last 24 hours.

As of Sunday night, 4,951 people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 were reported to be in the hospital. Of that number, 1,070 patients were in intensive care and 621 patients were on ventilators.

Read the full story by Rachel Hinton here.

11:45 a.m. Canada administers first doses of COVID-19 vaccine

Canada administered its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.

Five front-line workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto’s hospitals.

Two nurses and three other workers at the Rekai Centre nursing home received the vaccine.

Ontario received 6,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday night and plans to give them to approximately 2,500 health-care workers. Residents of two long-term care homes in Quebec will be the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in that province.

Read the full story here.

11 a.m. Toughest coronavirus restrictions to be imposed on London

LONDON — London and surrounding areas will be placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday as infections rise rapidly in the capital, Britain’s health secretary said Monday.

Matt Hancock said the government must take swift action after seeing “very sharp, exponential rises” in Greater London and nearby Kent and Essex. He said that in some areas, cases are doubling every seven days.

Under Tier 3 restrictions, the toughest level in England’s three-tier system, people can’t socialize indoors and bars, pubs and restaurants must close except for takeout.

Read the full story here.

10:10 a.m. Coronavirus deaths in Cook County surpass 7,000

Coronavirus deaths in Cook County have surpassed 7,000, officials said Monday.

The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed another 357 deaths from COVID-19 since Dec. 7, bringing the county’s total to 7,311.

That’s more than half of all statewide coronavirus deaths, which the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Sunday as 14,291.

Read the full story here.

9:15 a.m. ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine

The largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history got underway Monday as health workers in select hospitals rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll neared 300,000.

“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” said critical case nurse Sandra Lindsay after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

Shipments of precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech began arriving at hospitals around the country Monday.

Read the full story here.

7:45 a.m. US set for first COVID-19 shots as shipments begin arriving

Hospital workers begin unloading precious frozen vials of COVID-19 vaccine Monday, with the first vaccinations against a scourge that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans expected later in the day.

“It feels like the cavalry is arriving,” Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said as New Jersey’s largest health network awaited delivery.

Shots made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech are the first authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration — beginning what will become the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. Several other countries also have OK’d the vaccine, including the U.K., which started vaccinating last week.

Read the full story here.

7 a.m. Tree sales soar ahead of coronavirus Christmas: ‘We didn’t really see it coming’

Buying a real Christmas tree is part of the Barnett family’s holiday tradition. Each year, Troy Barnett tries to find the largest evergreen he can from a lot near his Lincoln Park home, he said.

But his plan hit a snag earlier this month when the lot shut down for the season after it sold its entire inventory just weeks after opening.

Merchants say Chicagoans are flocking to Christmas tree lots at unprecedented rates this year amid a holiday season like no other. Unable to travel or see extended family as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many are turning to real Christmas trees to make their holiday season bright, resulting in many places selling out earlier than they have in the past.

It’s reflective of a national trend as Christmas tree sales were up nearly 30% nationwide through the first week of December, according to a CNBC report.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

10 a.m. ‘Oh my God — this is carnage’: Hospitals fighting COVID also cope with exhaustion and burnout.

Look closely, through the face shield, over the mask. You’ll see it.

“Walk around the hospital, you can see the fatigue in people’s eyes,” said Dr. Roy Werner, director of the emergency department at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side. “We have an entire staff of physicians, nurses, tech staff, housekeepers, working harder than they have ever had to work.”

Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with a vaccine tantalizingly near but still not in hand, the relentlessness of fighting the virus — the endless stream of patients, the round-the-clock shifts, the deaths, the need to plug holes in the schedule created by sick colleagues — is grinding down hospital workers.

Read the full column by Neil Steinberg here.

7:15 a.m. As COVID-19 vaccines arrive, so does reckoning with racism in health care; herd immunity hinges on Black trust

As the first COVID-19 vaccines arrive at hospitals Monday, America faces a reckoning with racism in health care — a history that could derail an end to the worst pandemic in a century.

How do you persuade Black Americans to participate in the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history when the elders remember the Tuskegee experiment and younger have grown up in health care deserts, acutely aware they receive lower quality health care than whites?

That was the question tackled by Illinois officials and Black community leaders at a roundtable on ways to overcome this distrust that could hinder the nation’s goal of immunizing three out of four Americans, to achieve herd immunity.

Read the full Chicago Chronicles column by Maudlyn Ihejireka

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