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Coronavirus: Essential News

The most important news about the COVID-19 outbreak in Illinois, available to everyone, no subscription required.

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US to allow vaccinated foreign tourists to enter country beginning Nov. 8

Foreign national air travelers will need to be vaccinated and will need to provide proof of vaccination status to fly to the U.S., and ahead of boarding will need to show a pre-departure negative test within three days of travel.

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Illinois COVID-19 hospitalizations back to lowest level since August

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Illinois have fallen by 10% since last week and 28% since last month.

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Southern Illinois’ hospital ICU situation improving, but ‘we’re still really preparing for the next wave’

Critical care units across the region’s 22 hospitals are still operating at 79% capacity, but that’s better than the past few weeks.

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September marks deadliest COVID-19 month for Illinois since winter as overall numbers improve

The virus claimed more than 1,000 Illinois lives last month, but data shows the Delta variant surge is waning.

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Fall forward? As Illinois COVID-19 numbers improve, ‘now is the time’ to have some fun before ‘winter bump’

As seasons change, the latest figures released by public health officials Friday show Illinois closed out its second COVID-19 summer in a more encouraging fashion than its first.

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FDA approves Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk

The FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high risk for COVID-19.

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Chicago ‘coming down the other side’ of Delta surge as Illinois numbers improve

The city also removed California and Puerto Rico from its quarantine advisory for unvaccinated travelers.

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A state divided: Vaccinated areas could soon be ‘turning the corner,’ but less-inoculated southern Illinois up against the wall

Cases have been falling for two weeks across Illinois, but hospitals in the southern tip of the state are still feeling the brunt of the Delta surge. "I would encourage everybody to do the right thing," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. "Make sure you encourage your friends and family to be vaccinated."

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Not a single ICU bed free, doctors and nurses bone tired — southern Illinois battles a virus and ‘a plethora of disinformation’

"We’ve been pounding away saying the disease is the enemy, not each other. But we’re running out of ways to say it," said Rosslind Rice, communications director for Southern Illinois Healthcare,

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Pritzker pleased with state’s flattening COVID-19 numbers — but southern Illinois ‘chugging through some pretty bad days’

New COVID-19 hospital admissions have slowed down amid Illinois’ Delta variant coronavirus surge, but hospitals are still being pushed to the limit in southern Illinois — where all ICU beds were filled Monday night.

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Delta’s descent? Weekly COVID-19 cases dip for first time since start of summer

The state’s case numbers took the first sustained step in the right direction since mid-June, but coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths are still rising.

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Delta’s deadly toll: Illinois COVID-19 deaths hit nearly seven-month high as city travel advisory expands to entire nation

The virus has killed 241 residents statewide so far this month, the vast majority of whom were unvaccinated.

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Jacqueline Jackson released from hospital after being treated in ICU with coronavirus

Her husband, Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., was still undergoing occupational and physical therapy at the Shirley Ryan Ability Lab, his son said in a statement.

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Illinois COVID-19 cases keep rising, but hospitalization spike slows

The situation is still grim in downstate areas with lower vaccination rates. Only one ICU bed was available for the entire southern Illinois region, home to more than 400,000 residents.

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Delta not done? New Illinois COVID-19 cases top 5,000 for first time in more than seven months

With the average statewide positivity rate stable and new hospital admissions slowing, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he’s "hopeful" the peak of Illinois’ Delta surge is near.

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Delta dimming? Pritzker ‘hopeful’ Illinois’ surge could be peaking — but warns not to ‘jump the gun’

The numbers are still troubling compared to early summer, when most metrics had fallen to pandemic lows. Illinois has logged an average of more than 4,000 new cases each day over the last week, including 4,871 on Tuesday. "We all watch the numbers very closely, and when they start to flatten out, that’s always good news," Pritzker said.

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State’s daily COVID-19 caseload soars the highest since early winter, ICUs 84% full

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,942 new coronavirus infections on Friday, topping last Friday’s 4,904, which had been the highest since Jan. 23.

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Pritzker to order indoor masking for all 2 and up, plus mandatory vaccine for educators from kindergarten to college

The governor plans to make the announcement Thursday morning, just two days after he sidestepped questions about extending a vaccine mandate to all state workers.

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Illinois Senate Republican leader tests positive for COVID-19 following state fair

Dan McConchie says he’s been vaccinated for months and his symptoms are "relatively mild."

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Illinois COVID-19 cases hit seven-month high: ‘We are living in a very dangerous moment’

About 63% of eligible Chicagoans are fully vaccinated, but rates hover in the 20% range in many southern Illinois counties where hospitals are filling up. A total of 126 Illinois lives were lost to the virus over the last week, including 46 on Wednesday — the highest one-day toll in three months.

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About-face? City announces return to indoor mask mandate starting Friday

The requirement applies to anyone age 2 or older, regardless of vaccination status, in indoor public settings.

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Booster shots to be urged for all Americans eight months after initial full COVID-19 vaccination, sources tell AP

An announcement on the U.S. booster recommendation was expected as soon as this week, according to two people familiar with the matter. Doses would only begin to be administered widely once the Food and Drug Administration formally approves the vaccines.

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Seeing red: With high COVID-19 infection rate across Illinois, Pritzker warns, ‘We’re going to be dealing with this for some time’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker didn’t provide a date for when students, teachers and staff would be able to forgo face coverings. "We have to prepare ourselves for the, hopefully, ramping down of COVID over a number of months and maybe over the next year, but we have to follow the science and we’ll be requiring people to wear masks in schools to keep our kids safe until we no longer need to."

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Listen to the voices from the grave: Get vaccinated now

Death has a way of ending COVID-19 denial.

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As more places demand COVID vaccination proof, here’s everything you need to know

The rules often vary. What some businesses are requiring, how to navigate this — including how to get a card from Northwestern Medicine, which initially didn’t provide them.

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Delta spurs spike in vaccinations — but even more so in COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths

The state’s daily shot average has almost doubled since early July — but cases have multiplied by 10 since then.

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Illinois now a red state? COVID-19 cases hit four-month high as much of state slips into CDC’s red ‘high risk’ category

The state is now averaging nearly 3,000 new COVID-19 diagnoses each day, a rate that has multiplied by eight since the first week of July. 

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What you need to know about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in Chicago

Check out answers to frequently asked questions, including: Where can I get one? Can I go to a pharmacy? How long do I have to wait?

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Wisconsin, Indiana back on Chicago’s COVID-19 travel advisory list as Delta flares nationwide

Illinois’ neighbor to the north finds itself back on the city’s list for the first time since mid-April — just in time for the Wisconsin State Fair, a regular draw for Chicagoans to the Milwaukee suburbs. 

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Delta turns deadly: Illinois COVID-19 deaths jump 64% in a week

Illinois public health officials reported 64 coronavirus deaths over the past week, compared to 39 fatal cases logged a week earlier. The sharp 64% rise comes just a month after the state reported its first day without a single COVID-19 fatality in nearly 16 months.

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Delta blues: Variant’s spread across Illinois sparks COVID-19 infection rate rivaling days when few were vaccinated

"Turn on the TV and look what’s happening in Florida and Texas and a couple other states, even Missouri, and you can see that if you don’t take action, if you’re not acting swiftly to keep people protected in ways that you know are effective, then you’re going to fill up the hospital beds," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

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Relax on the extra vax? Experts expect COVID-19 booster shots ‘sooner rather than later’ — but not yet: What you need to know

While all three approved vaccines are still considered highly effective against Delta, local experts say it’s only a matter of time before people will need another dose — it’s just too soon to say when.

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Cook County reaches 11,000 COVID-19 deaths; officials urge vaccination

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and county health officials urge residents to get vaccinated in hyperlocal vaccine approach as COVID-19 cases increased by 30% since June 26.

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Chicago has no plans yet for vaccine mandate for restaurants and gyms, Arwady says, but city is watching New York closely

While the Big Apple tightens restrictions, Chicago is counting on getting more residents vaccinated and trusting them to mask up indoors as the Delta variant of COVID-19 drives the latest nationwide surge.

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Illinois COVID-19 hospitalizations jump 35% in a week, Chicago embraces indoor masking guidelines: ‘This isn’t forever’

Daily case numbers have reached the highest levels seen in three months, and hospitals are beginning to feel the brunt of that exponential increase.

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Dig out the masks: Indoor face coverings now recommended in Cook County as COVID-19 cases keep rising

The CDC is now recommending masks to be worn indoors in 84 of the state’s 102 counties — including Cook, DuPage, McHenry and Will.