Coronavirus live log, April 21: J&J vaccines to resume in Illinois after feds give green light

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6 p.m. J&J’s R&R ending? Johnson & Johnson shots to resume in Cook County after feds’ OK: ‘We will continue to offer it as an option’

The first large-scale community vaccination site in the Tinley Park Convention Center.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times

Cook County public health officials on Wednesday said they expect to soon resume administering doses of the federally scrutinized Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, as federal regulators appear poised to give providers the go-ahead to do so.

The one-and-done J&J shot was shelved nationwide last week following six reports of rare blood clots surfacing among almost 7 million recipients.

European regulators decided earlier this week that the benefits of the 66% effective vaccine outweigh the “very low risk” of the one-in-a-million side effects, and Dr. Rachel Rubin, co-lead and senior medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, said she expects U.S. regulators to follow suit.

“We anticipate hearing from the CDC and FDA later this week that the vaccine will be put back into use, but probably with some restrictions and certainly a warning about the potential for the very rare complication of blood clots,” Rubin said during a news conference at Provident Hospital on the South Side.

Read the full story here.

2:30 p.m. Cook County offering walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations at 2 sites

Cook County will offer vaccinations without appointments at two of its mass vaccination sites as part of a pilot program running through Saturday.

Vaccinations were previously available by appointment only at the Matteson and Tinley Park sites. The two sites are open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday for walk-ins and for those with appointments, county officials said. A photo ID is required. Those younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. People can make appointments online at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or by calling 833-308-1988.

The Tinley Park site at 18451 Convention Center Drive has a supply of Moderna vaccine. The Matteson site at 4647 Promenade Way has a supply of Pfizer vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved for 16 and 17 year olds.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito here.

12:55 a.m. CPS announces full-time, in-person learning in the fall

Chicago Public Schools students will have the option of returning to classrooms full time in the fall, district officials announced Wednesday, in what will be the largest step yet toward the resumption of pre-pandemic schooling.

Though a few thousand high school students started learning in person four days per week on Monday, no CPS students have been back daily since schools closed because of COVID-19 conditions 13 months ago.

All students in all grades will have that choice available to them in the fall, while families uncomfortable or unable to return will still be allowed to learn remotely, CPS leaders said. Few other details were immediately available.

“To ensure the district’s plans are aligned to the needs of families, CPS will be engaging families in the weeks ahead to help develop specific plans for the upcoming school year,” CPS said in a news release.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

11:15 a.m. Hitting latest vaccine milestone, Biden pushes shots for all

The United States is set to meet President Joe Biden’s latest vaccine goal of administering 200 million coronavirus shots in his first 100 days in office as the White House steps up efforts to inoculate the rest of the public.

Biden, in remarks planned for Wednesday, will note that the U.S. will surpass that shot goal this week, according to a White House official who was not authorized to publicly discuss specifics of the speech before the president gives it and spoke on condition of anonymity.

With more than 50% of adults at least partially vaccinated, Biden will reflect on his efforts to expand vaccine distribution and access in his first three months in office. But with all those 16 and older now eligible for shots, the president is expected to outline his administration’s plans to drive up the vaccination rate even further.

Read the full story here.

10:25 a.m. Budweiser giving away free beer with proof of COVID vaccination

Budweiser is the latest brand to raise awareness for the COVID-19 vaccines by offering free beer to those who get vaccinated.

The Anheuser-Busch beer brand has brought back its popular Budweiser Clydesdales and a puppy for the commercial called “Reunited with Buds,” which posted to YouTube Thursday and is scheduled to run on national television April 26, the company told USA TODAY.

Set to the tune of Queen’s hit “Don’t Stop Me Now,” the ad “celebrates our favorite bars as they start to reopen and reminds people to safely return to them once they have been vaccinated,” the company said.

To help encourage more to get vaccinated, there’s also a contest with 10,000 free beers up for grabs.

Now through May 16, or while supplies last, U.S. residents 21 and older can enter the “Reunite with Buds” giveaway at ABeerOnBud.com with proof of vaccination.

Read the full story here.

9:30 a.m. Lightfoot expects Blackhawks, Bulls fans will be allowed to return to United Center this season

The Bulls and Blackhawks each have seven regular-season home games on their schedules.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she expects Bulls and Blackhawks fans will be allowed to watch home games at the United Center this season, barring a turn for the worse in COVID-19 cases.

“We feel like we might be plateauing and even, dare to dream, going down,” Lightfoot said of COVID-19 cases during an unrelated news conference. “Going down is the right time to have that conversation. So we’ll continue with that, and I expect before seasons end there will be fans in the United Center.”

The Bulls and Blackhawks each have seven regular-season home games on their schedules.

A limited number of fans have been able to attend home games for the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, but those fans are at a decreased risk of COVID-19 transmission because seats are in an open-air setting. Fans were allowed into Soldier Field to watch the Chicago Fire home opener on Saturday, too.

Read Mitch Dudek’s story here.


New cases and vaccination rates

  • The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 2,587 new coronavirus cases diagnosed among 62,406 tests on Tuesday, decreasing the seven-day average statewide positivity rate to 3.8% — the first time that figure has fallen below 4% since April 6.
  • The numbers have now trended in the right direction for eight straight days, including in Chicago, where the regional positivity rate has inched down to 5.5% after more than a month of troubling increases.
  • Hospitals across the state are still feeling the effects of Illinois’ uptick, even if it is flattening out. COVID-19 patients took up 2,288 beds statewide Monday night, the highest number of admissions since the first week of February.
  • The state reported nine more coronavirus deaths Tuesday, including that of a Cook County woman in her 40s.
  • COVID-19 has killed at least 21,694 Illinoisans since March 2020, as more than 1.3 million residents have tested positive.



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