COVID-19

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This is a guide to the things we do know, from scientists, doctors and public health experts — a resource that changes alongside our understanding of this virus.

FAQ:  The Essential Coronavirus FAQ
MAP:  The real-time spread of coronavirus
STATE:  Tracking by State 
HOSPITAL:  Capacity by County

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday announced an intensified coronavirus lockdown going into Easter, warning that new mutations raised the specter of a potentially deadly "third wave" of COVID-19 as Europe struggles in its vaccination campaign.

Speaking early Tuesday, Merkel said restrictions would be extended until April 18. She called on citizens to stay home and for shops to close for five days over the Easter holiday.

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State Nears ‘Bridge’ Phase with 64% of Seniors Receiving at Least 1 Vaccine Dose

Mar 22, 2021
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Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

With 64 percent of the state’s seniors having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Illinois is nearing the “bridge” phase of reopening that will allow for greater capacity limits at businesses and social gatherings.

That number must hit 70 percent to enter the bridge phase, which would trigger another 28-day monitoring period. If virus transmission and hospitalization metrics don’t worsen during the monitoring period, Phase 5 can begin, removing all capacity restrictions.

Warming Center Has Expanded Operations During Pandemic

Mar 22, 2021

The Carbondale Warming Center has expanded services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and community support is helping them continue to offer those.

Neighborhood Coop recently donated funds to the center, with cash donations from customers replacing the store’s wooden nickel program which was paused during the pandemic.

Due to COVID, the warming center has been remaining open 24 hours per day, and has added additional services designed to help guests find employment and get into permanent housing.

Texas Roadhouse restaurant founder and CEO Kent Taylor died by suicide last week at age 65 after what his family described as a "battle with post-Covid related symptoms, including severe tinnitus."

He is being remembered by his family, the Louisville-based company and Kentucky leaders as an industry legend who put people first, growing the restaurant chain to more than 600 domestic locations in nearly three decades and paying it forward through philanthropic contributions along the way.

Two teams of European scientists, working independently, say they believe they've identified the cause of a rare blood clotting condition that has occurred in some people after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

If correct, their research could mean any blood clots that occur could be easily treated.

There were reports earlier this month of roughly 30 blood clots occurring after vaccination, a few of them fatal. This led more than a dozen European countries to suspend their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

For anyone looking forward to the annual frivolity of spring break or the diversion offered every year by March Madness, the coronavirus pandemic is once again reminding: not so fast.

Updated March 20, 2021 at 2:33 PM ET

Several European countries have instituted new lockdown restrictions, while others are considering tightening their rules in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus as case numbers across the continent are surging once again.

In France, a new partial lockdown took effect at midnight on Friday. Some 21 million people across 16 regions, including Paris, are affected by the new measures. The French government decided to take the step amid fears of a third wave.

This year's Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place without any overseas spectators after organizers decided to ban international fans from attending the events over COVID-19 concerns.

The decision was made during a virtual meeting between the various stakeholders on Saturday.

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WSIU/Kevin boucher

Illinois Governer JB Pritzker says he is pleased with the help the National Guard has been in getting people vaccinated against COVID -19, especially in rural areas.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn is telling Germans to diligently follow coronavirus safety rules, warning that vaccines won't arrive quickly enough to prevent a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. New infections in Germany are rising at a "very clearly exponential rate," Spahn said.

All Outside Chicago Will Be Vaccine Eligible April 12; Reopening Changes Announced

Mar 18, 2021
Illinois.gov

All Illinoisans 16 years of age and older outside of Chicago will be eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations beginning April 12, and the state announced a “metric-based” phase-in to greater reopening Thursday.

The so-called “bridge phase” to reopening can begin when 70 percent of seniors 65 years of age and older have received at least their first dose of the vaccine, according to the governor. As of Thursday, that number stood at 58 percent.

The European Medicines Agency said the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe, after several EU member states, including Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, suspended its use over reports of blood clots in a small number of people who received it.

 State Senator Dale Fowler is sponsoring a bill to help businesses devastated by the COVID-19 Pandemic's economic fallout.

There has been a perception that Black Americans are more hesitant than whites to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. But roughly equal proportions of Black and white respondents in a recent poll said they plan to get vaccinated.

COVID-19 Housing Bill Aims to Provide Additional Support to Renters, Homeowners

Mar 18, 2021

State Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Chicago, reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that would offer emergency support to tenants, landlords and homeowners struggling to make payments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Bill 2877, known as the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Act, would create a process for allocating funding for rental support that was made available in federal stimulus packages since December. It would also expand the sealing of eviction records in the state through July of 2022.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it will spend $10 billion to expand testing for schools, to aid in the president's goal to get schools open once again.

The funds will come from the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package President Biden signed last week.

File photo from Illinois.gov

A temporary vaccination site will be held at Heartland Regional Medical Center in Marion on Monday, March 22nd from 9 am through 7 pm.

Up to 300 doses will be distributed. Appointments are required. To sign up, go to the IDPH website and use the code SPARCHRMC0322. Or call the IDPH vaccine hotline at (833) 621-1284. English and Spanish speaking operators will be available to assist.

As Europe struggles to get enough vaccine and to contain a third wave of the coronavirus, the European Commission has created a plan for a digital certificate to facilitate travel across its 27 member states.

The proposal from the European Union's executive body will be discussed next week at a summit of EU leaders.

One aspect of the plan is important to note: it does not require vaccination as a pre-condition to travel.

It's time for Californians to dig their Mickey Mouse ears out of storage. Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park will reopen their gates to state residents on April 30, more than a year after shutting down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Anaheim, Calif.-based theme parks will reopen at limited capacity and in line with state public health requirements, Disney CEO Bob Chapek told CNBC's Squawk Alley on Wednesday.

The U.S. has administered more than 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, but the vast majority of those jabs are going to adults. Moderna announced Tuesday that it has begun enrolling children from 6 months to less than 12 years old into a trial of its COVID-19 vaccine.

State Still Working on Uniform Outbreak Protocol for Veterans Homes

Mar 16, 2021
Blueroomstream.com

At a committee hearing Tuesday, Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs officials reported that all four state-run veterans homes have no staff or residents currently positive for COVID-19, but the agency is still working to produce uniform infection control procedures for the facilities.

IDVA Chief of Staff Tony Kolbeck, who testified during the virtual House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, said he expects those protocols will be finalized within two weeks.

Ezike says State ‘Getting Close’ to Next Phase of Reopening

Mar 16, 2021
Blueroomstream.com

Illinois Department of Public health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said on Monday the state is “getting close” to the next phase of reopening amid increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates and decreasing positivity rates.

Speaking in a Senate Health Committee meeting, Ezike said the state has been working on a phased reopening plan that could be announced by Governor JB Pritzker later this week.

Children have now received their first doses of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine, as the company studies the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine for kids ages 6 months to less than 12 years old.

In the study, researchers will give two injections 28 days apart of either the Moderna vaccine or a saline placebo to children. Kids who get the vaccine will receive one of three possible doses, from 25 micrograms up to 100 micrograms — the same dose that received an emergency authorization for use in adults from the Food and Drug Administration.

Updated at 10:50 a.m. ET

Sweden is the latest European country to suspend the administration of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca following reports of abnormal blood clotting in recipients.

Republicans and supporters of Donald Trump are the least likely to say they will seek a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available to them.

That has led to calls for the former president to speak out more forcefully to encourage his supporters to get vaccinated.

"I think it's very important for former President Trump, as well as the [former] vice president [Mike Pence], to actively encourage all of their followers to get the vaccine," Adm. Brett Giroir, who was the coronavirus testing czar in the Trump administration, said Monday afternoon on CNN.

As President Biden pushes to get students back in schools, there's one crucial question: How much social distance is necessary in the classroom?

The answer (to that question) has huge consequences for how many students can safely fit into classrooms. Public schools in particular are finding it difficult to accommodate a full return if 6 feet of social distancing is required — a key factor behind many schools offering hybrid schedules that bring students back to the classroom just a few days a week.

As COVID-19 vaccines roll out across the U.S., more travelers are taking to the skies.

Friday marked the busiest day for the nation's airports since the middle of March 2020, when COVID-19 caused air travel to plummet.

About 1.36 million passengers passed through security checkpoints Friday, according to figures from the Transportation Security Administration. That is the highest volume since March 15, 2020, when checkpoints reported more than 1.5 million passengers.

Updated on March 15 at 12:05 p.m. ET

France, Germany, the Netherlands and Ireland have joined a number of other European nations in temporarily suspending administration of a COVID-19 vaccine made by AstraZeneca after reports of abnormal blood clotting in several people.

Inside the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package President Biden signed on Thursday is a huge, much-needed boost for the child care industry.

Almost $25 billion is going toward child care providers and centers, and an additional $15 billion will go toward helping families get access to child care.

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