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

State Announces Phase 1B Expansion, But Appointments Still Limited

Feb 25, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Illinois residents 16 years of age and older with underlying conditions are now able to be vaccinated for COVID-19 in the state’s latest expansion of vaccination Phase 1B.

The expansion includes people aged 16-64 with conditions such as obesity, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, smoking, heart conditions, chronic kidney disease, cancer, solid organ transplant, sickle cell disease, pregnancy and persons with a disability, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The traditional prelude to the Olympics, the torch relay, will look – and sound – a bit different this year, as spectators are asked to avoid crowds and dampen their cheers when the torch passes by them.

Members of the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced a series of pandemic measures on Thursday, including leaving the option open for suspending portions of the relay should health officials deem it necessary.

As healthcare workers in the U.S. received COVID-19 vaccines, many were relieved and hopeful. But doctors who are foreign-born also describe a bittersweet feeling.

Pritzker expecting to hit 100,000 daily vaccines in mid-March

Feb 24, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker said Wednesday the state expects to be receiving up to 100,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine daily by mid-March, up from the approximately 60,000 it is currently receiving on average.

That’s counting only the already-approved Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, and is not including a potential dosage spike that is expected occur if the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves a Johnson & Johnson vaccine this week.

The Biden administration will distribute millions of face coverings to thousands of community health centers and food banks in an effort to help vulnerable Americans more easily mask up, officials said on Wednesday.

Chinese pharmaceutical makers are seeking market approval from Beijing for two new coronavirus vaccines – one that has shown 72% efficacy and another 69% efficacy in human Phase III trials.

The separate announcements on Wednesday come from Sinopharm for its second vaccine after the state-run company's first was approved for distribution in December, and from CanSino Biologics, Inc. (CanSinoBIO), for its first vaccine.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

The first wave of coronavirus vaccines from the COVAX initiative are now reaching their destinations. Ghana became the first country to receive the vaccine on Wednesday, marking an important step for the international effort to help low- and middle-income countries cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Food and Drug Administration released an analysis of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday morning that supports its authorization for emergency use.

On Friday, a panel of advisers to the agency will meet to evaluate the vaccine and make a recommendation about whether it should be given the OK. If the agency goes on to authorize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it would be the third, after those made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, to become available in the U.S.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 Continue on a Steady Decline

Feb 23, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Hospitalizations and positivity rates for COVID-19 in Illinois continued on a steady decline Tuesday, decreasing for the 13th straight week.

As of Monday night, the state reported 1,488 individuals were in the hospital with COVID-19, including 361 in intensive care unit beds and 172 on ventilators.

SOFIA, Bulgaria - In an effort to boost vaccination rates among a skeptical public, Bulgaria has opened up COVID-19 inoculations to all who want them.

On Friday, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told the nation he was creating "green corridors" where any Bulgarian resident could line up for the vaccine.

The U.S. Education Department says states must resume the annual testing of students that was suspended a year ago amid the pandemic.

For the past two decades, federal law has required schools to test students once each year in math and reading, in grades three through eight and once in high school. And they are required to publicly report these standardized test results, broken out by racial and ethnic group and disability status, and in some cases, hold schools accountable with various sanctions if their students score too low.

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley is apologizing for turning away two people eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on Saturday because they could not prove they live in the United States.

On Feb. 21, it posted a statement on Twitter. UT Health Rio Valley, the clinical practice of the university, stated it "apologizes to those patients who were affected" and "did not follow the most current State of Texas guidelines."

State Prepares to Expand Phase 1B Eligibility Beginning Thursday

Feb 22, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

Gov. JB Pritzker said Monday that the state will move ahead with plans to expand vaccine eligibility under Phase 1B of its vaccination plan later this week.

A total of 73,181 COVID-19 vaccinations were administered statewide combined Saturday and Sunday. The state has administered over 2.2 million doses to date, with 4.4 percent of the state’s population being fully vaccinated.

Two COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed in the U.S. right now, and this week an FDA advisory committee will vote on whether a third should join them.

If granted emergency use authorization, Johnson & Johnson's one-dose vaccine would become available in the U.S., along with those from Pfizer and Moderna.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

As the U.S. passes the grievous marker of 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19, President Joe Biden will order flags on federal property to be lowered at half staff for five days to mark the solemn milestone, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Monday briefing.

Biden will commemorate the people who died at a Monday evening ceremony, joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff. The event will include remarks, a candle lighting ceremony and a moment of silence, according to Psaki.

2/22/20: Watch Live: Biden Remarks On COVID-19 Deaths

Feb 22, 2021
The White House
Annette Elizabeth / NPR

President Biden is giving an address honoring the victims of the coronavirus pandemic as the country nears 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. Watch his remarks live at 5pm CST.

West Virginia isn't known for its good health outcomes. It leads the nation in deaths from diabetes, accidents and drug overdoses. But when it comes to distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, the state has been a shining star.

President Biden's national security adviser said Sunday that the administration has concerns over the data China has provided to the World Health Organization regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We need a credible, open, transparent international investigation led by the World Health Organization," Jake Sullivan said in an interview with CBS' Face the Nation.

The British government has announced that every adult in the U.K. will be offered a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of July, one month earlier than initially planned. Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the accelerated target will allow vulnerable people to be protected "sooner," which should help relax the lifting of lockdown restrictions across the country.

Senior ministers met to discuss the plan Sunday. Johnson will unveil the plan to ease restrictions to the House of Commons on Monday.

The incoming head of the World Trade Organization says getting countries to drop export restrictions on vaccines and medical supplies needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be one of her top priorities.

Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to become the WTO's director-general on March 1. She's the first woman and first African to lead the group that governs trade rules between countries.

California is planning to start setting aside 10% of the COVID-19 vaccine the state receives each week to vaccinate teachers, day care workers and other school employees in the hopes of getting more students back in the classroom.

"It must be done, and it must be done much sooner than the current path we are on. And we believe this will advance that cause," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday as he announced the plan at an Oakland vaccination site.

The plan will begin March 1 by setting aside about 75,000 vaccine doses from the state's current weekly allotment, Newsom said.

When Chase Hensel in Alaska daydreams about life returning to some type of normal, he thinks of his two granddaughters living in London.

Both are learning to ride bikes, and he envisions himself flying there to pedal with them along a local park.

So Hensel bought himself a foldable bike, one that would be easy to travel with once it feels safe again.

Vaccine Doses Administered Top 2 Million Amid Pandemic Progress

Feb 19, 2021
Jerry Nowicki of Capitol News Illinois

The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered in Illinois topped 2 million Friday as the state’s case positivity rate continues to hover near pandemic lows and hospitalizations decline.

The rolling seven-day average case positivity rate was 2.8 percent Friday as the state reported 2,219 new confirmed or probable cases of the disease among 85,963 test results reported over the previous 24 hours.

White House officials on Friday confirmed the extent of the weather's chilling effect on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, saying this week's storms created a backlog of some 6 million doses affecting all 50 states.

That number represents three days' worth of delayed shipments, said Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House COVID-19 Response Team. He added that many states have been able to cover some of the delay with their existing inventory, and that the Biden administration expects to make up the backlog shortly.

Two Florida women disguised themselves as elderly grandmothers in an unsuccessful attempt to get their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, officials said Thursday.

Restaurants, Hotels Call for Reopening Plan

Feb 19, 2021
People
Blueroomstream.com

Officials from the hotel, restaurant and convention industries told a state Senate panel Thursday that they need a clear plan for how they will be allowed to reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes, warning that without such a plan, many will go out of business permanently.

“We need to know … a strategy, we need to know the metrics as we move forward because we cannot, we cannot lose another summer here in the state of Illinois,” Sam Toia, president and CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association, told the state Senate’s newly-formed Tourism and Hospitality Committee during its first virtual hearing.

Carbondale Adds Second Vaccination Clinic On Friday

Feb 18, 2021
City Hall Vaccine Site
Roni LeForge / City of Carbondale

Carbondale will add two mass COVID vaccination sites on Friday.

The state of Illinois is opening mass vaccination sites at the Banterra Center and the Carbondale Civic Center to help boost the number of shots available in southern Illinois.

In his State of the State address, Governor JB Pritzker recognized the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and his hope for the future.

Pritzker gave the address at the Illinois State Fairground, recalling the venue’s history during the 1918 influenza pandemic and the role it’s playing as a vaccination site during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Florida, Democrats are criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who they claim is allowing politics to play a role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. DeSantis became testy when questioned by reporters at a vaccination event near Lakewood Ranch, an upscale community on Florida's Gulf Coast.

The vaccination event was the latest in a series of state-sponsored clinics at retirement communities. Under DeSantis' "Seniors First" initiative, the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to everyone age 65 and over in Florida — an estimated 4.5 million people.

The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday.

The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies.

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