Coronavirus

COVID-19 in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Wednesday

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday called the latest proposal from the city on high school reopening “quite responsive” — but said staff members are staying home in protest, anyway, because the sides still lack enough common ground.

Chicago Public Schools had set April 19 as the target date to start reopening high schools and required high school employees to start reporting to work in-person on Monday. CPS parents who support a broader return to in-person learning are speaking out against CTU’s actions, saying the union is “moving the goalposts once again.”

Meanwhile, health departments across Illinois on Tuesday paused in administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following recommendations from federal officials to do so after reports of six women who experienced blood clots about two weeks after vaccination.

Pharmacies and other providers, including Walgreens, which runs the state’s largest pharmacy vaccination program, also said they were temporarily halting the one-shot vaccine and are working with people to reschedule appointments.

Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:

1:57 p.m.: An additional 138,538 COVID-19 vaccinations administered in Illinois and more than 3 million residents have been fully vaccinated

An additional 138,538 coronavirus vaccine doses were administered in Illinois on Tuesday, as the number of residents who have been fully vaccinated surpassed 3 million, public health officials reported.

Following the statewide pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday he shares “the desire to act with an abundance of caution.”

“I’m 20 days from having the Johnson & Johnson vaccine injected into me, and I feel great,” he said at an unrelated event. “I think this goes to show you that the current CDC and FDA are really doing a very good job of surveilling the country to see if there are any challenges that have come from these vaccines.”

1:39 p.m. (updated): Parents group accuses Chicago Teachers Union of ‘moving the goalposts’ as it stages walkout over plan to reopen high schools Monday

The president of the Chicago Teachers Union on Wednesday called the latest proposal from the city on high school reopening “quite responsive” — but said staff members are staying home in protest anyway, because the sides still lack enough common ground.

“CTU is making very reasonable demands. … There has been progress but not adequate progress,” President Jesse Sharkey said at an early-morning news conference.

The sides are stuck on what he called “a fairly limited set of issues,” including vaccine access for students and their families and accommodations for teachers who want to continue to work remotely because of medical conditions.

CPS parents who support a broader return to in-person learning are speaking out against CTU’s actions, saying the union is “moving the goalposts once again.” A group calling itself coalition of parents from around the city held a protest outside of CTU headquarters Tuesday evening.

12:54 p.m.: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot looks to earmark nearly $1 billion in federal stimulus to pay off city’s COVID-19 borrowing

Mayor Lori Lightfoot hopes to spend nearly $1 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money to pay off the short-term borrowing her administration has used to get through the pandemic so far, the mayor’s finance team told aldermen Wednesday.

And much of the rest of Chicago’s expected $2 billion cut of the relief package also could go to covering a yawning hole in next year’s budget.

12:13 p.m.: 3,536 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 31 additional deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Wednesday announced 3,536 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 31 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,288,934 and the statewide death toll to 21,570 since the start of the pandemic.

Officials also reported 88,390 new tests in the last 24 hours. The statewide positivity rate for cases is 4.2%.

The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 132,810, with 138,538 doses given on Tuesday. Officials also say a total of 7,482,650 vaccines have now been administered.

10:39 a.m.: Mass vaccination site in Gary draws Chicago-area residents — including high school students about to return to in-person classes

f you got to know your neighbors better during the pandemic, you might appreciate the neighborliness of the mass COVID-19 vaccination site in Gary, which is welcoming residents of the Chicago area to drive over for shots.

Since state residency hasn’t been a requirement to get a vaccination in Indiana since April 7, many Illinoisans 16 and older have been crossing the border to get a dose. On Monday, the restrictions for Illinois vaccine eligibility loosened to include all residents 16 and older, but Chicago won’t follow suit until next Monday.

6:35 a.m. Chicago Teachers Union members won’t report to high schools Wednesday as negotiations on reopening continue, union says in release

The Chicago Teachers Union said Wednesday that members would refuse to report to high schools starting Wednesday because they still don’t have a deal with the Chicago Board of Education for reopening high schools.

The Chicago Public Schools had set April 19 as the target date to start reopening high schools and required high school employees to start reporting to work in-person on Monday.

The teachers union was scheduled to hold a 7 a.m. online news conference to make clear what its members planned to do.

6 a.m.: Column: Downers Grove baker who ‘always looks out for people’ battles COVID-19, and community rushes in to help

For decades, Chuck Kalousek has led the inverted life of a baker, manning the ovens and mixing bowls at Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery from midnight to morning so his Downers Grove customers could start their days with fresh — truly fresh — breads and pastries.

When you carve a place out in a community, when you become a strand in the fabric of family traditions, you become something bigger, regardless of your own humility. People take notice. And when something goes wrong, they respond.

When friends and customers learned Chuck was hospitalized with COVID-19 last month, they sent positive thoughts and prayers to him and his family. And when they learned more recently that the baker’s condition had worsened, that he had been place on a machine to help him breathe, with a double-lung replacement on the horizon, they joined together to support the Kalousek family.

A GoFundMe page set up by a family friend had, as of late Tuesday, raised more than $80,000 to help cover medical costs and support the family. Chuck was the only baker, so Busy Bee has been closed since he got sick.

On the bakery’s website, the family wrote: “Thank you for any prayer that you may be able to provide to us during our time of need. We are both looking forward to the day that we may be able to flip our OPEN sign back on and get back to serving our community.”

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