Some 84% of Chicagoans are now eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as the city enters Phase 1C, in which all essential workers, those aged 65 and older and people with certain underlying health conditions can get shots, though demand is still outstripping supply.
Speaking at International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, 2260 S. Grove St., where the Chicago Federation of Labor has put up a vaccination site for union members, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said previously eligible Chicagoans can still get the vaccine.
As of Monday, 55% of Chicago seniors have been vaccinated. They can get assistance scheduling an appointment by calling 312-746-4835.
"Contact your healthcare provider, or visit zocdoc.com/vaccine to get signed up," Lightfoot said. "Additionally, if you know somebody who is eligible under these phases, please do whatever you can to encourage them to sign up and get the vaccine and help them by taking them to a vaccine site."
As Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said on March 23, Lightfoot reiterated that the upward swing of positivity and cases — now more than 400 a day on average, which Arwady had said was enough for Chicago to be put on its own travel advisory — is being driven by adults aged 18-39 on the North and Northwest sides, in Lincoln Park, Old Town, Dunning and Portage Park. There have also been outbreaks in sports teams and bar crawls.
"I want to be clear," Lightfoot said. "It's not playing a sport or being in bars that's causing these outbreaks. It's the risky behavior in these settings that's creating the problems: not wearing a mask, not social distancing. Folks, we've got to get back to what saves us, saves our family, saves people in our network and our community."
Lightfoot said she did not want to take steps back or close things down, but she said later that restrictions could be done in a more targeted way.
"The last thing I want to do is have to close back down," she said. "We've seen that happen across the country. It is disastrous for business, for employers, for employees. That's the last thing we want to do, so we'll try to be a little bit more targeted and strategic."
On March 23, Arwady said that she "certainly" hoped that Chicago was not seeing a third wave of COVID-19 infections. Asked six days later if that had come to pass, the department's chief medical officer, Dr. Jennifer Seo, said the department is very concerned about what the outbreak may be like over the next four to eight weeks.
"We still remain optimistic that, if folks continue to do what they need to be doing — wearing masks, social distancing, not gathering, getting the vaccine when it's their turn — then we'll be in a better place in the summer," she said.
Arnetta Williams from Kenwood, who works security at Merchandise Mart, said that she has not been afraid to go to work over the past year ("I've been suited and booted," she joked). She was very pleased, however, that her union had worked to get her the vaccine. The site can vaccinate 1,200 members a day; more information is available at www.chicagolabor.org/vaccine.
"I'm grateful that the union stepped in and said, 'Come on, y'all. We've got a place for y'all,’ " Williams said. "The line is going good. They did a good job."
She looks forward to the vaccine's protection, but also lamented the need for a mass vaccination operation in a union hall "to keep you off them ventilators.”
"You can't do anything you used to. You can't go nowhere," she said. "Ain't none of that no more. We can't just kick it no more. This is our life."
She encouraged people to get the vaccine, observing that many of her coworkers are calling her a guinea pig.
"Each day is getting worser, because the people ain't following the instructions," she said. "That's why I'm sitting in this chair right now, so I can be safe from the destruction of other people that ain't doing right."
"If my eyes turn purple," she said, "I'll be alright. I got it."
Local COVID-19 figures
A citywide positivity of less than 2% is one of the metrics — alongside fewer than 20 diagnosed COVID-19 cases in Chicago per day, fewer than 20 emergency room visits for COVID-like illnesses and fewer than 20 intensive care unit beds occupied by COVID-19 patients — that the city would need to reach with week-to-week stability to show controlled transmission of the coronavirus.
As of March 29, the city's seven-day rolling average of daily cases was 438, indicating high risk (400-799 cases) according to the Chicago Department of Public Health and up 28% from the week before.
As of March 14-20, COVID-19 percent-positivities remain below 5% in all four mid-South Side lakefront ZIP codes.
In 60653, covering North Kenwood and Bronzeville, there were 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19,up from 14 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 3.1% positivity rate out of 926 tests performed, up from 1.7% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 12%.
In 60615, covering northern Hyde Park, southern Kenwood and northern Washington Park, there were 21 confirmed cases, up from 17 the week before, and no deaths, the same as the week before. There was a 1% positivity rate out of 2,070 tests, up from 0.8% the week before. The number of tests performed dropped 7%.
In 60637, covering southern Hyde Park, southern Washington Park and Woodlawn, there were 26 confirmed cases, up from 23 the week before, and one death, the same as the week before. There was a 0.7% positivity rate out of 3,829 tests, up from 0.6% the week before. The number of tests performed dropped 6%.
In 60649, South Shore, there were 36 confirmed cases, up from 18 the week before, and no deaths, down from one the week before. There was a 2.6% positivity rate out of 1,323 tests, up from 1.5% the week before. The number of tests performed rose 16%.
The city’s figures are accurate as of March 29, recorded at chi.gov/coviddash, and change as additional past data comes in.
From March 19-25, the University of Chicago reported two positive cases out of 3,235 tests among students and faculty; the week before, the school identified two positive cases. All test results are reported to the city.
Since Sept. 18, there have been 866 total coronavirus cases at the U. of C.
The city's website for vaccine information is www.chicago.gov/covidvax. The city's online platform for vaccine scheduling is zocdoc.com/vaccine, where bookings for seniors to get vaccines at the United Center are available. Seniors can also register over the phone at 312-746-4835.
Patient registration for the COVID-19 vaccine at the UCMC is not available at this time; vaccines are being offered to eligible patients through a lottery, with patients being notified when it is their turn to schedule an appointment.
Howard Brown Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to essential frontline workers and those aged 65 and older, with sign-up at 872-269-3600.
The Cook County government is offering sign-up for vaccines at vaccine.cookcountyil.gov.