As the state’s vaccine supply increases, federal, state and local officials are expected to announce Friday that United Center’s mass vaccination site will open on March 10, multiple sources told ABC 7.
With the Bulls and Blackhawks still playing at the United Center, the arena itself will not be used. Instead, the parking lots will be used for vaccinations in the vehicle and without an appointment.
FEMA and the US Department of Defense will take the lead in managing the site with a particular focus on vaccinating minority populations that have been relatively slow to receive doses.
Between 5,000 and 7,000 injections could be given daily, which is significant considering that the city of Chicago currently receives about 8,300 doses a day.
“What you’re seeing here is essentially increasing the city’s vaccination rate by 50-70%, which is very, very significant.” said Prof. Hani Mahmassani, director of Northwestern Univ. Transportation Center.
However, Mahmassani said that if the goal is to reach more people in more areas of the city, a great central location may not be the best use of resources.
“Instead of having one facility that vaccinates 7,000 people, I think it would be more efficient to have seven facilities that vaccinate 1,000 people per day,” Mahmassani said.
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Crews cleared the parking lot of snow Thursday night in preparation for the arrival of heavy equipment.
“They’re ready, and they’re ready to do whatever it takes to get people in and out and getting vaccinated,” said 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett said. “It has a lot of good transport with the highway, the trains. It has two train systems, the Green Line and the Blue Line, buses. It also has a community that is used to having traffic.”
Governor JB Pritzker’s office said in a statement Thursday: “Governor Pritzker believes that the Biden administration’s efforts to launch high-capacity vaccination sites across the country are essential to equity, and appreciates the strong collaboration with the President and his team. Our partners in Cook County and the City of Chicago are also essential to our collective success, especially as we work together to ensure that we are ready to use the growing supply of vaccines in the most equitable way possible. ” .
More details are expected to be posted on the United Center site on Friday.
The United Center site is one of several planned federally run mass vaccination sites across the country. There are already others in California, New York and Texas.
Earlier this month, Chicago’s public health commissioner said the city had completed planning and conducted tours of the United Center, as well as Wrigley Field and McCormick Place. But until now, it is not known if other great venues in Chicago will be used.
More details about the site, including how people can schedule appointments, are expected when the formal announcement is made on Friday morning.
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Illinois announced Wednesday that more than 130,000 doses of vaccines were administered, the largest increase in a day reported so far and a 36% increase from the previous record of 95,375 reported on February 12.
The state said 109,220 doses were delivered to providers in Illinois on Wednesday. While it is lower than Tuesday’s record of 276,440, it is still higher than what the state has received in recent days.
However, several county health departments say it could be weeks before they can expand vaccine eligibility to people under 65 with underlying conditions, despite assurances from the state that supply will increase substantially soon.
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A long line stretched outside Northlake’s West Leyden High School Thursday, where 2,000 people were receiving their first vaccination. There are 500 more on the waiting list. Jemma Cabral, 41, was one of the lucky ones. She got hers at 9:15 am
“I’m a two-time cancer survivor,” Cabral said. “I had a stem cell transplant, so even though it’s been years, I still get sick easily. That’s why it was important for me to get vaccinated.”
Under Illinois rules, Cabral is part of Phase 1B plus, which now includes anyone over the age of 16 with a pre-existing condition. Thursday was the first day that people like her could be vaccinated. Except vaccinations are still so rare that not a single public health department in the area is expanding eligibility yet.
“It’s not just Chicago, it’s Cook, DuPage, Will and Evanston,” said Dr. Allison Arwady of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We’re not at a point where we can move forward. If we open it up, we’d make people happy for five minutes and then frustrate them because they couldn’t really get dates.”
Cabral got his appointment because the West Leyden clinic is run by Albertson. Participating grocery stores and pharmacies receive their vaccines directly from the federal government and may choose to assign them to everyone who requests them based on state rules.
“I was a little concerned when I went to put my date of birth waiting for it to say, not eligible. But not really, it was pretty straightforward and easy to complete,” Cabral said.
Governor JB Pritzker is encouraging public health departments to expand eligibility as soon as possible, saying that by mid-March, the state will receive 100,000 doses a day. That’s almost double what it is now.
In Chicago, where public health officials say nearly half a million doses are still missing from covering Phases 1A and 1B, such expansion is not expected to occur until at least the end of March.
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The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 1,884 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths Thursday.
The IDPH reported a total of 1,181,226 COVID-19 cases, including 20,406 deaths.
As of Wednesday night, 1,463 patients in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of these, 334 patients were in the ICU and 168 COVID-19 patients were on ventilators.
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In the last 24 hours, labs have reported that they have analyzed 91,292 samples for a total of 17,895,829 since the pandemic began.
The preliminary positivity of the seven-day state test from February 18-24 is 2.7%.
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A total of 2,693,345 doses of vaccine have been delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, with an additional 445,200 doses allocated to federal government partners for long-term care facilities, bringing the total number delivered in Illinois to 3,138,545.
The IDPH said that vaccine distribution numbers are reported in real time and vaccine administration numbers are delayed by up to 72 hours.
IDPH reports that a total of 2,440,950 doses of vaccines have been administered, including 295,909 in long-term facilities. The seven-day moving average of vaccinations administered is 66,274.
The deaths reported Wednesday include:
-Adams County: 1 woman, 80 years old
-Christian County: 1 80-year-old woman
-Cook County: 1 20-year-old man, 1 50-year-old man, 2 60-year-old men, 4 70-year-old men, 2 80-year-old women
-DeKalb County: 1 male, 60 years old
-DuPage County: 1 male 80 years old
-Jersey County: 1 male 70 years old
-Kane County: 1 60-year-old man, 1 80-year-old man
-Kankakee County: 1 male 80 years old
Lake County: 1 90’s man
-Logan County: 1 80-year-old woman
-Madison County: 1 female 30, 1 male 80
-Monroe County: 2 80’s women
-Pike County: 1 male 80 years old
-Randolph County: 1 50-year-old female
Rock Island County: 1 90’s woman
-White County: 1 man 80 years old
-Will County: 1 60-year-old male, 1 90-year-old male
-Winnebago County: 1 male 70, 1 male 80
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