Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened April 12 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

The third wave of COVID-19 in Illinois is putting pressure on the health care system in some parts of Illinois, while the statewide positivity rate continues to trend upward.

The seven-day positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 4.4% as of Sunday, the highest level since a rate of 4.5% was reported Jan. 27, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

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

7:25 p.m. (update): CTU prepares for possible walkout Wednesday over reopening plans; high school staffs would refuse to work in person

Chicago Teachers Union members could refuse to report to high schools starting Wednesday if they still don’t have a deal with the school district for reopening high schools.

Chicago Public Schools has identified April 19 as the target date to reopen high schools and required high school employees to begin working in person Monday. High school students in general education programs are the last group left to resume in-person learning but, once again, conflict between CPS and CTU is causing uncertainty about when that will happen.

After the union last week called for a one-week delay of the high school reopening, district and city officials indicated they had no intention of pushing the date.

In an emergency meeting Sunday, the CTU’s 700-member elected House of Delegates voted that all members assigned to high schools would work remotely starting Wednesday unless there is “adequate movement” at the bargaining table.

A day later, progress appeared insufficient.

“It’s classic CTU-CPS bargaining,” union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates told members in a video update after negotiations Monday afternoon. “They told us what they can’t do.”

But she said the union is continuing to advocate for an agreement. “We are pushing for our demands to be met. We are going to remain hopeful the table will loosen up and they will meet us halfway,” Davis Gates said.

CTU chief of staff Jennifer Johnson asked members to review bargaining charts and talk among one another about what Wednesday will look like in high schools.

“If we still need to walk out, we have to be prepared to refuse,” Johnson said.

6:50 p.m.: Cubs bullpen coach tests positive for COVID-19, and 3 relievers are put on injured list

Bullpen coach Chris Young is the second member of the Chicago Cubs coaching staff to test positive for COVID-19.

The team announced Young’s positive test before Monday’s series opener in Milwaukee. Relievers Brandon Workman, Jason Adam and Dan Winkler were placed on the COVID-19-related injured list. Players can be put on the COVID-19 IL if they have been exposed or tested positive; there is no limit to their length of stay.

Left-handers Justin Steele and Brad Wieck were recalled from the alternate site in South Bend, Ind. Right-hander Pedro Strop, who is not on the 40-man roster, was selected as a replacement player from South Bend.

Young was on the team flight from Pittsburgh to Chicago on Sunday night. Cubs manager David Ross said they received two negative test results before leaving Pittsburgh. The Cubs have been tested every day since Wednesday, and the traveling party received negative results from Monday’s tests.

Ross said Monday’s game against the Brewers was not in jeopardy of being postponed.

3:26 p.m.: Downtown Chicago hotels are starting to reopen. Laid-off workers worry they might not get their jobs back.

Downtown hotels like the Chicago Athletic Association, Park Hyatt and Ambassador Chicago are starting to reopen after closing last year because of the pandemic, but the pace of recalling employees has been slow. The Palmer House Hilton remains closed through May 20. Many hotels still operate with skeleton crews and have brought back only a few workers.

Experts say resuming large gatherings, including weddings, business meetings and group events, could lead to more hiring. But a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases has put the state’s reopening plans on ice, further clouding the outlook for hospitality workers and increasing the likelihood that large events will instead move to neighboring states with fewer restrictions.

Some who’ve lost their jobs worry that as business picks up, managers won’t hold their positions and will hire new employees instead.

2:56 p.m.: 28 closed or temporarily closed businesses on the Magnificent Mile: Block-by-block analysis of where North Michigan Avenue stands after impact of pandemic, unrest

After decades at the center of Chicago’s retail, hospitality and real estate worlds, North Michigan Avenue faces one of its greatest challenges.

More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the Magnificent Mile has a large number of vacant and boarded-up storefronts, at a time when the economy is struggling to rebound.

Read more here. —Brian Cassella, Ryan Ori, Kori Rumore and Chad Yoder

2:18 p.m.: Searching for a COVID vaccination? These tips from the vaccine hunters can help.

After months of waiting, all Illinois residents ages 16 and older became eligible Monday for COVID-19 vaccines, outside of Chicago.

Now that the flood gates have opened, many people are scouring websites and calling hotlines, wondering how to score an appointment when millions of people are vying for spots. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said the city will meet President Joe Biden’s call to expand eligibility to all adults by April 19.

The Tribune reached out to several Illinois vaccine hunters for their best tips on getting appointments.

1:21 p.m.: Coronavirus metrics in Illinois continue to move in wrong direction, stressing hospital ICU capacity in some regions

The third wave of COVID-19 in Illinois is putting pressure on the health care system in some parts of the state, while the statewide positivity rate continues to trend upward.

The seven-day positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 4.4% as of Sunday, the highest level since a rate of 4.5% was reported Jan. 27, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In the 20-county region that stretches from Kendall and Grundy counties to the Quad Cities, the seven-day average of available intensive care beds has dipped below 20% for four straight days beginning Thursday.

The percentage of available staffed ICU beds was one of the bench marks used to trigger tighter restrictions under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan. Health officials recently have said they’re reevaluating those criteria, which were developed before vaccines were available.

12:15 p.m.: 2,433 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 18 additional deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Monday announced 2,433 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,282,205 and the statewide death toll to 21,523 since the start of the pandemic.

Officials also reported 53,115 new tests in the last 24 hours. The statewide positivity rate for cases is 4.4%.

The 7-day daily average of administered vaccine doses is 132,188, with 64,772 doses given on Sunday. Officials also say a total of 7,243,383 vaccines have now been administered.

8:15 a.m.: CPS high school staff will refuse in-person work starting Wednesday without movement toward a reopening agreement, teachers union announces

The Chicago Teachers Union says high school staff members in Chicago Public Schools will refuse in-person work starting Wednesday without “adequate movement” toward a satisfactory reopening plan for high schools.

CPS has identified April 19 as the “target” to reopen high schools — the last group that has yet to have the option of in-person classes since the pandemic shut schools in March 2020. But a week ahead of that, the union cited what it called the district’s “chronic failure to provide reasonable accommodations to educators” in explaining its latest work action.

“Critical sticking points include accommodations, high school schedules that minimize virus transmission, remote work — particularly since the majority of students will remain remote — and vaccines for high school students and their family members,” the union said.

7:33 a.m.: Suburban Chicago parents visit daughter at Valparaiso University, leave with COVID-19 vaccination at Porter Expo Center

For the Weiland family of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, coming to the mass vaccination clinic for COVID-19 at the Porter County Expo Center was a matter of convenience in more ways than one.

Daughter Kira, 18, a freshman at Valparaiso University, left a few items at home over Easter weekend that they had to bring to her. They were able to get the first dose of the Moderna vaccine on Sunday, a day ahead of when vaccine eligibility in Illinois, except in Chicago, opens to everyone age 16 and older. They can get their second dose when they come back to Valparaiso in four weeks to pick Kira up at the end of the school year, too.”

We had to come here for her anyway,” dad Kurt Weiland said Sunday.

6:35 a.m.: Preckwinkle, Martinez, other officials to attend remembrance of COVID-19 dead hosted by Latino group

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle was scheduled to join county Court Clerk Iris Martinez and others for a ceremony Monday memorializing those who have died from COVID-19.

The midday ceremony in Daley Plaza is being hosted by Illinois Unidos, a group organized by Latino elected officials to fight the spread of coronavirus in Latino communities in the state.

The event was scheduled to include a wreath-laying ceremony and a moment of silence, according to social media from Illinois Unidos. It marks the one-year anniversary of the organization of the group.

6 a.m.: After traveling hundreds of miles for the first COVID-19 shot, can you get the second dose closer to home? Vaccine providers are divided.

To get her first COVID-19 shot, Chris Galvin left her west suburban Elgin home before dawn in mid-March and drove roughly 600 miles round-trip to a Walgreens in downstate Quincy, the closest spot she could find open appointments.

But for the second dose, Galvin was able to schedule another appointment on Thursday at a pharmacy about 20 minutes from her house, saving her another full day of driving.

With vaccine supply still limited in the Chicago area, many city residents and suburbanites are traveling hundreds of miles across the state to get inoculated, often finding appointments in Quincy, Danville, Springfield and other downstate cities.

If the provider uses Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the traveler only needs to make one trip be fully vaccinated. But two-dose regimens of Pfizer or Moderna require a second journey across the state a few weeks later.

Now some Chicago-area residents are trying to reschedule that second dose closer to home, with mixed results.

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