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COVID-19 roundup

Tuesday, Nov 16, 2021


It was supposed to be the happiest of occasions. Now, family and friends of a Chicago couple are mourning their passing.

Luis Suarez and Norma Franco had been together for years and were finally going to make it official just after Thanksgiving by getting married.

But instead of a wedding, family members are now planning a memorial service after both died in October. […]

Santos says Suarez and Franco were not vaccinated, but we’re planning to get the shot soon so they could have family at their wedding.

Just before they could get it, however, both came down with the virus and both were hospitalized.

Get your shots, people.

* Daily Journal

Riverside Healthcare has terminated 40 employees for noncompliance with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

On Nov. 1, the hospital placed 62 employees on a two-week unpaid suspension for failing to become vaccinated by a Oct. 31 deadline. Kyle Benoît, Riverside’s chief operating officer, said of those, 35 percent (or 22 employees) became vaccinated and will remain in their positions. When the suspension period concluded on Monday, the 40 employees who still had not complied with the requirement were informed they were no longer employed.

“We were happy to see more employees become vaccinated,” Benoit said. “We wish it would have been 100 percent of them.”

Not included in Monday’s terminations are the 57 employees who gained a court-issued restraining order from a Kankakee County judge that protects them from being either fired or suspended until a Jan. 11 hearing on an injunction seeking to bar the hospital from firing unvaccinated employees.

The hospital employs 2,900 people.


Springfield District 186’s board of education voted Monday to fire a teacher for opting not to follow the state and district mandates about testing and vaccinations.

Franklin Middle School band teacher, Kingsley Keys, is now a former teacher after the board unanimously voted to dismiss him Monday.

The rules are that teachers and faculty must prove they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or get weekly testing. Keys decided to not do this so the board dismissed him.

* Meanwhile, here’s Jim Dey

[Springfield school teacher Kadence Koen] recently caved to the pressure of being on unpaid leave and provided a photo of her vaccination card to district officials. News reports state the dates on her card showed she got two shots on June 29 and July 19, well before the mandate she protested so publicly was put in place.

So what was all the fuss about?

Koen contends that being “anti-mandate does not mean anti-vaccination” and that what she was really protesting was the district’s requirement that she show a vaccination card or submit to regular testing.

Few, however, will take that explanation credible because Koen could have been more forthcoming about her motivation. After all, Koen could have revealed that she was vaccinated, but did not.

Why? Who knows? Call it the coronavirus effect.

Call it a lot of things, I suppose. I cannot understand these odd ducks and I’ve mostly given up trying.

* Ms. Koen appeared on Jim Leach’s radio show a few days ago and showed a remarkable lack of understanding about vaccines and COVID-19 and masking and numerous other things. For instance, here’s a direct quote

I am no less likely to contract COVID because I’m vaccinated.

Whew. I just. Wow.

And yet, she’s a teacher.

Koen also said she was still planning to pursue legal action against the district, but the suit wasn’t yet filed and she wouldn’t name her attorney.

* But while the weird people get a lot of headlines, there is still hope. From The Atlantic

It’s possible COVID could become endemic in some countries in the coming months. That is, a disease that’s present and unshakable, but totally manageable without massive disruptions to work, education and travel. […]

There’s a cumulative effect from the mandates, a drop in hesitancy and the recent decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to authorize boosters for many Americans, as well as first doses for children over five years old. From a recent low of just half a million doses a day back in July, the vaccination rate has climbed to a healthy 1.2 million doses a day.

“The combination of vaccinating children, continuing to get vaccination rates up in older individuals and natural immunity from the substantial numbers of people who have already been infected now puts the long elusive herd immunity within reach,” Alberg said.

Today, 59 percent of Americans are fully vaccinated. And that percentage has been increasing by a point roughly every two weeks.

A vocal and sometimes violent minority might make it seem like the United States has an insurmountable anti-vax problem. It doesn’t. And as COVID surges in its third winter, vaccines are likely to keep a lot of people out of hospitals and morgues in the U.S. and other countries with high case counts. The SARS-CoV-2 virus isn’t endemic yet, but it’s getting closer, Alberg said. “We can confidently say that endemicity is now within reach.”

Maybe. I’d sure like to see Illinois boost its 65+ rate, however

The CDC reports 98.5% of adults 65 and older [nationwide] have received at least a first vaccine dose as of Wednesday, while 85.8% are fully vaccinated.

Illinois’ rates are 89 percent and 84 percent, respectively. Those folks are the most vulnerable by far.

* And this announcement will also help those folks, since they are also the most vulnerable to harmful breakthrough infections

The Biden administration is expected to announce this week that it is purchasing 10 million courses of Pfizer’s covid pill, a multibillion-dollar investment in a medication that officials hope will help change the trajectory of the pandemic by staving off many hospitalizations and deaths, according to two people with knowledge of the transaction.

U.S. officials see this antiviral pill, and another by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, as potential game-changers to help restore a broader sense of normalcy and are eager to add them to a small arsenal of treatments for Americans who contract the coronavirus. With breakthrough cases rising and 30 percent of American adults not fully vaccinated, health officials believe the pills will help tame the pandemic because of their ability to thwart the virus’s most pernicious effects.

* More…

* COVID-19 update: 1,627 hospitalized, 20 more deaths, 3,005 new cases: Hospitalizations have increased by 16.8% from a week ago, IDPH figures show. … The state’s seven-day case positivity rate is at 2.8%. … A week ago, the state’s seven-day case positivity rate was at 2.2%.

* Why Health-Care Workers Are Quitting in Droves: About one in five health-care workers has left medicine since the pandemic started. This is their story—and the story of those left behind.

* Pfizer agrees to let other companies make its COVID-19 pill

* Illini football coach Bret Bielema tests positive for COVID-19 and will miss Saturday’s game against Iowa

* Minnesota COVID-19 deaths top 9,000 as new cases soar

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    First, thanks for keeping these posts as ongoing, Rich.


    ===Riverside Healthcare has terminated 40 employees for noncompliance with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.===

    This is a choice, these former employees made their choice, it’s not the employer’s fault. Freedom doesn’t mean being non-compliant at your job won’t have a consequence.

  2. - The Swede - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    Prayers to the Suarez-Franco family. Heartbreaking and preventable.

  3. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    “Get your shots, people.”


    “I am no less likely to contract COVID because I’m vaccinated.”

    Not catching COVID is only part of what the vaccine does. It protects the vast majority who contract COVID from hospitalization and death. That’s reason enough to get vaccinated.

  4. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:48 pm:

    Sat through a monthly county board committee meeting last night where they were discussing the vax/test OSHA requirements. Most were indignant and some outright encouraging the county to defy the OSHA requirements and “see what happens”. This quote from today’s Atlantic article sums up what is happening not just in the medical community, but in communities all across our State and Nation- “The United States uses the rod of Asclepius—a snake entwined around a staff—as a symbol of medicine. But the pandemic suggests that the more fitting symbol might be the Ouroboros, a snake devouring its own tail.”

  5. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:57 pm:

    Catching COVID vaxxed or not is not a certainty. Most of us will not die if we get COVID. Most of us might not even get sick if we get COVID.

    But why on earth take the chance if you don’t have to?n Or, make someone else sick. And then there are the long term issues..

  6. - The Doc - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 2:58 pm:

    Also a fair bit of news from the Israel and the UK strongly suggesting that a booster fully restores or may even exceed protection from the efficacy rates observed 2 weeks after the 2nd shot.

    Get your shots*

    *and then get your booster 6 months later!

  7. - Amalia - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 3:25 pm:

    thanks for the update. it is not going well. I have read that we will not get out of this just by vaccination. which means we really need to keep up the masking and distancing. stay safe out there people. vax, and again, and again and mask.

  8. - Vincent Vega - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 3:35 pm:

    Lots of very symptomatic folks in my neck of the woods (w. ‘burbs) popping up with breakthrough infections. Do not hesitate to get a booster even if you do not technically qualify.

  9. - H-W - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 3:56 pm:

    @ OW =Freedom doesn’t mean being non-compliant at your job won’t have a consequence.=

    What? you mean, freedom isn’t free? I seem to have heard this line of argument before (:

  10. - DQCardsFan - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 4:29 pm:

    The situation with Ms. Koen reminds me of my hometown. A group of moms are fussing about Du Quoin District 300 requiring masking and are going to the school board with their demands. They’ve even had an offer of legal representation - some guy from upstate named DeVore. I’m guessing he has a great track record of overturning mandates.

  11. - Rudy’s teeth - Tuesday, Nov 16, 21 @ 6:00 pm:

    Has Ms. Koen acquired a knowledge base in her years in college. Certainly hope she’s not teaching a science curriculum. Regarding showing a vaccine card to the district—- proof of a college degree and certification is required for employment in a school system. They’re called credentials.

    If ‘ya can’t follow the guidelines regarding vaccines or testing, just resign.

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