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COVID-19 roundup

Wednesday, Dec 15, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Hospitalizations dropped a tiny bit yesterday compared to the day before, but one day does not a trend make. Lots of things could explain that. Still, it’s something.

* It’s been a year

More than 18 million doses later, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is recognizing the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 vaccines administered in Illinois. On December 15, 2020, roughly 450 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine were administered to health care workers after being delivered to the state the day before.

IDPH and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency have partnered with communities to host more than 5,600 vaccination clinics around the state, including 1,400 youth-school clinics and approximately 1,900 equity-based clinics. Another 870 events have already been scheduled.

“One year and 18 million doses later, the COVID-19 vaccine has saved countless lives across Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I am incredibly grateful for the scientists, researchers and public health professionals who made this historic effort possible, allowing us to reunite with loved ones, return to small businesses, and engage with our communities once again. As we recognize the progress we’ve made, I urge all eligible Illinoisans to receive their vaccine or booster and protect themselves and their families this holiday season.”

* Tribune

A federal appeals court has refused to prohibit United Airlines from putting unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave while a case challenging the airline’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate makes its way through court.

In a divided ruling, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit rejected the bid Monday from employees challenging the Chicago-based airline’s policy on religious grounds. Employees allege the airline’s plans to put those who received religious exemptions on unpaid leave violates federal civil rights law.

* Seems to go against the seasonal argument

Phoenix-based Banner Health is at its most overwhelmed since the pandemic began, leading the company’s officials to issue a warning Tuesday that its hospital system may have to eventually choose who can receive care.

Some of Banner’s hospitals in one of Arizona’s largest health care systems are operating above 100% capacity, said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the company’s chief clinical officer.

COVID-19 hospitalizations make up one-third of Banner’s hospital patients but there there is also an extremely high volume of patients who delayed preventative care or are in the late stages of an illness, she said.

The company has 18 hospitals in Arizona. As of Tuesday, 10 of them were running above 100% of their ICU staffed bed capacity. Five of them were operating 100% above staffed in-patient bed capacity, according to spokesman Corey Schubert.

* Oof

The prevalence of omicron jumped sevenfold in a single week, according to the CDC, and at such a pace, the highly mutated variant of the coronavirus could ratchet up pressure on a health system already strained in many places as the delta variant continues its own surge. […]

Officials stress that early data shows that individuals who are fully vaccinated and received a booster shot remain largely protected against severe illness and death from omicron. But they worry about how few Americans have been boosted to date. Over 55 million people in the United States have gotten the additional shots, out of 200 million who are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

The newest modeling scenarios have been shared among senior administration officials as they discuss politically fraught decisions about how, when and whether to take new steps to suppress the virus and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

The second scenario outlines a smaller omicron surge in the spring. It’s unclear which scenario is more likely. The modeling was done by experts tapped by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky in August to deliver real-time outbreak forecasting and analytics. The experts work with other teams inside and outside the government.

Also, just because they’ve found a suburban omicron case in Illinois doesn’t mean it has just arrived. Our surveillance ain’t great.

* Tribune

Chicago Public Schools says it will distribute about 150,000 take-home COVID-19 test kits this week to 309 schools in communities hit hard by the pandemic.

The news comes after CPS reported its highest weekly COVID-19 case count last week — 768 students and 251 adults. The district also reported its highest daily case count on Monday — 225 students and 59 adults. Last month CPS was recording about 300 to 400 total cases a week.

Schools picked to receive test kits are said to be in neighborhoods designated high risk for COVID-19, or they are elementary schools in neighborhoods deemed medium risk. Families who receive the kits are “strongly encouraged” to test students Dec. 28 and drop the sample at their nearest FedEx Drop Box that day.


  1. - Smalls - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 1:12 pm:

    == Hospitalizations dropped a tiny bit yesterday ==

    I would love it if that was a trend, but new admissions say it likely is not. Unfortunately, probably just due to the highest number of deaths since February.

  2. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 1:45 pm:

    Per studies/reports, the booster shot works well against omicron. Full vaccination is key, following through on all shots.

  3. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 1:47 pm:

    Perhaps an extra week of winter break would help slow the recent surge in school COVID cases.

  4. - skutt - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 2:21 pm:

    I find it odd that is has been over a week since Chicago floated the idea of having more places require proof of vaccination to enter and since then … crickets.

  5. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 2:23 pm:

    ===and since then … crickets. ===

    The mayor talked about it on Monday. You’ve posted that twice now. Are you incapable of using Google?

  6. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:15 pm:

    ==Perhaps an extra week of winter break would help slow the recent surge in school COVID cases.==

    Agreed. Start winter break statewide this Monday, then all-remote statewide for two more weeks Jan. 3, then aim to return back to class after Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday (Monday, Jan. 17).

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:18 pm:

    ===Start winter break statewide this Monday===

    That’s my own plan. lol

  8. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:22 pm:

    ===Start winter break statewide this Monday===

    That’s my own plan. lol==

    And if schools are waiting to do 1st semester final exams early next week (with Christmas not until Saturday the 25th), if I was an administrator I would just say heck with it and forego the finals this semester.

  9. - NonAFSCMEStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 3:48 pm:

    Leaders at the Genesis health group in the Quad Cities have stated that COVID is essential worse than at this time last year. Due to omicron (plus whatever variant is next) and despite vaccines (and especially the recalcitrant anti vaxxers who refuse to get at least one dose).

  10. - BTO2 - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 4:08 pm:

    With so many pro athletes and support staff out with Covid, next couple weeks should be interesting. Amazing how fast it has spread, example the Bulls.

  11. - Pundent - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 4:38 pm:

    =Amazing how fast it has spread, example the Bulls.=

    Regular testing of athletes gives us some sense of what’s happening in society as a whole. The NBA and Bulls have had great success in getting players and personnel vaxxed so I suspect these are all mild and maybe largely asymptomatic cases. It’s only through regular testing that we become aware of them. The same circumstances likely exist in our population as a whole but most of us have no reason to be tested regularly. What it does underscore is that the virus is still being readily transmitted but those that are vaccinated are largely doing ok.

  12. - Wensicia - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 5:29 pm:

    ==And if schools are waiting to do 1st semester final exams early next week==

    The plan is to continue with finals next week, with students absent with COVID or quarantined for exposure to COVID allowed to make up the final after winter break.

  13. - The Doc - Wednesday, Dec 15, 21 @ 6:38 pm:

    ==then aim to return back to class after Martin Luther King’s Birthday holiday (Monday, Jan. 17)==

    I don’t think this is a bad idea, but I’m not sure most readers on this blog realize how disruptive school closures/remote learning is for a large percentage of both parents and kids.

    We’ve also seen that schools have not been associated with large scale community spread, particularly if precautions are in place.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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