Vaccines and Omicron, School Agreement, KN-95 Masks – NBC Chicago | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #schools


Chicago school leaders and the teachers union have finally reached an agreement that will see students returning to classrooms this week.

At the same time, Chicago is preparing to distribute more than one million KN-95 masks to residents.

Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Chicago Giving 1.5M Masks to City Aldermen for Distribution to Residents

Chicago is handing out 1.5 million masks to city aldermen Tuesday, which will then be distributed to residents as the city continues to work to lower the current surge in cases sparked by the omicron COVID variant.

Officials said KN95 masks will be given to aldermen by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Management and Communications, which will then distribute them “to constituents and community groups to ensure this important resource is available in every community.”

“Residents or groups interested in these masks should contact their Aldermanic office for details,” the city said in a release.

Read more here.

Which Vaccine is Best Against Omicron? What We Know as Pfizer, Moderna Prepare New Shots

With both Pfizer and Moderna preparing for additional shots specifically targeting the omicron variant, what do we know so far about vaccines and their effectiveness against the strain?

With booster shot eligibility and guidance changing, the omicron variant has already caused a shift as experts rush to slow the surge in cases nationwide.

Here’s what we know so far.

COVID by the Numbers: Illinois Reports 19K New Cases as Daily Average Goes Down

Health officials in Illinois reported more than 19,000 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 on Monday, with more than 7,100 patients currently hospitalized after testing positive for the virus.

The state reported 19,237 cases on Monday, the lowest number since Jan. 2. The state is now averaging 31,647 new cases per day, seeing a decline in that number for the first time since Dec. 27.

In all, the state has reported 2,460,270 cases of COVID during the pandemic, according to IDPH data.

More details here.

Teachers to Return Tuesday, Classes to Resume Wednesday After CPS, CTU Reach Agreement

After four days of missed instruction, there has been a breakthrough in negotiations between Chicago Public Schools and the city’s teachers’ union, as the House of Delegates has voted to suspend the union’s remote work action.

According to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, teachers will return to classrooms on Tuesday, and students will return to in-person learning on Wednesday.

“Our goal throughout this entire process was to both get our students back to in-person learning as quickly as possible, and to prevent work disruptions for the rest of the school year,” she said during a Monday press conference.

CTU President Jesse Sharkey called the negotiations “unpleasant,” and said that while the agreement was less-than-perfect, the union should take pride in the deal made with city officials.

Read more here.

Does Omicron COVID Variant Cause Loss of Taste and Smell?

Experts say the only real way to tell if you have COVID is through testing, but how can you know if you have omicron or delta if you test positive?

It’s a question many are asking as omicron cases surge into the new year following holiday gatherings. Rapid and PCR testing only tell you if you have COVID, but they won’t tell you which variant you have, unless your sample gets sent to a lab for further analysis.

Doctors have said symptoms can vary based on vaccination status, but with omicron causing a rise in breakthrough infections, some are noticing one symptom in particular may be changing.

Read more here.

Can You Catch Omicron Twice? Here’s What Doctors Say

The rapid spread of the highly-contagious omicron variant continues to prompt concerns worldwide, including for many people who’ve already experienced a bout of the coronavirus.

Compared to other variants, omicron may pose an increased risk of reinfection, the World Health Organization said, noting information was limited and based on preliminary evidence.

But can you become infected with omicron twice? Here’s the latest information from medical experts.

Is Diarrhea a Symptom of COVID-19? What to Know

COVID-19 can cause a wide range of symptoms, with fever, cough and tiredness said to be some of the most frequent.

But others, such as gastrointestinal issues, have been increasingly reported as common, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.

One “potentially dangerous symptom” is diarrhea, according to John Hopkins Medicine.

Read more here.

Vaccine Mandates Begin in Multiple Chicago-Area Suburbs

For a number of Chicago-area suburbs that weren’t included under Cook County’s vaccine mandate on Jan. 3, a similar mandate begins Monday.

In Evanston, Oak Park and Skokie, the new rules will go into effect, and will require customers at various indoor venues to furnish proof of COVID vaccination before they are allowed to enter.

The rule in Evanston will apply to businesses where food and drink are served for on-site consumption, such as restaurants, bars, entertainment venues and fitness facilities.

In Oak Park, valid proof of vaccination will include a vaccination card, or a digital or physical photo of a card. The village will also allow digital vaccination records on smartphones to be used for proof of vaccination, and will require residents to show proof of identification that corresponds to their vaccination card.

Skokie will also adopt the rules, with all patrons over the age of five required to be fully vaccinated.

Read more here.

Chicago Fight With Teachers Union Stretches Into 2nd Week

Chicago school leaders canceled class a fourth day in the nation’s third-largest district as negotiations with the teachers’ union over remote learning and other COVID-19 safety protocols failed to produce an agreement over the weekend.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said in a joint statement Sunday evening that there wasn’t “sufficient progress” in talks to resume in-person classes Monday, extending disruptions into a second school week. But they vowed negotiations would continue “through the night.”

Read more here.

Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse Temporarily Closes Due to Proof-of-Vaccination Requirements

Bob Chinn’s Crabhouse Restaurant in Wheeling announced a temporary closure Saturday, citing the reason as “unforeseen business circumstances” caused by proof-of-vaccination requirements in suburban Cook County.

In a social media post, the popular suburban establishment announced it was pausing all business from Sunday until Monday, Feb. 7.

“Due to unforeseen business circumstances brought about by the new Cook County COVID-19 vaccination card mandate, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close our doors,” the restaurant said on Facebook.

Read more here.

Plainfield School District 202 Cancels Classes Monday Due to Staffing, Rise in COVID Cases

Plainfield Community Consolidated School District 202 has canceled classes Monday as a result of COVID-related staff and logistical challenges, the district announced Sunday.

In a post on Facebook, District 202 leadership said cited “logistical transportation and staff issues related to a rise in COVID-19 cases” as the reasons for cancelling classes.

Read more here.

Abbott Labs to Provide 350K COVID Tests to CPS, Pritzker Announces, Amid Union Standoff

Abbott Laboratories and SHIELD Illinois will provide COVID-19 tests to Chicago Public Schools, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Saturday, as the CPS and Chicago Teachers Union standoff over coronavirus protocols and remote learning continued with no immediate end in sight.

In a tweet Saturday, Pritzker thanked Robert Ford, the CEO of Illinois-based Abbott, and the SHIELD team for providing 350,000 rapid antigen tests to CPS, saying he’s committed to “seeing our kids and teachers safely in classrooms ASAP.

Read more here.

What is ‘Flurona’ and What Are the Symptoms? Chicago-Area Doctor on What to Know

Yes, it’s possible for someone to be diagnosed with both flu and COVID at the same time, doctors say. Cases of people who have tested positive for both viruses, in what has now been coined “flurona,” have been reported recently.

But despite some false portrayals online, the viruses have not merged to create a new illness. They remain separate infections.

“Flurona is a thoughtfully-named experience that can in fact occur. The flu virus and the COVID-19 virus are different enough that they’re different variants and they both can occur at the same time,” said Dr. Mark Loafman, chair of family and community medicine for Cook County Health.

Here’s what we know so far about “flurona” and what to expect.

Lost Lake, Popular Tropical Chicago Bar, to Close for Good After Next Weekend

Chicago’s iconic tropical bar, Lost Lake, announced it will permanently close after next weekend, noting the “super-spreader surge” of COVID metrics across the city led to this decision.

In a Facebook post Friday, Lost Lake said next weekend will be the bar’s last days of in-person service after years of bringing Chicagoans tropical cocktails at the corner of Diversey Avenue and Kedzie Boulevard.

“Maybe someday we’ll be back in one form or another, but it looks like this is it for now,” Lost Lake said in a Facebook post.

Read more here.

Omicron Symptoms: Here’s What to Watch For After COVID Exposure

Not sure if your symptoms are COVID-related?

Whether you were exposed or just aren’t feeling well, experts say to assume that those who believe they might have a cold could have coronavirus. But what symptoms should you specifically be watching for?

It’s a question many are asking as omicron cases surge into the new year following holiday gatherings and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update their quarantine and isolation guidelines.

Here’s what we know so far.

Could Omicron Peak be Coming? Here’s What Experts Are Watching For

As omicron COVID cases continue to surge, with many states across the country reporting record case levels, when could the variant reach its peak?

Chicago’s top doctor offered her predictions based on data from around the globe Tuesday, but said, in short, “we don’t know when omicron is going to peak.” There are some signs experts are watching for, however.

Read more here.

Omicron and Quarantine or Isolation: Do You Need to Test Out? The Latest Guidance

If you test positive for COVID and isolate, do you need to take another test before you can see people again? What if you were exposed but have no symptoms?

It’s a question many are asking as omicron cases surge into the new year following holiday gatherings and as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention update their quarantine and isolation guidelines.

Here’s what we know so far.

How Long After COVID Exposure Could You Test Positive?

How long could it take for someone to test positive for COVID following an exposure to someone who had the virus?

It’s a question many are asking following holiday gatherings amid surging omicron variant cases.

Testing demand continues to soar as the new year gets underway and some experts say the omicron variant has “sped up” timing for what many have come to know with COVID.

Here’s what we know so far.

When Could Omicron Symptoms Start After COVID Exposure?

The omicron variant has changed some of what many came to know about the coronavirus and how it spreads, but now with new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some are wondering when they are most contagious and for how long after contracting the virus?

As cases of the coronavirus surge with the new omicron variant continuing to spread following the holidays, your chances of being exposed to someone with the virus have likely increased. But when might symptoms first appear following a potential exposure?

Some experts say the omicron variant has “sped up” timing for what many have come to know with COVID, including the incubation period, or the time between exposure and the start of symptoms.

“As we’ve seen these new variants develop – delta, now omicron – what we’re seeing is everything gets sped up from a COVID perspective,” Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday. “It is taking less time from when someone is exposed to COVID to potentially develop infection. It is taking less time to develop symptoms, it is taking less time that someone may be infectious and it is, for many people, taking less time to recover. A lot of that is because many more people are vaccinated.”

Here’s what we know so far.



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