540,904 Illinois residents have received both required COVID-19 vaccine doses, about 4.3% of the population (LIVE UPDATES)

540,904 Illinois residents have received both required
COVID-19 vaccine doses, about 4.3% of the population (LIVE


73K more Illinoisans vaccinated against coronavirus, 1,922 more infected

Weiss Memorial Hospital doctors and nurses administer doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the North Side hospital, Monday, Feb. 15, 2021. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Another 73,212 COVID-19 vaccine doses went into Illinois arms as public health officials on Saturday reported 1,922 new infections and 42 more deaths attributed to the virus.

Friday’s vaccination figure marked the fourth-highest one-day total Illinois has seen so far, but it closed out a week of shot administration that was bogged down statewide by heavy snow and delayed vaccine shipments from the federal government.

About 414,000 doses were doled over the past week, compared to about 430,000 given the week of Feb. 6-12.

That’s the first week-to-week decline the state has seen roughly two months into the historic vaccination effort, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he expects numbers to rebound next week with expected shipments of a half-million doses to providers across the state.

Read the full story from Mitchell Armentrout here.

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9:07 a.m. What’s safe after COVID-19 vaccination? Don’t shed masks yet

You’re fully vaccinated against the coronavirus — now what? Don’t expect to shed your mask and get back to normal activities right away.

That’s going to be a disappointment, if not a shock, to many people.

In Miami, 81-year-old Noemi Caraballo got her second dose on Tuesday and is looking forward to seeing friends, resuming fitness classes and running errands after nearly a year of being extremely cautious, even ordering groceries online.

“Her line is, ‘I’m tired of talking to the cats and the parrots,’” said her daughter Susan Caraballo. “She wants to do things and talk to people.”

But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hasn’t yet changed its guidelines: At least for now, people should follow the same rules as everybody else about wearing a mask, keeping a 6-foot distance and avoiding crowds — even after they’ve gotten their second vaccine dose.

Vaccines in use so far require two doses, and experts say especially don’t let your guard down after the first dose.

“You’re asking a very logical question,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, responded when a 91-year-old California woman recently asked if she and her vaccinated friends could resume their mah-jongg games.

Read the full story here.

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9:11 a.m. COVID-19 and America’s dismal slump in life expectancy

Our country is fast approaching the grim milestone of 500,000 COVID-19 deaths, more evidence to all but the most fact-resistant of just how deadly the pandemic has been.

The coronavirus is not “just like the flu,” as some on the right, eager to downplay the seriousness of it all, have claimed.

Thursday brought yet more alarming evidence of that truth. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that COVID-19 has been deadly enough to drive down U.S. life expectancy by a full year, a decline experts say America hasn’t experienced in decades.

That’s how serious this pandemic has been, generating a lethal impact approaching that of World War II, when life expectancy fell by 2.9 years. We cannot afford to dismiss that truth even as we see a light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine availability.

Due to the extraordinary number of excess deaths from COVID-19, the average American now can expect to live 77.8 years, down from 78.8 in 2019, the CDC’s National Center on Health Statistic found. Its analysis is based on mortality data from the first six months of 2020, so the full impact of the pandemic’s death toll has yet to be seen.

Read more from the CST Editorial Board here.

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