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In the news... The U.S. Supreme Court once again has upheld the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which grants more than 31 million Americans access to health insurance.
Thursday's 7-2 decision rejected a challenge from Texas and other GOP-dominated states objecting to the more than decade-old ACA, also referred to as Obamacare, saying they were not required to pay anything under the "mandate" provision and thereby had no standing to take it to court.
Considered the most controversial part of the ACA, the mandate stipulated Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty. In 2012 the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the mandate on a 5-4 vote, on the grounds that the penalty did fall within Congressional taxing power. Then, in 2017, Congress eliminated the penalty after its budget office decided the law could function effectively without it.
Illinois is celebrating the reopening of continuously more of its economy as its nears the completion of its first week of the long-awaited phase 5.
Restoration of the U.S. Economy
Re-opening "is not synonymous with stopping the push to vaccinate people," Dr. Anthony Fauci, top medical advisor to President Joe Biden, said Thursday at a press briefing by the White House COVID-19 Response Team and Public Health Officials.
"... So I think people should not misinterpret that because a city or a state is opening up, that they're done. No, they're not. We're going to continue to push vaccination beyond the Fourth of July, into the summer, so to get as many people vaccinated as we possibly can, whether you're open as a state or a city, or not. That's the goal."
-- Dr. Anthony Fauci
Global Caseload of COVID-19
In India, the total number of cases stands at 29,700,313, according to WHO statistics Thursday. It remains second behind the U.S., which has nearly 33.2 million. Brazil continues in third place with more than 17.5 million cases of COVID-19.
Vaccinations in U.S.
Biden set a goal of ensuring that 70 percent of Americans received at least one dose by July 4. His administration established a Federal Vaccination Help Hot Line for those who prefer a phone to a computer or similar device. Call: 1-800-232-0233.
In light of the so-called Delta variant of the coronavirus that ravaged India and firmly planted itself in the United Kingdom, and is already in the United States, there is bonafide cause for concern given that the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. has slowed substantially.
Statistics Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that more than 147.7 million people or 44.5 percent, are fully faccinated. More than 175.8 million or 53 percent have received at least one dose.
There is room for cautious optimism. A new study from Public Health England showed two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were 88 percent effective against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant. That's compared to 93 percent effectiveness against the Alpha variant (formerly called B.1.1.7), the first variant detected in the U.K. Effectiveness fell to 33 percent after only one dose.
Vaccination Totals in Illinois
According to state statistics Thursday, 12,108,359 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Illinois. That represents about 67 percent of residents 12 years and older who have received their first dose.
Across the country, towns and cities have come up with various clever/creative ways to lure people into agreeing to be vaccinated.
On Thursday Governor Pritzker announced a new $10 million "All in for the Win" promotion. Illinois residents are encouraged to get vaccinated before July 1, 2021 to ensure they are entered into every drawing. The first million-dollar top prize is scheduled to be awarded on July 8. Residents who received at least one dose of the vaccine in Illinois are automatically entered into these lotteries.
WHO Renames Coronavirus Variants
In an effort to make it easier for non-scientific audiences to follow variants, WHO recently accepted a recommendation from advisors/experts to change the names of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) Variants of Concern (VOC) and Variants of Interest (VOI)--by labeling them using letters of the Greek alphabet. For example, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc.
Going Maskless if Fully Vaccinated
In the City of Des Plaines, where a mask order went into effect in late April 2020, fully vaccinated people can resume activities without a mask except where required by other rules and regulations, as of June 11. In moving to Phase 5 of Restore Illinois, the relaxing of restrictions in the state also includes:
- Businesses, large-scale events and seated-spectator venues and other activities can operate at full capacity for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 epidemic last year.
- Businesses can require face coverings, if they so choose.
The fully vaccinated now not only can dispense with their masks but drop the physical distancing "in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance," according to the CDC Update to Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People.
People in congregate and healthcare settings, on public transit, and in schools still are required to wear a mask, according to the CDC. It has recent updated guidance on mask options for the unvaccinated.
Booster Shots Down the Line?
Whether people will need booster shots at some future point after being fully vaccinated will depend on "the durability of the protection," Dr. Fauci also said Thursday. "We're talking about the length of the protection, which we know is very high right now." Clinical trials with boosters are under way against "wild type' and boosters against "variant-specific" boosts, Dr. Fauci added.
Asked about projections, Dr. Fauci did not have a tangible answer. "That could be a year. That could be 18 months. That could be much longer. We're going to have to follow it...."
In and Around Des Plaines, Walk In For Your COVID-19 Vaccine, Or, Schedule It
Cook County Vaccination Centers:
- Former K-Mart (1155 E. Oakton St., Des Plaines) 833-308-1988
- CCH Arlington Heights Health Center (3250 N. Arlington Heights Blvd, Arlington Heights): 833-308-1988
Pharmacies (Des Plaines):
- Jewel-Osco (1500 Lee St.) 847-296-7786
- Walgreens (1378 Miner St.) 847-296-3958
- Wal-Mart (727 W. Golf Rd.) 847-378-0985
Pharmacies Near Des Plaines:
- Wal-Mart (930 Mount Prospect Plaza, Mount Prospect) 847-590-0011
- Meijer (1301 Meijer Dr., Rolling Meadows) 847-690-1500
- CVS (2648 Dempster St., Park Ridge) 847-298-2802
- Costco (for members--999 Elmhurst Rd., Mount Prospect) 847-660-2000. (Prefers appointments but could do walk-ins from 11 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. and 2:30-4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday. Suggests you go online first to make an appointment. https://www.costco.com/covid-vaccine.html)
You may have heard the term vaccine passport. It is a record or certification that proves someone has been vaccinated. Typically through a smartphone app (application) or a QR (quick response) code that has been printed.
More Details About Signing up for Vaccine
Suburbanites can go to vaccine.cookcountyil.gov or phone (833) 308-1988, Cook County's vaccine enrollment help line. Those who cannot leave home to get vaccinated can call that same number. Or, go to: bit.ly/inhomevaccine
A portal on the state's coronavirus website (coronavirus.illinois.gov) lists vaccination locations. You can go to the following sites to try to make an appointment:
- Cook County
- vaccines.gov (on the CDC site)
- Chicago Behavioral Hospital (Des Plaines)
- Dr. B
- Chicago Vaccine Hunters (through Facebook)
Conflicted about getting a shot of vaccine? IDPH has answers to frequently asked vaccine questions.
Beware of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has advice on how to avoid pandemic-related scams.
Deaths at Long-Term Care Facilities
In Illinois, more than 10,000 residents of Long Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) have died of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic last year. On the positive side, vaccinations have saved the lives of countless nursing home residents. 10,462 residents of LTCFs have died from COVID-19, according to IDPH statistics last Friday. The total number of cases at LTCFs was 79,118.
The testing center at the Arlington racetrack, 2200 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., while daily supplies last. IDPH has a list of testing sites.
On Thursday, IDPH statistics showed laboratories reported 25,235 specimens in the past 24 hours, for a total of 25,185,883.
IDPH COVID-19 news releases now will be issued once a week, on Fridays. Data will continue to be updated on the IDPH site Monday through Friday.
After being vaccinated, you can register for V-safe, a smartpone-based tool using text messaging and web surveys for a personalized health check-in. You can quickly tell the CDC about any side effects. Depending on your answers to the web surveys, someone from the CDC may call. Also, V-safe reminds you to get your second vaccine dose if you need one.
Variant Cases in U.S. Keep Rising
Viruses change and mutate by nature. As coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 keeps spreading, the more it will continue to mutate.
Alpha, the variant formerly known as B.1.1.7, continues to be the main variant in the U.S. It was first detected in the United Kingdom in September 2020. IDPH statistics Thursday showed 6,313 cases of of Alpha, with a total of 9,437 variant-related cases in Illinois: Beta (formerly B.1.351)--105; Gamma (formerly P.1)--2,436; Epsilon (formerly B.1.427)--244; and Epsilon (formerly B.1.429)--275.
Good News: Test Positivity Continues to Drop
The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from June 7-13, 2021 is 0.8 percent, IDPH reported Thursday. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for the same period now is 1.1 percent.
Mental Health/Medical Help
Call4Calm connects you to a mental health professional. It's free and anonymous. For English, text talk to 552020. For Spanish, text hablar to 552020.
You also can contact the Illinois Mental Health Collaborative. Call: 1-866-359-7953.
To get help for substance abuse, call: 1-833-2findhelp. Or, go to: helplineil.org
For those with COVID-19 symptoms who don't require in-patient care, there is daily telehealth monitoring. Northern Illinois: 1-866-443-2584... Central Illinois and Rockford: 1-833-673-5669...Southern and west central Illinois (+ Metro East): 1-217-545-5100.
Cases by Location in Illinois
IDPH provides a breakdown by zip code and county of infections. In zip codes 60016 (6,730) and 60018 (3,702), Thursday's total number of positive cases was 10,432.
COVID-19 statistics as of Thursday, June 17, 2021
Illinois, IDPH: 1,388,586 cases. 23,120 deaths. (Total nucleic acid-based tests performed and reported electronically for testing of COVID-19 at IDPH, commercial or hospital laboratories.) Recovery rate: 98%. Recovered cases defined as persons with initial positive specimen collection data more than 42 days, who have not died.
As of 11:59 p.m., June 13, IDPH: 627 individuals with COVID-19 were hospitalized. Of those, 176 were in the ICU, and 91 of the ICU patients were on ventilators.
U.S. (since January 21, 2020), as of June 17: CDC: 33,327,096 total cases (11,301 new cases). Total deaths: 598,301 (335 new deaths).
Globally as of June 17: WHO: 174,061,995 confirmed cases. 3,758,560 confirmed deaths.
Visit the following sites for additional information about COVID-19 and how to deal with this public health emergency:
-- Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
The death toll in Illinois due to vaping remains at five, according to IDPH.
Help try to prevent suicides. Options include:
-- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (24/7)
-- What can you do? The National Institute of Mental Health has details.
-- Veterans Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Find out about the opioid crisis.
Considering a career in health? Take a look at Oakton Community College.
Oakton also has Continuing Education for Health Professionals (CEHP).