Illinois health officials report 7,214 new COVID-19 cases, 103 deaths (LIVE UPDATES)

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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Illinois health officials report 7,214 new COVID-19 cases, 103 deaths

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials reported 7,214 new cases of COVID-19 and 103 deaths Monday as health workers around the country begin receiving the first round of vaccinations for the deadly virus.
Monday’s figures continue a grim streak of daily death tolls over 100 people. The deaths are largely from Cook County, which recorded 88 deaths.
The new cases came from a batch of 92,256 tests in the last 24 hours.
As of Sunday night, 4,951 people who’ve tested positive for COVID-19 were reported to be in the hospital. Of that number, 1,070 patients were in intensive care and 621 patients were on ventilators.
Read the full story by Rachel Hinton here.

11:45 a.m. Canada administers first doses of COVID-19 vaccine
Canada administered its first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
Five front-line workers in Ontario were among the first Canadians to receive the vaccine at one of Toronto’s hospitals.
Two nurses and three other workers at the Rekai Centre nursing home received the vaccine.
Ontario received 6,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Sunday night and plans to give them to approximately 2,500 health-care workers. Residents of two long-term care homes in Quebec will be the first to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in that province.
Read the full story here.
11 a.m. Toughest coronavirus restrictions to be imposed on London

LONDON — London and surrounding areas will be placed under the highest level of coronavirus restrictions from Wednesday as infections rise rapidly in the capital, Britain’s health secretary said Monday.
Matt Hancock said the government must take swift action after seeing “very sharp, exponential rises” in Greater London and nearby Kent and Essex. He said that in some areas, cases are doubling every seven days.
Under Tier 3 restrictions, the toughest level in England’s three-tier system, people can’t socialize indoors and bars, pubs and restaurants must close except for takeout.
Read the full story here.
10:10 a.m. Coronavirus deaths in Cook County surpass 7,000
Coronavirus deaths in Cook County have surpassed 7,000, officials said Monday.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office confirmed another 357 deaths from COVID-19 since Dec. 7, bringing the county’s total to 7,311.
That’s more than half of all statewide coronavirus deaths, which the Illinois Department of Public Health reported Sunday as 14,291.
Read the full story here.
9:15 a.m. ‘Relieved’: US health workers start getting COVID-19 vaccine
The largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history got underway Monday as health workers in select hospitals rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll neared 300,000.
“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” said critical case nurse Sandra Lindsay after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.
Shipments of precious frozen vials of vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech began arriving at hospitals around the country Monday.
Read the full story here.
7:45 a.m. US set for first COVID-19 shots as shipments begin arriving
Hospital workers begin unloading precious frozen vials of COVID-19 vaccine Monday, with the first vaccinations against a scourge that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans expected later in the day.
“It feels like the cavalry is arriving,” Robert C. Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said as New Jersey’s largest health network awaited delivery.
Shots made by Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech are the first authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration — beginning what will become the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history. Several other countries also have OK’d the vaccine, including the U.K., which started vaccinating last week.
Read the full story here.
7 a.m. Tree sales soar ahead of coronavirus Christmas: ‘We didn’t really see it coming’
Buying a real Christmas tree is part of the Barnett family’s holiday tradition. Each year, Troy Barnett tries to find the largest evergreen he can from a lot near his Lincoln Park home, he said.
But his plan hit a snag earlier this month when the lot shut down for the season after it sold its entire inventory just weeks after opening.
Merchants say Chicagoans are flocking to Christmas tree lots at unprecedented rates this year amid a holiday season like no other. Unable to travel or see extended family as COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many are turning to real Christmas trees to make their holiday season bright, resulting in many places selling out earlier than they have in the past.
It’s reflective of a national trend as Christmas tree sales were up nearly 30% nationwide through the first week of December, according to a CNBC report.
Read the full story here.

New Cases

Officials announced 7,216 new COVID-19 cases, 115 deaths on Sunday in the state.
Wide receiver Thomas Ives is 3rd Bears practice-squad player to test positive for coronavirus.

Two Bears practice-squad players, including Manti T’eo, test positive for coronavirus.
Charley Pride, first Black member of Country Music Hall of Fame, dies of COVID-19 at 86.

Analysis & Commentary
10 a.m. ‘Oh my God — this is carnage’: Hospitals fighting COVID also cope with exhaustion and burnout.
Look closely, through the face shield, over the mask. You’ll see it.
“Walk around the hospital, you can see the fatigue in people’s eyes,” said Dr. Roy Werner, director of the emergency department at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side. “We have an entire staff of physicians, nurses, tech staff, housekeepers, working harder than they have ever had to work.”
Eight months into the COVID-19 pandemic, with a vaccine tantalizingly near but still not in hand, the relentlessness of fighting the virus — the endless stream of patients, the round-the-clock shifts, the deaths, the need to plug holes in the schedule created by sick colleagues — is grinding down hospital workers.
Read the full column by Neil Steinberg here.
7:15 a.m. As COVID-19 vaccines arrive, so does reckoning with racism in health care; herd immunity hinges on Black trust
As the first COVID-19 vaccines arrive at hospitals Monday, America faces a reckoning with racism in health care — a history that could derail an end to the worst pandemic in a century.
How do you persuade Black Americans to participate in the largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history when the elders remember the Tuskegee experiment and younger have grown up in health care deserts, acutely aware they receive lower quality health care than whites?
That was the question tackled by Illinois officials and Black community leaders at a roundtable on ways to overcome this distrust that could hinder the nation’s goal of immunizing three out of four Americans, to achieve herd immunity.
Read the full Chicago Chronicles column by Maudlyn Ihejireka

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