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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 3/5/2021 Chicago Tribune staff, Chicago Tribune
a group of people sitting at a desk: Jada Johnson receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Armando Ambriz, medical assistant with Esperanza Health Centers, at the Gage Park vaccination site in Chicago on Feb. 19, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Jada Johnson receives her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine from Armando Ambriz, medical assistant with Esperanza Health Centers, at the Gage Park vaccination site in Chicago on Feb. 19, 2021.

Registration for the United Center mass COVID-19 vaccination site began Thursday morning, and despite some early glitches, almost 28,000 seniors had registered by phone and online by midafternoon, officials said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot clenches her fist after she receives her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 19, 2021, at the Gage Park vaccination site. © Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot clenches her fist after she receives her second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 19, 2021, at the Gage Park vaccination site.

Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in an online question-and-answer session that there was a “huge rush of people” when registration first became available Thursday on the Zocdoc registration website.

The United Center site will be the biggest in the state. It will have a “soft opening” on Tuesday, a FEMA spokesman said. Wednesday will be the first day the site will try to hit its goal of 6,000 vaccines per day. The site will be open seven days a week for eight weeks. Registration began at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The vaccination appointments are only available for those who are 65 years or older and live in Illinois, Arwady said. People should be truthful about their age while registering and those who are under 65 should not register for appointments. Seniors will continue to have exclusive access to registration until 4 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

a close up of a person wearing a mask: Dr. Ali Khan preps a syringe with a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 14, 2021, at Steinmetz High School in Belmont Cragin. © Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Dr. Ali Khan preps a syringe with a Moderna COVID-19 vaccine Feb. 14, 2021, at Steinmetz High School in Belmont Cragin.

Meanwhile, Illinois public health officials reported that 93,302 coronavirus vaccine doses were administered Wednesday, bringing the statewide total to 2,993,543. The number of Illinois residents who have been fully vaccinated reached 952,141, or 7.47% of the total population.

Officials on Thursday also reported 1,740 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 42 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 1,193,260 and the statewide death toll to 20,668 since the start of the pandemic.

a person holding a cell phone: Corinne Puchalla, a pharmacist with the University of Illinois at Chicago, prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 8, 2021. © Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Corinne Puchalla, a pharmacist with the University of Illinois at Chicago, prepares a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 8, 2021.

Illinois COVID-19 vaccine tracker: Here’s where the state stands

a group of people standing in a parking lot: Workers pound anchors for temporary tents for the vaccine center being built in a parking lot outside the United Center on Feb. 26, 2021. According to officials, it will be capable of inoculating 6,000 people per day. © John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Workers pound anchors for temporary tents for the vaccine center being built in a parking lot outside the United Center on Feb. 26, 2021. According to officials, it will be capable of inoculating 6,000 people per day.

COVID-19 in Illinois by the numbers: Here’s a daily update on key metrics in your area

Illinois coronavirus graphs: The latest data on deaths, confirmed cases, tests and more

COVID-19 cases in Illinois by ZIP code: Search for your neighborhood

Join our Facebook group to get the latest COVID-19 information from Tribune reporters and editors

Here’s what’s happening Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

6 a.m.: St. Clair County Jail inmates should have had masks before January, Gov. Pritzker, lawmakers say after newspaper investigation

Local lawmakers and Gov. J.B. Pritzker said inmates at the St. Clair County Jail should have been provided masks long before Jan. 13, the first time jail staff administered them to detainees.

a group of people standing around a table: U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth has her temperature taken before touring the vaccination center at Triton College in River Grove on Feb. 27, 2021. © Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth has her temperature taken before touring the vaccination center at Triton College in River Grove on Feb. 27, 2021.

Their reactions follow a Belleville News-Democrat report citing more than 30 current and former inmates and their loved ones who said the jail failed to take other precautions to slow the spread of coronavirus. At least three jail inmates have died of COVID-19.

a man sitting in front of a crowd of people: Harold Sherman, 91, receives his shot form Pam Eddy on March 2, 2021, at a McHenry County Department of Health mass COVID-19 vaccination site inside a former department store in McHenry. © Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Harold Sherman, 91, receives his shot form Pam Eddy on March 2, 2021, at a McHenry County Department of Health mass COVID-19 vaccination site inside a former department store in McHenry.

Health experts recommended masks as early as last spring to slow the spread of COVID-19. While the jail required staff to wear masks, “universal masking” guidance from state and local public health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control doesn’t directly say inmates should wear them too.

Sheriff Rick Watson cited that guidance in explaining why they didn’t provide masks to inmates for more than nine months after they became readily available. He says staff did all they could to protect inmates through routine sanitization and screening techniques, and the jail’s public affairs officer said quarantining is difficult in a chronically overcrowded jail. Voters in 2017 rejected a tax increase proposal that would have paid for jail expansion and improvements.

a person holding a wine glass: Sister Patricia Sanchez receives a COVID-19 vaccination from medical assistant Syreetta Stinson at Friend Health clinic on East 55th Street in Chicago on Feb. 18, 2021. © Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS Sister Patricia Sanchez receives a COVID-19 vaccination from medical assistant Syreetta Stinson at Friend Health clinic on East 55th Street in Chicago on Feb. 18, 2021.

Pritzker said the jail shouldn’t have had a problem supplying masks to detainees because personal protective equipment has been easily accessible to any state agency since shortages eased last summer.

“It’s just not something that should be happening literally nine months after we’ve had a reasonably plentiful supply of PPE in the state of Illinois,” Pritzker said.

While the governor said he wasn’t sure what caused the problem in the St. Clair County Jail, local legislators say they plan to find out. State Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis, and state Sen. Chris Belt, D-Cahokia, said they will contact the sheriff’s office.

“This shouldn’t have happened. It was my understanding that there was plenty of PPE,” Greenwood said. “I was shocked.”

a group of people standing around a table: People line up to check in March 2, 2021, at a McHenry County Department of Health mass COVID-19 vaccination site inside a former department store in McHenry. © Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS People line up to check in March 2, 2021, at a McHenry County Department of Health mass COVID-19 vaccination site inside a former department store in McHenry.

— Kelsey Landis, Belleville News-Democrat, with DeAsia Paige and Carolyn Smith, via Tribune Content Agency

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