City to reduce some COVID programs and change travel advisories

Chicago plans to scale back its at-home vaccination program and gift card incentives as demand declines.

Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s health officer, said Tuesday that home vaccinations will be offered four days a week instead of seven starting April 1.

Health professionals with syringes and vaccine doses will show up between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays.

Appointments scheduled before March 25 that fall in April will be honored regardless of the day of the week.

Also beginning April 1, eligibility for a $50 gift card to get stung will be limited to people who live in the 15 ZIP codes on the south and west sides where fewer than 70% of residents are vaccinated.

Arwady said Chicago is in as good a position, better than most, despite an uptick in cases in recent days, likely due to Omicron’s more contagious BA2 subvariant.

“There is nothing to be alarmed about,” she said.

While noting that the pandemic is greatly reduced, she said, “I want to emphasize that COVID is not over.”

“We have passed 80 million cases now diagnosed across the United States and it won’t be long before we pass the one millionth COVID death in the country,” she said.

The country’s death toll from COVID-19 stood at nearly 972,000 as of Tuesday.

Arwady and Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez said they remain comfortable with the school system’s mask-optional policy, but will reinstate a mandate if cases increase.

Martinez said students and staff at most schools are still wearing masks and officials have been following protocol at Coonley Elementary in north central, where 40 cases over the past month have six classrooms under mandate again. of mask.

“The vast majority of our students wear masks, the vast majority of our staff,” he said, based on his visits to the school last week. “I am very grateful to the families who made this choice.”

Martinez said contact tracing determined nearly all of Coonley’s infections were picked up when children gathered for events outside of school hours. About 90% of Coonley students are fully immunized, officials said, well above the 45% of children in the district.

Anyone in need of a vaccination or booster can go to chi.gov/covidvax for more information or call the city’s COVID-19 hotline at 312-746-4835.

The Chicago Department of Health also announced changes to its travel advisories. Starting Friday, it will use county-level data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instead of state-level data. Counties will be color coded to reflect low, medium or high risk.

Travel recommendations have been made based on a state’s number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population.

When asked if she intended to quit her post like her state counterpart, Dr Ngozi Ezike, did earlier this month, Arwady said she would not go anywhere. go.

“I told my team that I saw that all the way through,” she said.

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