Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, holding a news conference at 1 p.m. where she'll talk about the city's reopening and vaccination plans.

I'll live tweet. Follow for updates and let me know if you have questions.

You can watch here: pscp.tv/w/1lPJqXpOgYeGb
Arwady: "We have seen a number of changes here" to the city's travel order.

Major changes: "A number of states move in the wrong direction"
Arwady: A number of states have improved: Utah, Arizona, Texas, Nebraska, Kentucky and Washington, D.C.
Arwady: "This is what Michigan's case rate look like right now." 112% increase in cases over past two weeks.

Michigan now third-highest in country in terms of new COVID cases. It's surprising they had been "one of the best states in terms of COVID control" across Midwest.

They've detected "quite a lot of cases of that B.1.1.7" variant that emerged in U.K.
Arwady on Chicago: "Unfortunately, we have seen movement in the wrong direction on the four key metrics that we follow for reopening."

Cases per day "is the biggest number I have concern about."
Arwady: "Unfortunately, we are now up to a point where we're seeing 350 cases per day." We want to be below 200. Getting to 400+ cases per day moves us to high risk.
Arwady: We'll also be considered high risk if we see five days of an increase of 10%+.
Arwady: "The other thing we're seeing on test positivity. We're at 3.2% test positivity." We were at 2.7% in past couple weeks.
Arwady: Our ER visits for COVID-like illness "those have also moved in the last week from the lower risk back into the moderate risk, and really reflecting more people across the city sick enough to be coming into emergency departments."

ICU numbers are improving — but those tend to lag behind other figures.

We're up 30% in cases in past 14 days and 23% in past week.
Arwady: "The biggest thing driving this is increases in cases in our young adults." This is "just what we were seeing in October, as we were starting to see the beginnings of what became our huge surge."
Arwady: She's feeling "more optimistic" we'll be able to avoid a major surge because people in 70s and 80s are staying down in terms of case rates.
Arwady: "Continuing to get vaccine into our oldest Chicagoans is critical."
Arwady: We've had one COVID death in past month for people in 18-29 age group and nearly 50 in people 80+.
Arwady: Please be "extra careful" if you're interacting with anyone older/with an underlying condition.
Arwady: Cases among race/ethnic groups have equalized. Highest rates are among white Chicagoans; where we have seen increases in past weeks, it's driven by white people and then Black people. But biggest driver is age group, not race, right now.
Arwady: This looks at how many people live in area compared to how many cases reported.

Areas in red=more COVID cases than they'd expect
Blue=fewer cases than they'd expect
Arwady: "Vaccine is not the whole story here. We're seeing COVID variants spread in Chicago, and we are not testing every person who gets COVID for those variants, but we absolutely are seeing again that B.1.1.7 variant that first emerged in the U.K. ... We are also seeing ...
"more cases of it here in Chicago, and we have seen some spread."

We're seeing cases across the city. We continue to see people being hospitalized from every area.
Arwady: ER visits by people with COVID-like illness up 45% over past two weeks.

But ICU occupancy at lowest since beginning of pandemic.
Arwady: 1,080,644 vaccines administered by Chicago providers. She is "very, very pleased" with rollout.

1 in 5 Chicagoans have received a first dose.

1 in 4 Chicagoans 18+ have received a first dose.

1 in 2 Chicagoans 65+ hav received a first dose.
Arwady: "We are not at a fully vaccinated state yet."

"I remain very optimistic that later in the spring, by the summer, we're going to be in good shape from COVId as long as we continue to see a good rollout of vaccines and good vaccine uptake."
Arwady: "I'm not really anticipating us being at a very highly vaccinated state until quite a bit later in the spring really moving into the early summer."

"Please keep doing the things you know work."
Arwady: Anyone at high risk shouldn't be part of a gathering.

Once you're two weeks past your second dose, that's when it's safe to gather without masks. But "very few of us at are at that point now."
Arwady: In past few weeks, there have been seven cluster outbreaks among sports — high school, college and adult recreational.

2 football, 2 basketball. Swimming, hockey, etc.

"This is not about the sport. This is about the fact people are getting their lives back, which we love. But needing to keep those masks ... ."

"University social events, we're seeing real outbreaks there."
Arwady: "We are seeing a lot of COVID cases being driven by the decisions you're making."
Arwady: "Clearly, this mutli-factorial, where we are seeing major increases like this. Like I've noted, where we've seen significant outbreaks, it's been around socializing. And some of that socializing may be taking place at bars or restaurants, but where we see the ...
"connections it tends to be more around university groups ... . We've not seen concerns related to school reopening here or anywhere." Child rates remain low and "nothing has changed there related to schools being a sign of spread. "We're doing a lot of testing with Chicago ...
"Public Schools open. ... Not seeing anything unexpected related to case rates."
Arwady: "We continue having to swat down rumors that something has changed related to eligibility at the United Center. Nothing has changed ... ." It's not true you should use random voucher codes. "We've been doing well over 5,000 doses per day at the United Center." ...
The reason they hadn't done that full 6,000 was because they held vaccine to be able to do the drive-thru, which started today. Plan for today is to 500 cars. "The plan is to really up that drive-thru up over the next few days" to about 1,000 cars. "We absolutely will use ...
"every dose of the vaccine that has come there. ... We are having no problem filling appointments."
Arwady: If you don't live in a prioritized ZIP code/group, don't use the voucher codes for that group. "If you try to sign up and attest that you live in a certain ZIP code ... and are not, we won't confirm that appointment and you won't be able to get a vaccine."
Arwady: "When we move into Phase 1C on Monday, eligibility across all of the city will open up across all of the city" for people in 1C — essential workers, people 16+ with underlying conditions.
Arwady: Most appointments in first stage of United Center are booked already.
Arwady: "Here in Chicago, we have never changed anything related to eligibility or timelines. We are doing what the CDC recommends — 1A: healthcare workers and people who lived in congregate settings; 1B: people over 65 and the prioritized frontline essential workers; 1C: ...
"people with underlying conditions and the other essential workers. We've not switched a single thing about that timeline."
Arwady: "The two changes I think that have dome is that the state, appropriately, recognized that there are some settings — for example, downstate — where they were having trouble filling vaccine appointments. ... So the state set out this 1B+."
Arwady: "We are moving to 1C exactly on schedule."
Arwady: "I know it's been hard for folks where there have been a lot of different directions and prioritizations. We have tried to be as consistent as we can."

About 84% of adult Chicagoans will be eligible come Monday.
Arwady on Loretto: "I don't really have a lot more to say about Loretto beyond what I've already said. Obviously, we were very disappointed in some of the decisions Loretto Hospital was making — No. 1, they completely went against guidance ... secondly they were making it so ...
"that well-connected individuals could jump the line and were not focused on the really needy parts of Chicago that they serve."
Arwady: "We have been in communication with the board there about that and really — it's a sad situation. It is a small amount of vaccine in comparison to the more than a million that have been done, but it's just not what we're gonna tolerate here."
Arwady: "The Chicago Department of Public Health does not, in any way, regulate hospitals or the staffing of hospitals or personnel matters at hospitals. What we control is vaccine supply. And with vaccine supply, as precious as it is right now, we know that restricting ...
"vaccine access is major punishment for any facility that is not doing what they are required to do. It was a hard decision, initially, to say we're gonna pull the provider on the West Side that is an anchor provider for that community that we knew had done a lot of ...
"vaccinating. But once it was clear they were vaccinating people who were not eligible ... ." She won't comment on "personnel matters." "My priority is getting Chicago vaccinated and making sure that if we have providers whoa re not performing in ways that meet our efficiency,...
"equity and general goals around vaccination, they won't be vaccine providers for us right now."
Arwady: "Austin already was a neighborhood that was lagging in terms of vaccination rates." It's part of Protect Chicago Plus. "We are bringing in another health care provider to make sure that those Protect Chicago Plus initiatives continue, are uninterrupted, are serving ...
"only Austin resident.s We're also working with some of the other providers who serve that area." Austin is a priority for United Center. "You're going to be hearing some more in the weeks to come about some of the things we'll be doing in that neighborhood."
Arwady on Advocate vaccinating 55+: "The recommendation, of course, right now in Chicago is if you cannot identify somebody over the age of 65 that you should be" vaccinating existing patients who are highest risk.
Arwady: "I don't think we're going to eliminate COVID." Goal is to control it. "If we can get down to the setting where COVID is controlled, we're going to do that through vaccination." 70% is a "pretty good guess" in terms of herd immunity.
Arwady: "I don't really think there's gonna be a magic number that says, 'Now we've hit herd immunity.'" It'll be about controlling the disease through vaccinations, masking, etc.
Arwady: Protect Chicago Plus initiatives and other things have "really worked." Case rates have really improved in areas with focused vaccinations.
Arwady: "As we move into 1C and eligibility opens much more widely, you're going to be hearing more about new and creative things we'll be doing to bring vaccine" to other communities.
Arwady: 94-95% of Chicagoans are returning for second dose "broadly on time."

Pharmacies are the setting where people are *least* likely to come back for second dose. CDPH is working with pharmacies to make sure they're making second dose appointments.
Arwady: "... You've gotta get both doses. If you got Pfizer or Moderna, you're only about 50% protected after that first dose."
Arwady on people who travel to low-vaccinated countries: "My strongest piece of advise is please do not travel until you are fully vaccinated. Two weeks post your second vaccine. That is doubly true if you're planning to travel internationally."
Arwady: "There are countries that are just now starting to vaccinate. Even somebody who's vaccinated, if you're out traveling ... you definitely need to be continuing to wear that mask and do the social distancing."
Arwady: "Please, though, bottom line is delay that travel, especially international travel, until you are fully vaccinated. Your risk goes down a lot." And in public spaces, "Please, please, please, extra careful with this."
Arwady: "We're kind of in this in-between moment right now. The most, the best thing you can do to protect children is for all the adults around them to be vaccinated." ...
Challenge is children probably can't get vaccinated for several months — teens in late summer/fall, young kids for "probably until the very end of the year, maybe even early 2022."
Arwady: If you have a child with risk of a severe outcome from COVID, protect them. Travel wouldn't be advised.
Arwady: "The reason I talk about this in-between moment is, boy, it's such a moment of hope from a vaccine perspective. ... And we know that, that is what is ultimately going to get us past COVId. But I think people are so excited about the promise of vaccine," ...
plus reopenings, "that we're just jumping the gun a little bit. I am very optimistic that by the summer, we're gonna be in good shape here."
Arwady: "For example, since last week, we saw a 23% in cases and a 6% in tests. So it's not just that you're testing more; it's that your cases are outpacing it." We're doing a good job on testing still.
Arwady: "If you have symptoms of COVID, you need to stay home. You need to get tested."

The uptick isn't just because of testing.
Arwady asked if this is beginning of third surge: "I certainly hope not. I am concerned, and I hope everybody is concerned when they look at this data. And we are seeing increases."
Arwady: Epidemiologists did a lot of research to see what predicted the second surge in fall. "We have to take seriously not just the number, but that rate of increase like we did, moving from low to moderate — those are things that were predictive ... . I don't know, fully, ...
"what's gonna happen here. I do know that we are pushing vaccine absolutely as quickly as we can." Ramping up and monitoring for variants, which we've seen spread of. "If we see a big increase in cases not accompanied by an increase in hospitalization or death, I don't worry ...
"about that as much."

In a week from now, we've stabilized, we could again move more toward reopening.
Arwady: "Our modeling is still looking, is looking reasonable. I think there's just a lot of questions here. Michigan, for me, is a major concern, knowing that's been a state that has had good rates." Some of it is around Detroit and north of that. It's multiple settings. ...
"I think they have done a lot of variant detection there, and that remains a question overall. But I think getting folks vaccinated here and getting them not to think we're done" is the trick to protecting people.
Arwady: "We have often seen the South Side be a little bit more protected, broadly; I think, certainly, the South Side got hit very hard very early on, before we were doing as much testing. ... But so I think there is some perhaps some immunity there, but also I think some ...
"being careful. People who lived in families, communities that were hit hard have remained in many ways cautious against COVID. And that's really the way we want to keep it."
Arwady: "I do think we're gonna get our lives back." She hopes people will stay home more when they're sick and wear masks. We're still learning about how long immunity lasts after getting vaccinated.
Arwady: "Getting the rest of the world vaccinated is absolutely critical here because it's not gonna do us any good if" more variants come up.
Arwady: By later in the year, if we think of COVID as like flu (which we can do if we have high vaccination rates that prevent serious outcomes/deaths), "it's probably something we'll just — we'll live with."
Press conference over.

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More from @BauerJournalism

24 Mar
Dr. Allison Arwady: CDPH supplies providers with vaccine to use for existing patients AND for special projects — like employer events (like CPS), Protect Chicago Plus events, etc. ...

Of 600+ providers in Chicago, majority in a given week get ANY vaccine b/c supply so low.

City first fills second doses to ensure people can complete their vaccinations.
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I'll live tweet.

Follow for updates and let me know if you have questions.

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BREAKING: A luxury Gold Coast watch shop that got improper vaccinations has a very important customer: Loretto Hospital's COO, Dr. Anosh Ahmed.

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Also showed me her vax card — with Loretto as provider.

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