CHICAGO — Volunteers will start going door to door in 13 Chicago neighborhoods to encourage people to get vaccinated, officials announced Friday.
While about 52 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, the majority of residents are still not fully vaccinated — and demand for the vaccines has dropped recently.
The volunteers will try to visit every house on every block in 13 neighborhoods, which are being targeted because they have the lowest vaccination rates at this point. They’ll answer people’s questions, encourage them to get their shots and even help them make appointments, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said at a Friday news conference.
The communities being targeted:
- Auburn Gresham
- East Garfield Park
- South Deering
- South Shore
- West Englewood
- West Garfield Park
Many of the canvassers come from community organizations, and they’ve been trained on how to be a “vaccine ambassador,” officials said. People who are interested in joining the effort can go online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago. The vaccines are free, do not require insurance and are also available to undocumented people.
Anyone can call the city’s coronavirus hotline at 312-746-4835 to get more information on how and where to get vaccinated in their community.
Vaccines have been shown to greatly reduce the chance of becoming severely ill or dying from COVID-19.
People getting vaccinated is still the best bet for ending the pandemic, reopening businesses and having the world return to normal, officials have said. More people getting vaccinated also means there are fewer chances for variants of COVID-19 to develop and spread, which would endanger people and pose a threat to reopening efforts.
As vaccines have become more widely available, new cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, deaths and other metrics have plunged in the city and around Illinois.
Gov. JB Pritzker said earlier this week Illinois is on track to move into Phase 5 — a relative return to normalcy — on June 11 as daily coronavirus cases and other metrics have plunged. On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Chicago will follow suit.
“When we looked at our data, every one of the indicators that we’re tracking is honestly doing better than we expected it to be doing at this point. They are all in that lower-risk phase,” Arwady said Friday. “This is the time to open, when you’re on a significant decline like this. I can’t predict fully what we’ll see in the fall or the winter.
“… We felt that we shouldn’t wait. We’re ready to go now. … . We can reopen and, please, get folks vaccinated.”
During Phase 5, capacity restrictions will be lifted at all businesses and life will return to a new “normal.” All people will still need to wear masks in certain settings, including schools, health care facilities and on public transit, but fully vaccinated people won’t need masks in most settings.
Unvaccinated people should still wear masks in most public settings, officials have said.
It’s possible there will be another surge of cases in the fall and winter, which could mean restrictions are brought back, Arwady and Lightfoot said Thursday. But for now, the numbers look good, Arwady said.
“A note of caution: COVID’s still here, still with us,” Lightfoot said Thursday.
In Illinois, about 5.3 million people of all ages — or 41.97 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccination shots, according to state data.
Across the state, 36,025 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 11,427,833 vaccine doses of the 13,803,545 provided to them.
City data shows more than 1.1 million Chicagoans — or 42.3 percent of all residents — have gotten fully vaccinated. About 52.4 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot. Among Chicagoans 65 and older, 70.8 percent have gotten at least one dose, while 61.9 percent have finished their vaccination.
Another 15 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus since Thursday. The most recent coronavirus victims included three people from Cook County.
At least 22,880 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,402 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 626 cases since Thursday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,384,365.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate fell to 1.3 percent Friday with 65,300 tests reported. It was at 1.5 percent Thursday. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, fell to 1.6 percent Friday. It was at 1.7 percent Thursday.
As of Thursday night, 901 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 247 people in the ICU and 140 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, one death and 106 confirmed cases were reported since Thursday. There have been at least 5,371 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 284,651 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of three deaths per day, down from five per day the week prior.
An average of 129 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 44 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has fallen 13 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 1.9 percent, down from 2.8 percent the week before.
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