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All CPS Schools Will Have COVID-19 Testing By Friday, New CEO Says

Chicago Public Schools — under heavy criticism for its handling of in-person learning during the pandemic — has seen 1,101 students and 342 adults test positive for COVID-19 in the month since school began.

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CHICAGO — All public schools in Chicago will have coronavirus testing by Friday, officials vowed at a Thursday news conference.

The announcement comes as Chicago Public Schools has faced intense criticism for not providing testing at all schools during the return of in-person learning — despite promising to do so. And officials noted that while voluntary testing will be available at all schools, not everyone will actually get tested.

At the same news conference, officials announced 1,101 students and 342 adults have tested positive for COVID-19 in the month since school began. There are about 380,000 students and staff member in the district, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, has previously said.

CPS also unveiled a tweaked dashboard where people can check for updates on case numbers and other metrics, and officials said they’ll double the number of contact tracers investigating coronavirus cases.

Chicago has seen about five in every 1,000 people in the “CPS ecosystem” be diagnosed with COVID-19, Arwady said. The city is seeing an average of zero deaths among juveniles, while an average of 77 cases are reported per day in people 17 and younger, she said.

“Nothing I am seeing in those numbers is concerning to me,” Arwady said.

The Chicago Teachers Union and some parents have said the district has not done enough to protect children, school staff and communities — especially since kids younger than 12 aren’t eligible to get vaccinated yet.

The district requires people to wear masks indoors in schools and for kids to stay at least 3 feet apart in classrooms, but some teachers and parents have said the district didn’t provide adequate safety equipment and isn’t doing enough contact tracing and testing to get a full view of how COVID-19 is moving through CPS.

Some have called for a virtual learning option — and Pedro Martinez, who started as CPS CEO this week, said Thursday officials will look at the possibility of offering remote learning.

Martinez also asked for “grace” for himself and other CPS officials.

But criticism of the district intensified this week, as parents and teachers called for Jensen Elementary School in Garfield Park to be shut down as the school saw eight confirmed cases and more than 200 people were considered “exposed.”

A mother of a quarantining student at the school died from COVID-19 complications, her family told the Sun-Times. Arwady said Thursday that she could not comment on an individual child’s test results, but the district did not see a positive test in the “cohort of interest.”

Some parents said they plan to participate in a “sick out” Friday where they’ll keep their kids out of class to demand better safety mitigations.

About 15,000 CPS kids have had to temporarily quarantine at some point since the school year; of those, 205 later had a positive COVID-19 test, Arwady said.

The city is “absolutely not seeing” mass spread in schools, Arwady said. She said the most common place for kids to be infected with COVID-19 is in their household, particularly when they’re exposed to people who are not fully vaccinated.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7 million people — or 55.24 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 23,885 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,555,022 vaccine doses of the 17,271,415 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.55 million Chicagoans — or 57.6 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 62.8 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.

Everyone 12 and older is eligible to get vaccinated in Chicago.

COVID-19 vaccinations are free and do not require insurance. 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.

The numbers:

• Forty-two Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 24,976 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,689 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 3,344 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,627,508.

• Since Wednesday, 180,411 tests were reported statewide. In all, 31,878,109 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate was at 2.2 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.4 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.8 percent. It was at 3 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 453 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 225 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, five deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,777 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than four deaths per day, down 9 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 409 had confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 317,101 confirmed cases. An average of 343 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 19 percent decrease from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is unchanged since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.4 percent, down from 2.9 percent the week prior.

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