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Biden Heads To Chicago To Urge Workplaces To Mandate COVID-19 Vaccinations To Help End Pandemic

"With vaccinations, we're gonna beat this pandemic, finally," President Joe Biden said.

President Joe Biden.
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CHICAGO — President Joe Biden headed to the Chicago area on Thursday to urge businesses to require their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

The president landed at O’Hare Airport and went to suburban Elk Grove Village, where he was joined by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker. The three all urged people to get their shots to end the pandemic — and said workplaces can help with that by mandating vaccinations.

“Folks, vaccination requirements work. And there’s nothing new about them,” Biden said, noting people have been required to get polio, measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations — and those policies have helped save lives.

Biden was speaking at a data center that’s under construction and said its builder, Clayco, requires its employees to be vaccinated. Most people approve of vaccine mandates, though some of those who object have done so strenuously, Biden said.

If people follow through and get their shots, they can safely rebuild relationships — and can help the economy, the three leaders said.

“With vaccinations, we’re gonna beat this pandemic, finally,” Biden said.

Everyone 12 and older is now eligible to get vaccinated in the United States. The vaccines are free and do not require health insurance.

“We just have to finish the job,” Biden said. “We can do this if we do it together. And we can literally change the circumstances, the health, the camaraderie, the employment and the access to a growing economy if we step up and lead the world.”

Earlier in the day, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Chicago still needs to get people vaccinated. An estimated 650,000 people in the area have not been vaccinated and don’t have evidence of antibodies in their blood, meaning they lack protection against the virus, she said.

The vaccines remain highly effective: About 99 percent of Chicagoans who are fully vaccinated have not had a breakthrough infection, Arwady said. Even among the few people who do experience breakthrough cases, the overwhelming majority only experience mild symptoms, she said.

Vaccinations:

• In Illinois, about 7.1 million people — or 55.74 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — have gotten all their COVID-19 vaccine shots, according to state data.

• Across the state, 33,510 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 14,789,589 vaccine doses of the 17,515,415 provided to them.

• City data shows more than 1.56 million Chicagoans — or 58.2 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 63.5 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:

• Thirty-six Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19 since Wednesday.

• At least 25,189 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,735 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.

• The state reported 3,371 cases since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,647,364.

• Since Wednesday, 163,742 tests were reported statewide. In all, 32,793,074 tests have been reported in Illinois.

• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 2.2 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 2.1 percent Wednesday.

• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 2.6 percent. It was at 2.6 percent Wednesday.

• As of Wednesday night, 409 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 216 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.

• In Chicago, no deaths were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,803 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of more than three deaths per day, down 19 percent from a week ago.

• Chicago has 485 had confirmed cases reported since Wednesday. It’s had a total of 319,835 confirmed cases. An average of 362 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 1 percent increase from the week prior.

• Testing in Chicago is up 5 percent since a week ago.

• Chicago’s positivity rate was at 2.2 percent, down from 2.4 percent the week prior.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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