CHICAGO — The Biden administration has promised to send millions of COVID-19 tests to schools nationwide in a bid to keep students in classes.
The announcement came Wednesday — the same day thousands of Chicago Public Schools students headed back to class after the district reached a deal with its teachers union for in-person learning. The Chicago Teachers Union and CPS had been at an impasse as the union called for increased testing, among other measures, if in-person learning is to happen during the Omicron surge.
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The White House will provide 5 million rapid antigen tests to schools that serve students in kindergarten through 12th grade, according to a New York Times report.
States must apply for the tests, and they will then be shipped by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the first shipments going out as soon as this month, according to the Times.
The administration also vowed to provide lab capacity for 5 million PCR tests — which are more sensitive to the virus — each month, according to the Times. The providers will give test supplies and lab results to schools for free, according to the report.
Chicago’s bid to keep students in classes has seen struggles.
CPS and the CTU reached a deal Monday, and students returned to classes Wednesday. But some have already been sent home to quarantine.
The CTU had called for CPS to implement opt-out testing, where students would be regularly tested for COVID-19 unless their parents or guardians had opted out of the testing program. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials refused to implement that policy.
Instead, teachers and other staff members will be able to contact families they work with and encourage them to sign up for testing and vaccinations, union leaders said in a separate virtual press conference Monday. There will also be a stipend given to staff members who offer to coordinate testing expansion at their school.
Union leaders said they expect opt-in numbers — only about 16 percent of CPS families have signed their children up for regular testing — to explode once they are able to get involved. The union also said parents will be able to orally opt-in to testing, and phone banks will be set up to get more families on board.
• In Illinois, about 7.7 million people — or 61.17 percent of the state’s 12.7 million people — are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to state data.
• Across the state, 54,745 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.
• Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 19,779,403 vaccine doses of the 22,423,735 provided to them.
• City data shows more than 1.7 million Chicagoans — or 65.2 percent of all residents — are fully vaccinated, and 72.9 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot.
Everyone 5 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.
• Since Tuesday, 144 Illinoisans were reported dead from COVID-19.
• At least 28,804 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 3,383 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
• The state reported 34,573 cases since Tuesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 2,522,953.
• Since Tuesday, 237,157 tests were reported statewide. In all, 47,411,987 tests have been reported in Illinois.
• Illinois’ seven-day case positivity rate was at 12 percent. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests. It was at 12 percent Tuesday.
• Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, was at 16.7 percent. It was at 16.9 percent Tuesday.
• As of Tuesday night, 1,131 people with COVID-19 were in the ICU and 650 people with COVID-19 were using ventilators in Illinois.
• In Chicago, 28 deaths were reported since Tuesday. There have been at least 6,497 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago. The city is seeing an average of 18 people dying per day, up 24 percent from a week ago.
• Chicago has had 6,143 confirmed cases reported since Tuesday. It’s had a total of 489,529 confirmed cases. An average of 4,801 confirmed cases are being reported per day, down 11 percent from a week ago.
• Testing in Chicago is unchanged from a week ago.
• Chicago’s positivity rate is at 17.9 percent, down from 21 percent the week prior.
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