Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

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Illinois is on the verge of seeing further COVID-19 restrictions lifted this week as the state moves closer to a full reopening as soon as June 11.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is planning to further ease COVID-19 restrictions on Friday and the city of Chicago is also on course to move to the bridge phase with the rest of the state.

Meanwhile, the governor and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are holding a joint news conference at 9 a.m. Monday to give an update on the city’s vaccination efforts.

There were 80,843 doses of the vaccine administered Saturday and the seven-day rolling average of daily doses is 73,622. In statistics updated Sunday, officials said that 35.05% of the state’s population has been fully vaccinated so far.

Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:

7:01 a.m.: Governor, mayor to announce more vaccinations for business employees

Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot were scheduled to hold a news conference with business leaders Monday morning to talk about “expanded opportunities for Illinois workers to get vaccinated,” according to the governor’s office.

The mayor and governor were scheduled to hold the news conference with leaders of the Chicago Building Owners and Managers Association, at a downtown bank.

Details weren’t immediately released.

Check back for updates. — Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: ‘I think we’ll be testing forever’: Testing remains a vital tool in war on COVID-19, despite growing number of vaccinations

Heather Keirnan, vice president of operations for Northwestern Medicine Immediate Care, recalled the early days of the pandemic when doctors didn’t have enough COVID-19 tests to give to the onslaught of people showing symptoms of the virus.

Without any diagnostic clarity, people with a cough or sore throat stayed home for two weeks, until the symptoms abated, never sure if they actually contracted the virus.

Now, testing is easily accessible, but some Chicago-area health centers are reporting a dip in demand as more people across the city become vaccinated. In Illinois, just over 34% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Though daily testing data varies periodically, state figures show that the seven-day average for total tests administered has decreased since January, when the first vaccinations were just beginning for health care workers. That month, the seven-day average regularly surpassed 90,000 tests until testing numbers began generally decreasing in February and March. In April, seven-day testing averages ranged between around 70,000 and 80,000, down from peaks in November when daily tests were surpassing 100,000.

Doctors say the vaccines are surely working in reducing testing demand, but they caution people about letting their guard down. Experts say people should still get tested if they have symptoms, including a cough, fever, loss of taste or smell, a sore throat or shortness of breath, even if they have been vaccinated, citing rare breakthrough cases.

And some health centers, after having seen a decrease, are reporting an uptick in tests administered as well as the positivity rate. They attribute those increases to variants circulating faster than people can be vaccinated, vaccine hesitancy and a loosening of restrictions.

Read more here. —Madeline Buckley

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