The Latest: Chicago to open mass virus vaccination sites

CHICAGO — The city of Chicago is opening six mass coronavirus vaccination sites that expect to deliver roughly 25,000 weekly shots once fully operational.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot visited a new site Thursday at a community college. Most sites will be at City Colleges of Chicago campuses. All six sites are expected to open later this month. Lightfoot says Chicago needs far more doses from the federal government so more people can be vaccinated quickly

Chicago has been receiving fewer doses each week, she says. From about 38,000 first doses two weeks ago to about 32,000 last week. Lightfoot says at the current rate, it’ll take 1.5 years to vaccinate all Chicagoans.

Currently, shots are going to health care workers and residents and employees of long-term care facilities. The next phase includes residents age 65 and older and essential workers, but health officials haven’t said when that will begin.

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THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus plan will stress vaccines, masks in a speech on Thursday night. WHO team arrives in Wuhan to investigate pandemic origins. ‘At 6 p.m., life stops’: Europe uses curfews to fight virus. Lebanon begins all-day curfew as virus spins out of control. California counties want more coronavirus vaccine from Gov. Newsom.

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Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WASHINGTON — Democratic Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York says he has the coronavirus.

He’s the latest House member to report testing positive since dozens of lawmakers huddled together for protection during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Espaillat says in a statement that he’s quarantining at home and will keep up his work representing his Upper Manhattan district.

It’s not clear where and when the lawmakers caught the virus. But the Capitol’s attending physician has told House members they might have been exposed to someone in the room who had the virus.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac company.

He announced it on messaging apps in a bid to encourage others to get the shot, adding a smiley face emoji. He called on other political leaders and legislators to get inoculated to set an example.

An image shared by his office showed Erdogan getting the shot with the sleeve of his black t-shirt pulled up.

Turkey rolled out its vaccination program against COVID-19 on Thursday, a day after Turkish authorities gave the green light for the vaccine’s emergency use.

Some 256,000 health care workers received shots on the first day of the inoculation program. Erdogan said he expects a Turkish-developed vaccine to be available in May.

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WILMINGTON, Del. — A coronavirus action plan from President-elect Joe Biden centers on a mass vaccination campaign and closer coordination among all levels of government.

The plan comes as more than 380,000 Americans have died.

Biden hopes his multidimensional strategy will put the country on the path to recovery, aiming for 100 million vaccinations in his administration’s first 100 days.

The nation’s vaccination campaign is off to a slow start. About 10.3 million people received the first of two shots, although more than 29 million doses have been delivered.

As part of the plan to be unveiled in a speech Thursday evening, Biden will ask Americans to recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings.

A record of more than 4,400 deaths were reported on Tuesday.

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Flights were delayed when an air traffic control center near Jacksonville, Florida, closed for several hours for extensive cleaning after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jacksonville International Airport tweeted Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration’s flight-control center in Hilliard would be closed “into the evening which may cause extensive delays and/or cancellations.” It advised passengers to check with their airlines regarding delayed flights.

It was the second time this year that this center has been closed for cleaning due to the coronavirus. Overall, the Hilliard facility has had 12 personnel testing positive since June, and the nearby Jacksonville International Airport tower also has had a dozen infections, according to data provided by the FAA.

The FAA data show hundreds of coronavirus infections among air traffic control workers since the pandemic began.

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BANGKOK — Thai health authorities say they’ll maintain strict coronavirus regulations imposed after a surge in cases last month in a province next to Bangkok.

Thailand had just 4,008 confirmed cases of the infection on Dec. 1. But after the surge — discovered among migrant workers and another among attendees of illegal gambling dens — spread to 60 of Thailand’s 77 provinces, the total increased to 11,262 on Thursday.

Taweesilp Visanuyothin, a spokesman for Thialand’s COVID-19 Situation Administration, said measures to combat the spread of the virus would be maintained at least until the end of January.

Restrictions vary by province according to the severity of the threat. Those include lockdown measures and mandated closures of public areas. Generally, monitoring and enforcement of social distancing has been stepped up, and events drawing crowds banned.

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LOS ANGELES — California counties are asking for more coronavirus vaccine as the state added a potential 4 million people to those eligible for the doses.

State public health officials followed federal guidance Wednesday by announcing that people 65 and older could get it. But Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous with 10 million residents and an epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, says it can’t do that before inoculating some 800,000 health care workers first.

California received more than 2.4 million vaccine doses but only a third have been used. The state aims to administer 1.5 million doses by Friday.

Nearly 50 state lawmakers signed a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom asking for counties to receive supply updates and a “reliable” four-week forecast on expected vaccine quantities.

They also asked the governor to expand authorization for who can administer doses to include nursing students, retired medical workers, firefighters and National Guard members with medical training.

Newsom says the state’s priority is to deliver vaccines “as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences.”

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NAIROBI, Kenya — A World Health Organization official says Africa should get the first coronavirus vaccine doses from the global COVAX effort in March.

The continent is recording about 30,000 new virus cases per day compared to 18,000 during the first surge months ago. Africa’s top public health official says that “unfortunately, our deaths are increasing very rapidly” this time.

The African Union chair on Wednesday said 270 million doses have been secured from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca via the Serum Institute of India.

Some 600 million doses are expected to come from COVAX.

Doses will be allocated to countries based on population size and the severity of the outbreak, with health workers considered highest priority.

The continent of Africa has more than 3.1 million confirmed virus cases, including more than 75,000 deaths. South African leads with more than 35,000 deaths.

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STOCKHOLM — Sweden reported 351 more deaths, with the death toll surpassing 10,000.

Sweden, which approached the coronavirus pandemic by keeping large parts of the society open, has registered 518,783 cases.

Karin Tegmark Wisell of Sweden’s Public Health Agency says most deaths included people over 70.

Last year, Swedish authorities were criticized for failing to protect the country’s elderly and nursing home residents. An independent commission said elderly care in Sweden has major structural shortcomings and authorities have proved unprepared and ill-equipped to meet the pandemic.

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VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has confirmed Pope Francis received the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine on Thursday.

No photos of the 84-yer-old pontiff receiving the shot have been released. The pope has advocated that everyone should get the vaccine, calling it an “ethical option” performed not only for one’s own health but for the “lives of others.”

The Vatican has beefed up coronavirus restrictions amid a spike in cases in Italy. The pope, who is missing part of one lung since a surgery in his 20s, has been saying the traditional Angelus blessing from a library in the Apostolic Palace, and not a window overlooking St. Peter’s, in a bid to prevent gatherings.

The Vatican launched its vaccination program this week, administering the Pfizer vaccine. Vatican City has had at least 27 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including a cluster among the Swiss Guards last fall.

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DAKAR, Senegal — The World Health Organization says a coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa has been confirmed in three other African countries.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says Botswana, Gambia and Zambia have the new variant. It already has been confirmed in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

South African health officials have said the variant is possibly more transmissible.

South Africa, with a population of 60 million, has reported 1.2 million confirmed cases. That represents more than 30% of cases in Africa, which this week exceeded 3 million.

There have been more than 35,000 confirmed deaths in South Africa.

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ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey became the latest country to roll out its COVID-19 vaccination program, starting with health care workers in hospitals across the country.

Thursday’s start of the nationwide inoculation program came a day after Turkish authorities gave the go-ahead for the emergency use of the vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech. Turkey’s health minister and members of the country’s scientific advisory council received the first shots live on television shortly after the regulator’s approval.

People over the age of 65 will be the next in line to be administered the vaccine in two doses.

Turkey received a first shipment of the Sinovac vaccine, consisting of 3 million doses, last month. The country is scheduled to get a total of 50 million doses of the vaccine.

Researchers in Brazil last week had pegged the vaccine as 78% effective at protecting against symptomatic illness — but this week they announced data showing overall effectiveness is just over 50%.

Researchers in Turkey and Indonesia had announced higher effectiveness rates but those studies were far too small to be conclusive. Global health authorities have said any vaccine that is at least 50% effective would be useful.

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BERLIN — Germany’s disease control agency has reported the highest single-day death toll from COVID-19.

The Robert Koch Institute said Thursday that 1,244 deaths from coronavirus were confirmed in Germany until midnight, taking the total number to 43,881 since the start of the pandemic.

Data showed there were also 25,164 new cases confirmed in Germany by midnight.

German officials are considering tougher restrictions to curb the continued rise in infections in the country.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Germany has risen over the past two weeks from 23.36 new cases per 100,000 people on Dec. 30 to 26.03 new cases per 100,000 people on Jan. 13.

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BEIJING — China is seeing a new surge in coronavirus cases in its frozen northeast as a World Health Organization team arrived in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the pandemic.

Officials said Thursday that Heilongjiang province in the region traditionally known as Manchuria recorded 43 new virus cases, most of them centered on the city of Suihua. The northern province of Hebei just outside Beijing has seen China’s most serious recent outbreak and reported 81 more cases.

The new death raises the official toll for the pandemic to 4,635.

The relatively low figure is shown as evidence to the effectiveness of China’s strict health measures, but has also raised questions about the tight hold the government maintains on all information related to the outbreak.

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MEXICO CITY — Mexico has begun broad vaccination efforts as the country posts another new high in daily coronavirus infections.

Teams spread out to vaccinate front-line health care workers across Mexico on Wednesday, administering about 94,400 shots. That is compared to daily averages of about 4,000 shots in preceding days.

The country has a long way to go. There are 750,000 front-line health care workers, each of whom will require two doses.

The vaccination campaign ramped up a day after Mexico received a shipment of almost 440,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, its biggest shipment to date.

Officials reported a new high of 15,873 confirmed infections in the previous 24 hours, putting the country’s caseload for the pandemic above 1.57 million. There have been almost 137,000 deaths.

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Categories: National News