Thursday, March 18, 2021

Link to, and questions about, WBEZ report on judges getting vaccinated at Loretto Hospital

Updated March 19, 2021

A number of comments have popped up this afternoon concerning a WBEZ story, by Dan Mihalopoulos and Kristen Schorsch, posted yesterday on the radio station's website, "Cook County Judges — And Spouses — Offered Special Chance At COVID-19 Vaccine At Loretto Hospital."

I am grateful for the comments, because they allowed me to locate and post this link to the story.

One takeaway from the story, certainly, is that judges and lawyers generally are in Category 1C and, unless they qualify for a higher priority category because of age or underlying health conditions, judges and lawyers are not yet eligible for vaccination in the City of Chicago.

Inasmuch as the story does not identify the 13 judges and/or their spouses who were offered vaccinations from Loretto Hospital, and inasmuch as we do not know anything about the underlying health conditions of those judges, their spouses, or the two judges identified in the article, we do not know for certain that they were not yet eligible. That is the assumption under which the article proceeds, obviously. But the authors did not know, and could not know, about the actual eligibility of these individuals absent either a HIPAA waiver by the individuals involved, or a HIPAA violation by the hospital. There is a further assumption in the article that 14 judges and/or their spouses were in fact vaccinated on the evening of March 8. Perhaps they all were. Perhaps some were.

The only judge who was certainly vaccinated at Loretto, according to the article, was Judge James A. Shapiro. He was not part of the group invited by Judge Diann Marsalek, the acting presiding judge of the Cook County Circuit Court’s Traffic Division. I did see his Facebook posts, mentioned in the article, which, as I recall, expressed gratitude for his vaccination and encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Not suprisingly, those Facebook posts appear to be gone this afternoon.

But... isn't 'get yourself vaccinated as soon as you are able' the official, consistent, and unanimous message of all health officials?

My wife is a teacher in the Chicago Catholic Schools. She has been providing in-person instruction at her school since August. While teachers have been eligible for some time, slots for shots have been rare as hen's teeth. A nurse at a downtown hospital, who has children attending the school where my wife teaches, made arrangements with the school's principal: If shots were left over at the end of the day, the nurse would call the principal and the principal would reach out to teachers. That's how my wife got her shot: We got a call on a Wednesday night at 7:30; she could get the shot if we got there by 8:00. We made it with a minute to spare.

My wife was told that it was a fairly commonplace occurrence. Despite careful planning, there were always some people who didn't show up as scheduled. The bad weather last month exacerbated this situation. The bottom line with the vaccines is use it or lose it. It doesn't keep long once it's received, and once a vial is opened it must be used or discarded.

Now, admittedly, my wife was eligible when she was offered her vaccination. I offer no opinion about Judge Shapiro's eligibility -- but, according to the linked article, Judge Shapiro was initially told he was not eligible, but then he was called back. That seems significant to me.

The City of Chicago appears to be having some difficulty distributing COVID-19 vaccines. When the State of Illinois moved into Phase 1B+ on February 25, the City of Chicago lagged behind. Since all Chicago residents are necessarily State residents, too, it has been my understanding that Chicago residents, if eligible under State standards, are free to seek vaccines wherever they may be obtained.

The most disturbing allegation of the WBEZ story is the inclusion of spouses or "plus ones" in the vaccination offer extended to certain judges.

Not that it doesn't make sense, logically, scientifically, and from every other imaginable human standpoint, that persons desiring vaccine to protect themselves would also want vaccination for those closest to them. The bureaucratic mind, however, is hostile to every normal human impulse. And, whatever the rules may be at any given moment (and they are changing constantly), they are the product of bureaucratic minds, so anyone administering the rules would presumably know that "plus ones" would not be automatically included.

That does not mean, of course, that any spouses or significant others actually vaccinated at Loretto Hospital on March 8 did not otherwise qualify under state or local standards. It only means that they do not qualify merely because of their status as significant others. An open-ended offer by the hospital to vaccinate such persons, if made, would appear to be inappropriate.

The Biden administration wants every American to be eligible for vaccination by May 1. The State of Illinois announced today that all persons 16 and older will be eligible for vaccination on April 12. That skips the State from Phase 1B+ to Phase 2, bypassing Phase 1C entirely. The City of Chicago says it plans to enter Phase 1C on March 29 -- which would make judges and lawyers eligible along with other 'essential workers' and persons with particular underlying health conditions.

Though the City of Chicago hasn't officially moved beyond Phase 1B, all residents of Chicago's 9th Ward (and some residents of the 6th, 10th and 34th Wards) aged 40 or older were invited to reigster to receive the Pfizer vaccine earlier this week at the Pullman Community Center. That's not line jumping because the line was apparently redrawn by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

And the mass vaccination site at the United Center, operated by FEMA, was initially open to all Illinois residents 16 and older with an underlying medical condition, but the rules changed after the site went into operation and shots were limited to persons only from certain Chicago Zip Codes. Eleven Democratic Members of Congress signed a letter to FEMA protesting the change. The lines were drawn, and then redrawn.

That doesn't excuse any judges from line jumping, obviously. But, though WBEZ insinuates, it does not establish that any such behavior occurred. And the lines are perhaps a bit more fluid and confusing than some of the critics will acknowledge.

Perhaps the real story here is that the City of Chicago is not getting people vaccinated nearly as quickly as the rest of the State. Maybe there should be some inquiries into that.


Anonymous said...

Or you could just run . . . to Loretto Hospital on Diann’s Friends and Family Plan.

Anonymous said...

Leyhane comes to the defense of judges again. Perhaps Evans can make you his new press secretary.

Jack Leyhane said...

Somebody left a comment claiming that WBEZ posted an update naming each of the judges on the email. I can't find such an update on the WBEZ site. If someone would kindly leave me a link to said update, if it exists, I would appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

Leftovers my ass.

Who got the shots? Easy enough to find out. I will have my laptop with me to cover my Tim Evans Cook County "zoom court" (wow, it's even better than the real thing said Evans) while waiting outside the only entrance to Loretto Hospital ready to take pictures of these MOFOs when they return for their second shot.

Anonymous said...

These weren’t leftovers and the judges know.

Anonymous said...

So they had a way to call Marsalek, but not the managers of the CHA buildings on the westside? This is bull. They didn’t get leftovers and they knew it. Vote NO 2022.

Anonymous said...

Print their names, Jack. Anna D.’s friend already has.

Anonymous said...

Jack please thank your wife for making what I can easily believe would be the many sacrifices that she has made over the years working as a CPS teacher. And while I have appreciated your desire to remain objective when presenting controversial stories involving judges, this is one of those times where you will probably better served by NOT relating "information" related by the Office of the Chief Judge. As Dr. Arwaday stated yesterday, there are no "leftovers." And when we transported my foster child's elderly grandmother to Loretto to get her first shot, there was a line around the corner well past 3:30, so this narrative that the judges didn't receive preferential treatment and merely got leftover vaccines that would have otherwise gone to waste is patently false. This incident merely proves that too many -- not all -- of the members of the Cook County judiciary are entitled, spoiled and are the furthest thing of public servants. In short, they are no Mrs. Leyhane.

I have seen many of these so-called public servants lecture other people on following the rules. They have lost their moral authority to do so any further -- and I am focusing my comments on the several people who did get the shot. No concerns. We know who you are and will be waiting outside to take your picture when you return to the scene of your crime for that second shot.

Mad As Hell And I Ain't Gonna Take It Anymore