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Illinois still short of COVID-19 testing goal of 10,000 people a day — and even that might be less than what’s needed
More than three weeks after Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state needed to process 10,000 coronavirus tests each day to get ahead of the outbreak gripping Illinois, average daily testing numbers are still 40 percent short of that goal.
While Pritzker and the federal government say the state now has the machines needed to conduct thousands more tests, a shortage in necessary supplies to actually process those tests has limited how many can be completed, officials say.
What’s more, some national projections adjusted for Illinois’ population suggest the state may need to process roughly 15,000 to 900,000 tests a day to be able to confidently chart the next steps toward returning to normal. Some experts say more tests are needed to screen individuals without symptoms who could unwittingly spread the disease, and to check people who are considered high-risk multiple times.
“We will never, ever get out of the stay-at-home order unless we do massive amounts of testing of those people at highest risk for COVID-19,” said Dr. Howard Ehrman, a former deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “If Pritzker takes us out of the stay-at-home order before enough testing is done, either partially or completely, then thousands of more people will get infected and die.”
Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of Northwestern University’s Institute of Global Health, agrees that it’s vital to ramp up testing to understand the true reach of the virus, isolate those who are infected, enable public health workers to trace the contacts of those who have been infected and ultimately get Americans back to work.
“Anybody should be able to be tested,” said Murphy.
However, he acknowledged the state — and nation — are a long way from being able to do that.
More news you need
- City Council unanimously approved retired Dallas Police chief David Brown as Chicago’s new, $260,044-a-year police superintendent today. His first challenge? Getting to know Chicago, its neighborhoods and its people during a pandemic that forces social distancing.
- Another 98 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois as the state reached its highest daily surge in newly confirmed cases with 2,049, officials said. Today’s case count is the highest the state has seen, but it’s also the most tests the state has run in a day.
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot abruptly adjourned a virtual City Council meeting today after a pair of aldermen used a parliamentary maneuver to delay consideration of an ordinance that would grant her expanded spending and contracting authority for the duration of the pandemic. Fran Spielman breaks down the drama.
- Cook County sheriff’s correctional officers are suing the county and Sheriff Tom Dart to be paid for the time they spend cleaning up after their shifts at the Cook County Jail because of the coronavirus. The 11 officers are asking for at least one work week of compensation.
- Muslims here and around the world are bracing to start Ramadan at the end of this week locked inside. Rummana Hussain writes about how she hopes her family won’t look like a depressed and hangry Brady Bunch during their Zoom iftar.
- If Chicagoans of 1970 needed another reason to rally for Earth Day, a perfect “Exhibit A” showed itself on the inaugural celebration of the holiday. The April 23, 1970 edition of the Chicago Daily News reported “heavy haze and air pollutants” spreading across parts of the city that day.
A bright one
Before the pandemic struck, Lee-Ann Millas kept her boys, 5 and 9, busy after school with hockey, lacrosse, soccer and taekwondo. And though the team sports might be a little bit tricky to pull off virtually, the brothers haven’t missed a beat of their martial arts training.
They normally practice out of Woori Taekwondo & Hapkido Academy in Evergreen Park. But ever since the stay-at-home order forced the studio to temporarily close, Grandmaster Kwan Pil Kim has been teaching his classes on Zoom. For Millas, the switch has “been a blessing.”
“It’s the only normalcy they’ve been able to have besides being at home,” Millas said.
At first, Kim said he was a bit confused by the meeting platform, which mirrored his image so that when he displayed a move with his left hand, students saw it as his right. But despite the early kinks, classes have gone smoothly, and he’s even figured out a way for parents to make up for the lack of training equipment.
“I showed them how to make a kicking paddle with a plastic bag,” he said. “Put some air in [the bag] and tie it. That was fun.”
Millas said the virtual training gives her boys “something to look forward to every day.”
“I think it’s a wonderful thing that not only is he doing for a community, but for the sanity of the kids and parents,” she said.
From the press box
With the 2020 NFL Draft being held remotely this week, Bears general manager Ryan Pace has turned the dining room at his Lake Bluff home into a draft war room. He says he’s ready — as long as his wife doesn’t accidentally rip out the power cord to his work station while vacuuming again.
What else could go wrong with a bunch of NFL GMs operating on high-tech setups? We’ll just have to find out on draft day, Rick Morrissey writes.
Your daily question ☕
Happy Earth Day! What’s something you do that’s good for the planet?
Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.
Yesterday, we asked you what your favorite summer festival is in Chicago. Here’s what some of you said…
“The Gospel Fest. Nothing like it. And no riffraff.” — Genevieve Williams
“Every year my favorite is different. Love festival season.” — Rich Ramey
“Taste of Chicago and Ribfest.” — Sharon Bartley
“Market Days. Hope we can have it, but I’m having a hard time imagining it going ahead, even though it’s in August.” — Scott Knitter
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