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Coronavirus live blog for Nov. 22, 2020: Catholic schools could move to remote learning after Thanksgiving

Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

Latest

Catholic schools could move to remote learning after Thanksgiving

A Chicago Public Schools student types on a computer keyboard. Associated Press

With cases of COVID-19 spiking across Illinois, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced Sunday that Catholic schools can voluntarily transition to remote learning after the Thanksgiving break.

While the archdiocese outlined a plan last month to pivot elementary schools to remote learning for two weeks at the start of next year, spokesman Manuel Gonzales said the new considerations are being made “in light of the recent rise in the general infection rate and the warnings about travel during the holidays.”

Still, Gonzales said it’s “too soon to say which schools will be switching to remote learning.” Most of the 199 archdiocese schools in Cook and Lake counties have continued to offer in-person classes to their roughly 70,000 students.

The decision to give Catholic schools a remote learning option comes after parents, principals and other school employees were surveyed last week “to gauge their comfort with in-person learning in December,” Gonzales said.

“In 80 percent of schools, there was strong support to stay the course of providing in-person and remote learning options,” he noted. “On Friday, we notified the other 20 percent of schools that we would work with them on any need for alternate plans, which may include moving to remote learning for some or all of the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

Read the full story here.


News

4:00 p.m. State sees 10,012 new and confirmed coronavirus cases, 76 more deaths

State health officials Sunday reported 10,012 new and probable coronavirus cases and 76 additional deaths.

Half of Sunday’s fatalities were reported in Cook County, and only four were among people under 60 years old.

The new cases were found among the latest batch of 92,437 tests processed by the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last 24 hours. That lowers the seven-day statewide positivity rate to 11.3%, the state Public Health Department reported.

Illinois has seen a decrease in its daily caseloads in each of the last three days since Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday that he saw a possible “pause in our upward movement.”

Still, the pandemic is far from over as one in 15 Chicagoans are estimated to have active coronavirus infections, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who again reminded people they have a social responsibility in helping curb the spread of the virus in the city.

“This is a public health emergency and we must continue doing our parts to #ProtectChicago,” Lightfoot tweeted Saturday night. “1 in 15 Chicagoans are estimated to have COVID-19.”

Read the full report from Madeline Kenney here.

11:58 a.m. By the time you finish reading this article, another 15 Illinois residents will be infected with the coronavirus

Illinois reported another 13,012 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 infections on Friday, pushing the state’s total number of cases diagnosed in November to 216,422.

That means the first 20 days of this month saw nearly as many cases as the entire first seven months of the pandemic.

November has averaged more than 10,821 new cases each day — or a new infection roughly every 8 seconds.

Friday’s daily caseload – the state’s third highest since the first Illinois case was reported in late January – came on a day when 126 deaths were also reported. That’s down a bit from the fatality counts of the previous two days but up sharply from October’s mortality counts.

Friday also marked the first day of new statewide restrictions aimed at curbing the resurgence of the coronavirus.

“The core philosophy here is that if we all stay home as much as possible — if we all avoid the trips outside the house that we don’t need to take right now — we can fight this recent surge and turn things around for our health care workers and hospital systems who are facing an increasingly dangerous situation, across the state,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at his Friday briefing on the virus.

Read the full story here.

9:18 a.m. Local businesses brace for impact new COVID restrictions: ‘We’re not Amazon. We’re not Google.’

Solidarity Drive on the Museum Campus was especially quiet Friday morning, the first day in which new restrictions aimed at curbing the COVID-19 spike took effect.

With museums closed to the public until further notice, the downtown campus was quiet, as just a few fishermen cast lines into Lake Michigan and three men rode skateboards along the waterfront.

Casinos are temporarily shuttered too, as evidenced by the desolate parking lot of the Rivers Casino in northwest suburban Des Plaines.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced earlier this week that, as of Friday, a host of new restrictions would be placed on public spaces in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Big box retailers must limit their capacity to 25% — down from the 50% capacity still allowed in grocery stores and pharmacies.

Admittance to gyms is also being crunched. No more indoor group classes are allowed, masks are mandatory and capacity also is capped at 25%. It’s a tough balance, some fitness center owners say.

“We understand that we’re part of a bigger system. We need to keep everyone safe,” said Tony Marquez, owner of the EFK Martial Arts in Edgewater. “There are guidelines that we’re trying to follow as best we can, from the city and state, but it does make it very difficult to make ends meet.”

Read the full story here.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

2:14 p.m. Vaccine news highlights racial disparities in COVID-19 cases

America got more good news about a COVID-19 vaccine last week, the second potential vaccine shown to be at least 90% effective against the disease in early data from clinical trials.

If the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization to one or both vaccines, doses could be distributed beginning in late Decembe,r and the country will have its most powerful tool yet against the pandemic.

But no vaccine, no matter how effective it is or how quickly it becomes available, will be a powerful tool against the pandemic if too few people — especially African Americans, who are among the most vulnerable to severe illness or death from COVID-19 — get the shot.

And as the Sun-Times’ Brett Chase reported Sunday, distrust of a COVID-19 vaccine runs deep among Black Americans. They’re less likely to volunteer for clinical trials to test vaccine safety and effectiveness. Public opinion polls, too, have consistently shown African Americans are less likely to say they would take a coronavirus vaccine.

The health care system has a lot of work to do to get past that lingering distrust. As states and the federal government plan public education campaigns to urge people to take a vaccine, extra effort must be made to reach the African American community, get people vaccinated and save lives.

Read the full editorial here.

9:01 a.m. This Thanksgiving might be like no other, but we’ve had worse, and I’m still thankful

In the Age of the Coronavirus, Thanksgiving will be very different for those of us who follow the CDC’s recommendations.

There will be no road trips.

There will be no joining of hands around a table loaded with food to pray God’s blessings over the bounty and over the hands that prepared it.

There will be no gathering of sons and daughters or brothers and sisters who have been squabbling all year nor of the elders who hold out hope that whatever issues drive a wedge between them might be settled before sunset.This Thanksgiving is trying because COVID-19 is riding us like a plague, seemingly unleashed with impunity to gather up those who are summoned.

For many of us, this makes this holiday season more important than those of the past.

Not because we throw caution to the wind by tearing off a mask and running headlong into the danger.

But because whether you come from a tribe like mine (I had eight sisters and nine brothers) or are from a family of only two, think about this.

There is always someone worse off.

Read Mary Mitchell’s full column here.