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Coronavirus live blog, November 7, 2020: After possible exposure to COVID-19, Gov. Pritzker tests negative for the virus

Here’s what we learned Saturday about the continuing spread of coronavirus and its ripple effects in Chicago and Illinois.

Illinois’ stunning COVID-19 resurgence continued unabated as health officials announced a third straight record-shattering day of 12,438 new confirmed and probable cases statewide.

That’s 2,000 more cases than were reported a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and more than triple the state’s springtime daily high of 4,014 cases reported in mid-May, during Illinois’ first peak.

Here’s what we learned today about the fight against the coronavirus in Chicago, the state and the nation.

News

9 p.m. Pritzker and staff test negative for COVID-19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker answers questions from the media on the latest COVID-19 numbers and off topic during his daily COVID-19 update at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that he would be self-isolating after possibly being exposed to COVID-19, he and his staffers tested negative for the virus, his office announced Saturday.

The possible exposure stemmed from a Monday meeting that took place in a large conference room in the governor’s office, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

The person he met with, who does not work in the governor’s office, later tested positive for COVID-19, according to spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh.

7:20 p.m. Some veteran teachers skip wave of coronavirus pandemic-era retirements

FARMINGTON, N.M. — At age 86, agriculture teacher Gerald Bonds, of Farmington, New Mexico, has seen plenty of crises during his career. He sees no reason to call it quits over the coronavirus pandemic.

Bonds is in his 58th year of teaching at Farmington High School and, like most teachers in his state, has been instructing his students remotely — an arrangement he despises.

“I hate it. I want to see the students face to face and talk to them,” Bonds said in a video interview.

Confronted with the technology headaches of distance learning and the health risks, some teachers have retired early or taken leave from work. But many veteran instructors like Bonds are sticking it out.

Read the complete story here.

4:55 p.m. Indiana continues to set daily highs in new virus cases

INDIANAPOLIS — A daily record of more than 5,000 new COVID-19 infections have been confirmed in Indiana.

The 5,007 cases announced Saturday bring to 205,722 the number of state residents now known to have or have had the coronavirus, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

Health officials said Saturday that 43 more people are confirmed to have died from the virus, while another 244 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.

More than 4,300 state residents are confirmed to have died from the virus since the start of the pandemic.

— Associated Press

3:45 p.m. COVID-19 soars to another dizzying height in Illinois: 12,438 new cases

As an election widely viewed as a referendum on the federal handling of the coronavirus pandemic appeared to come to a resolution on Saturday, Illinois’ stunning COVID-19 resurgence continued unabated as public health officials announced a third straight record-shattering day of 12,438 new confirmed and probable cases statewide.

That’s 2,000 more cases than were reported a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, and more than triple the state’s springtime daily high of 4,014 cases reported in mid-May, during Illinois’ first peak. Friday was also the first day state health officials began including probable cases in their daily tallies.

But positivity rates and hospital figures leave no doubt the virus has rebounded with a vengeance since the start of October, with Illinois steadily deteriorating into one of the nation’s most severe hot-spot states.

The new cases were confirmed among 98,418 tests, meaning about 12.6% of the latest tests submitted to the state came back positive — the highest proportion of positives in a single day since May 14.

Read the full story here.

2:30 p.m. Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows diagnosed with COVID-19

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows has been diagnosed with the coronavirus as the nation sets daily records for confirmed cases for the pandemic.

Two senior administration officials confirmed Friday that Meadows had tested positive for the virus, which has killed more than 236,000 Americans so far this year. They offered no details on when the chief of staff came down with the virus or his current condition. His diagnosis was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Meadows traveled with Trump in the run-up to Election Day and last appeared in public early Wednesday morning without a mask as Trump falsely declared victory in the vote count. He had been one of the close aides around Trump when the president came down with the virus more than a month ago, but was tested daily and maintained his regular work schedule.

Read the full story here.

1:12 p.m. Betting on college football: The only certainty is uncertainty

LAS VEGAS — During the 2019 college football season, one or two games a month shifted significantly from the Circa Sports opening line to game day, or within 24 hours of kickoff.

Because of coronavirus questions and concerns that have made 2020 so murky, Circa operations director Mike Palm has watched the lines of several games a week move six to eight points.

‘‘It’s really an unprecedented time,’’ Palm says. ‘‘It’s the uncertainty. There are two to three instances a week that we open with the wrong favorite, the way the line ends up.

‘‘There is so much volatility to the market right now because of that uncertainty. I thought it was a bad thing at first, but it isn’t like we’ve been wrong on every one of those opening lines.’’

As an example of that turbulence, Circa Sports director Matt Metcalf and his team opened Air Force as a 1.5-point favorite over Navy when they unveiled their lines at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.

Money flooded in from wise guys, the smart professionals who fly into Vegas every weekend to prey on Circa’s openers. An avalanche of cash and subsequent steam made Navy a seven-point favorite at kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 3.

Air Force won 41-0.

‘‘Air Force absolutely blew them out,’’ Palm says, ‘‘so the money was all the wrong way.’’

Read the full story here.

7:27 a.m. With COVID-19 surging, appellate court hands Pritzker new legal victory on coronavirus restrictions

A state appellate court handed Gov. J.B. Pritzker a new legal victory Friday, siding with him on a key question that has hovered over his COVID-19 restrictions since the early days of the pandemic.

In an opinion undoing a temporary restraining order that had freed a Kane County restaurant from Pritzker’s current ban on indoor dining, Illinois’ 2nd District Appellate Court found that the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act “plainly authorizes” the governor to issue multiple disaster proclamations — each giving him 30 days of emergency powers.

Though most judges had already sided with the governor on that question, Kane County Judge Kevin Busch recently found that Pritzker could claim emergency powers for no more than 30 days. State lawyers appealed, and that led to Friday’s opinion. It is believed to be the first time an appellate court in the state has taken on the issue.

Though the appellate court noted its opinion “may not be cited as precedent” except in limited circumstances, veteran attorney Terry Ekl said in an email it’s clear the court “has determined that the governor had the authority to issue his restrictions.”

“This decision is binding on all circuit courts in Illinois,” Ekl wrote.

Read the full story here.


New Cases


Analysis & Commentary

4:30 p.m. Heed the dire toll of COVID-19 in Illinois as the holidays approach

Nerve-wracking anxiety about the presidential election has overshadowed a more immediate frightening fact: A second surge of COVID-19 is sweeping Illinois and the nation, and it’s already worse than the first.

With no light yet at the end of the tunnel.

“Each day, we are losing more and more of our neighbors to this virus,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday, when Illinois passed a sobering milestone of over 10,000 deaths from COVID-19. “That’s not a trend that’s going to turn around.”

Indeed, the numbers show Illinois soon could be forced to endure another stay-at-home order. And the odds of that grow every day we fail to suppress our stir-craziness and follow public health guidelines meant to curb the virus.

Read the full editorial by the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board here.

7:40 a.m. Kids belong in school — the real thing — and Chicago can make it work

Educators across the country are warning about a ‘lost year’ for public school education because of the coronavirus pandemic, and let’s consider for a minute what a disaster that would be.

A lost year, with children in Chicago and elsewhere staring at electronic screens for hours — if they engage in school work at all — instead of learning in person with their classmates and teachers.

A lost year, without the presence of counselors and social workers, who traditionally are among the first caring adults to detect and flag signs of child abuse or other trauma. Calls to local child abuse hotlines have plummeted during the pandemic.

A lost year without the therapeutic services that children with special needs cannot get online.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and it should not.

Read the full Sun-Times editorial here.