Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 26, 2020: Illinois records a 2,000-plus daily coronavirus caseload for 10th day this month

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 26, 2020: Illinois records a 2,000-plus daily coronavirus caseload for 10th day this month

Saturday marked the 10th day this month Illinois recorded a 2,000-plus daily caseload. This month, Illinois is averaging about 1,973 cases per day. Meanwhile, the state averaged a daily caseload of about 1,812 new infections last month — a large increase from the 1,150 new cases reported on average each day in July.

Here is what happened today in the fight against the coronavirus in Chicago, the state and the nation.


9 p.m. Illinois records 2,441 new coronavirus cases, 25 additional deaths


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State health officials on Saturday announced 2,441 new coronavirus cases and 25 additional deaths.

The new infections were found among the latest batch of 65,217 tests reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health in the last day. That keeps the state’s seven-day positivity rate — a figure experts use to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading — at 3.6%, which is a slight uptick from last weekend when that number checked in at 3.5%.

Saturday marked the 10th day this month Illinois recorded a 2,000-plus daily caseload. This month, Illinois is averaging about 1,973 cases per day. Meanwhile, the state averaged a daily caseload of about 1,812 new infections last month — a large increase from the 1,150 new cases reported on average each day in July.

While the state’s daily caseload average has continued to rise over the last three months, positivity rates have sunk across most of Illinois, thanks to a statewide increase in testing capacity. Illinois has processed more than 1.3 million tests this month.

Read the full story here.

8:35 p.m. How to handle technology issues with online school

Across the U.S., the pandemic has forced students to attend virtual school to prevent spread of the coronavirus. But the more we rely on technology, the bigger the consequences when gadgets or internet service let us down.

Technology being technology, all sorts of things can go wrong. Your internet service may be inadequate for all-day videoconferencing or simply overstressed. Hardware and software can be confusing, can break, and sometimes just fails to work. There can be unanticipated consequences from turning on a new video camera in your home for school lessons.

Read the complete guide here.

7:15 p.m. Rapid, cheap home tests: Companies attempt to make coronavirus tests widely available

Nearly two months after federal regulators unveiled rules for at-home coronavirus tests, no company has federal approval to sell these fast and cheap tests even though the technology is ready.

Molecular PCR tests processed at medical labs remain the standard of accurate testing, but they are more expensive and results can take days to process.

Antigen tests are less expensive, plentiful and deliver results in minutes. Three companies gained Food and Drug Administration authorization to sell antigen testing instruments to labs or clinics. A fourth company, Abbott Laboratories, won approval to market a $5 rapid, credit card-sized test administered by a health care professional.

Read the full story here.

5 p.m. Tiny airborne particles may pose a big coronavirus problem

At a University of Maryland lab, people infected with the new coronavirus take turns sitting in a chair and putting their faces into the big end of a large cone. They recite the alphabet and sing or just sit quietly for a half hour. Sometimes they cough.

The cone sucks up everything that comes out of their mouths and noses. It’s part of a device called “Gesundheit II” that is helping scientists study a big question: Just how does the virus that causes COVID-19 spread from one person to another?

It clearly hitchhikes on small liquid particles sprayed out by an infected person. People expel particles while coughing, sneezing, singing, shouting, talking and even breathing. But the drops come in a wide range of sizes, and scientists are trying to pin down how risky the various kinds are.

Read the complete story here

2:06 p.m. With daily cases on rise, Illinois on track for 10K+ deaths by the end of year

The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday announced another 2,514 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and 25 more deaths from the virus.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate — the number used to gauge how quickly the virus is spreading — between Sept. 18 and 24 is 3.6%, up slightly from the 3.5% positivity rate recorded earlier this week.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 69,793 specimens for a total of 5,363,471 since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday night, 1,637 coronavirus patients in Illinois were hospitalized, 371 were in intensive care units and 124 were on ventilators.

“Were starting to see an increase in the number of daily cases,” IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said. Daily death counts and the number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators have been steady, she said.

Reporter Mitch Dudek has the full story.

1:59 p.m. Falcons place CB A.J. Terrell on reserve/COVID list after testing positive

There’s no indication yet that it will impact the Bears’ game at the Falcons on Sunday, but Falcons cornerback A.J. Terrell tested positive for coronavirus Saturday and was placed on the reserve/COVID list. He will be the first NFL player to miss a game because of a positive test.

ESPN reported that Terrell was tested Friday morning, then practiced, then the Falcons received his positive result Saturday. The team is re-testing everyone who was in close contact with Terrell.

The Bears are scheduled to fly to Atlanta after meetings at Halas Hall on Saturday and kickoff is noon Sunday. Coach Matt Nagy is intent on limiting the amount of time his team spends traveling or in hotels for road games this season.

Read the full story here.

11:00 a.m. Universities determined to salvage semester despite warning signs

MADISON, Wis. — Colleges across the country are struggling to salvage the fall semester amid skyrocketing coronavirus cases, entire dorm complexes and frat houses under quarantine, and flaring tensions with local community leaders over the spread of the disease.

Many major universities are determined to forge ahead despite warning signs, as evidenced by the expanding slate of college football games occurring Saturday. The football-obsessed SEC begins its season with fans in stadiums. Several teams in other leagues have had to postpone games because of outbreaks among players and staff.

Institutions across the nation saw spikes of thousands of cases days after opening their doors in the last month, driven by students socializing with little or no social distancing. School and community leaders have tried to rein in the virus by closing bars, suspending students, adding mask requirements, and toggling between in-person and online instruction as case numbers rise and fall.

Tension over the outbreaks is starting to boil over in college towns.

Faculty members from at least two universities have held no-confidence votes in recent weeks against their top leaders, in part over reopening decisions. Government leaders want the University of Wisconsin-Madison to send its students home. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, alarmed by what he sees as draconian rules on college campuses, said he is drawing up a “bill of rights” for college students.

Read the full story here.

8:29 a.m. Notre Dame football season on hold

There was some eye rolling on social media when Notre Dame conducted a socially distanced version of its postgame tradition in Weeks 1 and 2.

Instead of locking arms with their teammates and swaying in unison to sing the “Alma Mater” along with the school’s marching band, the Irish spread out at five-yard intervals as though conducting pregame stretch.

Well, no one’s laughing now.

Saturday’s game at Wake Forest, scheduled as the first road test for the nation’s seventh-ranked team, was postponed until Dec. 12 after up to 27% of Notre Dame’s 85-man roster landed either in isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Notre Dame announced Tuesday that it was pausing all football-related activities until further notice. It speaks to how concerned the university’s leadership is that even a mutual off date of Oct. 3 for the Irish and Demon Deacons was brushed aside as a reasonable reschedule date.

Read the full story here.

7:05 a.m. Another beloved Chicago bar shutters, citing COVID

There’s been a lot of reminiscing of late, now that Steve Soble, Southport Lanes’ owner since 1991, has decided to close.

“It’s been one of the strangest six months of our lives,” said Soble, 56, echoing the refrain of many a bar owner in the city. He’s had “virtually no one” inside the 6,250-square-foot bar during the pandemic. Even with 50 or so seats outside, he had to pray for good weather.

“When it rained, it was not even worth opening,” he said.

And so on Sunday the bartender will holler “last call!” one more time. The pins in the adjoining four-lane bowling alley clattered for the last time in mid-March after the statewide shutdown.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito here.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

7:02 a.m. Even before any second COVID wave, many Chicagoans are still in need from the first one

The calls come daily to state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe’s office on the Northwest Side from people who need help navigating the state bureaucracy.

They call about unemployment benefits, housing assistance and food stamps. They call about utility bills, problems with state licenses and support for their small businesses.

Many of the callers these days are in tears, not knowing where to turn. Some can’t pay the rent. Others are worried about feeding their families.

Yet what’s striking to LaPointe’s chief of staff, Jessica Genova, is how apologetic many of the callers are, as if they’re feeling guilty about their predicament and needing help.

“I’ve never done this before,” they say.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

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