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Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 5, 2020: Illinois reports another massive daily tally COVID-19 caseload: 2,806

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It wasn’t as staggering as the record-high 5,368 cases of COVID-19 announced on Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but 2,806 new coronavirus cases confirmed statewide on Saturday was one of the highest daily totals since the worst of the pandemic almost four months ago.

Officials continue to worry about a possible outbreak from Labor Day weekend gatherings. Illinois has averaged 1,992 new cases per day over the last 30 days, while 29 counties — almost a third of the state map — are considered to be at a coronavirus “warning level.”

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

News

2,806 new Illinois coronavirus cases, another massive daily tally among the highest since May

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Illinois reported another massive load of 2,806 new coronavirus cases confirmed statewide on Saturday, one of the highest daily totals since the worst of the pandemic almost four months ago.

It’s not as staggering as the record-high 5,368 cases of COVID-19 announced a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but that bloated Friday figure included up to three days’ worth of delayed test results due to a now-fixed data processing backlog, officials said.

The state averaged about 2,587 cases per day over the backlog period, meaning Saturday’s whopping caseload could mark the most in a single day since Illinois logged 3,239 cases May 14.

Still, the latest cases were confirmed among 61,935 tests submitted to the state, almost triple the state’s testing capacity in May.

Read the full story here.

8:30 p.m. Voting during a pandemic? Expect in person drive-thrus, sports arenas on Nov. 3

Voting will look a little different this November. States are turning to stadiums, drive-thrus and possibly even movie theaters as safe options for in-person polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic and fears about mail-in ballots failing to arrive in time to count.

The primary season brought voters to an outdoor wedding-style tent in Vermont and the state fairgrounds in Kentucky. The general election on Nov. 3 is expected to include voting at NBA arenas around the country, part of an agreement owners made with players to combat racial injustice.

Large venues and outdoor spaces allow for social distancing that helps prevent the spread of the virus, though there are questions about keeping people warm as the weather gets cold and the possibility that fewer traditional neighborhood polling places could lower voter turnout.

Read the full story here.

7:05 p.m. Pope set to make first trip since pandemic to saint’s town

Pope Francis is next month set to make what would be his first visit outside Rome since Italy was put under lockdown in early March when it became the first country in Europe to feel the full brunt of the coronavirus pandemic.

The pope is to journey to Assisi, the birthplace in the central Italian region of Umbria of his namesake saint, to sign an authoritative papal letter to clergy and faithful worldwide — a document known as an encyclical, the Vatican said Saturday.

The encyclical is expected to stress the value of brotherly relations during and after the pandemic, a theme Francis evoked repeatedly during the pandemic. Encyclicals lay out a pontiff’s views on important issues and usually shape Catholic teaching and policy in the years to come.

Read the full story here.

6 p.m. No payoff: Summer without fairs leaves farm kids heartbroken

Well before the sun rises and then again after school, Arrissa Swails feeds and waters her goats, fancy chickens and three dairy cows. There’s another trip to the barn at night to hustle the chickens into their coop.

It’s a daily routine that typically takes the high school senior at least three hours.

This week, she’d be parading her livestock at the Hancock County Fair, hoping to win a grand champion ribbon during her last turn in the show ring. But there is no fair this year for her or anyone else, another tradition wiped away from the 2020 calendar by the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

4:10 p.m. Child care crisis pushes US mothers out of the labor force during coronavirus

Angela Wynn had just launched her own project management business, hitting a career stride after years of struggle that began with earning an undergraduate degree as a single mother.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, forcing many schools to shift online. The now-married mother of five saw little choice but to give up her newly minted business to help three of her children cope with remote learning while her husband, the primary breadwinner, kept his job at a senior living center.

“To see all that come to fruition, I did it, but now it’s gone,” said Wynn, who has always been the main caretaker for her children, ages 1, 5, 11, 12 and 18. “But my priority is my kids and their education is everything.”

Wynn’s story is becoming distressingly common. Research is increasingly pointing to a retreat of working mothers from the U.S. labor force as the pandemic leaves parents with few child care options and the added burden of navigating distance learning.

Read the full story here.

1:50 p.m. Test reporting backlog leads to Illinois’ highest-ever daily COVID-19 caseload: 5,368

Public health officials on Friday blamed a slowdown in Illinois’ coronavirus test reporting system for the state’s largest-ever batch of new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day: 5,368.

The unprecedented caseload was confirmed among a whopping 149,273 tests reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health, the result of a backlog that officials say they discovered earlier this week.

Labs submit their test results electronically to the state every day, but the state’s data processing system began working “slower than normal” on Tuesday, according to Derek Lindblom, head of the state’s testing team.

By the time the delay was cleared Thursday afternoon, a testing backlog of up to two days had piled up, Lindblom said.

“Even a short delay of a day or a day and a half in processing will lead to a significant increase in test reporting,” Lindblom said.

Friday’s daily case count soared past the previous high of 4,014 new cases reported at Illinois’ initial height of the pandemic May 12. And the test count dwarfed the state’s previous high of 56,766 tests reported Aug. 22.

Read the full report from Mitchell Armentrout here.

11:37 a.m. Labor leaders call for concrete measures addressing systemic racism

NEW YORK — Ahead of Labor Day, unions representing millions across several working-class sectors are threatening to authorize work stoppages in support of the Black Lives Matter movement amid calls for concrete measures that address racial injustice.

In a statement first shared with The Associated Press, labor leaders who represent teachers, auto workers, truck drivers and clerical staff, among others, signaled a willingness Friday to escalate protest tactics to force local and federal lawmakers to take action on policing reform and systemic racism. They said the walkouts, if they were to move forward with them, would last for as long as needed.

“The status quo — of police killing Black people, of armed white nationalists killing demonstrators, of millions sick and increasingly desperate — is clearly unjust, and it cannot continue,” the statement says. It was signed by several branches of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, and affiliates of the National Education Association.

The broader labor movement has been vocal since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed Black man who died when a white police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes during an arrest over counterfeit money. The death of Floyd in Minneapolis set off an unprecedented surge of protests and unrest from coast to coast this summer. In July, organized labor staged a daylong strike with workers from the service industry, fast-food chains and the gig economy to call out the lack of coronavirus pandemic protections for essential workers, who are disproportionately Black and Hispanic.

Read the full story here.

9:48 a.m. Congressional Budget Office warns of largest budget deficit since 1945

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government’s war against the coronavirus is imposing the heaviest strain on the Treasury since America’s drive to defeat Nazi Germany and imperial Japan three-quarters of a century ago.

The Congressional Budget Office has warned that the government this year will run the largest budget deficit, as a share of the economy, since 1945, when World War II ended. Next year, the federal debt — the sum of the year-after-year gush of annual deficits — is forecast to exceed the size of the entire American economy for the first time since 1946. Within a few years, it’s on track to set a new high.

It might be surprising to hear that most economists consider the money well-spent — or at least necessary. Few think it’s wise to quibble with the amount of borrowing deemed necessary to sustain American households and businesses through the gravest public health crisis in more than 100 years. That’s especially true, economists say, when the government’s borrowing costs are super-low and investors still seem eager to buy its debt as fast as the Treasury issues it.

Read the full story here.

7:22 a.m. Will long Labor Day weekend mean another coronavirus spike?

HARTFORD, Conn. — Stir-crazy in some cases after the dreary Summer of COVID-19, Americans headed into the Labor Day weekend amid warnings from public health officials not to make the same mistakes they did over Memorial Day and July Fourth.

The fear is that backyard parties, crowded bars and other gatherings could cause the coronavirus to come surging back

“I look upon the Labor Day weekend really as a critical point,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert. “Are we going to go in the right direction and continue the momentum downward, or are we going to have to step back a bit as we start another surge?”

The warnings came as a widely cited model by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projected a worsening outbreak in the U.S. that will peak in early December at about 2,900 deaths per day, up from about 860 a day now, unless government officials take action.

Over the summer, the U.S. saw a rise in infections, deaths and hospitalizations, primarily in the South and West, that was blamed in part on Americans behaving heedlessly over Memorial Day and July Fourth.

Read the full story here.


New Cases


Analysis & Commentary

8:17 a.m. Big Ten presidents need to keep listening to medical experts, not football parents

No athletes have better parents than college football players do. These people will do anything for their kids. You get the distinct feeling that some of them would die for their children’s right to contract COVID-19 while playing the game they love.

Parents of players at Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Iowa have taken the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the football season very, very personally. They’ve signed petitions, raised pickets and held news conferences. The kids have worked so hard, they say. The kids’ dreams are at stake, they say.

On the other side of the ledger, the sane side, are the risks associated with playing football in 2020. There’s the coronavirus, a nasty disease that can spread quickly. There’s myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle associated with COVID-19. And there’s still chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Remember CTE? Remember those quaint days when brain trauma was the big worry associated with the game? It’s still very much a risk, but it has taken a temporary backseat to COVID-19.

Read the full column from Rick Morrissey here.

7:23 a.m. Trump ‘October surprise’ coronavirus vaccine will be a hard sell with a wary public

For months, scientists have predicted that a vaccine against COVID-19 could be available, in a best-case scenario, sometime early next year.

Now the Trump administration is signaling that a vaccine will be ready months before that. But no matter how weary Americans surely are of this pandemic, we don’t expect many folks to breathe a sigh of relief and make plans to get a shot.

Instead, what we’re seeing is a lot of raised eyebrows about the news that Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control, has sent a letter to all governors asking them to fast-track plans to distribute a vaccine by Nov. 1.

An “October suprise” vaccine? Ready to distribute two days before Election Day?

The timing is just too perfect, coming as it does from a Trump administration that has badly botched its handling of this deadly pandemic from the start. And, more telling yet, coming from a president who’s trailing in the polls just 61 days before the Nov. 3 election.

Read the full opinion from the CST Editorial Board here.