Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 9, 2020: Lake County flagged at COVID-19 warning level as 2,818 more test positive statewide

Here’s Friday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 9, 2020: Lake County flagged at COVID-19 warning level as 2,818 more test positive statewide

Republican Rep. Mike Bost, who represents Illinois’ 12th District in the southern part of the state, tested positive for coronavirus, it was announced Friday.

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet. Here’s what happened in COVID-related new in Chicago and around Illinois.


9 p.m. Lake County flagged at COVID-19 warning level as 2,818 more test positive statewide

A woman in the Loop wears a face mask Thursday amid growing fear about the coronavirus.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois’ coronavirus testing positivity rate inched upward for a third consecutive day Friday as public health officials announced another hefty caseload of 2,818 more people testing positive for COVID-19.

They were diagnosed among 71,599 tests submitted, raising the statewide average positivity rate over the last week to 3.8%. That number indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading — and that’s as high as it’s been in almost a month.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned this week that the state’s improvement from a midsummer resurgence has “cooled down.”

And while over the last few months, the state’s COVID-19 problem areas have popped up well beyond the Chicago area — mostly in central Illinois and downstate — the Democratic governor’s health team singled out north suburban Lake County for being among 26 counties considered to be at a coronavirus “warning level.”

Reporter Mitch Armentrout has the full story.

7:54 p.m. Cicero school district bringing staff back to buildings while remote learning continues

More than 1,000 school employees in west suburban Cicero have been told to go back to their classrooms later this month even though the town’s COVID-19 test positivity rate ranks among the highest in the state.

Cicero Public School District 99, the third-largest elementary system in Illinois, serves more than 11,270 students who have been learning remotely — and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future — since the district’s 16 schools started classes August 31.

Teachers are objecting to having to go back into buildings Oct. 19 as the district has mandated when they say they could continue teaching from home. Rachel Esposito, president of the Cicero Council of the West Suburban Teachers Union, said the union’s stance is in-person teaching and learning shouldn’t resume until at least January due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The infection rate is way too high to start bringing people into the buildings,” said Esposito, who teaches English language arts at Unity Junior High School.

“We feel it’s unsafe not only for staff members but for students as well. And we feel that the positivity rate has to drop several percentage points and stay there at least for seven days before we start talking about bringing people back into the buildings. We think it’s irresponsible to do that at this time.”

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.

6:19 p.m. Republican Illinois Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for coronavirus

Mike Bost, 2020 Republican primary election candidate, 12th Congressional district

President Donald Trump listens as U.S. Representative Mike Bost speaks dring a rally at the Southern Illinois Airport on October 27, in Murphysboro, Illinois. Trump came to the state to show support for Bost who is in a tight race with Brenden Kelly for Illinois’ 12th Congressional District. File photo.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Republican Rep. Mike Bost, who represents Illinois’ 12th District in the southern part of the state, tested positive for coronavirus, it was announced Friday.

He’s the latest Republican official to test positive for COVID-19. Other recent cases include President Trump’s aide Nick Luna, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and Trump’s senior advisor and speechwriter Stephen Miller.

We’re tracking which government officials have tested positive and negative for the coronavirus. Follow for live updates here.

4:54 p.m. Pontiac is canceled and a glimpse at what basketball could look like during COVID-19

Jim Drengwitz, the Pontiac Holiday Tournament director, called Friday with another stark reminder of the unique times we are living in.

Drengwitz has canceled this year’s tournament. It’s the first time that has happened since a six-year break during World War 2 from 1942 to 1947.

“I never imagined I’d be the guy canceling it again,” Drengwitz said. “But that’s just where we are. At the end of the day, we weren’t going to be able to put on the tournament we wanted. There are just too many things I couldn’t control.”

The tournament began in 1926 and was the first high school basketball holiday tournament in the state and likely the country.

Reporter Michael O’Brien has the full story.

12:46 p.m. Has the pandemic made you consider moving elsewhere? What Chicagoans say

We asked Chicagoans: Has the pandemic made you consider moving elsewhere? If so, why, and where would you want to go? Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“Love my city, love my state! Home is where the family is. My family is in Illinois. I also love the changing seasons.” — Nancy Cullerton

“Absolutely! I was born and raised here. Chicago was a terrific city at one time, but the last year has been horribly unkind to Illinois: politics, taxes, crime, lack of a true justice system. Arizona is looking good.” — Donna Morel Vitalo

“Yes! As soon as my job says working from home is permanent, I’m moving somewhere near the beach. No reason to stay in Chicago anymore.” — David LaPlaca

Read more reader comments, compiled by Alice Bazerghi, here.

11:22 a.m. PPE supplier accused of tripling, quadrupling N95 prices in gouging scheme

Federal prosecutors accused a suburban businessman Thursday of price gouging customers looking for personal protective equipment as the coronavirus pandemic first took hold in March and April.

But an attorney for Krikor Topouzian said the owner of Concord Health Supply believed he had come up with a legitimate price for the thousands of respirator masks the feds say he sold earlier this year, and he may wind up taking the case to trial.

Topouzian, 60, is charged with one count of violating the Defense Production Act. The feds say he purchased 79,160 respirator masks — including N95 masks — from companies in Oregon and Georgia between March 6 and April 7 at prices ranging from $4.27 to $7 each.

Then, between March 29 and April 22, they said he sold 11,492 of the masks for prices as high as $19.95 per mask. They said he offered discounts to customers who purchased multiple masks, ultimately selling the masks at a mean price of $16.82 each.

Read the full report from Jon Seidel here.

8:49 a.m. Cook County launches $20 million mortgage assistance program: ‘We will feel the effects of COVID-19 for years to come’

Right after the 2008 housing crash and economic downturn, Alma Anaya said her family lost their home.

The Democratic Cook County commissioner drew on that experience Thursday as she and other County Board members announced a $20 million mortgage assistance program designed to help keep roofs over the heads of cash-strapped suburban residents reeling from the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our home that was full of memories — childhood memories and others — and I know the devastation that can cause to working families when they lose their homes,” Anaya said. “They lose the place where they’re used to going to after school or after work. So, it’s extremely important that we do something about that before we get to the insecurity that will be happening for a lot of our families. It is extremely important that we’re being proactive about it.”

Read the full story by Rachel Hinton here.

6:47 a.m. Answering Lightfoot’s call, Chicago Community Trust launches $25M plan to help Chicago rebuild equitably after pandemic

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been urging Chicago’s corporate and philanthropic communities to help Chicago rebuild more equitably after the economic devastation created by the coronavirus and the civil unrest triggered by the death of George Floyd.

On Thursday, both sectors answered the call.

Armed with $25 million in “initial” philanthropic contributions and “corporate commitments,” the Chicago Community Trust launched, Together We Rise.

The goal is to make certain that Black and Hispanic communities that bore the brunt of both the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus can make a strong comeback from that double-whammy.

“Every neighborhood. Every corner. Not just the downtown, River North, South Loop. But the entirety of our city that has been dramatically impacted — not just by COVID-19, but by way too many years of lack of investment,” Lightfoot said Thursday.

Reporter Fran Spielman has the full story.

New cases

Public health officials reported 3,059 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 across Illinois on Thursday, the state’s biggest caseload since the initial peak of the pandemic nearly five months ago.

The state last topped 3,000 daily coronavirus cases on May 14, when 3,239 people were infected.

The Illinois Department for Public Health reported more than 5,300 cases on Sept. 4, but that bloated figure was the result of a three-day data processing backlog.

Analysis & Commentary

8:47 a.m. Take it from the best of American medicine: Donald Trump must go

It is rare for scientists at the highest levels to take an overt stand on the politics of the day, knowing their professional credibility depends on remaining above the fray.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, most famously, is a case in point. Fauci, the federal government’s top immunologist, has given his best expert advice on the COVID-19 pandemic while resisting the temptation — and he must feel tempted — to call out the failures of the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis.

When an authority of such stature does take a political stand, then, it carries all the more weight. We all should listen closely.

Read the full editorial here.

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