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Coronavirus live blog, Nov. 19, 2020: Number of people being treated for COVID-19 in Illinois hospitals passes 6,000, 587 on ventilators

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

As the holiday week approaches, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is begging Americans to forgo travel and celebrate Thanksgiving at home with their home bubble.

That’s not all happening in in coronavirus-related news. Here’s what else you need to know.


News

8:55 p.m. State health officials report another 14,612 cases of COVID-19, 168 deaths

Tents for expanded emergency admittance at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Science at 1740 W. Taylor in the Illinois Medical District, Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

State health officials reported another 14,612 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 Thursday, as well as 168 deaths, due to the coronavirus.

The number of people being treated in Illinois hospitals for COVID-19 has now crossed the 6,000 mark.

As of Wednesday night, 6,037 people in Illinois hospital patients were being treated for the virus. Of that number, 1,192 were in intensive care units and 587 were on ventilators.

Recent case counts have broken state records set in the spring, during the first wave of the virus.

On Wednesday, health officials reported the coronavirus is now the third-leading cause of death in Illinois this year — 11,178 people have died from the virus, more than those killed by strokes and accidents in the state combined.

Only heart disease and cancer are ahead of the virus, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office.

Read the full story here.


6:04 p.m. Registration opens for 2021 Chicago Marathon

Planning for the 2021 Chicago Marathon is off to the races, organizers announced Thursday, after this year’s event was canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 43rd running of the race is now scheduled for Oct. 10.

As part of a tiered application process, registration opened Thursday for those who deferred their registration and others who plan to run on behalf of a charity.

A second open enrollment period will be announced in January.

Last month’s marathon was nixed for only the second time in the race’s history and relegated to the virtual realm over public health concerns.

Reporter Tom Schuba has the full story.

3:18 p.m. IHSA delays winter sports decision again, will hold another meeting Dec. 2

The Illinois High School Association has kicked the can down the road again.

The organization’s board didn’t take any meaningful action at its meeting on Thursday. Instead they confirmed the news released earlier this week that winter sports are on hold and said they would meet again on Dec. 2 to discuss where things stand.

In the meantime, all conditioning and open gyms are on pause and only outdoor workouts in groups of 10 or fewer are allowed.

“Taking into account the current state mitigations, the board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities,” IHSA Executive director Craig Anderson said. “The board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.”

Read the full story here.

2:11 p.m. CDC begs Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving

NEW YORK — With the coronavirus surging out of control, the nation’s top public health agency pleaded with Americans on Thursday not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people from outside their household.

It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the recommendations just one week before Thanksgiving, at a time when diagnosed infections, hospitalizations and deaths are skyrocketing across the country. In many areas, the health care system is being squeezed by a combination of sick patients filling up beds and medical workers falling ill themselves.

The CDC’s Dr. Erin Sauber-Schatz cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance.

“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is at home with the people in your household,” she said.

Read the full story here.

1:20 p.m. Remembering those we’ve lost to COVID-19: Brian’s story

Brian Surratt.
Brian Surratt, a 34-year-old man born with a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disability, who died Nov. 5 at Stroger Hospital from complications of COVID-19. Provided photo.
Provided photo.

Brian Surratt loved singing along with his favorite musical artists, especially Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Jody Watley.

He’d listen to their recordings over and over again until he not only knew all the lyrics but also could match the singer’s delivery.

“He would sing it so perfectly. You’d be like, where does he get this?” said his sister, Char Surratt.

“Brian smart,” he’d say proudly.

Surratt, a 34-year-old man born with Fragile X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disability, died Nov. 5 at Stroger Hospital from complications of COVID-19.

Surratt lived in Englewood with his mother, Irma Chamberlain, who devoted her life to keeping him safe, a task made all the more difficult this year by the coronavirus.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

12:44 p.m 6 more Cook County court employees test positive for COVID-19

Six more Cook County court employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the total number of chief judge’s employees to test positive to 169.

According to a statement from Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office, the new cases include:

  • an adult probation department employee at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse;
  • an adult probation department employee at the Criminal Courthouse Administration Building;
  • an employee at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center;
  • an administrative worker at the Bridgeview Courthouse;
  • a court reporter working at 69 W. Washington St.; and
  • an employee at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse.

So far, 62 residents and 73 employees of Juvenile Temporary Detention Center on the Near West Side have tested positive for COVID-19.

Read the full story here.

12:15 p.m. All 32 NFL teams will enter intensive coronavirus protocol

The NFL is placing all teams in intensive protocol starting Saturday to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 as the number of cases rises around the country.

Use of masks will be mandatory at all times at team facilities, including during practice and in weight rooms. Meetings must be held either virtually or in the largest indoor space with approval by the league. Meals have to be made available for grab-and-go to avoid players and staff congregating in cafeterias. Time spent in the locker room also has to be limited.

Clubs operating under the intensive protocols have reduced close contacts by more than 50% since the fifth week of the regular season, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press that was sent from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to teams on Wednesday.

“These sustained reductions and the resulting health and safety benefits make it appropriate to implement the intensive protocols on a mandatory, league-wide basis,” Goodell said in the memo.

So far, 28 teams — including the Bears — have entered intensive protocol at some point and 16 teams have done it more than once.

“The upcoming holidays, beginning with Thanksgiving next week, will introduce new risks of exposure that we need to address now,” Goodell wrote. “Because we have a highly sophisticated program of daily testing, we know when the virus enters our facilities, which underscores the importance of contact tracing and other steps to minimize close contacts within a facility.

“Recent experience has highlighted the importance of minimizing high-risk close contacts; on multiple occasions, we have seen individuals identified on that basis test positive within a short time. We have also seen many instances in which effective action by clubs to minimize these close contacts prevented the virus from spreading within the club, and avoided players or coaches being ruled out of practice or games.”

Read the full story here.

10:28 a.m. Maryland loses second game to coronavirus outbreak

The Big Ten game Saturday between Maryland and Michigan State has been canceled after a COVID-19 outbreak on the Terrapins resulted in a positive test for coach Michael Locksley.

It’s the second straight cancellation for the Terrapins, who were scheduled to face Ohio State last week before several players on the team contracted the coronavirus. Maryland (2-1) has not played since beating Penn State on Nov. 7.

Locksley tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and is isolating at home.

“I am gutted for our team and for our fans,” Locksley said in a statement. “This team is eager to play and compete and continue the growth we’ve seen this season. This virus is testing our players and coaches right now, but I have no doubt that we will emerge as a stronger unit for having gone through this together.

“As for me personally, I am feeling strong, with only minor symptoms. I will continue to lead this program virtually and our game preparations for Indiana (on Nov. 28) will begin immediately.”

Over the past seven days, 15 Maryland players have tested positive. There were seven positive cases among staff over that same time period.

Read the full story here.

7:20 a.m. CPS plans to regularly test staff for COVID-19 after schools reopen

Chicago officials are developing a plan to regularly test public school teachers and staff once they return to classrooms early next year, an effort that could begin to ease the minds of anxious workers and move the school system a step closer to reopening for the first time during the pandemic.

Rapid, 15-minute tests supplied by the federal government will be used to assess asymptomatic school staffers who are in regular contact with students, the Chicago Department of Public Health and Chicago Public Schools said Wednesday. Workers who don’t see students won’t receive the tests.

The tests can be self-administered with the supervision of trained staff, and the swabs only have to be placed halfway up the nose. If an adult tests positive, they’ll be isolated and sent home to quarantine while a contact tracing team from CDPH investigates, officials said.

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

8:24 a.m. Making threats of violence undermines our self-government

Making threats of violence against our governor’s family should simply not happen in Illinois.

Unfortunately, such threats are growing more common across the nation. It’s up to the rest of us to tamp down any suggestion of violence whenever we run across it.

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said his family received a series of “hateful and threatening” messages after a debunked photo went viral purporting to show his daughter eating at a Chicago restaurant. Pritzker said the threats affected his family’s Thanksgiving plans.

“Hateful and threatening” messages? Over something that didn’t even happen? Such threats eat away at the cohesion that holds our city, state and nation together.

It’s not just Illinois. Across the nation, store employees are threatened when they ask customers to wear masks. Health care workers are threatened when they encourage pandemic safety measures.

Read the full Sun-Times editorial here.