Coronavirus live blog, Nov. 29, 2020: Illinois’ tougher COVID-19 rules to remain in place after Pritzker talks with Fauci

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Fauci tells Pritzker: It’s ‘no time to pull back’ from Illinois’ tougher COVID-19 restrictions


A medical staffer at the Elterman Center for Women’s and Men’s Health opens a back door as man waits for coronavirus test in Skokie, Ill., Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020.

Nam Y. Huh/AP Photo

Just hours after he spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other infectious disease experts, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday none of the state’s 11 regions will be downgraded from Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations “for the next few weeks.”

The governor opened his daily COVID-19 briefing with the sobering news, citing advice from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — and other infectious disease experts.

“We are still very much in a precarious place, and we have got to take the time to evaluate any Thanksgiving effects before we make any premature adjustments,” Pritzker said during his Monday briefing on the virus.

“I spoke with Dr. Fauci this morning to get his input about Illinois situation. He said the massive number of indoor gatherings by people visiting family and friends across the nation will very likely bring a post Thanksgiving surge, and he believes this is no time to pull back on mitigations.”

That decision comes as the state logs another 6,190 new and probable cases of the coronavirus and 85 new deaths on Monday, ending the month with another relatively lower caseload just weeks after hitting a record that topped any other state.

Read the complete story here.


2:24 p.m. Three more employees in Cook County chief judge’s office test positive for coronavirus

Two judges and an employee at the Cook County chief judge’s office have tested positive for COVID-19, the judge’s office reported Monday.

Both judges work out of the Markham Courthouse. The employee works for the juvenile probation department and was last at work physically at the Cook County Juvenile Center, at 2245 W. Ogden, in March.

These three additional cases bring the total number of employees infected with COVID-19 to 180 since the start of the pandemic, the judge’s office said in a statement.

Fourteen judges and 64 residents at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have also tested positive for the virus.

Read the full story here.

2 p.m. Chicago 911 dispatcher gets a final salute

Night after night, Guadalupe Lopez just wanted to make sure the city’s men and women in blue got home safely.

And even after he’d finished a grueling overnight shift as a dispatcher with the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications, he’d delay much-needed sleep to help a colleague — if a flat tire needed to be repaired or a car jump-started.

“Regardless of how tired, how ready for bed he was, he would drop everything,” said Maria Pugh, who worked with Lopez for seven years.

Pugh was one of dozens of colleagues who braved a biting wind and snow flurries to stand with hands over hearts as Lopez’s funeral procession paused outside the OEMC building in the West Loop Monday morning. Lopez, who’d worked for the office for 33 years, died Nov. 16 of complications from the coronavirus. His wife, Maria Lopez, remained in intensive care, battling the same virus.

Read the full story here.

12:33 p.m. Moderna asks US, European regulators to OK its coronavirus vaccine

Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.

Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.

Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.

Read the complete story here.

12:05 p.m. High school winter sports adapting to the coronavirus restrictions

When low risk prep sports were shut down last week after just three days of practice because of the pandemic, Evanston’s Charlie Duffy wasn’t complaining.

The senior swimmer knows from personal experience just how dangerous COVID-19 can be. Duffy and his mom both tested positive early in the shutdown, and he can attest to the coronavirus’ potency.

“I had really bad symptoms,” Duffy said, “a 104 (degree) fever, throwing up. I had the worst headache of my life.”

If there was a silver lining, it’s that the disease didn’t linger. But Duffy still realizes the stakes of trying to go forward with sports and other everyday activities while the COVID numbers are surging in Illinois.

Read the full story by Mike Clark here.

11:15 a.m. Pandemic named Merriam-Webster’s top word of 2020

If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?

Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.

“That probably isn’t a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.

Read the full story here.

10:05 a.m. Black, Brown communities should get first dibs on coronavirus vaccine, minority leaders say

A group of minority leaders gathered Sunday to urge members of Congress and Gov. J.B. Pritzker to prioritize the distribution of any coronavirus vaccine to Black and Brown communities hit hard by the pandemic.

“We’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we’re asking and demanding that we have a sense of trust by allowing us to be considered to be first when it comes to distribution,” Pastor John Harrell, of Proviso Baptist Church in Maywood, told reporters gathered outside the JLM Abundant Life Community Center on the Near West Side.

The speakers, who included state Rep. La Shawn Ford, acknowledged that any vaccine would first be doled out to other high-risk groups, like health care professionals, essential workers, those at a higher risk of infection and the elderly. On Tuesday, a group of experts convened by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control will vote on who to vaccinate first.

Read the full story by Tom Schuba here.

9 a.m. 9 more Cook County Circuit Court Clerk employees test positive for COVID-19

Nine more employees of the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last week, the clerk’s office announced Sunday.

The employees tested positive between Nov. 22 and Nov. 29, the clerk’s office said, raising the total number of employees who have contracted the virus to 76.

Two employees each work at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, the Chancery Division at the Daley Center and the Technology and Innovation Bureau, the clerk’s office said. The other three work at the Criminal Department at the Daley Center, the Records Center and the Markham Courthouse.

Read the full story here.

7:40 a.m. Hurt by pandemic, local retailers say shopping local this season more important than ever

Small business owners feeling the pain of the pandemic in their bottom lines say it’s never been more important to shop local this holiday season.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are considered the biggest shopping events of the year for big-box and online retailers, but local entrepreneurs look forward to the day wedged between the two — Small Business Saturday.

The event encourages shopping local and supporting independent operations, and it’s usually one of the busiest days of the year for these retailers.

While the day is important, local business owners said they were counting on strong sales all season to help them survive in a marketplace where everything has changed.

Scott Starbuck, who opened City Soles in Wicker Park in 1995, said sales at his shoe store were down exponentially because of the coronavirus — and he worries they won’t be bouncing back soon.

“We won’t even be able to see recovery until a vaccine [is available] and we can say things like, ‘Socially distancing was so last year,’” said Starbuck, who imports his footwear from Europe and South American and also sells jewelry and other handmade goods from local artists.

Read the full story from Madeline Kenney here.

7:05 a.m. Dr. Anthony Fauci expects social distancing recommendations to stand through Christmas

The nation’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday that the U.S. may see “surge upon a surge” of the coronavirus over the coming weeks, and he does not expect current recommendations around social distancing to be relaxed before Christmas.

“When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn’t all of a sudden turn around like that,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told ABC’s “This Week.” “So clearly in the next few weeks, we’re going to have the same sort of thing. And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line ... we may see a surge upon a surge.”

Fauci also appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” where he made similar remarks, adding that it’s “not too late” for people traveling back home after Thanksgiving to help stop the spread of the virus by wearing masks, staying distant from others and avoiding large groups of people.

“So we know we can do something about it, particularly now as we get into the colder season and as we approach the Christmas holidays,” he said.

The number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States topped 200,000 for the first time Friday. The highest previous daily count was 196,000 on Nov. 20, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

10:29 a.m. Making the case for standardized school tests, even during a pandemic

To test or not to test during a pandemic?

School districts in Illinois and across the country are waiting to learn whether states will be allowed to request waivers from federally mandated standardized tests next spring because of COVID-19.

Waivers, to our thinking, would be the wrong move. The next U.S. secretary of education, in the incoming Biden administration, should say no to the idea, something a handful of states already have done.

Read the full column from the CST Editorial Board here.

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