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Coronavirus live blog, Nov. 4, 2020: Illinois seven-day statewide positivity rate was 8.5%, up from 8.2% on Tuesday after 7,538 new COVID-19 cases reported

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

The U.S. presidential election may be dominating headlines, but the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t gone away.

Here’s what happened Wednesday in coronavirus-related news.


8:55 p.m. 7,538 new COVID-19 cases reported; state’s second-highest daily count

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Public health officials on Wednesday reported 7,538 new COVID-19 cases, the state’s second-highest daily case count of the pandemic.

The record high daily count was set on Halloween at 7,899. The next highest tall was 6,980 on Sunday, Nov. 1.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate was 8.5%, up from 8.2% on Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

An additional 55 deaths were reported Wednesday. Illinois has tallied a total of 437,556 cases and 9,933 deaths.

It is the eighth day in a row the state has reported more than 6,000 new coronavirus cases.

As of Wednesday, all 11 of the state’s regions are operating under tighter state-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, which includes bans on indoor services at bars and restaurants.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was expected to hold a news conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss the latest numbers.

“We’re not currently looking at a stay-at-home order, I mean, obviously that’s something that lurks in the background,” Pritzker said Monday. “If we believe these tiered mitigations ultimately are ineffective, if people choose not to wear masks and if the spread of the virus continues to go unabated, in a kind of community spread, we would obviously have to consider, you know, more significant mitigations.”

Read the full story here.

4:16 p.m. 91% of classrooms have adequate ventilation, CPS says as debate continues on return during the pandemic

Ventilation and air quality in the vast majority of Chicago Public Schools classrooms have been deemed safe for students and staff after district-wide inspections in recent weeks, officials said this week.

In an effort to prove its buildings can safely welcome back thousands of people during the ongoing pandemic, the school system said it conducted its own internal examinations of ventilation systems at all 500-plus district run schools and hired an outside, independent inspector to take air quality samples at those facilities.

The results showed 91% of nearly 20,000 classrooms have a functioning mechanical ventilation system and, of the ones that don’t, 8% have an operable window that can provide circulation, according to CPS. About 94% of total school spaces have a ventilation system or working window. The district vowed to get the remaining areas up to par and said nobody would occupy those rooms until they’re equipped with the necessary protections.

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.

10:04 a.m. Bears put OT Jason Spriggs, RG Germain Ifedi on reserve/COVID-19 list; RT Bobby Massie to IR

The Bears’ offensive line was already battered by injuries, and now the team is down two more linemen.

The Bears put offensive tackle Jason Spriggs, who would’ve started Sunday against the Titans, on the reserve/COVID-19 list Tuesday, as well as starting right guard Germain Ifedi. Spriggs tested positive and Ifedi was classified as a high-risk close contact, NFL Network reported.

While that virtually guarantees that Spriggs will be out Sunday, Ifedi could progress through the return-to-play protocol in time to return. If he quarantines for five days — Tuesday was Day 1 since it was an off day for the Bears because of the election — and tests negative, he can play.

Spriggs was filling in for starting right tackle Bobby Massie, who exited the Saints game Sunday with a knee injury. The Bears put him on injured reserve, and he can’t return until their Dec. 6 game against the Lions.

Losing Spriggs and Massie, as well as the possibility of playing without Ifedi, is a brutal hit for a Bears line that has struggled through injuries and poor play all season. They are already missing left guard James Daniels because of a season-ending pectoral injury, and center Cody Whitehair was out against the Saints with a calf injury.

Read the full story here.

8:06 a.m. Pritzker targets social gatherings amid ‘COVID storm’

Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned local officials across the state to enforce restrictions on social gatherings or take responsibility for an even greater surge of COVID-19 infections that overwhelm hospitals and lead to more deaths.

“People all across the state need to stand up and make sure that they are doing everything they can locally — state’s attorneys, sheriffs, law enforcement and elected leaders — to enforce the rules here so we don’t end up with a terrible nightmare of a health care situation and people dying because they can’t even get treated in their local hospital,” Pritzker said at a Tuesday briefing.

The governor made his comments regarding parties and banned indoor gatherings at bars and restaurants as the pandemic showed no sign of slowing down. State health officials reported 6,516 new cases of COVID-19 and 68 additional deaths.

The numbers mark the seventh day in a row the state has recorded more than 6,000 new cases.

The number of deaths was the highest reported since Oct. 21 and showed that deaths were spread out over 29 counties across the state.

“We are in the middle of a COVID storm that appears to be sweeping the entire nation and our trajectory is only getting worse,” Pritzker said.

Read the full story from Brett Chase here.

New Cases

  • The pandemic showed no sign of slowing down Tuesday as state health officials reported 6,516 new cases of COVID-19 and 68 additional deaths.
  • The numbers mark the seventh day in a row the state has recorded more than 6,000 new cases.
  • The number of deaths was the highest reported since Oct. 21 and showed that deaths were spread out over 29 counties across the state.

Analysis & Commentary

1:35 p.m. How COVID has shaped this election

Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg writes:

Even in ordinary times, the American electoral system presents a strange business model: a service offered in a dozen languages — including Urdu, Gujarati and Bengali — to customers from 18 to 108, whose millions of choices must be immediately tabulated by seasonal workers. The fate of the nation hinges on the process being done correctly — plus, in a crowning surreal touch, patrons, though adults, expect a sticker when they’re done, like children visiting the doctor.

Now add a global pandemic.

“COVID changed everything,” Marisel Hernandez, chair of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, said last week.

The March 17 primary was a dry run which saw city and state feuding up to the last minute over whether to hold an election at all. New York canceled theirs, and 15 other states postponed. Holding Illinois’ primary proved educational.

“We learned a lot,” Hernandez said. “Every election has its own obstacles, but March was the most challenging we ever had. We had locations closing. Owners refusing to let us use their places for polling. Judges canceling. As a result of that election, we learned how valuable, how important early voting and voting by mail is.”

Read Neil Steinberg’s full column here.

8:17 a.m. Blame virus, not our leaders, for lockdowns

In a letter to the Sun-Times editors, Ted Z. Manuel, of Hyde Park, writes...

Because COVID-19 is so relentless, mayors and governors would be poor leaders if they ignored how deadly it is and did not lock down events and sites where people traditionally gather to stop the spread. Yet many Illinoisans want to demonize Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others for ordering it.

Granted, lockdowns deal what may be a fatal blow to the survival of many small businesses, and in turn damage our economy generally; but aren’t lives more important? Is spending a jovial time in a bar, risking death, more important than staying healthy and alive, sequestered? Don’t blame our leaders. Blame the virus. Wherever on the planet normal socializing activity has resumed, the virus takes over again and people die in droves.

Read this and more letters to our Editorial Board here.