Illinois hit a grim milestone Thursday as the coronavirus surged back around the state.
Here’s what went down in coronavirus-related news.
8:57 p.m. Pritzker: Another stay-at-home order ‘lurks in the background’ as state averages 45 deaths per day
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.”
7:34 p.m. As COVID-19 numbers spiral, there is greater likelihood it will impact someone you love
My friend’s voice was low, a whisper on the phone, as she called from another state.
The Chicagoan and her husband had gone to pick up her mother from a nursing home to protect her from a COVID-19 outbreak, the facility saying it was discharging all its elderly residents who tested negative.
They got her mother settled in in her own home and were arranging in-home care, etc., when the call came from the nursing home that it had made a mistake. Her mother’s secondary test was actually positive. Within days, the husband fell sick, then my friend.
The mother was last to show symptoms, rushed by ambulance to the hospital as breathing became difficult. She remains hospitalized.
4:16 p.m. Illinois hits ‘terrible milestone’ of 10,000 deaths
The Illinois COVID-19 death toll for the year crept past 10,000 on Thursday — a “terrible milestone” that Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned could lead to further statewide restrictions to stem the spread of the surging virus.
“Each day we are losing more and more of our neighbors to this virus. That’s not a trend that’s going to turn around,” Pritzker said. “It’s up to us — all of us — to do something to save the next family from tragedy. Because unfortunately, it could easily be yours.”
Pritzker then led a moment of silence for those who have died of the disease. That includes the 97 people whose deaths were announced Thursday – 31 of them in Cook County alone.
The statewide daily total is the highest since the state reported 115 deaths on June 4.
State health officials also reported 9,935 new COVID-19 cases, dwarfing the previous single-day high of 7,899 reported Saturday and more than double the previous longstanding high of 4,015 reached during the spring peak month of May.
12:07 p.m Pies and PPE: Local pizza shop uses ovens to make face shields
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, Dimo’s Pizza owner Dimitri Syrkin-Nikolau knew business was going to be tough.
Fewer customers meant fewer pizzas, and a lot of people in need of personal protective equipment.
“We do have these ovens that are quite useful,” Syrkin-Nikolau recalled thinking at the time. “If we can find another way to put them to use, they’re going to help people, especially in this tough time.”
His solution: Baking acrylic face shields.
Since March, Dimo’s has been making face shields at its Wicker Park shop, selling them online and donating them to hospitals, nursing homes and others in need of PPE.
11:10 a.m. Bears players sent home after another positive coronavirus test
After another player tested positive Thursday morning, the Bears sent players home amid concerns about a potential coronavirus outbreak within the team.
“This morning we were notified that another Bears player has tested positive for COVID-19,” the Bears said in a statement. “As a result, the club has decided to pause all in-person football activities and close Halas Hall. Today’s practice has been canceled and all meetings will be conducted virtually. The player who tested positive and all close contacts have been contacted and have already begun self-isolation. We will continue to work closely with the NFL medical experts and follow the league’s intensive protocol. The health and safety of our team, players and staff are the highest priority.”
Center Cody Whitehair tested positive for the coronavirus, per NFL Network.
There is no indication yet as to whether this will impact their game Sunday at the Titans.
9:24 a.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.
8:18 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.
- Public health officials announced 7,538 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, the state’s second-highest daily case count of the pandemic.
- The seven-day statewide positivity rate — the figure showing how rapidly the virus is spreading — was 8.5%, up from 8.2% on Tuesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
- An additional 55 deaths were reported Wednesday. The state is averaging 45 coronavirus-related deaths each day so far in November — up from 23 at the beginning of October.
Analysis & Commentary
9:18 a.m. How COVID has shaped this election
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.”