Coronavirus live blog, Dec. 3, 2020: Public health officials announce COVID-19 claimed 192 more lives, spread to 10,959 people

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Dec. 3, 2020: Public health officials announce COVID-19 claimed 192 more lives, spread to 10,959 people

Another 10,959 people tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday, and deaths attributed to the virus remain high.

Here’s what you need to know in coronavirus-related news.


8:55 p.m. Illinois enters deadliest stretch of coronavirus pandemic so far with 192 more fatalities


Rush University Medical Center staff see patients in the Brennan Pavilion, the hospital’s main lobby, which was transformed into a low-acuity treatment area during the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2020

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois has fallen into its deadliest stretch of the coronavirus pandemic so far as public health officials on Thursday announced COVID-19 has claimed 192 more lives while spreading to another 10,959 people.

The latest daily death toll is second only to the all-time high 238 coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

While the figures from both Wednesday and Thursday included deaths delayed in reporting from the long Thanksgiving weekend, the state has averaged 124 deaths a day since the holiday.

That tops the worst seven-day stretch of the first coronavirus wave in the spring, during which the state was losing an average of 117 residents to COVID-19 every day.

More than 3,000 Illinois deaths have been attributed to the coronavirus in the last month alone, almost double the state’s death toll over the entire summer.

Read the full story here.

7:58 p.m. Biden to call for 100 days of mask-wearing to curb COVID-19 spread

WASHINGTON — Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he’s pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That’s made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.

The president-elect has frequently emphasized mask-wearing as a “patriotic duty” and during the campaign floated the idea of instituting a nationwide mask mandate, which he later acknowledged would be beyond the ability of the president to enforce.

Speaking with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Biden said he would make the request of Americans on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.

Read the full report here.

5:16 p.m. Wedding reception at north suburban hotel under investigation for possible violations of COVID-19 rules

A north suburban hotel apologized Thursday after it hosted a wedding reception that triggered a Cook County health department investigation for violations of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Last evening, the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook hosted a family wedding with approximately 150 people in attendance. While the event was booked prior to the implementation of the state’s latest mitigation measures, we sincerely regret allowing this gathering to proceed and our family apologizes to our guests, employees, and the Chicagoland community,” general manager Holly Allgauer-Cir said in a statement issued Thursday afternoon.

“The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry and our family-owned business. However, our hope to keep the hotel afloat and employees working should not outweigh health and safety.”

Allgauer-Cir said the hotel will follow health officials’ recommendations on contact tracing and testing.

The Cook County Department of Public Health has requested the guest list for the reception, spokesman Don Bolger said.

Read the full story here.

4:40 p.m. CPS will reopen next month even if only a fraction of students opt in — and most teachers will be required to return, CEO says

Chicago Public Schools will reopen in January even if only a small fraction of students opt to return to classrooms, schools CEO Janice Jackson said Thursday, and she warned that teachers without pre-existing conditions who simply “don’t show up” to school buildings will be fired.

What’s more, schools officials are so convinced that reopening schools is safe, they’re now working on a plan to bring back at least some high schools during the second semester, Jackson said in an interview with the Sun-Times. The district had expected to keep older students home while elementary schools return Feb. 1 and special education programs come back next month.

“We will educate any student who wants an in-person option. There is no threshold that we have to meet,” Jackson said, adding: “If 15% of the kids ... decide that they’re gonna return at any given school, we will educate that 15% in-person.

“We believe that number will gradually grow over time as people become more confident in our plan.”

Read the full story here.

3:30 p.m. California governor: Most of state nears stay-home order

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California will likely order most of its businesses to close or limit capacity in the coming days, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday, part of new rules triggered when fewer than 15% of beds are available in intensive care units for regional hospital networks.

Newsom said four of the state’s five regions — excluding the San Francisco Bay Area — will meet that threshold within a day or two.

When they do, the state will order the closure of all hair salons and barbershops, bars, breweries and distilleries, casinos and indoor and outdoor playgrounds.,

Restaurants would be limited to take-out and delivery only, while retailers must limit customers inside their stories to 20% capacity during the busy holiday shopping season.

Once triggered, regions would have 48 hours to implement the rules, which must stay in effect at least three weeks.

“The bottom line is if we don’t act now our hospital system will be overwhelmed,” Newsom said.

Read the full story here.

3:00 p.m. North Side magic shop hopes online fundraiser does the trick

No magic trick will solve the dire cash shortage of one of the city’s last magic shops.

Magic Inc. has been around for nearly 100 years and is known internationally as a mecca for accomplished and aspiring prestidigitators.

The owners and staff of Magic, 1838 W. Lawrence Ave., hope an online fundraising drive will save the business.

“We have to re-up with our landlord and, how shall I say delicately, they’re not playing ball,” said Sandy Marshall, who owns the shop. “We kind of hope we can stay there, but time will tell.”

Marshall began an online fundraising drive over the weekend seeking $50,000. As of Thursday morning, donations totaled $9,313.

Marshall, who spent part of his childhood living above the store’s previous location at 5082 N. Lincoln Ave., said the magic shop is beloved for a number of reasons.

Read the full story here.

2:53 p.m. 1 more employee at chief judge’s office, juvenile detention center resident test positive for COVID-19

Another employee in the Cook County chief judge’s office has tested positive for COVID-19, along with one more resident at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center.

The employee is an adult probation officer who works at the juvenile center, Mary Wisniewski, spokeswoman for the chief judge’s office, said in a statement. The juvenile was recently admitted to the detention center.

The judge’s office has informed anyone who may have come into contact with the people who recently tested positive, Wisniewski said.

Read the full story here.

1:16 p.m. What parts of pandemic broadcasting might remain post-pandemic?

If sports television networks have learned anything from broadcasting during a pandemic, it’s that nothing is impossible.

Need to call a hockey game played in Edmonton from studios in the States? It can be done. In fact, the play-by-play voice and analyst don’t even need to be in the same state.

Need to call a baseball game in Pittsburgh from a ballpark in Chicago? Viewers couldn’t tell much of a difference, if at all.

Networks discovered they weren’t tethered to the stadium or production truck to produce a game. Many jobs that were carried out on site were done elsewhere.

“It’s actually a lot less onerous than we realized to do things via remote,” said Mike McCarthy, Marquee Sports Network’s general manager. “We probably identified 12 key television positions, whether it’s within the studio or live, that could be done from home. We had graphics being produced by someone in their home and airing through our studio. If you had told me last year we were going to try that, I would say that’s crazy.”

Read the full story here.

1:13 p.m. Number of Americans hospitalized exceeded 100,000, over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day


Rush University Medical Center staff see patients in the Brennan Pavilion, the hospital’s main lobby, which was transformed into a low-acuity treatment area during the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2020.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalized with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time and new cases are topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.

The three benchmarks altogether showed a country slipping deeper into crisis, with perhaps the worst yet to come, in part because of the delayed effects from Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans disregarded warnings to stay home and celebrate only with members of their household.

Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals with patients and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out.

“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.

Read the full story here.

11:56 a.m. Jim Brickman holiday concerts transformed into virtual interactive events

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and pianist Jim Brickman has always considered himself an optimist. But even the purest of optimists sound a tad weary of this pandemic-riddled year.

“I’m doing… good,” Brickman says with as much as enthusiasm as he can muster during a recent interviews. “I mean, I miss traveling, especially internationally. [Pauses] I try my best to think about the benefits of this time rather than what I am missing.”

One of those benefits is his “Comfort & Joy at Home 2020” virtual tour, a live eventrunning through Dec. 23that gives fans the chance to enjoy Brickman’s beloved holiday show from the comfort of their homes while, at the same time, supporting their local venues during these challenging times.

“I wanted to give back to the theaters that were always so supportive of me,” says Brickman, who will donate a portion of the proceeds of his Dec. 4 show to North Central College’s Fine & Performing Arts Department. “I also wanted to create something that simulated the tour that we would normally be going on, rather than do a national livestream somewhat passively, which wouldn’t have any community quality to it.”

Read the full story here.

9:08 a.m. Lightfoot plans $450M in short-term borrowing to buy time for Congress to ride to the rescue

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is planning $450 million in short-term borrowing — for less than a year, at an interest rate of 1.95% — to buy time for Congress to ride to the rescue of pandemic-ravaged cities.

The $12.8 billion budget narrowly approved by the City Council last week includes plans to refinance $1.7 billion in general obligation and sales tax securitization bonds and claim $949 million in savings in the first two years.

That would extend the debt eight years and return Chicago to the days of “scoop-and-toss” borrowing that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel ended (though not nearly fast enough for Wall Street rating agencies).

Lightfoot also plans to borrow against future revenue from the sale of recreational and medical marijuana to avert the need for 350 layoffs and issue $1.54 billion in general obligation bonds to bankroll the first two years of her five-year capital plan.

Reporter Fran Spielman has the full story.

8:25 a.m. 238 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, most ever reported by state throughout pandemic


Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials attributed an additional 238 deaths to the coronavirus Wednesday, the highest daily number of viral fatalities reported by the state throughout nine months of the pandemic.

That figure, which shatters the previous high of 191 deaths on May 13, includes some death that occurred over the long Thanksgiving weekend. The Illinois Department of Public Health previously logged a total of 362 coronavirus deaths from the holiday through Sunday.

A total of 1,634 lives have been lost to COVID-19 during the past two weeks, an average of about 117 per day. That’s almost five times the rate compared to two months ago.

Seventy-one of the latest victims were from Cook County. Another 56 lived in the collar counties.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

11:57 a.m. Controlling community spread of COVID-19 is essential to protecting nursing home residents

In a recent Sun-Times article by Frank Main and Caroline Hurley, an attorney who stands to profit from this pandemic accused the nursing home industry of being unprepared to deal with the coronavirus.

It’s true that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was unclear to nursing homes — and to everyone else — what steps needed to be taken to keep coronavirus out and treat those who contracted the disease. Along with the confusion and guidance that evolved daily, our nursing home residents and staff were immediately at risk due to the very nature of our high-touch care, congregate settings and medically fragile population.

Thanks to our dedicated staff members and an ongoing partnership with public health officials, tremendous progress has been made. In fact, between July and the latest surge in mid-October, nursing homes steadily represented just 2 to 3 percent of all new cases in Illinois.

We regularly test residents and staff, screen employees daily, don PPE and keep residents distanced from each other and the outside world. And yet even those measures are not enough to prevent asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic essential workers from unknowingly introducing the virus in our long-term care facilities.

Read the full column here.

9:15 a.m. Celebrities, stop partying like arrogant buffoons

It has long been a fashionable and celebrated pastime in Republican circles to mock Hollywood celebrities for their elitist, superficial and often silly proclivities, their inability to relate to average Americans and the belief that rules don’t apply to them.

Hollywood is in fact a reviled category of people for many on the right — unless, of course, one shows up at your national convention to speak to an empty chair, or is Angelina Jolie’s estranged dad, or Chachi. Otherwise, though, to many conservatives, celebrities are bad and evil and out of touch.

They don’t have any business telling “Real America” what to do, and they possess few valuable life skills. (Incidentally, the reviled skills they do have made two celebrity types, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, perfectly acceptable candidates for president.)

Celebrities, according to the Fox News wing of the party, should keep their politics to themselves. They should shut up and sing, or shut up and dribble, or shut up and post strange videos about fried fish from their lavish bathrooms, in Madonna’s case.

Unless, that is, their politics are supportive of President Trump, in which case, welcome to the program, Kirstie Alley, Kid Rock, James Woods and Antonio Sabato Jr. — what are your thoughts on China’s trade policies, election fraud and pulling troops out of Afghanistan?

Ignoring these inconvenient holes in the Republicans’ argument against celebrity, they do occasionally stumble into a point. Whether it’s stuff like the college admissions scandal, or well-known climate hypocrise, or the entertainment industry’s protection of powerful predators, it’s not a stretch to say that Hollywood, like anywhere else, is filled with imperfect and questionable moral authorities.

During the current public health crisis, however, much of Hollywood has been fairly responsible about following COVID-19 protocols and precautions. Los Angeles has endured several lockdowns, movie and television production has halted, and many celebs have helped encourage others to stay home and stay safe — albeit in occasionally cringe-worthy ways.

Read the full column here.

9:10 a.m. A national pandemic plan — finally — comes to the rescue first of health care workers and the elderly

An advisory panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday in favor of a policy every American should be able to get behind:

Giving front-line health care workers and nursing home residents top priority for a COVID-19 vaccine.

CDC Director Robert Redfield is expected to approve the recommendations by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices. States will have the final say on who gets a vaccine first, once a vaccine is approved and the federal government begins shipments. But, for once, they’re getting sound guidance from Washington.

Our country sorely needs a national strategy, based on science, to rein in this pandemic. With these recommendations, we might finally have the beginnings of one, just as the single most powerful tool against the disease — a safe, highly effective vaccine — is within reach.

Read the full column from the CST Editorial Board here.

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