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Latest coronavirus news for May 25, 2020: Live updates

Here’s what’s happening today in the continuing spread of coronavirus and its ripple effects in Chicago and Illinois.

Memorial Day parade
The 2006 WOOGMS Memorial Day parade. The Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society started its parade in 1963, and continued that tradition in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic by holding a virtual parade online.
Sun-Times file

The latest

A 57-year Memorial Day parade tradition continues

Though the coronavirus pandemic stopped the Wellington-Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society from stepping off from St. Joseph’s Hospital Monday morning, members of the group and the neighborhood went the virtual route to continue the 57-year tradition.

The parade’s usual motto of “everybody marches, nobody watches” was adjusted for the times, becoming “everybody watches, nobody marches” in light of social distancing guidelines that have ruled out gathering for large events for the time being — the group hopes to march in person on Labor Day.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who the society says is the first sitting governor to attend the WOOGMS event, said in pre-recorded remarks that while he knows marchers would rather be out in person, they’re “keeping our essential workers safe and doing your part to stop the spread of this virus.”

“And even as you stay home today, I join you in saluting our veterans and celebrating our nation,” Pritzker said. “WOOGMS has become a wonderful tradition, and as you are helping others by not marching, you’re among the patriots that ought to be honored today.”

Read more from Rachel Hinton here.

In this photo taken Friday, May 15, 2020, the public pool in Mission, Kan. is lifeless as plans remain in place to keep the pool closed for the summer to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
AP

News

4 p.m. World Health Organization drops hydroxychloroquine from global coronavirus treatment study

The World Health Organization announced Monday a “temporary pause” on the inclusion of an anti-malarial drug, which President Donald Trump said he used to help stave off coronavirus, in a global study on potential treatments for the disease.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a news conference that the executive group overseeing the organization’s “Solidarity” trial of experimental treatments decided Saturday to suspend the use hydroxychloroquine in light a study published in The Lancet that found a lower survival rate among hospitalized COVID-19 patients using the drug.

The trial’s steering committee will use the pause to allow the Data Safety Monitoring Board to conduct a review and appraisal of “all evidence available globally” to “adequately evaluate the potential benefits and harms from this drug,” Tedros said.

Hydroxychloroquine was one of four drugs and drug combinations included in the Solidarity trial, which has enrolled more than 3,500 patients in 17 countries, according to Tedros. Other potential treatments, including the experimental drug remdesivir and an HIV combination therapy, are still being tested.

“We want to use hydroxychloroquine if it is safe and efficacious, if it reduces mortality, reduces the length of hospitalization, without increasing the adverse events,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, WHO’s chief scientist. Swaminathan said she expected the Solidarity trial’s steering committee to review the Data Safety Monitoring Board’s findings within the next two weeks.

11:00 a.m. Trump says he is done taking hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump said he’s finished taking his regimen of hydroxychloroquine, a controversial drug he’s promoted as a treatment for the coronavirus despite warnings from his own U.S. Food and Drug Administration and medical professionals about its effectiveness and potentially dangerous side effects.

“Finished, just finished,” Trump said in an interview with Sinclair Broadcast’s program Full Measure With Sharyl Attkisson that aired on Sunday. “And by the way, I’m still here. To the best of my knowledge, here I am.”

The president has promoted hydroxychloroquine, an FDA-approved drug used to treat malaria as well as autoimmune conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as a “game-changer.” There is little evidence that hydroxychloroquine has been effective to treat or prevent the coronavirus.

Read more: “Finished, just finished”: Trump says he is done taking hydroxychloroquine

11 a.m. Public Pools reopening during the coronavirus pandemic

Public pools will look very different this summer if they open at all with the coronavirus threat still looming, as teenage lifeguards will be tasked with maintaining social distancing and spotting COVID-19 symptoms in addition to their primary responsibility of preventing drownings.

Pools that do plan to open will take precautions, including screening temperatures on entry, requiring lifeguards to wear masks and significantly reducing the number of swimmers allowed in the water and locker rooms, said Dr. Justin Sempsrott, the medical director for the lifeguard certification program Starguard Elite and executive director of Lifeguards Without Borders, which works to reduce drownings worldwide.

In this photo taken Friday, May 15, 2020, the public pool in Mission, Kan. is lifeless as plans remain in place to keep the pool closed for the summer to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
AP

“It’s definitely not going to be business as usual this season,” he said.

Amid the uncertainty, sales of inflatable pools that cost less than $150 have increased by 165% over the seven-week period that began March 15, compared with the same period last year, according to NPD Group, a data and consulting firm. Meanwhile, most of the people who were planning to install in-ground pools in their yards before the COVID-19 shutdown caused economic havoc have decided to proceed, said Sabeena Hickman, the CEO of the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, an industry trade group, which reached out to the country’s top 25 residential pool builders.

Read more: Coronavirus and public pools: US communities face tough choices on opening

8 a.m. Lynn Sweet’s rules of the road for social distancing while walking, running and biking

As some of our COVID-19 pandemic lockdown rules in Illinois are easing and the spring weather is bringing us outside more frequently to walk, run and bike, I’ve been navigating the new normal while social distancing. There is no best practices manual for this.

I’m a speed walker. I aim at five miles a day. As I roam around, I’ve made it a point to observe social or physical distancing behavior — who among us tries to observe the six feet; who doesn’t; and whether lapses appear willful or the result of being oblivious. I’ve become a student of the various tactics people are using and developing some of my own.

Here are some of the Sweet Outdoor Rules of the Road:

1. It’s on me.

Social distancing is key to avoiding the spread of COVID-19. There are all sorts of persuasion messaging and advertising campaigns ongoing to convince people to stay six feet apart. Yet people don’t. Maybe it’s a spatial dissonance thing? A political statement? Youthful rebellion? Entitlement? Free floating hostility? Ignorance? Doesn’t matter why.

Since I care more than you may do about this six-feet thing, it’s on me to get out of your way.

“In general, what we know is,” Ring said, “you can’t change another person’s behavior. You can only change your own.”

2. Make peace with doing the easiest thing to create the six feet: cross the street, take a turn, whatever. Remember we are living in difficult times.

“We are seeing a rise in depression, anxiety, PTSD,” Ring said. Add to that people struggling with financial and relationship burdens.

3. Maintain situational awareness. Do not stop in the middle of a sidewalk or path to read your email or chat on the phone. Move off the sidewalk or path.

Check out four more of Lynn Sweet’s rules for the road here.

7:55 a.m. Here’s what you can expect when you take a fitness class, get a haircut or go out to eat under Phase 3 of Pritzker’s reopening plan

Gov. J.B. Pritzker released guidelines Sunday for retailers, manufacturers, barbershops, salons, health and fitness centers, and other businesses that will be allowed to reopen in coming days as the state enters the next phase of its “Restore Illinois” plan.

In addition to social distancing, wearing masks and hand-washing, Phase 3 of Pritzker’s plan includes some specific guidelines for places like gyms, hair salons and day camps:

  • Youth sports activities are limited to drills, practices and lessons that involve no contact between kids and allow for six feet of social distancing to be maintained.
  • Fitness classes are limited to one on one training, outdoor classes with a maximum of 10 participants and no contact between attendees.
  • Personal care services, like those you get at hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, massage parlors, waxing centers and tattoo parlors, can only be performed while the customer and employee are both wearing face masks.
  • Massages and body treatments, like masks and scrubs, are limited to 30 minutes or less.
  • Camps can only take place during the day; overnight camps are not allowed.
  • Restaurants and bars can be open for outdoor dining only and limited to parties of six people or fewer.

Read the full story for more on the Phase 3 guidelines here.

7:30 a.m. 67 more Illinois coronavirus deaths announced as state inches toward Phase 3

Another 67 Illinois residents have died of COVID-19, state officials announced Sunday, increasing the state’s pandemic death toll to 4,856.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also processed 25,674 new tests and identified 2,508 new cases, bringing the state’s total case count — although many have recovered — to 110,304.

That represents a 9.7% statewide test positivity rate, lowering the state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate to 12%. The rate in the Northeast Region — which includes Cook County — was 15% on Sunday.

The new numbers were disclosed shortly after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced new specific guidelines for businesses and activities planning to reopen when the state progresses to the third phase of the “Restore Illinois” plan in the coming days.

Read the full report from Ben Pope here.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

7:30 a.m. What we leave behind and what we welcome as city moves toward reopening

As the city moves cautiously to re-open its isolation doors next week in the wake of a COVID-19 fatalities decline, expect an eraser to appear. Expect change.

It’s not a stretch to consider new hustle and bustle to eradicate the following:

  • A very quiet morning.
  • The sound of birds ALL day.
  • The actual noise of wheeled grocery store carts; the language of muffled “mask” speech.
  • Wildflowers given a chance to sow before the Spring mow on public property.
  • The actual sound of our Windy City’s wind.
  • Silence beyond six feet.
  • Big-time family time.
  • People actually walking their OWN dogs.
  • The friendly street “nod” from muffled masked strangers.
  • The time during the workweek when we actually heard our doorbell ring; answered our own door; and had an extended, uninterrupted conversation with a close friend.
  • The mea culpa moment, as a Catholic, of attending Sunday mass via TV at home, with a cup of coffee and a great sermon from the top hat, Cardinal Blase Cupich.
  • The seismic shift from horizontal to vertical, when elevators in our city’s concrete canyon come alive.
  • And the gift during our isolation of a tiny window into life in rural America or small town, USA, where restaurants are rare, elevators are non-existent and no one hires dog walkers.

Here’s what will soon be back barring the scientific possibility coronavirus clubs us this Fall.

  • Jobs.
  • Traffic.
  • Noise.
  • Cars everywhere.
  • The parking pandemic.
  • And yikes! Remembering that every piece of unpackaged food in a grocery store has probably been touched by someone’s hand.
  • Cautiously reopening Chicago is a good thing; so are eyes not having to weep for virus victims.

But let’s not forget the little gifts during this nightmare. Just saying. Never forget to be grateful for the little things.

Read Michael Sneed’s full column here.