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Latest coronavirus news for June 28, 2020: Live updates

Here’s what we learned about how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

The Latest

Illinois announces 15 new COVID-19 deaths and 626 new cases

A medical worker grabs test tubes at a COVID-19 testing site.
David J. Phillip/AP Photo (file photo)

Illinois’ increasingly encouraging coronavirus outlook has reached another milestone.

The state announced just 15 additional COVID-19 deaths Sunday, the lowest one-day total in nearly three months.

Not since March 30, when just eight coronavirus deaths were reported in Illinois, have state officials tallied so few fatalities.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also said an additional 646 new cases have been found, increasing the total case count to 141,723, although the vast majority have since recovered.

Those cases were found among 23,789 tests processed, keeping the state’s test positivity rate over the past week at 3%. More than 1.5 million Illinois residents have been tested so far.

Read the full story from Ben Pope here.


News

1:15 p.m. Summer may decide fate of leading shots in vaccine race

People on six continents already are getting jabs in the arm as the race for a COVID-19 vaccine enters a defining summer, with even bigger studies poised to prove if any shot really works — and maybe offer a reality check.

Already British and Chinese researchers are chasing the coronavirus beyond their borders, testing potential vaccines in Brazil and the United Arab Emirates because there are too few new infections at home to get clear answers.

The U.S. is set to open the largest trials — 30,000 people to test a government-created shot starting in July, followed about a month later with another 30,000 expected to test a British one.

Those likely will be divided among Americans and volunteers in other countries such as Brazil or South Africa, Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health told The Associated Press.

While he’s optimistic, “we’ve been burned before,” Fauci cautioned.

Multiple successes, in multiple parts of the world, are vital.

“This isn’t a race of who gets there first. This is, get as many approved, safe and effective vaccines as you possibly can,” Fauci said.

Vaccine experts say it’s time to set public expectations. Many scientists don’t expect a coronavirus vaccine to be nearly as protective as the measles shot.

If the best COVID-19 vaccine is only 50% effective, “that’s still to me a great vaccine,” said Dr. Drew Weissman of the University of Pennsylvania.

“We need to start having this conversation now,” so people won’t be surprised, he added.

Read the full report here.

10:38 a.m. World leaders, stars unite at event aimed at fighting virus

LONDON — A summit that included a star-studded virtual concert hosted by Dwayne Johnson has raised nearly $7 billion in cash and loan guarantees to assist the poor around the globe whose lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

Global Citizen said its summit with world leaders had raised $1.5 billion to help COVID-19 efforts in poor countries, along with a promise of 250 million doses of a vaccine for those nations if one is successfully developed.

The group said it had secured $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to support fragile economies worldwide.

The event included a Johnson-hosted concert with performances by Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay and Chloe x Halle. Cyrus performed The Beatles’ “Help!” in an empty stadium and Hudson performed “Where Peaceful Waters Flow” from a boat in Chicago.

Read the full report here.

9:42 a.m. Former county health chief: Racism common factor in deaths in ’95 Chicago heat wave, COVID-19

Dr. Linda Murray sighs. The 71-year-old former chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health is quiet for a moment, traveling back in time 25 years.

She was an internist working at the Winfield Moody Health Center in Cabrini-Green when Chicago was hit by one of the deadliest heat waves in U.S. history.

As temperatures shot up to a frightening 106 degrees on July 13, 1995 — and remained stuck in double digits for five days — bodies began to pile up at the office of Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Edmond Donaghue. By the time it was over, some 739 poor and elderly Chicagoans — mostly people of color — had died.

“In a heat wave, you could have one day or maybe two days of extreme heat, but when you get to the fourth and fifth day, then you really begin to see people falling out, becoming ill, and dying,” said Murray — who retired in 2014 after 17 years as chief medical officer — in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times this week.

“That we were in the midst of an unusual tragedy became obvious to everyone, when the refrigerated trucks started lining up outside the medical examiner’s office — everyone, except Mayor [Richard M.] Daley, who famously dismissed the inordinate deaths with, ‘It’s hot.’”

Seeing the barrage of bodies coming in, Donaghue, under whom Murray studied, sounded the alarm. Daley resisted acknowledging the crisis.

Myriad studies, including a 2002 book by Author Eric Klinenberg, “Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago,” and the 2018 documentary “COOKED: Survival By Zip Code,” blamed the city’s failure for the deaths of so many elderly in South and West Side Zip codes plagued by poverty and disinvestment. Bodies were found decomposing in homes.

“One thing I remember about Dr. Donaghue was that he always stressed he was an advocate for the dead. He said, ‘Linda, my patients are the dead, and if I don’t speak for them, nobody will.’ And so he really stood up to the mayor. And he was proven right.”

Murray, today a governing council speaker with the American Public Health Association, and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health — teaching would-be doctors about the conundrum of health inequity — was chatting before she headlined a conference here marking the 25th anniversary of that heat wave.

“The Summer of Extremes: Racism, Health Inequity and Heat,” brought medical professionals and community leaders together with journalists to dissect its lessons, along with similarities found in the COVID-19 pandemic and a growing national call to address structural racism as a public health crisis.

Read the full report from Maudlyne Ihejirika here.

7:15 a.m. As coronavirus cases surge in US, rural areas seeing increases as well

For many states and counties in the U.S., the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic in April unfolded on their television screens, not on their doorsteps. But now, some places that appeared to have avoided the worst are seeing surges of infections, as worries shift from major cities to rural areas.

While much of the focus of concerns that the United States is entering a dangerous new phase has been on big Sunbelt states that are reporting thousands of new cases a day — like Texas and Florida — the worrying trend is also happening in places like Kansas, where livestock outnumber people.

In early June, Kansas looked to be bringing its outbreak under control, but its daily reported case numbers have more than doubled in recent weeks. On June 5, the seven-day average for daily new cases hovered at around 96; by Friday, that figure was 211. As cases rise, the U.S. Army commander at Fort Riley in the state’s northeast ordered his soldiers to stay out of a popular nearby restaurant and bar district after 10 p.m.

Idaho and Oklahoma have seen similarly large percentage increases over the same three-week period, albeit from low starting points. In Oklahoma, the seven-day average for daily new cases climbed from about 81 to 376; Idaho’s jumped from around 40 to 160.

Read the full story here from The Associated Press.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

7:10 a.m. ‘I’ll have the Post-Pandemic Special please’

What began as a practical necessity for travelers — the stagecoach stops for the night, the innkeeper carves off some mutton and draws a mug of ale — now has assumed magnified importance, ingrained in our lives.

Chicago, and Illinois, opening restaurants Friday for indoor dining should be a milestone in our civic recovery from COVID-19. V-E Day, Victory in Eating.

Instead it seems more like a dilemma, almost a trap.

At least to me. Which is surprising. You’d think Restaurant Boy would be in a sprinter’s crouch, napkin tied around my neck like a bib, knife and fork in each hand, waiting for the gun to spring out of the blocks.

But I’m not.

Read Neil Steinberg’s full column here.