Coronavirus live blog, July 14, 2020: First coronavirus vaccine tested in US set to begin final testing

The day’s latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, July 14, 2020: First coronavirus vaccine tested in US set to begin final testing

Another 25 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, as health officials on Tuesday announced an additional 707 people have contracted the virus.

That raised the state’s coronavirus death toll to 7,128 and the overall case tally to 155,506.

Tuesday marked a return to relatively low numbers — the first day in a week with fewer than 800 cases. But the fight against the coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet.

Here’s what happened in the city and around the state as that fight continued.


9:01 p.m. First COVID-19 vaccine tested in US poised for final testing


A Brazilian researcher works on another potential vaccine in progress in that nation.

Douglas Magno/AFP via Getty Images (file photo)

The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday — as the shots are poised to begin key final testing.

“No matter how you slice this, this is good news,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press.

The experimental vaccine, developed by Fauci’s colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will start its most important step around July 27: A 30,000-person study to prove if the shots really are strong enough to protect against the coronavirus.

But Tuesday, researchers reported anxiously awaited findings from the first 45 volunteers who rolled up their sleeves back in March. Sure enough, the vaccine provided a hoped-for immune boost.

Those early volunteers developed what are called neutralizing antibodies in their bloodstream — molecules key to blocking infection — at levels comparable to those found in people who survived COVID-19, the research team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“This is an essential building block that is needed to move forward with the trials that could actually determine whether the vaccine does protect against infection,” said Dr. Lisa Jackson of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute in Seattle, who led the study.

Read the Associated Press’ full report here.

7:26 p.m. Here are the states named in Chicago’s emergency travel order

Planning a COVID-safe getaway from Chicago? Better avoid these 17 states.

Chicagoans returning from any one of the 17 states shown in the graphic above will be required to quarantine for 14 days, according to a city emergency travel order.

Check out the graphic and read the full story here.

4:41 p.m. 707 new Illinois coronavirus cases, 25 more deaths

Another 25 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, as health officials on Tuesday announced an additional 707 people have contracted the virus.

That raised the state’s coronavirus death toll to 7,128 and the overall case tally to 155,506.

And following Illinois’ first three-day stretch since a peak month of May with daily case counts over 1,000, Tuesday marked a return to relatively low numbers — the first day in a week with fewer than 800 cases.

The new cases were confirmed among the latest batch of 28,446 test results reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health, good for a positivity rate of just under 2.5%. More than 2 million tests have been administered over the last four months.

The state’s rolling positivity rate over the last week is 3%, a number that has crept up from just 2% in mid-June. The positivity rate was over 17% at the state’s height of the pandemic in mid-May.

Read the full story here.

4:35 p.m. Schools get $50 million more in emergency funding to help close ‘digital divide’

Public schools across the state will receive an additional $50 million from the governor’s emergency education relief fund, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday.

The money will go toward closing the digital divide and training educators and families to assist students in using technology.

It also will help launch a student care department within the State Board of Education, equipping school districts to support students who’ve experienced trauma.

The $3 billion governor’s emergency education relief fund was established as part of the coronavirus stimulus bill. U.S. Department of Education granted the money to governors to support schools during an emergency. Illinois was allotted about $108.5 million from that $3 billion and has one year to award the funds; unspent money will be returned to the federal government.

Read the full story here.

2:28 p.m. A third scourge quietly stalks Cook County — officials see doubling of ‘needless, preventable’ opioid deaths

In the clutches of a deadly pandemic and a rise in street violence, Cook County is also on track to double the number of opioid overdose deaths it saw last year, officials said Tuesday, “sounding the alarm” on yet another crisis.

Last year the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office handled 605 opioid overdose deaths between January 1 and July 13. This year that number is 773, though that only tells part of the story, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar said.

“We also have 580 pending cases,” the medical examiner said. “We know that traditionally 70[%] to 80% of those cases will wind up being ruled as opioid overdose deaths. This means that there are 400 to 465 more opioid deaths thus far this year. Realistically, just six and a half months into 2020, we already have more than 1,200 opioid-related deaths.”

Those who have died are “overwhelmingly people of color,” Arunkumar said. Of the 773 deaths so far this year, 63% have been Black or Latino. Many are also 45 years old or older — 45- to 55-year-olds, as well as 55- to 64-year-olds are the two age groups that are most likely to “succumb to an opioid overdose death,” Arunkumar said.

Read the full story from reporter Rachel Hinton here.

1:45 p.m. Iowa, Oklahoma added to Chicago’s travel quarantine list due to COVID-19 outbreaks

Chicagoans returning from trips to Iowa, and any Hawkeye visitors to the city, will soon have to hunker down for two weeks under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s quarantine order for travelers from coronavirus hot spots.

Illinois’ neighbor to the west was added to the city’s travel quarantine list Tuesday, along with Oklahoma, as COVID-19 cases spike in those states.

Fifteen other states with infection rates greater than 15 cases per 100,000 residents remain on Chicago’s mandated quarantine list that first went into effect July 6: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

The order goes into effect Friday for travelers from Oklahoma and Iowa, which is the first border state added to Chicago’s list. Wisconsin is in the next tier, according to city figures, with an infection rate sitting between 10 and 15 cases per 100,000 residents.

Read the full story from reporter Mitchell Armentrout here.

12:55 p.m. Health and Human Services Secretary visits Chicago Tuesday to study Rush, Haymarket handling of COVID-19

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is in Chicago on Tuesday to tour the Rush University Medical Center and the Haymarket Center, with a focus on learning how the institutions are handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Azar is at Rush to see how the medical operation “adapted to the pandemic, increasing its ICU and testing capacity,” an HHS spokesman said.

A Rush spokesman said the visit will include “a tour and a discussion around the Rush response to COVID-19, the Tower’s capabilities and how we’re adapting moving forward.”

At Haymarket, Azar is interested in how substance abuse treatment impacted addiction treatment and “new challenges to expanding access to treatment.”

A Haymarket Center spokesman said the center “treats on average more than 12,000 individuals with substance use disorders in inpatient and outpatient programs each year.”

The spokesman said “Azar will tour several of Haymarket’s programs, including a residential program for postpartum women and their children and the family-centered program for fathers – both of which include parenting classes in addition to recovery skills – as well as the Transforming Women’s Lives program, which assists women who have experienced trauma and have a dependence on opiates and/or alcohol.”

— Lynn Sweet

11:49 a.m. Ban on Friday night games at Wrigley Field to be lifted for pandemic-shortened season

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and local Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) have agreed to loosen restrictions on the number of Friday and Saturday night games at Wrigley Field during this pandemic-shortened, 60-game season to minimize the health risk to players.

The one-year exception to the night game ordinance is on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the City Council’s License Committee.

It would pave the way for the Cubs to play 11 weekend night games — six on Fridays and five on Saturdays. All but one of those weekend night games would start at 7:15 p.m.; the home opener on Friday, July 24, starts at 6:10 p.m.

The current night game ordinance limits Saturday night games to two-per-season prohibits any Friday night games.

The restrictions were tailor-made to prevent baseball crowds from overwhelming the already-congested neighborhood on weekends.

“You were trying to help the theaters and restaurants. When there’s a night activity at Wrigley, people don’t come into the neighborhood unless they’re engaging in Major League Baseball,” Tunney said Tuesday.

Read the full story from City Hall reporter Fran Spielman here.

11:15 a.m. City delays city sticker, parking permit enforcement for 2 weeks

Enforcement of city sticker and residential permit parking requirements won’t kick in until Aug. 1 — a two-week extension meant to allow motorists extra time to come into compliance.

The extension also comes as the city tries to keep up with a surge in city sticker and parking permit demand, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said Tuesday.

City stickers can be purchased online or by visiting any of the Office of the City Clerk locations, Department of Finance payment centers or at neighborhood currency exchanges.

Additionally, expired vehicle registration enforcement will begin in November to align with the Illinois Secretary of State vehicle registration extension date.

The issuance of compliance tickets has been suspended since March 18, when the city began sheltering in place, to provide relief to residents experiencing increased financial pressure during the pandemic.

Read the full story here.

10:15 a.m. ‘Hybrid’ is the new buzzword in higher education

Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave permission for colleges and universities to reopen this fall if they follow state guidelines that include mandatory face masks, social distancing and monitoring students’ symptoms.

Beyond those basic guidelines, individual schools are developing their own reopening plans, with precautions ranging from removing doors in office buildings to testing every student living on campus.

Most college campuses plan at least some face-to-face classes, with many courses at least partially or completely online.

“Hybrid” has become a new buzzword in higher education, said Illinois State University President Larry Dietz. The term describes classes meeting both face-to-face and online.

But how many classes will meet in-person or online at each campus remains in flux. The Trump Administration’s new rule that international students can’t stay in the country if they’re taking only online classes could lead to more traditional classes. However, some schools have said they could roll back in-person course offerings if the pandemic worsens.

Already, Loyola University announced Monday that it was scaling back reopening plans and said most classes will be online unless they require face-to-face interaction, such as for lab work or research.

Read Clare Proctor’s full report here.

8:12 a.m. Chicago businesses cited for violating COVID-19 guidelines last weekend

Several Chicago businesses received citations from the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection last weekend for violating Phase 4 reopening guidelines.

The BACP says it conducted 47 investigations across the city last weekend to ensure restaurants and bars were following rules meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Six different businesses received a total of 12 citations.

“While most businesses are taking the necessary precautions to keep their customers and employees safe, the City will continue to hold the bad actors accountable,” a statement read.

One bar – Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse, located at 324 S. Racine – so egregiously broke guidelines that officials required an immediate shutdown. The city says the bar was cited for “being over capacity, failure to maintain social distancing, patrons not wearing face coverings and patrons not seated.”

In the last 10 days, the city has received 1,276 complaints over reopening guideline violations, issued 85 warnings, cited 25 businesses and ordered the immediate closure of two businesses, according to BACP.

— Satchel Price

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

8:23 a.m. Deeply concerned about the coronavirus, can Cubs’ Yu Darvish embrace the ace within him?

Things never are easy for Yu Darvish, are they?

On one hand, Darvish, 33, isn’t even halfway into his contract. He encountered elbow and triceps trouble early on as a Cub, which could’ve happened to anybody. Now, the coronavirus has stolen his chance to build off an encouraging 2019 second half with the sort of complete, elite season the Cubs envisioned when they chose to move forward with him rather than Jake Arrieta. It’s too soon to give up on him.

On the other, Darvish has seven victories as a Cub. If all goes reasonably well for him in a 60-game season, how many will he have when he does hit the halfway point of his contract? A dozen? Imagine if Theo Epstein, Tom Ricketts or the average fan on a barstool would’ve heard that number before the start of the 2018 season. Anyone would’ve been horrified.

And now, a player who said back in Mesa, Ariz., in early March that he was seriously worried about the potential spread of the coronavirus, who took himself out of a spring start days later because he felt ill and went to a local hospital for tests and treatment, has to lead a pitching staff at a time like this?

“Definitely, I still have concerns,” he said Sunday, through a translator, in a video conference with reporters.

Read Steve Greenberg’s full column here.

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