Coronavirus live blog, August 27, 2020: Illinois’ ICU bed usage for COVID-19 patients at highest level since June

Here’s how Chicago and Illinois was impacted by COVID-19.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, August 27, 2020: Illinois’ ICU bed usage for COVID-19 patients at highest level since June

In the past two months, daily coronavirus caseloads have ballooned, Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and other infectious disease experts have warned that a spike in COVID-19 deaths would follow the case rise, as younger carriers transmit the virus to older, more vulnerable people. A total of 1,631 Illinois coronavirus patients were hospitalized Wednesday, the most since June 22 but a far cry from the peak when as many as 5,037 beds were filled.

Here’s what’s happened in the fight against the coronavirus in Chicago, the state and the nation.


9 p.m. COVID-19 trouble signs: More ICU beds filled in Illinois as state reports 1,707 new coronavirus cases


A medical worker shows the process for rapid coronavirus testing on the new Abbott ID Now.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The latest 1,707 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths attributed to the virus statewide by public health officials Thursday are unfortunately typical for Illinois’ summertime coronavirus resurgence — but the number of patients being hospitalized with serious symptoms is even more troubling.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 390 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in intensive care units across the state as of Wednesday night, the highest number of people receiving critical care due to the virus since June 29.

Of those, 151 patients were on ventilators, the most since July 28.

Those numbers are still well within Illinois’ overall hospital capacity, accounting for about 10% of the state’s ICU beds and 3% of its ventilators.

At the height of the pandemic in mid-May, the state’s ICUs were treating close to 1,300 coronavirus patients per day, with almost half of those on ventilators.

Read the full story here.

7:10 p.m. Pelosi, Meadows talk $2.2T virus aid, but no deal in sight

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows resumed talks Thursday over a stalled COVID-19 aid package, but the outlook for any swift resolution appeared bleak as President Donald Trump’s team and congressional Democrats have been unable to agree on a compromise.

Pelosi said she told Meadows the Democrats would be willing to meet halfway — at $2.2 trillion — a slight reduction from her last proposal before talks collapsed earlier this month. The White House, which has stuck with its initial $1 trillion offer, had no immediate response.

“We have said again and again that we’re willing to meet them in the middle — $2.2 trillion. When they’re willing to do that, we’ll be willing to discuss the particulars,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol.

Read the full story here.

6:02 p.m. What coronavirus? At GOP’s convention, pandemic is largely ignored

WASHINGTON — It was a scene from a bygone era: Vice President Mike Pence shaking hands with and fist-bumping audience members who had rushed forward, standing shoulder to shoulder, to greet him and the president after Pence’s speech at the Republican National Convention.

No one appeared concerned about social distancing. Few wore masks. Some told reporters they had not been tested for the coronavirus before Wednesday night’s gathering at Fort McHenry in Baltimore

A more striking scene could unfold Thursday night, when more than 1,000 people were expected to assemble on the South Lawn of the White House for President Donald Trump’s renomination acceptance speech. That’s an eye-popping crowd in a global pandemic that has forced the cancellation of large gatherings, from sports events and concerts to weddings and funerals.

As Trump has tried to push past a virus that has tanked the economy and threatened his reelection, GOP organizers have worked to stage a convention that puts the pandemic in the rear view mirror and highlights the nation’s progress, even as it continues to kill. More than 42,000 new cases were reported on Wednesday alone and 2,700 more have died since the week began.

Read the full story here.

5:01 p.m. United will cut up to 2,850 pilots without more federal aid

United Airlines said Thursday it will furlough up to 2,850 pilots this fall unless the federal government provides more relief to help airlines cover their labor costs during a pandemic-fueled downturn in travel.

United’s figure is higher than the 1,941 pilots that Delta plans to furlough and the 1,600 targeted for termination at American.

The Chicago-based airline told pilots it will send furlough notices by U.S. mail in the next few days, with the cuts taking effect between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30.

The airlines and their labor unions are lobbying for another $25 billion to help the companies cover payroll costs for six more months, through next March. However, talks between the White House and congressional Democrats over a larger virus-relief measure have stalled.

Read the full story here.

2:20 p.m. Abbott’s new COVID-19 test produces results in 15 minutes: Here’s how it works

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the first rapid coronavirus test that doesn’t need any special computer equipment to get results.

The 15-minute test from Abbott Laboratories, BinaxNOW, is a self-contained test the size of a credit card that is based on the same technology used to test for the flu, strep throat and other infections.

Inside the Abbott test is a specially coated strip that interacts with COVID-19 antigens — proteins found on the surface of the coronavirus, rather than the virus itself. The patient’s nasal swab is inserted into the card and a few drops of a chemical solution are added. Markings appear on the card to indicate whether the sample is positive or negative — much like a pregnancy test.

The FDA noted that Abbott’s test could be used in a doctor’s office, emergency room or some schools. “Given the simple nature of this test, it is likely that these tests could be made broadly available,” the FDA said.

Read the full story here.

12:51 p.m. Abbott to hire 2,000 in Gurnee to produce COVID-19 test

Abbott Laboratories is filling 2,000 temporary jobs at a new plant in Gurnee where it will manufacture a COVID-19 test that will sell for $5 and provide results in 15 minutes, the company said Thursday.

It said the jobs will be in place “for the foreseeable future” but did not give a more specific timetable. Abbott said many positions will not require technical experience and will include on-the-job training.

The manufacturing will support the Lake County-based company’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card test, which has received emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The test is about the size of a credit card and requires no special equipment, but must be administered by a health care professional.

Abbott said it expects the Gurnee site at 605 Tri State Parkway to be operating in a couple of weeks. With Gurnee and another site operating in Maine, Abbott said it expects to produce 50 million tests per month starting in October.

Read the full story from business reporter David Roeder here.

7:55 a.m. Coronavirus claims 37 more Illinois lives — worst daily toll in seven weeks — and infects another 2,157

COVID-19 has killed 37 more Illinoisans, public health officials announced Wednesday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths attributed to the virus in a single day in seven weeks.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also said 2,157 more coronavirus cases have been confirmed, the seventh time the state has crossed the 2,000-case threshold so far this month.

Cases have trended upward in Illinois since early July, and experts have warned that a spike in deaths would follow.

Wednesday’s toll marked only the fifth time the state has tallied 30 or more deaths since July 7, when 37 lives were also lost.

The latest victims included a Cook County youth in her teens, officials said.

Read the full report from Mitchell Armentrout here.

New Cases

  • COVID-19 has killed 37 more Illinoisans, public health officials announced Wednesday, marking the state’s highest number of deaths attributed to the virus in a single day in seven weeks.
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health said Wednesday that another 2,157 more coronavirus cases have been confirmed, the seventh time the state has crossed the 2,000-case threshold so far this month.
  • More than half of the deaths reported so far this year in Cook County were related to COVID-19 — 5,030 as of Wednesday, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Analysis & Commentary

8:04 a.m. COVID-19, college costs and a crisis that’s been years in the making

Why do so many eager college kids and their parents scrimp and save and go into five-figure debt to pay for higher education?

To get that full “college experience.”

None of that is possible, at least not safely, in this time of COVID-19. Colleges that have welcomed students back to campus already for fall have seen coronavirus infections skyrocket, including more than 100 cases at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Nationwide, more than 26,000 cases and 64 deaths have occurred at some 1,500 colleges and universities since the pandemic began, a New York Times analysis found.

It’s no surprise, then, that most colleges have decided to rely on partial or complete remote learning for now, as the Chronicle of Higher Education reports.

And it’s no surprise, in turn, that students and parents are up in arms about being expected to pay the same high tuition.

Read the full editorial here.

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