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Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 11, 2020: DuPage County gets coronavirus ‘warning’ as Illinois logs 2,145 new cases

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

The first week back to school for Chicago Public Schools closed out Friday. Now colleges and universities that have later start dates are looking to other universities and schools for ideas on how to beat back COVID-19 during the school year.

Here’s what else happened in Chicago and around the state as the battle against the coronavirus pandemic continued.


8:57 p.m. DuPage County gets coronavirus ‘warning’ as Illinois logs 2,145 new cases

A woman in the Loop wears a face mask Thursday amid growing fear about the coronavirus. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

A broad swath of Chicago’s western suburbs hit a COVID-19 warning level Friday as public health officials announced 2,145 more people have tested positive for the deadly virus statewide.

The latest daily caseload was slightly above Illinois’ two-week average of about 2,022 new cases per day, and they were confirmed among 56,661 tests to raise the state’s rolling testing positivity rate to 3.9%.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced the virus killed 32 more people, the most in a single day since the beginning of the month. The state has averaged about 20 COVID-19 deaths per day over the last two weeks.

It was an increase in COVID-19 deaths that helped land DuPage County on the state’s updated list of counties considered to be at a viral “warning level.” Six deaths were reported in the west suburban county last week, up from four the previous week.

The state flags counties if they check off two “risk indicators.” DuPage is also seeing a case rate of 89 per 100,000 residents, well above the target of about 50.

Reporter Mitch Dudek has the full story.

7:22 p.m. 5 reasons the pandemic gives cars an edge

Not long ago, in the pre-pandemic age, carmakers braced for the possibility that Americans would eventually stop buying vehicles, choosing instead to rely upon ride-hailing, especially once self-driving car technology becomes widely available.

But COVID-19 has upended those expectations, swinging the pendulum back in the direction of personal car ownership as Americans say they’re increasingly likely to drive themselves instead of riding in someone else’s car or taking mass transit.

Of Americans currently shopping for vehicles, 22% had not planned to buy one before the pandemic began, according to a recent survey by car-buying site CarGurus.

Times are still challenging for the industry. Car sales have declined in 2020 due to the economic downturn and record unemployment.

Read the full report here.

6:03 p.m. With late start to fall term, some local universities learn from others’ COVID mistakes

For a small subset of local universities with later fall start dates than many schools around the country, waiting to mid- to late-September has had an added benefit this year.

The ever-changing nature of the coronavirus pandemic has rendered every additional day critical to adapting their fall plans, and allowed them to learn from the experience of universities that started last month, according to these schools.

“We always said we were going to follow developments up until the day we started,” said Luke Figora, senior associate vice president and chief risk and compliance officer at Northwestern University. “We saw a number of different things, developments at colleges and universities across the country having some challenges.”

Northwestern, DePaul University and the University of Chicago all follow academic quarters, with start dates ranging from Sept. 9 at DePaul to Sept. 29 at UChicago. These later start dates have allowed schools to glean lessons from other universities in Chicago and across the nation, drawing insight from their COVID-19 responses and adjusting accordingly.

Reporter Clare Proctor has the full story.

3:51 p.m. Indiana study finds non-white people are dying of COVID-19 at three times the rate of white people

Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a 56-year-old woman suffering from COVID-19 who was struggling with anxiety because of her non-invasive ventilator at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side in April.
Nurse Jeanette Averett comforts a 56-year-old woman suffering from COVID-19 who was struggling with anxiety because of her non-invasive ventilator at Roseland Community Hospital on the Far South Side in April. File photo.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

How deadly is SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19? And what are the risks of death for people of different ages and demographics? These have been hard numbers to calculate during this pandemic.

To calculate the true death rate — more accurately called the infection–fatality ratio (IFR) — you simply would divide the total number of coronavirus deaths by the total number of infections. The problem is that with so many asymptomatic cases and limited testing for much of the pandemic, finding the true number of infections has been very difficult.

The easiest way to calculate more accurate infection and death rates is to perform random testing.

I am a professor of health policy and management. In April, in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health, I led a team of researchers at Indiana University to randomly select and test people for SARS-CoV-2. Based on our statistical sample, we found that 2.8% of Indiana — or approximately 188,000 people — had been cumulatively infected by that time and determined the death rate in Indiana to be 0.58%.

Using the data we gathered from that testing program, over the past few months, my colleagues and I set out to determine how the infection–fatality ratio differs by age, race and other demographic factors. In a study published on Sept. 2, we report that the coronavirus is hundreds of times more deadly for people over 60 compared to people under 40, and that in Indiana, non-white people are dying at three times the rate of white people.

Read the full report from guest columnist Nir Menachemi here.

2:45 p.m. Famed Ford collector Jerry Capizzi, his wife Carolyn Capizzi of Park Ridge dead of COVID-19

Carolyn Capizzi and her husband Jerry Capizzi, who was one of the world’s best-known collectors of Ford automobiles, have died within three days of each other of complications from the coronavirus.

Relatives announced that the Capizzis died in Park Ridge, where they’d lived since the 1970s. They were married for 55 years before their deaths at Lutheran General Hospital. Mr. Capizzi was 83. Mrs. Capizzi was 85.

Mrs. Capizzi, who had no surviving siblings, died first, on May 17. Mr. Capizzi died three days later.

Their deaths came so quickly there was no time for his sister and brothers, all in California, to arrange a visit.

“It happened too fast,” said his brother Michael R. Capizzi, former district attorney for Orange County, California. “It’s just terrible. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Read the full obituary from Maureen O’Donnell.

12:43 p.m. Doctors emphasize importance of flu shot for children amid COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors from the Chicagoland Children’s Health Alliance, a system of pediatric experts, met virtually Thursday to share the importance for children to get a flu shot by the end of October, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the pandemic this year, it puts an extra layer of concern across the Chicagoland area,” said Dr. Frank Belmonte, co-chief medical officer of CCHA and chief medical officer at Advocate Children’s Hospital.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 188 flu-related deaths were reported among children under the age of 18 during the 2019-2020 flu season. Illinois has seen more than 250,000 positive cases of COVID and over 8,000 deaths.

Dr. Michael Caplan, co-chief medical officer of CCHA and a pediatric doctor at NorthShore University Healthsystem, said going into the fall months means doctors will see patients with both the coronavirus and the flu.

Read the full report here.

8:56 a.m. Ex-Bears WR Josh Bellamy charged with coronavirus loan fraud

Former Bears receiver Josh Bellamy was arrested Thursday has been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly participating in a scheme to receive more than $24 million from the Paycheck Protection Program through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities act.

Bellamy, who is injured and was cut by the Jets this week, was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud and conspiracy to commit both in a federal criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida.

Bellamy allegedly received a PPP loan worth $1,246,565 for his company, Drip Entertainment LLC, and spent it on Dior and Gucci items, as well as jewelry. He allegedly spent $62,774 in PPP loan money at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in South Florida, and withdrew more than $302,000 more.

Reporter Patrick Finley has the full story.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

8:58 a.m. A pandemic didn’t stop Chicago Public Schools seniors from planning for life after high school

While so many young people are facing unprecedented challenges at this moment, I’m optimistic not only for her, but for the 97.5% of seniors who submitted a strong post-secondary plan under Learn.Plan.Succeed.

In addition to holding the first car parade graduations and the first online semester, the Class of 2020 is also the first group of students to graduate with this requirement. Introduced in 2017, Learn.Plan.Succeed was intended to make sure that every student has meaningful conversations with adults at their school who can help them create a post-secondary plan that lays out a successful path forward after high school.

The results are encouraging: Nearly every student in the Class of 2020 graduated with such a plan.

Good post-secondary guidance is our responsibility at CPS. It’s something every student needs and deserves. It’s also a matter of equity, because some of our students don’t have the support at home they need to fully evaluate their post-secondary opportunities.

Read the full guest column from CPS CEO Janice Jackson here.