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Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 6, 2020: State reports 1,403 new COVID-19 cases

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

The Latest

Illinois reports 1,403 new COVID-19 cases, 5 additional deaths

Customers wait in line to enter Rogers Park Fruit Market 7401 N. Clark St., where shoppers are required to wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic and a statewide stay-at-home order.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois health officials Sunday announced 1,403 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, a sharp decline from the massive daily tally reported a day earlier.

On Saturday, Illinois reported 2,806 new coronavirus cases, one of the highest daily totals since the state’s worst period of the pandemic.

The new cases also come two days after the state recorded 5,368 cases of the coronavirus, a record-high the Illinois Department of Public Health attributed to three days’ worth of delayed tests results due to a data processing backlog.

Health officials also announced five additional deaths attributed to the coronavirus, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 8,171.

A total of 249,580 people in Illinois have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, and the state’s recovery rate is at 96%. More than 4.4 million tests have been conducted statewide.

Read the full story here.


1:32 p.m. Colleges combat coronavirus with sewage tests

SALT LAKE CITY — Days after he crossed the country to start college, Ryan Schmutz received a text message from Utah State University: COVID-19 had been detected at his dorm.

Within 10 minutes, he dropped the crepes he was making and was whisked away by bus to a testing site.

“We didn’t even know they were testing,” said Schmutz, who is 18 and from Omaha, Nebraska. “It all really happened fast.”

Schmutz was one of about 300 students quarantined to their rooms last week, but not because of sickness reports or positive tests. Instead, the warning bells came from the sewage.

Colleges across the nation — from New Mexico to Tennessee, Michigan to New York — are turning tests of waste into a public health tool. The work comes as institutions hunt for ways to keep campuses open despite vulnerabilities like students’ close living arrangements and drive to socialize. The virus has already left its mark with outbreaks that have forced changes to remote learning at colleges around the country.

The tests work by detecting genetic material from the virus, which can be recovered from the stools of about half of people with COVID-19, studies indicate. The concept has also been used to look for outbreaks of the polio virus.

Read the full story here.

9:47 a.m. States consider cuts with Congress at standstill on new coronavirus relief package

Spending cuts to schools, childhood vaccinations and job-training programs. New taxes on millionaires, cigarettes and legalized marijuana. Borrowing, drawing from rainy day funds and reducing government workers’ pay.

These are some actions states are considering to shore up their finances amid a sharp drop in tax revenue caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Congress deadlocked for months on a new coronavirus relief package, many states haven’t had the luxury of waiting to see whether more money is on the way. Some that have delayed budget decisions are growing frustrated by the uncertainty.

As the U.S. Senate returns to session Tuesday, some governors and state lawmakers are again urging action on proposals that could provide hundreds of billions of additional dollars to states and local governments.

“There is a lot at stake in the next federal stimulus package and, if it’s done wrong, I think it could be catastrophic for California,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco and chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.

Read the full story here.

7:15 a.m. Voting during a pandemic? Expect in person drive-thrus, sports arenas on Nov. 3

Voting will look a little different this November. States are turning to stadiums, drive-thrus and possibly even movie theaters as safe options for in-person polling places amid the coronavirus pandemic and fears about mail-in ballots failing to arrive in time to count.

The primary season brought voters to an outdoor wedding-style tent in Vermont and the state fairgrounds in Kentucky. The general election on Nov. 3 is expected to include voting at NBA arenas around the country, part of an agreement owners made with players to combat racial injustice.

Large venues and outdoor spaces allow for social distancing that helps prevent the spread of the virus, though there are questions about keeping people warm as the weather gets cold and the possibility that fewer traditional neighborhood polling places could lower voter turnout.

Read the full story here.

7 a.m. High caseloads, positivity rates continue to increase during Labor Day weekend

Illinois reported another massive load of 2,806 new coronavirus cases confirmed statewide on Saturday, one of the highest daily totals since the worst of the pandemic almost four months ago.

It’s not as staggering as the record-high 5,368 cases of COVID-19 announced a day earlier by the Illinois Department of Public Health, but that bloated Friday figure included up to three days’ worth of delayed test results due to a now-fixed data processing backlog, officials said.

The state averaged about 2,587 cases per day over the backlog period, meaning Saturday’s whopping caseload could mark the most in a single day since Illinois logged 3,239 cases May 14.

Still, the latest cases were confirmed among 61,935 tests submitted to the state, almost triple the state’s testing capacity in May.

Read the full story here.

6:20 a.m. No payoff: Summer without fairs leaves farm kids heartbroken

Well before the sun rises and then again after school, Arrissa Swails feeds and waters her goats, fancy chickens and three dairy cows. There’s another trip to the barn at night to hustle the chickens into their coop.

It’s a daily routine that typically takes the high school senior at least three hours.

This week, she’d be parading her livestock at the Hancock County Fair, hoping to win a grand champion ribbon during her last turn in the show ring. But there is no fair this year for her or anyone else, another tradition wiped away from the 2020 calendar by the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

  • On Friday, backlog in COVID-19 test reporting leads to Illinois’ highest daily caseload ever — 5,368 — and reveals stretch rivaling numbers in May
  • Tom Seaver, the Hall of Fame pitcher who was the heart of the Miracle Mets team, has died at 75 of lewy body dementia and COVID-19.
  • Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, wife and two daughters tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Public health officials on Thursday announced 1,360 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Illinois, marking the smallest daily caseload in more than three weeks amid a summertime resurgence statewide.

Analysis & Commentary

2:42 p.m. This Labor Day, let’s honor the workers who are beyond essential

Labor Day is one of the most beloved holidays of the year, a time for people of all backgrounds to take a moment to celebrate the people who lace up their boots every day and go to work. However, workers are not celebrating right now. Workers are doing whatever they can to live their lives during an unimaginable public health and economic catastrophe.

Our city, state and country are in the middle of multiple intersecting crises. And while we are all learning to live with the new normal, figuring out how to get our kids to school every day and keep ourselves safe, we cannot lose sight of the lives and livelihoods being lost every single day in our communities.

I think about Maria Lopez. Maria was a nurse in robotic surgery at the University of Illinois hospital and a proud member of the Illinois Nurses Association. Maria worked at the hospital for 20 years and was scheduled to retire on April 30. She had recently undergone knee surgery when COVID-19 hit, and she could have used vacation days to leave her job early, but she felt it was her duty to stay at the hospital and help — because that’s what nurses do. They help.

In her last month before retirement, Maria contracted COVID-19, and she died on May 4.

Read the full column here.

7:37 a.m. Big Ten presidents need to keep listening to medical experts, not football parents

No athletes have better parents than college football players do. These people will do anything for their kids. You get the distinct feeling that some of them would die for their children’s right to contract COVID-19 while playing the game they love.

Parents of players at Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and Iowa have taken the Big Ten’s decision to cancel the football season very, very personally. They’ve signed petitions, raised pickets and held news conferences. The kids have worked so hard, they say. The kids’ dreams are at stake, they say.

On the other side of the ledger, the sane side, are the risks associated with playing football in 2020. There’s the coronavirus, a nasty disease that can spread quickly. There’s myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle associated with COVID-19. And there’s still chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Remember CTE? Remember those quaint days when brain trauma was the big worry associated with the game? It’s still very much a risk, but it has taken a temporary backseat to COVID-19.

Read the full column from Rick Morrissey here.

7:23 a.m. Trump ‘October surprise’ coronavirus vaccine will be a hard sell with a wary public

For months, scientists have predicted that a vaccine against COVID-19 could be available, in a best-case scenario, sometime early next year.

Now the Trump administration is signaling that a vaccine will be ready months before that. But no matter how weary Americans surely are of this pandemic, we don’t expect many folks to breathe a sigh of relief and make plans to get a shot.

Instead, what we’re seeing is a lot of raised eyebrows about the news that Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control, has sent a letter to all governors asking them to fast-track plans to distribute a vaccine by Nov. 1.

An “October suprise” vaccine? Ready to distribute two days before Election Day?

The timing is just too perfect, coming as it does from a Trump administration that has badly botched its handling of this deadly pandemic from the start. And, more telling yet, coming from a president who’s trailing in the polls just 61 days before the Nov. 3 election.

Read the full opinion from the CST Editorial Board here.