Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Oct. 16 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

The state also said the seven day-average of coronavirus tests coming back as positive has climbed to 5.1%, surpassing a threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for safely reopening economies.

The record comes as the state also reports the highest number of test results returned in a 24-hour period. The 87,759 results reported Friday outstrips the previous high of 74,286 on Sept. 19. There were 2,529 newly confirmed cases that day.

There also were 38 more fatalities reported Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 9,165 since the pandemic began. In all, there have been 336,174 known cases of COVID-19 in Illinois.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools announced Friday that all students will continue with remote learning when the second quarter starts in November but that some of the district’s “most vulnerable” children will have the option to begin returning to schools before the end of the calendar year.

In explaining their rational for offering in-person classes first to pre-kindergarten and some special education students, CPS officials cited enrollment figures they released Friday that show a drop of 34% in total preschool enrollment from last year.

Here’s what’s happening Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

5:40 p.m.: Lake County moved off COVID-19 warning status, but officials warn return to all-remote schooling is a possibility

Lake County was removed from orange COVID-19 warning status by the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday, and is now the only county along the Wisconsin state line not so situated, according to department’s website.

While the reclassification may give residents a temporary sigh of relief, Hannah Goering, the marketing and communications manager for the Lake County Health Department, said it could be short-lived.

5:25 p.m.: COVID-19 numbers are rising in Illinois. How worried should the Chicago area be?

Illinois just announced a record number of new COVID-19 cases. Positivity rates for coronavirus testing are up too. So are hospitalizations and deaths.

But a deeper look at the data can soften the sense of alarm somewhat — at least for the Chicago area, where many pandemic metrics have remained steady for months until some recent upticks. And the state as a whole is still in better shape than its neighbors on most of those same statistics.

As a pandemic-weary public braces for winter, the latest Illinois figures have prompted researchers and public health officials to offer a mix of warnings and reassurance. They worry a second surge may be starting in Illinois while also noting that the shifting pandemic threatens some areas more than others.

3:45 p.m.: Kane, Will counties back on state COVID-19 warning list; Kane health director outlines ‘concerning’ trends

Kane and Will counties have returned to the state’s list of those showing “warning signs” of increased coronavirus risk.

They were among 34 counties statewide on the list Friday, based on measures of the virus’ spread. Their addition to the warning list came the same day Illinois public health officials announced a record-high number of new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row, and said the seven-day statewide average for positive coronavirus tests had surpassed the threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for safely reopening economies.

Kane County Health Department Executive Director Barbara Jeffers warned of concerning trends in the county, and urged residents to change their behavior and limit activities that could spread COVID-19.

“Unless we change our behavior as a community, we can expect to see more illness, death and economic hardship,” Jeffers said in a statement. “This is avoidable and by taking precautions, together we can improve the situation for our residents and our businesses.”

1:29 p.m.: Child care centers don’t drive coronavirus infections, national study shows

A large national study published Wednesday by the American Academy of Pediatrics provides some of the clearest evidence yet that child care centers don’t hasten the spread of the novel coronavirus, even in communities where overall infections are high.

“This is the largest study of COVID transmission in child care programs that’s been attempted in the U.S., and I think globally,” said Yale professor Walter Gilliam, who led a team of researchers in the groundbreaking study. “These are very positive findings, and they should be very comforting,” both to child care providers and the families who rely on them.

The study surveyed 57,335 providers serving almost 4 million children across two-thirds of counties in the United States, including Puerto Rico. It found that those who continued to work during the first three months of the pandemic were no more likely to have fallen ill than those who did not.

1:06 p.m.: Coronavirus cases surge in key battleground states as election nears

Rising coronavirus cases in key presidential battleground states a little more than two weeks before Election Day are the latest worry for election officials and voters fearing chaos or exposure to the virus at polling places despite months of planning.

The prospect of poll workers backing out at the last minute because they are infected, quarantined or scared of getting sick has local election officials in Midwest states such as Iowa and Wisconsin opening more early voting locations, recruiting backup workers and encouraging voters to plan for long lines and other inconveniences.

Confirmed virus cases and COVID-19 deaths are on the rise in the swing states of Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Wisconsin.

12:44 p.m.: Illinois reports 4,554 new COVID-19 cases, the second record high in as many days, as positivity rate tops 5%

Illinois public health officials on Friday reported 4,554 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, topping the single-day record of 4,015 set just a day earlier.

The state also said the seven day-average of coronavirus tests coming back as positive has climbed to 5.1%, surpassing a threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for safely reopening economies.

Before this week, the single-day high case count was 4,014, set on May 12. The state reported 5,368 new cases on Sept. 4, but that was due to a backlog in processing test results.

Friday’s record comes as the state also reports the highest number of test results returned in a 24-hour period. The 87,759 results reported Friday outstrips the previous high of 74,286 on Sept. 19. There were 2,529 newly confirmed cases that day.

There also were 38 more fatalities reported Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 9,165 since the pandemic began. In all, there have been 336,174 known cases of COVID-19 in Illinois.

The virus has been surging in Illinois in recent days, as it has been around the U.S and in Europe.

11:01 a.m.: Igloos and greenhouses launch in West Loop today, kicking off cold-weather shift for Chicago’s outdoor dining

With the arrival of cooler weather in Chicago, restaurants and bars are beginning to make accommodations to lengthen the outdoor dining season, an attempt to retain expanded capacity during an era of coronavirus occupancy limits indoors. Friday, five prominent restaurants in the Fulton Market district will begin welcoming guests to dine “al fresco” in igloo and greenhouse structures.

Beatrix, Duck Duck Goat, Gus’s Fried Chicken, Kuma’s Corner and the Publican make up the participating restaurants in the Dining Together, Apart initiative, an effort from Anheuser Busch and Stella Artois to help restaurants extend their outdoor dining service into the colder months. Though diners were seen using the spaces Thursday, the initiative kicks off Friday.

10:40 a.m.: Pfizer says it won’t seek emergency authorization for coronavirus vaccine until mid-November, after Election Day

he chief executive of Pfizer said on Friday that the company would not apply for emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine before the third week of November, ruling out President Donald Trump’s assertion that a vaccine would be ready before Election Day on Nov. 3.

In a statement posted to the company website, the chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, said that although Pfizer could have preliminary numbers by the end of October about whether the vaccine works, it would still need to collect safety and manufacturing data that will stretch the timeline to at least the third week of November.

10:37 a.m.: Large study led by the World Health Organization finds antiviral drug remdesivir didn’t help COVID-19 patients

A large study led by the World Health Organization suggests that the antiviral drug remdesivir did not help hospitalized COVID-19 patients, in contrast to an earlier study that made the medicine a standard of care in the United States and many other countries.

The results announced Friday do not negate the previous ones, and the WHO study was not as rigorous as the earlier one led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. But they add to concerns about how much value the pricey drug gives because none of the studies have found it can improve survival.

The drug has not been approved for COVID-19 in the U.S., but it was authorized for emergency use after the previous study found it shortened recovery time by five days on average. It’s approved for use against COVID-19 in the United Kingdom and Europe, and is among the treatments U.S. President Donald Trump received when he was infected earlier this month.

10:29 a.m.: A record-shattering avalanche of early votes is transforming the 2020 election

More than 17 million Americans have already cast ballots in the 2020 election, a record-shattering avalanche of early votes driven both by Democratic enthusiasm and a pandemic that has transformed the way the nation votes.

The total represents 12% of all the votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, even as eight states are not yet reporting their totals and voters still have more than two weeks to cast ballots. Americans’ rush to vote is leading election experts to predict that a record 150 million votes may be cast and turnout rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.

8:41 a.m.: CPS will begin to bring back students for in-person learning but hasn’t said when

Chicago Public Schools announced Friday that all students will continue with remote learning when the second quarter starts in November but that some of the district’s “most vulnerable” children will begin returning to schools before the end of the calendar year.

A CPS news release did not specify when the first students — those in pre-kindergarten and some in special education — will begin phasing back in to in-person learning, saying administrators will make that decision in consultation with public health official “closer to the start of the second quarter” on Nov. 9.

But officials said the goal is to “add additional grades as early as January. Later this year, the district will be engaging parents in other grades to assess their interest in returning to classrooms.”

The Chicago Teachers Union immediately vowed to fight the plan, with CTU attorney Thad Goodchild calling it “Ill-timed, reckless and illegal” and vowing that the union will use “all available resources” to roll it back.

Read more here. —Staff report

7:10 a.m.: Open House Chicago starts, in virtual, socially distanced remake

Open House Chicago, the yearly showcase of Chicago architectural marvels, landmarks and oddities, starts Friday.

Remade this year for the pandemic age, the tours put together by the Chicago Architecture Center in partnership with building owners and scores of volunteers looks different this year, with no in-building tours and scores of online-audio walking tours.

The tours are using a smartphone app to guide people around Chicago and nearby suburbs.

6:44 a.m.: Oak Park District 97 delays return to in-school learning until 2021

Though it had hoped to welcome students back to in-person classes before the end of the calendar year, Oak Park District 97 officials are now saying that won’t occur until after winter break, at the earliest.

In a letter sent to parents Oct. 14 signed by the board of education, it was announced District 97 will delay any transition to on-site, hybrid learning until after winter break. The move means students would, at the earliest, return to some form of in-person learning in January.

In early October, Superintendent Carol Kelley said the district was on track to have hybrid learning opportunities for all students by the end of the second trimester on Nov. 30. The school board, however, asked administrators to extend the reopening timeline at its Oct. 13 board meeting.

5 a.m.: Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe tests positive for COVID-19

Decatur Mayor Julie Moore Wolfe announced Thursday morning that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Moore Wolfe made the announcement during her daily coronavirus update interview on Byers & Co. on WSOY-AM.

“I did test positive for COVID,” Moore Wolfe said, adding she got the positive test result Wednesday afternoon.

“We are in quarantine in our house and hopefully we haven’t been spreading it,” Moore Wolfe said, adding a second family member also has tested positive.

“I cannot urge enough for people to take this seriously,” she said. “I do. I wear a mask. I try to stay socially distant. I may not be as good as I was in the very very beginning of this, but it’s all around us.”

Her announcement came a day after Macon County health officials announced 78 new cases of coronavirus.

Moore Wolfe said she is fever-free and suffering symptoms she generally associates with nagging seasonal allergies.

“The symptoms I have, it’s like fall allergies that I get all the time so I don’t know how long I’ve had this. I don’t know if this is new and in the beginning or if I’ve been carrying it.”

Moore Wolfe said she began contact tracing and has been reaching out to people she has come into contact with who might be at risk.

She said discussions already are underway to determine how she will be handling city business and taking part in Monday’s Decatur City Council meeting.

The Decatur Herald & Review

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