Illinois institutes COVID-19 restrictions in all 11 regions as U.S. reports 81K new cases

Nov. 1 (UPI) — U.S. COVID-19 cases spiked in the Midwest on Sunday as current and former health officials warned that Thanksgiving gatherings could further increase the spread of the virus.

The United States reported 81,227 new cases and 862 new deaths bringing its world-leading totals to 9,189,715 infections and 230,870 fatalities, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

All 11 regions in Illinois will be placed under resurgence mitigations including prohibiting indoor dining and bar service, closing outdoor dining at 11 p.m. and limiting gatherings to 25 people or less beginning on Wednesday as Region 2 recorded an average positivity rate above 8% for three consecutive days.

“As cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across our state, across the Midwest and across the nation, we have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people we love,” Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

Illinois recently reported three consecutive record-breaking case days including 7,899 new infections on Saturday.

The state broke the streak on Sunday as it reported 6,980 new cases and 35 additional deaths, bringing the state’s total to 417,280 infections and a death toll of 9,792, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

A surge in hospitalizations has also been reported in the region as Ohio recorded 1,629 hospitalizations as of Friday — the state’s highest number since the pandemic began in March.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House’s coronavirus taskforce, drew heat from the White House on Sunday as he contradicted President Donald Trump’s message that the United States is “rounding the turn” on the virus, warning the country is primed to experience “a whole lot of hurt” as winter approaches.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under the Obama administration, said “things are getting worse around the country” citing 23 states that are accelerating the spread of the virus and 15 states reporting a positivity rate above 15%.

“I think Thanksgiving is really going to be an inflection point. I think December is probably going to be our toughest month,” Gottlieb told CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Gottlieb said, however, he doesn’t believe the United States will reinstate widespread lockdowns as Europe has done in recent weeks.

“I don’t think the political support is here for that even at the state level. I think you’re going to see targeted mitigation. States take local actions, but we’re going to have to start taking more aggressive actions,” he said.

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Illinois sets record for coronavirus cases for third day in a row

Illinois continues to shatter records for new known coronavirus cases, setting another high mark for the third day in a row.

State public health officials on Saturday reported 7,899 new COVID-19 cases, eclipsing Friday’s single-day record of 6,943 cases. On Thursday, the state reported 6,363 cases, which set a record at the time.

Along with the record number of new cases, state health officials announced 46 more fatalities on Saturday bringing the statewide death toll to 9,757 since the pandemic began.

The high number of cases comes as Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged people to make “pandemic-guided decisions” and to avoid in-person gatherings on Halloween weekend.

Ten of 11 Illinois regions are now operating under tighter restrictions under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan, including a ban on indoor dining and bar service, as the coronavirus continues its statewide resurgence.

A chunk of east-central Illinois that includes Champaign-Urbana and Decatur is the latest to join the list after its seven-day rolling positivity rate on coronavirus tests hit 8.6% on Tuesday, exceeding the state-established threshold of 8% for the third straight day and triggering the reopening rollback. The restrictions also include a 25-person limit on gatherings, down from 50.

The return of restrictions has proved controversial, with some restaurants vowing to continue indoor dining. Pritzker ordered closures for indoor dining last week in DuPage, Kane, Will and Kankakee counties. A similar restriction took effect in suburban Cook County on Wednesday and in Chicago on Friday. Lake and McHenry counties are to follow Saturday.

The state has reported 410,300 confirmed infections since the pandemic began. The seven-day statewide positivity rate, covering Oct. 24-30, — is 7.5%.

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Some restaurants in Illinois are defying closure orders as ban on indoor service spreads to Chicago suburbs

Despite Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent order to shut down indoor service at bars and restaurants in northwest Illinois due to the coronavirus, Fozzy’s Bar and Grill near Rockford was among those that stayed open.



Nick Fosberg standing in front of a computer: Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy's Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. "We're sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it," he said. "We're getting a ton of support. I'm not closing."


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Nick Fosberg, owner of Fozzy’s Bar & Grill, speaks with customers on Oct. 20, 2020, in Loves Park, near Rockford. “We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. I’m not closing.”

Owner Nick Fosberg said he had to leave the doors open to keep his employees working, pay his bills and stay in business. He says the workers wear masks, and customers wear masks on their way in and out, while tables are spaced 6 feet apart, at 25% capacity.

“We’re sticking to what we were doing and being safe about it,” he said. “We’re getting a ton of support. People are happy someone finally stood up and said, ‘I’m not closing.’”

The Oct. 3 closure order covering the northwest region of Illinois has the same restrictions coming Friday to DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties. Four regions of the state have exceeded 8% rate for positive COVID tests, which is one of the state-imposed thresholds for such restrictions, and the rest are trending in that direction.



a car parked in front of a building: Two women enter Fozzy's Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Two women enter Fozzy’s Bar & Grill in Loves Park near Rockford.

Now other restaurant owners are declaring they, too, will stay open. The Facebook page of Lockport Stagecoach in Will County, a western-style saloon, states that it will remain open for indoor dining and stand by more than 30 employees who depend on the restaurant for their livelihoods.

“We are NOT trying to be rebellious or are anti-masks, anti-people’s health or any of the other nonsense,” the post stated. “This is a decision out of survival.”

Ki’s Steak and Seafood in west suburban Glendale Heights also declared its independence from “DICTATOR PRITZKER.”

“We are standing up for our freedom and WE WILL STAY OPEN!” Ki’s Facebook page announced. “We have been in business for 80+ years and no one is going to tell us we can’t live out the American dream.”

In Winnebago County, where Rockford is located, the closure orders are prompting a showdown between local businesses and health officials. The local health department issued closure orders to Fozzy’s and to two other bar/restaurants in Loves Park, and issued more than 30 other orders warning businesses they weren’t following the coronavirus regulations.



a person sitting in a chair in a room: Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy's Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. "I'm glad to be out socializing. It's my first time in a bar since January," McQuinn said.


© Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Jim McQuinn and his dog, Bella, hang out in the bar at Fozzy’s Bar & Grill on Oct. 20, 2020 near Rockford. “I’m glad to be out socializing. It’s my first time in a bar since January,” McQuinn said.

While no one source drove the recent rise in positivity rate in the region, county Public Health Administrator Sandra Martell said, bars and restaurants were “disproportionately impacted.”

“It is extremely frustrating that

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COVID-19 in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Friday

The county warning list, which the state Department of Public Health issues weekly, includes Kane, McHenry and Will counties, which all came under stricter state regulations Friday aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Officials also reported 82,256 new tests in the last 24 hours. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 5.6%.

That case count of 4,942 tops the previous record of 4,554 new cases set just six days earlier and came as new restrictions, including a renewed prohibition on indoor dining and bar service, took effect in southern Illinois and a wide swath of suburban Chicago.

In addition, the city will again prohibit indoor service at traditional taverns and brewery taprooms that don’t have food licenses, and asked residents to cap any social gatherings at six people starting Friday.

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

8:25 p.m.: Illinois hits another sad COVID-19 milestone — 5,000 deaths in long-term care — as cases rise

Illinois long-term care facilities are experiencing their biggest jump in COVID-19 cases in months, as the state passed a tragic milestone: 5,000 deaths among residents.

In the past week, Illinois recorded more than 1,400 new COVID-19 infections among residents in nursing homes, assisted living centers and other large, congregate-care facilities, according to the weekly data released by the state.

That’s the highest one-week tally since early June. The weekly tally was also notably larger than the roughly 1,100 new cases seen the week prior, and the nearly 650 cases in the week before that.

Deaths of residents climbed too: another 131 in the past week. That followed tallies the past two weeks of 96 and 95 deaths, respectively, which already was much higher than the 55 deaths seen three weeks ago.

The latest spike put the death toll in long-term care facilities at 5,019, accounting for more than half of the total statewide toll of 9,418 COVID-19 fatalities, as of Friday.

7:10 p.m.: CPS, teachers union both say other side won’t engage on school reopening plans

The Chicago Teachers Union, which has raised serious concerns about plans to resume in-person classes next quarter, has filed a new unfair labor practice charge, accusing Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Lori Lightfoot of illegally refusing to bargain over reopening and safety protocols.

“Our youngest and most medically vulnerable students deserve safety, yet that is exactly what CPS refuses to take steps to document or guarantee,” said CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates on Friday.

District spokeswoman Emily Bolton, however, said CPS is working with the union and will continue to do so “in the hopes they engage as productive partners and help us lift up the students and families who need our collective support.”

“We are disheartened that CTU continues to obstruct and mislead the public about the necessary planning measures needed to prepare for a potential return to safe in-person learning,” Bolton said.

As tension builds over the murky plan for next quarter, the union and the district still seem

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Illinois Health Official Breaks Down Crying While Giving Update on State’s Rising COVID-19 Deaths

Gov. JB Pritzker/Twitter

The Illinois Director of the Department of Public Health broke down in tears during Friday afternoon’s press briefing on the coronavirus in the state.

While updating the public on the state’s rising numbers of COVID-19 deaths, Dr. Ngozi Ezike took a moment to herself, turning away from the podium as she was unable to hold back her tears.

“Since yesterday we have lost an additional 31 lives, for a total of 9,418 deaths. These are people who started with us in 2020 and who won’t be with us at the Thanksgiving table,” she said. “Today, we are reporting 3,874 new cases, for a total of 364,033 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.”

“Excuse me, please,” Ezike said as she paused to compose herself before someone brought over a box of tissues. “I’m sorry.”

Gov. JB Pritzker/Twitter Dr. Ezike

RELATED: U.S. Breaks Record for Most COVID Cases in a Single Day with More Than 75,000 New Infections

As of Saturday, an additional 286 people have died, bringing the total to 9,704, according to a New York Times database.

During her speech, Ezike told Illinois residents that she understands “the mental, social and the emotional toll that this pandemic continues to have on people.”

“Not just because I’m asking people, it’s because I’m feeling it and living it myself. I don’t get to live in some COVID-free bubble, exempt from all the pain and tragedy of this pandemic. So I understand how pandemic fatigue is striking everyone. It’s real,” she said.

“The way we work, the way we live, the way we play has changed, and the harsh reality is that the sacrifices we’ve made, that we continue to make do not have a future expiration date,” Ezike added. “And I know that that’s difficult.”

Illinois has been experiencing a rising number of COVID-19 cases, reporting an average of 4,131 cases per day, an 81 percent increase from the average two weeks ago. As of Saturday, there have been at least 370,134 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic.

“My message to you is to stay strong,” Ezike said. “I have never run a marathon but I have the utmost regard for those who have been able to train and plan and finish a marathon. But this is a difficult race when you can’t actually see the endpoint and I’m sorry that that’s the message I have for you. Nevertheless, I’m asking you to fight the fatigue. Fight the urge to give up on social distancing.”

Ezike added that residents need to continue wearing a mask, maybe reconsider attending large gatherings and continue to opt for virtual hang-outs.

RELATED: ‘Long Hauler’ COVID Patients Still Have Symptoms Months Later — and Most Are Women and the Elderly

“This is what we will have to do to bring the spread down in our community… Let’s please work together. I know many of you are healthy and don’t have a concern in the world of dying from

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Illinois starts planning for COVID-19 vaccine as cases surge

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — While battling a recalcitrant coronavirus pandemic, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday started laying plans for distributing a safe and effective vaccine.

But other than saying that a vaccine would go first to health care providers, long-term care residents and other vulnerable populations, Pritzker, at his renewed daily COVID-19 briefing, offered few details, saying much depends on what the federal government ultimately approves to prevent the virus.

“The challenge of designing a plan now, of course, is that there’s so much about the vaccines that we don’t know,” Pritizker said in Chicago. “The most defining characteristic of this plan is that it’s adjustable as we go forward and learn more.”

Details such as whether a vaccine will require one or more than one dose to be effective, whether it needs refrigerated storage or could be stored at room temperature, and even how vaccine delivered in large containers will be broken down for specimens to be shipped to small health care facilities will affect the state plan, Pritzker said.


Talk of a coming vaccine offered a bit of good news rarely available from the Democratic governor in the past week, after record-setting days for new infections and tighter restrictions starting in the coming days for parts of the state.

The Illinois Illinois Department of Public Health reported 69 new COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, the highest single-day total since June 16, among 4,352 new infections, the next-to-highest single-day total.

Deaths now total 9,345 among the 355,217 confirmed cases.

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has suggested that the earliest a vaccine would be available is by year’s end. That simply would mark the start of the rollout process for the states, said Dr. Ngoze Ezike, state health department director.

“Vaccinations, once they arrive, will take many, many months at the minimum to actually get into the arms of the people of Illinois,” Ezike said. “So this will unfold in phases, with initially only a small amount of vaccine available, and as production ramps up more individuals will be able to avail themselves of this countermeasure.”

Health care centers will register to be vaccine providers and order it through the state, Ezike said. The vaccine will not be required, but the health department will publicize its availability and its benefits. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80% of the population will need to be vaccinated to establish an acceptable level of “herd immunity” to prevent ongoing widespread illness.

There will be no charge for the vaccine, she said.

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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

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