A day earlier, health officials reported 238 coronavirus deaths, the most confirmed in the state in a single day since the pandemic began. The previous high was 192 deaths reported on May 13, during the height of the pandemic’s first wave. In all, the state has recorded 12,830 deaths since March.
Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
12:40: Cook County health department investigating large wedding held at Hilton Chicago/Northbrook hotel on day state marked highest number of COVID-19 deaths
Health officials are investigating a large, mostly maskless gathering held at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook Hotel Wednesday night — the same day Illinois passed a grim COVID-19 milestone.
Photos and videos of the event first reported by CBS 2 show crowded rooms full of people hugging, eating, drinking and talking in close proximity, the vast majority of whom were not wearing masks. The event was a wedding with a few hundred guests in attendance, according to officials.
12:06 p.m.: 10,959 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 192 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Thursday announced 10,959 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 192 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 759,562 and the statewide death toll to 12,830 since the start of the pandemic. Officials also reported 106,778 new tests in the last 24 hours.
The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 10.4% for the period ending Wednesday.
12:03 p.m.: With the pandemic posing a mass eviction threat, here’s what 11 housing experts say a Biden administration can do to help
Holiday wish lists might look a bit different this year, but when it comes to wishes for the housing industry on a grander scale, it’s little surprise what experts and local leaders hope to find under the metaphorical tree.
At the center of their concerns is a grim outlook at how the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic toll will affect housing insecurity. As job loss and economic hardship leave many unable to pay rent or mortgages, an August report found potential for the most severe housing crisis in U.S. history. If conditions do not change, up to 43% of renter households could be at risk of eviction by the end of the year.
But with the new year will also come a new administration. While Republican election challengers continue to fight in key battleground states won by President-elect Joe Biden, others are looking forward with hope to the incoming administration of Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris — from first-time voters to immigrants.
The Tribune reached out to area housing experts and advocates and asked what they’d like to see from the new administration when it comes to the housing industry.
10:36 a.m.: Facebook to remove COVID-19 vaccine-related misinformation
Facebook said Thursday it will start removing false claims about COVID-19 vaccines, in its latest move to counter a tide of coronavirus-related online misinformation.
In the coming weeks, the social network will begin taking down any Facebook or Instagram posts with false information about the vaccines that have been debunked by public health experts.
10 a.m.: Northwestern-led researchers unveil data dashboard that aims to spot COVID-19 surges faster
A Northwestern University-based research team has unveiled an online COVID-19 data dashboard that aims to show more quickly where infections are surging in states and across the world.
The dashboard joins scores of others related to the pandemic that are hosted by governments, news media, nonprofits and universities. This one crunches the data in a new way that its creators say can flag surges faster and more precisely, before they become overwhelming.
“Basically the whole idea for this is like an early warning system. What we would hope to do with this is to … be able to see when things are starting to stoke and an outbreak is occurring,” said Lori Post, the lead investigator and director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“However, it’s really a difficult time just because all U.S. states are just like out of control right now in America,” said Post, a professor of emergency medicine and medical social sciences.
Unveiled Thursday morning, the dashboard’s underlying programming code collects case data from other dashboards around the world, then converts it into metrics that Post says will provide an early signal of problems in roughly 200 countries.
9:31 a.m.: US COVID-19 deaths top 3,100 in a single day for the first time as new cases begin topping 200,000 a day
The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalized with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time and new cases has begun topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.
The three benchmarks altogether showed a country slipping deeper into crisis, with perhaps the worst yet to come, in part because of the delayed effects from Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans disregarded warnings to stay home and celebrate only with members of their household.
Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out.
8:12 a.m.: For museums, 2020 was an open-and-shut, up-and-mostly-down year
A museum on the end of a yo-yo string is not an easy image to conjure. The buildings are heavy, for one thing, and not particularly aerodynamic. Plus, there’s so much fragile stuff inside.
But that is precisely where Chicago’s museums found themselves this year as the COVID-19 pandemic forced them to close in the middle of March. Many of them cautiously re-opened in summer, and then the resurgent public-health crisis and the government attempting to manage it yanked the string again in mid-November and shut them all back down.
Meantime, as with almost everyone else in this nation’s oddly prioritized economy, there were federal relief funds available to help the not-for-profit sector through June. Since then, it’s been crickets or tumbleweeds or, more aptly, the heavy quiet of a big, empty, marble-floored hall.
6:13 a.m.: They volunteered for COVID-19 vaccine trials and got the placebo. Do they now deserve the real one?
In October, Judith Munz and her husband, Scott Petersen, volunteered for a coronavirus vaccine trial. At a clinic near their home in Phoenix, each got a jab in the arm.
Petersen, a retired physician, became a little fatigued after his shot, and developed redness and swelling on his arm. But Munz, a social worker, didn’t notice any change. “As much as I wanted it, I couldn’t find a darned thing,” she said. “It was a nothing burger.”
She knew there was a 50-50 chance that she would get the vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson. Judging from her lack of symptoms, she guessed she had received the placebo.
At the time, MsMunz thought that anyone who had received the placebo would get the real vaccine as soon as the trial showed it was safe and effective. She looked forward to the peace of mind it would bring. But last month, she was asked to sign a modified consent form indicating that people who got the placebo might have to wait up to two years to get the vaccine, if they got one at all.
Munz found the form vague, confusing and, most of all, unfair. “You put yourself out there with that risk,” she said. “I am owed that vaccine.”
5:30 a.m.: Column: Recovery is coming in 2021. Will artists be off their games? Or will there be a rush of new talent and ideas?
On Monday, the Bloomberg News Service had a rather chilling headline: “Rusty Pilots Making Flying Errors Is Next Aviation Headache.”
The story set me wondering. Are we now in for a period of similarly rusty artists?
Bloomberg’s piece probed a logical dilemma as the world recovers from the pandemic in 2021. Given that fewer pilots were flying during the months of reduced demand due to COVID-19, airlines now are starting to worry that even seasoned aviation professionals will need a lot of help to get back to the requisite peak performance. Sit around too long, the reasoning goes, and you aren’t as sharp as when you do something on a daily basis. And if you’ve got peoples’ lives in your hands, there’s no room for error.
This is also true in the performing arts, as in many other fields. Any actor will tell you that the discipline of doing, say, eight shows a week at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company not only ensures that the voice and body are trained to peak condition, but the sense memory of that constant focus ensures the level of mental acuity crucial to great acting. Any orchestral musician will confirm that great classical ensembles become near-singular organisms over time, enhancing artistic unity. Those who sing or play rock, blues or whatever with others on a regular basis usually will tell you that they end up knowing their bandmates almost like they know themselves.
5 a.m.: Aurora city officials say they’re in a ‘Catch-22’ trying to enforce Tier 3 COVID-19 restrictions
A high-ranking Aurora city official this week used a tightrope, “Catch-22,” a tough spot and a mixed bag to describe the issue of enforcing coronavirus pandemic restrictions.
Alex Alexandrou, Aurora’s chief management officer, said the city does not have jurisdiction to enforce the Tier 3 closing restrictions the state has forced on businesses, particularly restaurants, who are not allowed to have inside customers.
He said the city’s revenue situation is highly reliant on its restaurants, and it has “weighed heavily on us” how to keep those restaurants alive, while enforcing the restrictions. Some city restaurants are defying the state’s orders; meanwhile, the number of deaths, infections and hospital strain is high due to the pandemic.
“It’s a horrible ‘Catch-22′ that we’re in,” Alexandrou said.
Here are some recent stories about COVID-19:
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