Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Illinois has begun to bend downward after weeks of sharp growth, state data shows, but public health advocates have expressed unease that infections from the Thanksgiving holiday may undo any improvements.
The same downward trend is starting to be seen, though not as strongly, for the subset of patients in intensive care units — where there are deeper concerns about hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
The case numbers, lower than in recent weeks, don’t necessarily mean that the spread of coronavirus is slowing. Health experts have warned that because over the Thanksgiving weekend, fewer people likely got tested and many testing sites curtailed their hours.
Because of the holiday weekend, COVID-19 numbers are likely to fluctuate over the next several days, according to experts.
Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
2:42 p.m.: Americans face strict new COVID-19 restrictions around the country after Thanksgiving as health experts brace for out-of-control surge to worsen
Americans returning home from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the out-of-control surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Los Angeles County imposed a stay-at-home order for its 10 million residents, and Santa Clara County, in the heart of Silicon Valley, banned high school, college and professional sports and decreed a quarantine for those who have traveled more than 150 miles outside the county.
In Hawaii, the mayor of Hawaii County said trans-Pacific travelers arriving without a negative COVID-19 test must quarantine for 14 days, and even those who have tested virus-free may be randomly selected for another test upon arrival. New Jersey is suspending all youth sports.
The outbreak in Santa Clara County “is like a high-speed train,” health officer Dr. Sara Cody said.
2:34 p.m.: COVID-19 relief package a long-shot in lame-duck Congress session
After months of shadowboxing amid a tense and toxic campaign, Capitol Hill’s main players are returning for one final, perhaps futile, attempt at deal-making on a challenging menu of year-end business.
COVID-19 relief, a $1.4 trillion catchall spending package, and defense policy — and a final burst of judicial nominees — dominate a truncated two- or three-week session occurring as the coronavirus pandemic rockets out of control in President Donald Trump’s final weeks in office.
1:27 p.m.: Vandals strike outdoor dining tents in Chicago’s West Loop
Formento’s was one of a few West Loop restaurants hit by graffiti over the holiday weekend. Vandals spray-painted graffiti on outdoor tents used to shelter patrons dining outdoors in the cold weather, an attempt to keep business going while restaurant dining rooms remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. For partner Nancy Bruni, it was the latest in a long string of struggles she’s had to face during the pandemic.
”I was in tears,” Bruni said Monday morning. “It’s all so much.”
She’s frustrated by the mayor, the governor and the president, the first of whom she plans on writing a “nasty letter” later Monday. It costs Formento’s $4,500 a month to have the outdoor dining tents up, and the graffiti made them eyesores that could potentially turn away customers willing to brave the cold weather to dine in, she said. She walked outside into the gloomy weather to snap a few photos and take a real look at what was written on the tents, which she said was gibberish.
One of her managers filed an online police report Sunday afternoon that was still pending approval as of Monday afternoon. Another restaurant on Randolph Street, Bar Siena, had tents also hit with graffiti over the weekend, according to a report by NBC.
Bruni said the city sent a crew on Monday to clean up the graffiti. But overall she said the incident is just more proof that people don’t care about restaurants, whether they’re a public official or a layperson.
”I’m just so sad for humanity,” she said. “Instead of coming together during the virus, it just feels like we’re getting screwed.”
She repeated her pleas that she shared during a press conference on Nov. 11: Give restaurants aid or at the very least, give them transparency and a voice when making decisions about their livelihoods.
”No one is giving us any answers and we are left in limbo here,” she said. “When it gets really cold, realistically, do you think people are going to be trudging through the snow and ice to eat in an igloo or a tent?”
1:23 p.m.: When will kids get a COVID-19 vaccine? Experts say it may be long after adults.
The U.S. may be weeks away from getting its first coronavirus vaccine approved for adults, but many parents and doctors wonder when children will be able to benefit from the protection it offers.
Experts have said that adults in the general public likely won’t get vaccinated until spring, and kids might have to wait even longer — possibly till the end of 2021.
That’s because kids weren’t involved in COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials until two months ago, when pharmaceutical company Pfizer and its partner BioNTech recruited 16 and 17-year-olds. In October, the companies received approval to enroll kids between 12 and 15-years-old.
1:07 p.m.: Glenview, Northbrook offer early retirement to village staffers as suburbs look to cut costs during COVID-19 pandemic
As Northbrook and Glenview continue to deal with the financial fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the villages will experience several staff departures in the coming year.
Both villages are working to save money by reducing expenses and deferring non-essential projects. Another way they hope to save money is by offering voluntary separation programs. These programs serve as a type of incentivized early retirement or buyout plan for eligible staff.
”By reducing the employee count and restructuring job functions through privatization or job consolidations as opportunities present themselves, an employer can contain personnel costs and manage future costs,” reads a report from Sarah Schillerstrom, Glenview’s assistant village manager.
Particularly in Northbrook, the exits of several department heads, as well as the village manager and elected village president, will create a year of significant turnover.
1:03 p.m.: Lake County’s COVID-19 numbers improve, but health officials wary of Thanksgiving impact
Amid slightly improved coronavirus pandemic statistics in Lake County, concern remains as the Illinois Department of Public Health plans to operate more mobile testing sites starting nine days after Thanksgiving to continue curbing the spread of COVID-19.
Testing will be offered between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 14 at the College of Lake County, 19351 West Washington St., Grayslake; as well as Sunday at Grant Community High School, 285 Grand Ave. Fox Lake.
Hannah Goering, the marketing and communications manager for the Lake County Health Department, said in an email testing is a key component of reducing the spread of the disease. Anyone feeling at all ill should get a test immediately.
”When we can identify cases through testing, we can have those who are infected isolate and have their close contacts quarantine,” she said. “This is a very targeted approach to slow the spread of the virus.”
12:30 p.m.: Ellen DeGeneres features U of C nurses on her show
Ellen DeGeneres thanked University of Chicago Medical Center nurses with several gifts, including a $200 weighted blanket, a $550 cookware set and a variety of gift cards, on Monday’s episode of her daytime show.
DeGeneres has been dedicating her 12 Days of Giveaways program to first responders during the coronavirus pandemic. Monday was Day 4. DeGeneres’ show airs at 3 p.m. weekdays on WMAQ-Ch. 5.
Watch here. —Tracy Swartz
12:03 p.m.: 6,190 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 85 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Monday announced 6,190 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 85 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 726,304 and the statewide death toll to 12,278 since the start of the pandemic. Officials also reported 66,980 new tests in the last 24 hours.
The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 10.2% for the period ending Friday.
11:25 a.m.: A good sign, for now: Hospitalization numbers have been declining
The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations across Illinois has begun to bend downward after weeks of sharp growth, state data shows, but public health advocates have expressed unease that infections from the Thanksgiving holiday may undo any improvements.
As of Sunday night — the most recent data available — 5,849 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized across the state. That number marked the seventh daily drop in hospitalizations in nine days, collectively amounting to a 5% decrease from a high of 6,175 on Nov. 20.
The same downward trend is starting to be seen, though not as strongly, for the subset of patients in intensive care units – where there are deeper concerns about hospitals becoming overwhelmed.
6:54 a.m.: Merriam-Webster’s top word of 2020 not a shocker: pandemic
If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be?
Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.
“That probably isn’t a big shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press.
“Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future,” he said.
6:38 a.m.: Oak Park to fund business marketing plan, studying winter outdoor dining options for restaurants
To assist local businesses and restaurants, the village of Oak Park has authorized creation of a “shop local” campaign while also studying outdoor dining concepts for use this winter.
During the village board’s meeting last week, trustees unanimously approved a $30,000 contract with an agency called a5 to work with the village and various stakeholders to promote and support small businesses..
The proposal includes consolidating existing programs, such as the Oak Park-River Forest Chamber of Commerce’s digital gift card program and a local “save our restaurants” campaign, and building a digital marketing and social media campaign.
The village’s business recovery task force reviewed multiple proposals, and came to a consensus to recommend a contract with a5 to the village board.
6:15 a.m.: Moderna to seek OK for emergency use of its coronavirus vaccine in US, Europe
Moderna Inc. said it would ask U.S. and European regulators Monday to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine as new study results confirm the shots offer strong protection — ramping up the race to begin limited vaccinations as the coronavirus rampage worsens.
Multiple vaccine candidates must succeed for the world to stamp out the pandemic, which has been on the upswing in the U.S. and Europe. U.S. hospitals have been stretched to the limit as the nation has seen more than 160,000 new cases per day and more than 1,400 daily deaths. Since first emerging nearly a year ago in China, the virus has killed more than 1.4 million people worldwide.
Moderna is just behind Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech in seeking to begin vaccinations in the U.S. in December. Across the Atlantic, British regulators also are assessing the Pfizer shot and another from AstraZeneca.
Here are some recent stories about COVID-19.
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