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Chicago Coronavirus Positivity Rate Declines To 4.3%

CHICAGO — New regional COVID-19 mitigations lifted on one area of Illinois this week and imposed on another, as rising coronavirus positivity rates in neighboring regions risk triggering additional restrictions.

Chicago has the lowest coronavirus positivity rate in the state of any of the state’s 11 effective mitigation regions. The positivity rate fell from 4.6 percent to 4.3 percent during the week ending Tuesday, the most recent day where data is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

During the same period, daily new hospitalizations of patients with “COVID-like illnesses,” or CLI, fell from a rounded rolling average of 24 people a day to 23 people a day on Oct. 6.

Only one region is currently subject to increased restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus as part of the 11-region Restore Illinois COVID-19 resurgence plan, as of Friday. It is the third region where public health officials have tightened limits on gatherings and businesses due to high positivity rates.

In Region 1, the Rockford emergency medical services region, the seven-day rolling average coronavirus positivity rate has remained above 8 percent for more than two weeks. Three days above the threshold leads to mandatory mitigation measures. Restrictions on indoor service at bars and restaurants will be in effect in the nine-county region until its rate stays below 6.5 percent for three consecutive days.

That happened this week in Region 4, where the “tier 2” restrictions on businesses and gatherings were first imposed on Aug. 18. The Metro East region hit a high of 10.5 percent positivity in late August before coming down to 5.8 by Friday, when public health officials announced the restrictions had been lifted.

Region 7 was the first to have its regional restrictions rolled back, with mitigations imposed on Aug. 27 were lifted Sept. 18.

The region with the fastest growing positivity rate — and the highest rate outside of the Rockford region — is Region 5 in Southern Illinois. The Marion emergency medical services region saw its positivity rate spike from 5.6 percent to 7 percent this week. If the rolling average continues to rise at that rate, the region could be on pace for additional restrictions as soon as next week.

The next highest rate was in Region 6 excluding Champaign County. Public health officials have begun calculating the region’s positivity rate without counting results from the University of Illinois’ comprehensive saliva testing program. Outside of the county, the positivity rate was 6.7 percent, although it had declined by half a point from a week earlier.

The number of counties in the state at a warning level on the IDPH decreased by two over the past week. The 26 counties where two or more county-level risk indicators show an increasing COVID-19 threat are: Case, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Effingham, Fayette, Henderson, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Lee, Mason, Massac, Pulaski, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Union, Vermilion, Whiteside, Winnebago and Warren.

As of Thursday night, there were 1,812 people hospitalized in Illinois with

Around 1 In 5 Chicago Residents May Have Already Had Coronavirus

EVANSTON, IL — Preliminary findings from a Northwestern University coronavirus study suggest that far more Chicago residents have been infected with COVID-19 than previously believed, with nearly 20 percent of the first group of people tested showing antibodies for the virus.

The Screening for Coronavirus Antibodies in Neighborhoods, or SCAN, project has so far tested the 1,000 blood samples for evidence of an immune response to exposure to the new coronavirus, according to researchers.

The samples were provided by residents of 10 ZIP codes in the city. With additional funding secure, the study has expanded to collect more than 3,000 more samples from across Cook County.

Thom McDade, principal investigator for the project, said the study was not designed to pick a fully representative sample of the city. Instead, researchers picked pairs of adjacent ZIP codes where the infection rate was above average in one and below average in the other.

“There are a large proportion of people who have been exposed but never had any symptoms and never got sick, so we’re using the antibody test to identify where the virus has spread in the community and how it’s been transmitted,” McDade told Patch. “But it also tells me that there’s probably been a higher level of exposure than previously thought. “

About 5 percent of participants reported having been diagnosed with COVID-19 or having tested positive, while the city’s overall rate of confirmed cases is just over 3 percent.

Still, if the early results were to hold true for the rest of the city, hundreds of thousands more Chicagoans have been exposed to the the virus than have tested positive for an active infection. Viral testing has detected 83,000 confirmed cases in the city as of Friday, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Thom McDade, a biological anthropologist and lead investigator in the <a href="" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Screening for Coronavirus Antibodies in Neighborhoods" class="link rapid-noclick-resp">Screening for Coronavirus Antibodies in Neighborhoods</a> project, works on a COVID-19 antibody test that requires only a single drop of blood. (Northwestern University)
Thom McDade, a biological anthropologist and lead investigator in the Screening for Coronavirus Antibodies in Neighborhoods project, works on a COVID-19 antibody test that requires only a single drop of blood. (Northwestern University)

Co-Investigator Dr. Elizabeth McNally, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern’s medical school, told the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the preliminary results, that the testing method the study uses is more sensitive than commercial antibody tests, which could be missing one in four cases. Other studies have found that the actual rate of COVID-19 infections were 10 times higher, at least, than the number of detected cases reported by public health officials.

The project’s antibody, or serological, testing requires participants only to prick their finger and mail in a drop of their dried blood, with results provided online within about a month.

“Widespread serological testing is essential for figuring out how the virus is spreading in the community, but it is very hard to screen large numbers of people when the tests require people to come to a health care provider,” McNally said in a May announcement the new one-drop test.

McDade said his Evanston lab has developed about 10 previous blood-spot tests

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Oct. 7 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Officials reported 58,820 new tests in the last 24 hours, as the state surpasses 6 million total COVID-19 tests. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.5%.

The new statewide numbers come as Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that the gains that most regions in Illinois had been making in bringing down COVID-19 positivity rates in recent weeks have “cooled off a bit.” The governor noted specifically that the northeastern region that includes Lake and McHenry counties has seen a reversal after a period of decline.

“That progress has cooled off a bit, across Illinois,” Pritzker said. “We are seeing changes in positivity averages around the state level off, with three regions that were decreasing last week now sitting at a stable level.”

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

7:15 p.m.: CPS says clerks must report to work in person, despite labor ruling that questions COVID-19 protections in schools. CTU says the action ‘threatens jobs.’

Despite an arbitrator’s ruling that certain Chicago Public Schools employees should be allowed to work from home when feasible during remote learning, the district is continuing to require them to work in person.

An email from Chief Talent Officer Matt Lyons sent late Tuesday told clerks, clerk assistants and technology coordinators that the expectations have not changed.

“As critical members of our school community, you are integral in our collective work communicating and supporting families, staff, and students,” the email states. “This means you will continue to be expected to report to work in person, unless you have an approved or pending request for a leave of absence or accommodation.

“You may have received conflicting information recently on this reporting requirement,” the email continued, “but we are writing today to confirm CPS’ expectation and directive to report to work onsite.”

Without a leave of absence or accommodation request approved or pending, employees are not allowed to work from home, according to the email, which states that if employees don’t show up in person, “CPS will consider your absence unauthorized and proceed accordingly.”

The Chicago Teachers Union is interpreting the email as a threat of discipline and an attempt “to strongarm workers into schools in defiance of the ruling.” The union also claims CPS is stalling on bargaining over remedies.

6:55 p.m.: The Purple Pig employees hold protest over concerns of coronavirus safety negligence

After spending much of Tuesday night calling colleagues at The Purple Pig, Ryan Love felt upbeat about the five people who committed to picketing the Chicago restaurant Wednesday morning.

The protest, which ended up being four people greeting passersby with signs saying, “211K Americans dead. Tapas anyone?” and “No transparency, no accountability,” was inspired by frustration over the perceived actions of restaurant chef and owner Jimmy Bannos Jr. and other members of management. Love contends they did not take appropriate steps to keep employees and guests safe after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 on Sept. 24.

Love, a lead server and bartender, said a full

Illinois reports first West Nile virus death of the year in Chicago resident

A Chicago resident died of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. The death marks the first West Nile virus-related fatality in the state this year, Illinois health officials announced this week.

The resident, who was not identified, first fell ill in mid-September and subsequently tested positive for the disease, officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a news release. 

“Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

West Nile virus, which was first reported in the U.S. in 1999, is typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though side effects can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.


A percentage of people infected with West Nile virus — roughly one in five — develop a fever and may additionally experience headaches, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash, among other side effects. Even rarer, about one in 150 people who are infected with the mosquito-linked ailment can develop a serious illness, such as inflammation of the spinal cord or brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The Mayo Clinic warns people who are older, as well as those with preexisting medical conditions, are more susceptible to the virus.


Wearing insect repellent and protective clothing, as well as draining standing water around gardens and homes where mosquitoes can lay eggs, can reduce the chances of being bitten by a mosquito, ultimately mitigating the risk of developing West Nile virus.

To date, there have been two dozen human cases of West Nile virus reported in Illinois this year, per officials. Some 28 cases were reported in 2019, including one death. 

Source Article

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Oct. 5 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Meanwhile, President Trump staged a dramatic return to the White House Monday night after leaving the military hospital where he has been receiving an unprecedented level of care for COVID-19. He immediately ignited a new controversy by declaring that despite his illness the nation should not fear the virus that has killed more than 210,000 Americans — and then he entered the White House without a protective mask

Also on Monday, the CDC said that the coronavirus can spread more than 6 feet through the air, especially in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces. But agency officials maintained that such spread is uncommon and current social distancing guidelines still make sense.

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

5:05 p.m.: Nearly one-third of COVID patients in Chicago-area study had an altered mental state

Nearly a third of hospitalized COVID-19 patients experienced some type of altered mental function — ranging from confusion to delirium to unresponsiveness — in the largest study to date of neurological symptoms among coronavirus patients in a U.S. hospital system.

And patients with altered mental function had significantly worse medical outcomes, according to the study, published Monday in Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology. The study looked at the records of the first 509 coronavirus patients hospitalized, from March 5 to April 6, at 10 hospitals in the Northwestern Medicine health system in the Chicago area.

These patients stayed three times as long in the hospital as patients without altered mental function.

After they were discharged, only 32% of the patients with altered mental function were able to handle routine daily activities like cooking and paying bills, said Dr. Igor Koralnik, senior author of the study and chief of neuro-infectious disease and global neurology at Northwestern Medicine. In contrast, 89% of patients without altered mental function were able to manage such activities without assistance.

Patients with altered mental function — the medical term is encephalopathy — were also nearly seven times as likely to die as those who did not have that type of problem.

4:40 p.m.: St. Viator Catholic school moves to all-remote after ‘several’ positive COVID-19 cases over weekend

St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights is shifting from all-onsite learning to all-remote following an uptick in positive novel coronavirus cases in recent days, school officials said Monday.

School officials told Pioneer Press Monday that the decision was made after several positive COVID-19 test results “among those in the school” Saturday and Sunday.

Officials declined to say whether those testing positive were students or staff, or to provide additional information.

“While we had experienced only a few isolated instances since returning to school on August 24, in the past few days the number of reports exceeded what we feel allows us to provide a safe environment for our faculty, staff and students,” school President Brian Liedlich said in a statement.

4:15 p.m.: CDC now says coronavirus can spread more than 6 feet through the air in updated guidance

The top U.S.

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Sept. 30 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

“IDPH recognizes that some who will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person,” IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike wrote in a statement. “Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”

Additionally, the central Illinois region around Champaign-Urbana could be hit with stricter restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses as the percentage of positive coronavirus tests is on the rise, state public officials warned on Wednesday.

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

8:35 p.m.: American Airlines to furlough 19,000 employees as clock runs out on deal for federal aid

American Airlines will begin furloughing 19,000 employees on Thursday after lawmakers and the White House failed to agree on a broad pandemic-relief package that includes more federal aid for airlines.

CEO Doug Parker said Wednesday night that if Washington comes up with a deal for $25 billion in airline aid “over the next few days,” American will reverse the furloughs and recall the employees.

The move by American represents the first — and likely the largest — involuntary jobs cut across the industry in coming days. United Airlines has indicated it could furlough nearly 12,000 workers.

8:15 p.m.: Pelosi, Mnuchin have ‘extensive’ talks on coronavirus relief

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held an “extensive conversation” Wednesday on a huge COVID-19 rescue package, meeting face to face for the first time in more than a month in a last-ditch effort to seal a tentative accord on an additional round of coronavirus relief.

After a 90-minute meeting in the Capitol, Pelosi issued a statement saying the two would continue to talk. “We found areas where we are seeking further clarification,” she said. Talks resume Thursday.

“We made a lot of progress over the last few days. We still don’t have an agreement,” Mnuchin said after meeting with Pelosi and briefing top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell.

At the very least, the positive tone set by Pelosi and Mnuchin represented an improvement over earlier statements. But there is still a considerable gulf between the two sides, McConnell said.

“I’ve seen substantial movement, yes, and certainly the rhetoric has changed,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said.

7 p.m.: Cook County Board commissioner tests positive for COVID-19

A Cook County commissioner who appeared in a news conference with board President Toni Preckwinkle last week announced on Wednesday he tested positive for coronavirus.

Commissioner Kevin Morrison, D-15th, released a statement late afternoon that he will self-isolate for 14 days and not resume activities until he tests negative. He said he is mostly asymptomatic.

“Unfortunately, I have tested positive for COVID-19,” Morrison wrote. “Fortunately, I am feeling well with very little symptoms. … I encourage everyone to continue to follow public health guidance and to stay safe.”


Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Illinois officials announced that a resurgence in coronavirus rates in a northwest Illinois region that includes Rockford and Northern Illinois University will result in a return to tighter restrictions aimed at curbing the disease’s spread.

a group of people sitting at a table with a bunch of stuffed animals: Mourners add to a memorial on Sept. 9, 2020, during a vigil in memory of Dajore Wilson, 8, near where she was killed at 47th Street and South Union Avenue in the Canaryville neighborhood.

© Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Mourners add to a memorial on Sept. 9, 2020, during a vigil in memory of Dajore Wilson, 8, near where she was killed at 47th Street and South Union Avenue in the Canaryville neighborhood.

The news comes as the state reported 1,362 newly diagnosed cases and 23 additional confirmed deaths of people with COVID-19, raising the statewide tally to 291,001 known cases and 8,637 deaths.

COVID-19 in Illinois by the numbers: Here’s a daily update on key metrics in your area

COVID-19 cases in Illinois by ZIP code: Search for your neighborhood

Chicago’s travel quarantine list: Here’s what you need to know to avoid a large fine

a traffic light at night: The setting sun is is seen along East Madison Street before the fall equinox on Sept. 21, 2020, in Chicago.

© Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
The setting sun is is seen along East Madison Street before the fall equinox on Sept. 21, 2020, in Chicago.

Illinois coronavirus graphs: The latest data on deaths, confirmed cases, tests and more

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

7:10 a.m.: Lightfoot to hold final online budget town hall with city officials

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and City Budget Director Susie Park were scheduled to hold a final online town hall Wednesday regarding Chicago’s 2021 budget.

The city is running an $800 million budget deficit for 2020 following tax shortfalls because of the coronavirus pandemic and facing a hole of about $1.2 billion for 2021.

a person preparing food in a kitchen: Kelly Helgesen of Takeaway Bagel makes sourdough bagels at Superkhana International on Sept. 19, 2020, in Chicago.

© Armando L. Sanchez / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Kelly Helgesen of Takeaway Bagel makes sourdough bagels at Superkhana International on Sept. 19, 2020, in Chicago.

Since late August, the city has held a series of online town halls and gathered more than 38,000 survey responses about residents’ budget concerns and spending priorities, according to a news release from the mayor’s office. Wednesday evening’s town hall will be livestreamed on Facebook from 6-7 p.m.

Isabel Aguilar and her son, Diego, 5, create a poster at a rally to protest the possible future redevelopment of the Discount Mall in the Little Village neighborhood on Sept. 16, 2020, in Chicago.

© John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Isabel Aguilar and her son, Diego, 5, create a poster at a rally to protest the possible future redevelopment of the Discount Mall in the Little Village neighborhood on Sept. 16, 2020, in Chicago.

Lightfoot is to detail more of her plans for the 2021 budget when she gives her annual budget address in mid-October. — Chicago Tribune staff

6:46 a.m.: COVID-19 cases traced to adult volleyball games at Gages Lake restaurant

Almost 200 players and spectators were potentially exposed recently to COVID-19 during adult volleyball games at a Gages Lake restaurant and bar, with 14 testing positive for the virus as the result of an investigation by the Lake County Health Department.

The health department began its investigation on Sept. 23 after investigators and contact tracers identified people who watched or played volleyball with symptoms of the coronavirus pandemic at Jesse Oaks Food & Drink, according to a department press