The daily number of new known coronavirus cases announced by Illinois officials on Thursday was the highest in nearly five months, except for a day in early September when the state caught up on a testing backlog.
The 3,059 new known cases represents the first time the daily count has topped 3,000 since May 14, when the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,239 cases. The department reported 5,368 new cases on Sept. 4, but that was due to a backlog in processing test results.
In addition to the newly confirmed cases, which bring the total number known infections to 310,700 statewide since the pandemic began, officials on Thursday reported 32 more fatalities. That brings the death toll to 8,910. Officials also reported 72,491 new tests in the last 24 hours. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.7%.
The new 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.
Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
6:20 p.m.: IHSA doctor says high school basketball could happen in Illinois if players wear masks
The senior member of the Illinois High School Association’s sports medicine advisory committee said Thursday that high school basketball might be possible this year if all players wear masks.
Dr. Preston Wolin said that idea is being considered by the Illinois Department of Public Health, whose COVID-19 guidelines place restrictions on high school and youth sports. As of now, basketball is considered a medium risk for virus transmission, meaning athletes can scrimmage but not compete against other schools.
The high school basketball season is supposed to start Nov. 16.
Wolin said recent communication between the IHSA and the state has included “a draft considering allowing a basketball season to proceed with everybody being masked. As to whether there is actually an IDPH policy that has been promulgated describing this, that I don’t think I can answer.”
Asked for comment, an IDPH spokeswoman responded: “There are no updates to the guidance planned at this time.”
An IHSA spokesman did not return a request for comment.
5:05 p.m.: Winnetka businessman charged with price gouging in sale of protective masks during pandemic
A North Shore businessman was charged in federal court in Chicago on Thursday with illegally price gouging customers seeking to purchase protective masks amid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Krikor Topouzian, 60, of Winnetka, was charged in a criminal information with violating anti-price gouging laws. The charge carries a maximum of one year in prison.
According to the charge, Topouzian, who owns a medical supply company based in Skokie, accumulated in March and April a stockpile of nearly 80,000 respirator masks, including N95 masks, for roughly just over $5 per mask.
Topouzian later sold nearly 40,000