* Chicago is finally getting its contact tracing program off the ground…
Better late than never, perhaps. But, man is that ever late.
* Press release…
At a press conference today with Loyola University Chicago officials, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) highlighted ongoing testing challenges at schools and universities, and announced he was sending a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking how the Trump Administration plans to rectify the shortfall in testing supplies it has created at our universities and schools after Durbin learned HHS diverted shipments of COVID-19 tests bound for two Illinois universities.
“I recently became aware of two troubling incidents involving Illinois universities in which COVID-19 testing kits that they had purchased were commandeered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and diverted to other needy entities,” Durbin said. “At the same time the White House was pressuring our schools to reopen, the Administration was telling schools that the test supplies they had ordered wouldn’t be coming to them anymore, because HHS stepped in and redirected them elsewhere. The lack of a national strategy for access to adequate, reliable, and timely testing has hampered our response to the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning. I will continue working to bring more funding to Illinois schools that are desperately trying to safely reopen.”
* It doesn’t take much to destabilize a school…
A small number of cases impacted the foodservice sector of the Blue Ridge School District late last week, leaving administrators with the only decision to temporarily close their doors for two weeks.
Superintendent Dr. Hilary Stanifer told Regional News Monday they did not have a large number of cases but because of infections in staff, it impacted their ability to feed their students and for that reason, they are beginning a two-week and a day shutdown.
* From the Southern Illinoisan…
The human toll of the COVID-19 pandemic has been one of no bounds. It has surpassed the amount of American lives lost during the 1900 Galveston hurricane, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, the Revolutionary War, the Korean war, the Vietnam War and World War I.
Nationally, about 192,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died this year. Of Illinois’ nearly 8,500 deaths, the majority have been of people living in Chicago and the surrounding area. But this region has not been spared — throughout 21 Southern Illinois counties, 138 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died since April. Following national trends, the majority of deaths here — 96, according to the latest state figures — have been of older adults in nursing homes. But the virus has also claimed the lives of Southern Illinoisans as young as their 40s. While it is well established that the virus is the most deadly to people with underlying health conditions, at least some whose lives it has claimed were considered the picture of health. […]
The Southern Illinoisan spoke with several families throughout the region about their loved ones whose lives were cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Several people said they hope their families’ losses serve as a wake-up call to people in Southern Illinois who believe the virus is a hoax or the response to it is overblown.
Go read the rest.
…Adding… Hannah Meisel at Illinois Public Radio…
When the coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic shutdowns hit Illinois this spring, experts began to count up all of the ways in which COVID-19 would likely exacerbate an already rising level of need in the state’s child welfare system — a network itself long stressed by budget and leadership turmoil.
The state is barely three years out of a prolonged budget stalemate under former Gov. Bruce Rauner, which left Illinois’ human services sector severely weakened, and resulted in a surge of need in the child welfare system.
As child welfare needs have increased in Illinois, capacity has fallen. Between 2015 and 2019, Illinois’ shelter bed capacity was cut by 71%, from 159 beds to 46, according to DCFS. In that same time period, Illinois lost nearly 500 residential beds and 2,300 foster homes.
* On to the Metro East…
Ashley and Ryan Driemeyer are in a rebellious mood.
The Driemeyers continue to serve customers inside their two restaurants in Breese and Pocahontas in defiance of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s directive issued on Sept. 1 for metro-east bars and restaurants to stop indoor service because the southwestern Illinois region’s positivity rate for the coronavirus surpassed 8%. […]
Ashley Driemeyer said other bar and restaurant owners in the area also are still serving customers inside. She also is a longtime friend of Bond County attorney Tom DeVore, who has filed multiple lawsuits against Pritzker alleging the governor does not have the authority to issue orders for multiple months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Things are getting weird in Will County. From the Times Weekly…
On the same day the Illinois Department of Public Health dropped Will County from the state’s warning list of regions nearing a Coronavirus positivity rate of 8 percent, some area Republicans held a press conference to denounce the IDPH’s numbers and criticize both Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Will County Health Department officials.
“These numbers are inflated. The people of Illinois and the people of the County of Will deserve true and accurate numbers,” said Nick Ficarello, one of 11 area Republicans to attend Friday’s press conference in front of the Will County Courthouse in Joliet. Ficarello is the Republican candidate for Will County Executive.
Only one at the press conference donned a mask to protect themselves and none practiced social distancing while their colleagues spoke to the press. […]
Asked why he and most of the others were not wearing masks at the press conference, Pearson said with the traffic going by there was too much noise and masks would have made it harder for them to be heard.
* Daily Southtown…
Will County Board member Gretchen Fritz, a Republican from Plainfield, suggested the county was being unfairly targeted by “Pritzker and his puppet master Mike Madigan.” She argued that the state’s methods to measure positivity rates was flawed. […]
Fritz and others at Friday’s news conference also criticized the Will County Health Department’s call for residents to use the agency’s hotline to report any restaurants or bars violating the COVID-19 restrictions. […]
The Will County Republican Central Committee, in a news release Friday, charged the health department was relying on Communist methods to get residents to turn in violators.
“This is America, not some third world banana republic,” it read. “You have the constitutional right to face your accusers in open court. To fine or punish a person or business goes directly against this principle.”
I look forward to the Will County GOP demanding an end to the local Crime Stoppers program and the elimination of 911 calls. Wouldn’t want anybody snitching.
* Tribune live blog…
Some northwest suburban parents are calling for District 214 high schools to reopen for in-person instruction
The bubble athlete. The beer vendor. The cheerleader. The tailgaters. A snapshot of life in sports during 6 months of COVID-19.
Officials to announce Chicago contact tracing and resources hub
City fund for small business, nonprofit grants opens for applications
Pritzker, Ezike and Arwady talk about the COVID-19 pandemic at 6 months, and look ahead to what might be next
Coronavirus vaccine-makers are keeping safety details quiet, alarming scientists.
Six months into the pandemic, downtown Chicago is a humbled giant. Can it get back on its feet?
Dr. Anthony Fauci said life won’t return to normal until deep into 2021.
* Sun-Times live blog…
Trump confronts criticisms of COVID-19 handling: ‘We did it just the right way’
Anti-inflammatory drug may shorten COVID-19 recovery time
States brace for worsening teacher shortages as pandemic forces some to opt out