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COVID-19 roundup

Monday, Sep 14, 2020

* 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

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ducky LaMoore - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:09 pm:

    “This is America, not some third world banana republic,”

    Vote twice, right?

  2. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    -[Masks] would have made it harder for them to be heard.-

    Know what else makes it hard to be heard? A ventilator.

  3. - jimbo - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:18 pm:

    I was in McHenry County over the weekend, and was very surprised at how different it was from DuPage.

    Masks wearers there were a very small minority in McHenry. Perhaps 1/4 at best.

  4. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:19 pm:

    Teacher shortages will be increased because it is hard for new teachers to student teach and be certified.

  5. - Southern - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:26 pm:

    I can confirm that a lot of restaurants in the metro-east are back to full-on indoor dining. And they seem to be doing it with complete immunity (in the legal sense of the word, not medical). Among the locals, there’s an overwhelming attitude that Covid is a “fake” pandemic. They offer the typical arguments: only really old people die from Covid alone, it’s just an attempt to hurt Trump, etc. My personal favorite is that hospitals get an extra $37,000 for each Covid patients, so doctors are diagnosing everyone with Covid. There’s also a belief that coroners are classifying deaths as Covid-related even if the person died in a car wreck. True story: One local woman, whose mother died of cancer, called the coroner and asked him to please not list the cause of death as Covid. The coroner asked her, “Why would I do that?” She replied, “Because I’ve heard about how all of the coroners are listing Covid as the cause of death, even if it was a car wreck.”

  6. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    I believe if you can even get into a court room you will be facing your accuser with masks on

  7. - Highland IL - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    The Driemeyers opened one of their locations a couple of week in the middle of an pandemic. That probably wasn’t a very good idea.

  8. - Frank talks - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:33 pm:

    Maybe get rid of all those mandatory reporting laws for domestic violence and child abuse. What right is it of a teacher to tell on a parent if a child is all bruised? Or a teaching a hairdresser to know the signs of domestic violence? Darn socialist government getting involved taking away our rights.

    Guaranteed these are the first people to call police when there is a “stranger” walking through their neighborhood.

  9. - Jibba - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:37 pm:

    If they aren’t bright enough to wear a mask, I have no confidence in their math skills, either.

  10. - don the legend - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:43 pm:

    Why are only Republicans having news conferences that contain ridiculous statements, dangerous behaviors and absurd takes on freedom, civic duty and patriotism? They seem to all be such stable geniuses.

  11. - illinifan - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:46 pm:

    Southern you nailed it. That said it is not limited to your area. In Region 7 I hear the same thing. The mayor of my town put out a letter saying he will not enforce this. I have a neighbor planning a future run for congress and he was spouting the same stuff you noted. Naturally if he runs I will not vote for him.

  12. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    “a republican from plainfield”

    It’s starting to make more sense every day that the plainfield township supervisor is also the treasurer for Brad Halbrook.

    plainfield is pretty much turning into the southern illinois of the suburbs, and I doubt the rest of the area is going to put up with it for too much longer.

  13. - thunderspirit - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:49 pm:

    == I was in McHenry County over the weekend, and was very surprised at how different it was from DuPage.

    Masks wearers there were a very small minority in McHenry. Perhaps 1/4 at best. ==

    I grew up in rural McHenry County, and this statement is the least surprising thing I’ve seen all month.

    Every time I read this stuff with people insisting COVID-19 isn’t real; and even if it is, the numbers aren’t real; and even if they are,, “freedom”, I realize we’re going to be in this vicious circle quagmire for a long time.

  14. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    the Plainfield Moose had a car show over the weekend/yesterday.

    The parking lot was packed full of people not wearing masks, all standing in groups and meandering around. I’m amazed they were even allowed to hold such an event without a special use permit being given by the village.

    Plainfield - the southern Illinois of the suburbs, but without the scenery.

  15. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    speaking of plainfield

    My biggest concern is the local catholic school that has resumed in person attendance.

    I do not believe for one second that they will announce publicly any infections, or for that matter they will even close down if half the students become infected.

    The priority here is to keep the money flowing into the church(running the school). With their local history(3 priests abusing kids at this one school, and actively covering that up).

    This is a school that previously kicked out an entire family when they called the police on a youth leader for dressing young boys up in womens underwear as part of a ‘game’.

    I have no doubt they will sacrifice children for the sake of the organization. They’ve already done it before. They will do it again.

  16. - GregN - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    Hannah is likely the hardest working, most talented reporter to be under or unemployed in IL.
    Maybe give her the keys on your (rare!) days/weeks off?

  17. - don the legend - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    Will County: the Illinois leader in stable geniuses per capita.

  18. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:06 pm:

    I was in Tuscola on Sept 4 and stopped in a restaurant in their downtown. No one was wearing a mask and the tables and chairs were as crowded together as they were last winter. My friend and I were told we could sit anywhere or leave. So we left and stopped in Champaign abd ate at the Curtis Orchard. Masks were required and the tables and chairs were moved further apart. We felt a lot safer eating there.

  19. - OracleGirl - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    ==Will County: the Illinois leader in stable geniuses per capita.==

    The county Republicans are arguing this, meanwhile the chair of the Will County democrats has covid

  20. - Occam - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:36 pm:

    It looks like Cook County averages about 600+ cases per day. And there are 600 tracers employed.

    That means a Tracer traces about 1 case a day.

  21. - cermak_rd - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:37 pm:

    Boardmember Fritz seems to think that the citations are written due to the anonymous complaints. My understanding is that the anonymous complaint just initiates a visit possibly a citation but not as a direct result of complaint.

  22. - zatoichi - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    Does Nick Ficarello have another set of verified numbers to demonstrate how much the official numbers are off or is he just talkin’?

    As for masks make it hard to hear…I heard a technology is on the market, it’s called a microphone which uses an amplifier and speakers which can get pretty loud. There are even small systems you can hold in your hand. Should work.

  23. - JoanP - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 3:51 pm:

    =I heard a technology is on the market, it’s called a microphone which uses an amplifier and speakers which can get pretty loud. There are even small systems you can hold in your hand.=

    I use a personal voice amplifier for giving architectural tours. Clips on my belt or waistband, or I can hang it around my neck. The head piece with mic is slim and light. It works beautifully.

    Or, of course, they could find a place for their press conference that isn’t noisy.

  24. - low level - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 6:49 pm:

    Lightfoot is in over her head. Absolutely clueless.

  25. - Anon221 - Monday, Sep 14, 20 @ 6:54 pm:

    Just ran across this site after seeing a segment about healthcare worker deaths in Syria on the PBS Newshour. Kaiser Health is working with The Guardian to compile these stories. Do a Find search for Illinois and read Karon Hoffman’s story from McHenry County. Or Joseph Bongiorno Sr.. Or Michelle Abernathy. Or any of the others from Illinois and across this Nation. I don’t know how anyone can read these tributes or watch In Memoriums and STILL insist their “freedom” to spread the virus is more important than the worth of all these people we have lost… and the ones we still stand to lose who could have saved lives for years to come.

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Chairman Welch sends letters to potential witnesses, sets hearing date for September 29
* *** UPDATED x1 *** SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Update to today's edition
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* Illinois has 8th worst unemployment recovery year over year, 6th worst recovery since January, 9th highest unemployment rate
* 2,120 new cases, 20 additional deaths, 1,481 people hospitalizations, 3.6 percent positivity rate, 24 counties reach warning level, Will/Kankakee off mitigation
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