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COVID-19 roundup

Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Oy

The US could see a decline of two to three years in life expectancy in 2020 due to the coronavirus, the steepest drop since the second world war. Covid-19 is poised to become the third-leading cause of death in America, the Wall Street Journal reported.

* Reason

This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time — due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.


As the coronavirus ravages chronically understaffed Illinois nursing homes, state fines to enforce decade-old staffing minimums are supposed to take effect next week. But a lawmaker who helped broker administrative rules for the penalties says the enforcement will wait awhile longer.

A 2010 law established minimum hours of direct daily care for residents who need skilled nursing. Lawmakers did not enact the fines until 18 months ago. That measure says “monetary penalties shall be imposed beginning no later than Jan. 1, 2021.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health has nearly finalized the rules for the enforcement but state Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, says IDPH won’t actually start issuing fines until mid-year.

“That will allow the nursing homes to staff up as we hopefully move out of the pandemic,” said Cunningham, co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which backed a draft of the enforcement rules last week.

“It will also give the Department of Public Health the ability to hire inspectors,” Cunningham said. “That’s something they haven’t done yet, and they can’t really enforce these rules until they have boots on the ground.”

The fines have been on the books for 18 months. The IDPH has had plenty of time to get its act together, even with the pandemic. This has “disaster” written all over it.

* Speaking of nursing homes, here’s the Wall St. Journal

Americans have long relied on institutions to care for the frailest seniors. The U.S. has the largest number of nursing-home residents in the world. But families and some doctors have been reluctant to send patients to such facilities, fearing infection and isolation in places ravaged by Covid-19, which has caused more than 115,000 deaths linked to U.S. long-term-care institutions. […]

Occupancy in U.S. nursing homes is down by 15%, or more than 195,000 residents, since the end of 2019, driven both by deaths and by the fall in admissions, a Wall Street Journal analysis of federal data shows.

The decline in nursing-home patients covered by Medicare, which provides payments vital to the homes’ business model, is even steeper. That has left the industry in precarious financial shape. The biggest U.S. nursing-home company said in August it might not have enough money to pay its obligations.

* Illinois Times on the impact of Sangamon County’s mitigations on the local positivity rate

The infection rate went down after local authorities, after initially resisting a gubernatorial directive, shut down bars and restaurants last month.

“Unfortunately, it was clear that there was a wave that was almost approaching a tidal wave of cases,” Dr. Donald Graham, an adviser to the Sangamon County Department of Public Health told Sam Madonia, a local radio host, [yesterday] morning. “It just wasn’t possible to stay open because there were cases all over the place.” It was impossible, Graham said, to determine whether indoor dining with safeguards would be safe because too many people didn’t follow rules. “There were parameters to follow that weren’t being followed,” Graham told Madonia. “One of the key ones was separation of people when they came into the restaurant, staying six feet apart.”

Last week, Dr. Brian Miller, president of the county health board, told Madonia that the health department closed bars and ended indoor dining in November because authorities had no way of stopping private gatherings and hospital beds were filling up. “With the numbers being what they were, if we could just decrease that number by 10 or 15 percent – we needed to get through that eye of the needle, because it was tight,” Miller told Madonia. “By doing that, we possibly avoided a major catastrophe.”

* This would be a good thing

Lawyers for a Kane County restaurant [FoxFire Tavern] are asking the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that found the governor’s indoor dining ban was lawfully imposed.

But check this out

FoxFire, a steak and seafood restaurant in Geneva, continues to allow seating indoors, in defiance of the governor’s executive order, as its legal case remains pending.

“Law and order.”

If you’re going to blatantly ignore an appellate court ruling, then why even spend the money on an appeal to the state’s highest court?

And where’s the state’s attorney in this?

Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon did not immediately respond to Capitol News Illinois’ inquiries about FoxFire on Monday.

It’s always comforting when state’s attorneys ignore a very clear and forceful appellate ruling in their region.

* Speaking of restaurants

In a live video shared on Facebook on Thursday of Champaign County health inspectors filling out forms after witnessing indoor dining at Lil Buford’s, owner Jeff Buckler said he’s taking a stand despite being fined $500 a day for allowing people to dine inside his restaurant.

“COVID rates are down, go to Walmart, go to Target, go to any other shopping mall and it’s packed beyond belief,” Buckler told the county officials. “We’ve got nine people in here.”

The tiny crowd size could be an indicator that people don’t want to sit maskless inside near people they don’t know. Just sayin…

* WEEK reporting on Normal

The debate became heated Monday night just before the council voted 6-1 to waive renewal fees for liquor license holders who follow state rules including one that forbids them from serving customers indoors.

Council member Stan Nord voted no, saying staff should not be playing partisan politics by pushing Pritzker’s positions.

“We’re creating this essentially as a way to financially incentivize or bribe someone to follow these rules,” said Nord.

City Manager Pam Reece took the unusual step of publicly criticizing an elected official.

“That is not the first time Mr. Nord has implied and even come right out and stated that we’re bribing and doing things that would be completely unethical, and I just want counsel to acknowledge that is absolutely not the case, not happening, and not okay to imply that you as a body or town staff would do that,” said Reece.

“Law and order.”

* Chicago Tribune live blog headlines

After canceling 2020 vacations, travelers are eager to hit the road, but will it be to Europe — or Michigan?

As a pandemic diversion, Shedd penguin Wellington lit up the web this year

After 28 days and 10 games called off, has DePaul’s long-awaited basketball tipoff arrived?

Cook County workers holding one-day strike Tuesday

COVID-19 cases and deaths are surging again in Illinois prisons, as inmates and advocates call for more action

Normal waives 2021 liquor license fee renewals

* Sun-Times live blog headlines

Lyft will offer free and discounted rides to vaccination sites

Woman finds apparent COVID-19 test in Kohl’s package

COVID-19 relief money expected early next week: Mnuchin

Biden gets COVID-19 vaccine, says ‘nothing to worry about’

A general apologizes — how refreshing

* NBC Chicago live blog headlines

U.S. Surgeon General to Visit Chicago, Discuss Vaccine Rollout

Hundreds of Cook County Health Care, Sheriff’s Office Employees to Strike

Illinois Expects to Receive Moderna, More Doses of Pfizer Vaccine This Week

Small Businesses React to New Coronavirus Relief Bill

Lightfoot Says Chicago Following News of New Coronavirus Strain in UK ‘Very, Very Closely’

* And we’ll close out this post on a funky note. Here’s Rickey Hendon with “Rona Money”


  1. - Homebody - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:28 am:

    I don’t know how much more evidence we need at a local or national level to show that a significant portion of the US population just simply doesn’t care if their neighbors die.

  2. - Nagidam - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:31 am:

    Sen. Hollywood Hendon is the gift that keeps on giving…just in time for Christmas.

  3. - Chatham Resident - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:32 am:

    ==FoxFire, a steak and seafood restaurant in Geneva, continues to allow seating indoors, ==

    I can’t help but ask, is FoxFire and the apparently now-closed Fox Run by Scheel’s in Springfield operated by the same owners? Or their families and friends?

  4. - Dan Johnson - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:35 am:

    Best music post of all time.

  5. - Club J - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:42 am:

    I’m thinking Chuck Redpath should read the piece from the Illinois Times since he still swears the bars and restaurants are being mistreated. This morning on the Bishop show he went as far as to claim Aldermen are turning in establishments for indoor dining to his old claim that restaurants are cleaner than the hospitals. He’s about as off base as Tom DeVore.

  6. - Fav human - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:44 am:

    I personally know of at least five other places in Kane county that allow you to dine inside. Chains are closed, independents mostly open.

  7. - Anon221 - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:48 am:

    New report out from the USDA’s Economic Research Service-

    An Overview of Some COVID Related Impacts on Rural America from USDA’s Economic Research Service

  8. - Stix Hix - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:54 am:

    You want to dine inside? Come to Dewitt County. Belly up to the bar for an hour first though.

  9. - Watcher of the Skies - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:55 am:

    Appears Capitol News made a mistake and corrected:

    Joseph McMahon lost his reelection in November. The article now says that Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser would not comment on pending litigation.

  10. - Blue to the Bone - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 11:58 am:

    McMahon didn’t run for reelection. Mosser beat the Republican candidate Robert Spence.

  11. - SouthSide Markie - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:02 pm:

    Restaurants all over are blatantly defying the ban. From the publicly available Facebook page of Franklins Public House in Palos Heights:

    “If you haven’t heard, Franklins Public House is the OFFICIAL Notre Dame game day watch bar in Palos Heights!
    That means you’re going to want to be here for nachos, pretzels, burgers, beer, and more TODAY AT 3PM when the Fighting Irish take on the Clemson Tigers!
    Be sure to download the NEW Fighting Irish Pub Network App to “check in,” earn points, and win prizes!
    Call now to make a reservation or to place an order for curbside pickup or delivery!
    GO IRISH!”

    Unbelievable, if Notre Dame sanctioned this.

  12. - Kane Connection - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:03 pm:

    McMahon did not run for re-election. Mosser beat Judge Robert Spence.

  13. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:11 pm:

    ===Restaurants all over are===

    Anecdotes are not data.

  14. - Lt Guv - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:17 pm:

    “Unbelievable, if Notre Dame sanctioned this.”

    Notre Dame has been anything but a pillar of virtue during the pandemic.

  15. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:35 pm:

    –Westside Doc–

    It’s always a good idea to click and read an article before posting a comment. The second paragraph of the Guardian article: “In 2019, life expectancy hit 78.8 years, up 0.1 from 2018, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. The increase stemmed from decreased death rates in heart disease and cancer, the leading and second-leading causes of death in the US. Drug overdose deaths increased after dropping in 2018 but suicides declined for the first time in 14 years.”

    So, your analysis missed the mark.

  16. - OneMan - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:42 pm:

    “Life expectancy began declining more than a year ago. It had nothing to do with Covid.”

    I guess I am missing the point here. Is your argument that none of the additional deaths are due to COIVD?

    Let say we end the year at 335,000 deaths. Since we are at 320,000 today and at about 1,900 a day now 335,000 seems a reasonable estimate for the year.

    Giving a big benefit of the doubt lets say half of those people would have died anyway in 2020. (You may feel that is low, but that is number I am going to use for that)

    That is 167,500 people who died this year that would not have died in the US due to COVID. For reference the population of Naperville is 148,304

    Using CDC data from 2018 (the last year available) there were 67,367 drug overdose deaths, 46,802 of those involved Opiodis.

    I realize the numbers are growing but using 2018 numbers three times as many people were killed prematurely by COVID than Opioid overdose.

    COVID is part of this and don’t pretend otherwise.

  17. - SouthSide Markie - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:48 pm:

    == Anecdotes are not data. ==

    That true. Here is data on the 93 restaurants within various parts of Cook County alone which have been cited for defying the ban.

  18. - Westside Doc - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:50 pm:

    It would be remiss to only refer to one article. From the World Bank Statistics:
    US Life Expectancy:
    2014 - 78.84 years
    2015 - 78.69 years
    2016 - 78.54 years
    2017 - 78.54 years

  19. - Jibba - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:53 pm:

    ===go to Walmart, go to Target===

    Where people get things necessary to live, like food, clothing, and medicine. Going to your restaurant or bar is not necessary for life, brain trust.

  20. - Just Another Anon - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 12:54 pm:

    Glad to see the usual stellar researching of basic facts, like who the Kane County State’s Attorney is….

  21. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:25 pm:

    ===I can’t help but ask, is FoxFire and the apparently now-closed Fox Run by Scheel’s in Springfield operated by the same owners? Or their families and friends?

    It’s in the Fox (River) Valley so lots of businesses with Fox in the name.

  22. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:26 pm:

    Rickey is amazing and the boats in a parking lot are perfect.

  23. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:27 pm:

    ==should not be playing partisan politics by pushing Pritzker’s positions==

    You mean following the law. It disturbs me that we have so many elected officials and members of law enforcement who are perfectly happy to thumb their noses at the law.

  24. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:31 pm:

    === It disturbs me that we have so many elected officials and members of law enforcement who are perfectly happy to thumb their noses at the law.

    I was just impressed the vote was 6-1 against the dunce in Normal.

  25. - ArchPundit - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:34 pm:

    ===It’s in the Fox (River) Valley so lots of businesses with Fox in the name.

    I meant the Geneva restaurant…sigh.

  26. - depressed in politics - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:38 pm:

    Joe McMahon hasn’t been state’s attorney since the beginning of December. But please keep waiting on his comment.

  27. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:58 pm:

    Rona Money, thank you Sen Hendon for helping broker the DC money deal.

  28. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 1:59 pm:

    Rickey Hendon is truly “Hollywood”

    To the rest of the post;

    It’s always great when the defiant restaurants tell me where not to go after things become closer to normal.

    ===If you’re going to blatantly ignore an appellate court ruling, then why even spend the money on an appeal to the state’s highest court?===

    The lunacy of trying to straddle this idea of pretending to be “safe” and still do unsafe things… all the while to defying court orders, a court agreeing with the governor… so glad I know where not to go.

  29. - Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Dec 22, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    –Westside Doc–

    You wrote: “Life expectancy began declining more than a year ago. It had nothing to do with Covid” and followed up with an implication that this year’s decline in life expectancy could (should?) be attributable to causes other than COVID.

    The article goes on to explain the impact COVID deaths are having on life expectancy. The leader of the CDC National Center for Health Statistics mortality-statistics section used data through August to determine that life expectancy had dropped by approximately 1.5 years and he further indicated that the after including the deaths since August, that decline could be 2 or 3 years. This is the impact of COVID, not the factors you cited.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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