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Today’s must-read

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* NBC 5

A Chicago doctor took the podium during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing to ‘set some facts straight’ on misinformation being spread amid a surge in coronavirus cases across Illinois.

Dr. Emily Landon, an infectious disease expert at University of Chicago Medicine, told media while she’s worried about the record high 6,363 coronavirus cases set on Thursday, she’s also worried about ‘misinformation and fatigue’ that she says has grown across the state.

“Today, I want to set some facts straight,” Landon began. “First of all, inconsistent recommendations are not evidence of a conspiracy, nor are inconsistent data. They’re evidence of a changing knowledge and epidemiology.” […]

“In different situations, different metrics mean different things,” Landon said. “For example, when testing rates are low or changing rapidly, the test positivity rate may not mean quite the same thing as when testing rates are stable, or when the testing rates aren’t increasing as much as the cases.” […]

“There are new data coming out every day. Science is learning,” Landon assured. “We change our guidance, because we learn something new. Changing advice should make you feel good that we’re making progress.”


There has been widespread disagreement about the ban on indoor dining in the Metro East, and other places in Illinois. Dr. Landon said the last time the ban was imposed, it worked in stopping the increase in positivity rates.


* Another NBC 5 story

As temperatures cool down, more people have moved to dining indoors, which Landon said is a major spreading spot of the coronavirus. She said “there’s no way around” Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent order to shut down indoor bar service and dining in most regions in Illinois.

“Over 100 (coronavirus) cases were linked to one bar in Michigan in a week. And over the summer in Minnesota, 29 bars and restaurants started clusters that spread throughout the community” Landon said. “Shutting down bars and restaurants and putting in mass mandates changed the trajectory of the pandemic in Arizona, Texas, Florida, San Diego, Washington, DC, Illinois, I could go on.”

Officials said the major issue with bars and restaurants is the need to remove a mask in order to eat or drink, which could lead to a further spread of the coronavirus.

Landon said the spreading is not the fault of any particular restaurant, but rather that the spread is inevitable. She reminded that people with the coronavirus are contagious before experiencing symptoms.

“The reality is, that restaurant can be perfectly safe from 6 to 8 p.m. and become a super spreader event from 8 to 10,” Landon said. “It all depends on whether or not someone with COVID walks in the door.”

* AP

Dr. Emily Landon, a medical director at the University of Chicago’s medical school, said two factors facilitate the virus’s spread in winter, especially at restaurants: Colder air is drier, and the droplets that transmit the virus become even smaller.

Add to that, she said, what people do in a bar or restaurant.

“There are only a couple activities where you have to take your masks off around other people, and that is dining in a restaurant and going to a bar,” Landon noted. “There is just no way to escape the risks (of COVID-19) when you go into a restaurant.”

* ABC 7

New data comes in every day as science continues to learn, Landon said, which can lead to disagreements, but disagreements are a normal part of the scientific process.

“We change our guidance because we learn something new,” she explained. “Changing advice should make you feel good about our making progress. Disagreement is a normal part of every process, and there is no right way to handle a new pandemic. But we’re all in the same boat and we should try to row in the same direction as much as possible.” […]

Landon said studies have found that indoor ventilation in most buildings is not enough to prevent COVID-19 transmission without masks. That is one of the reasons bars and restaurants carry a higher risk of transmission; it’s not possible to eat and drink while wearing a face covering.


The governor said his decisions were guided by models done by research experts which show when we might see spikes, including one developed by University of Chicago scientist Sarah Cobey.

While she wasn’t available for an interview Thursday, Cobey was recently quoted in the downstate Belleville News-Democrat questioning the governor’s reliance on the positivity rate.

“I have been very critical of their use of this metric and basically almost all of the metrics they’ve proposed so far because they are not scientifically founded,” the paper quoted Cobey as saying. “They’re roughly right, but they’re not metrics you want to hang your hat on.”

In the article, Cobey argues the metric is only useful if there is enough testing happening in a region. A high positivity rate in an area which averages very few tests may not be indicative of how widespread the virus has become.

During Thursday’s daily coronavirus briefing, University of Chicago Dr. Emily Landon praised Cobey as a world-class scientist, but said the governor makes his decisions based on a variety of information.

“In a pandemic, no one has a monopoly on expertise,” Landon said.

Take some time today and read Dr. Landon’s entire address.

- Posted by Rich Miller   13 Comments      

Another day, another lawsuit

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Tribune

Thirty-seven restaurants and bars in McHenry County filed suit Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials, trying to prevent enforcement of an order to shut down indoor service, which is meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A hearing was set in the matter for Friday, one day before the shutdown was scheduled to take place in Lake and McHenry counties. A similar order has been imposed in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties, and other parts of Illinois. […]

He based the legal challenge in part on the state law that gives the governor power to issue executive orders in an emergency, as Pritzker first did in March, but limits that power to 30 days. Some courts previously have upheld the governor’s power to issue consecutive orders to extend that time period indefinitely, but a downstate judge ruled this summer that the governor may not do so, a case that the state is also appealing.

* Pioneer Press

Five Park Ridge restaurant owners filed a lawsuit this week against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, objecting to the governor’s latest order shutting down indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court late Wednesday, claims Pritzker lacks the authority to issue the executive order because the emergency powers he used to issue it expired in April.

Just a ridiculous assertion.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Open thread

Friday, Oct 30, 2020

* Keep it local, keep it polite and keep my thanks in your heart.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

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Friday, Oct 30, 2020

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