Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 28, 2020: High school basketball will start as scheduled despite Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health guidelineson October 29, 2020 at 1:57 am

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she is not asking for “special favors” for Chicago restaurants and has no plans to challenge Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order banning indoor dining in the city.

New restrictions are coming to Chicago. Here’s what we learned Wednesday about the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.


8:57 p.m. IHSA will defy Gov. Pritzker, says basketball season can start on schedule

According to several sources, the Illinois High School Association will announce Wednesday that the basketball season can start as scheduled. It’s a totally unexpected move that directly contradicts the guidelines Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health outlined on Tuesday.

Pritzker and the IDPH put winter sports on an indefinite hold and moved basketball from a medium-risk sport to a higher-risk sport in the IDPH guidelines.

”As with sports in the fall, nothing is ‘canceled,’ just put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic,” Pritzker said in a statement.

According to the IHSA calendar, basketball practices are scheduled to start on Nov. 16 and the first games can be played on Nov. 30

“After diligent discussion, the Board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball,” IHSA spokesperson Matt Troha wrote in an email to athletic directors. “The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens. However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally.”

6:52 p.m. Pandemic forces American Hockey League to move start of season to Feb. 5

The American Hockey League is planning to drop the puck on its next season on Feb. 5 in hopes of syncing up its schedule with the NHL and getting some fans into arenas for most, if not all, of its 31 teams.

AHL President and CEO Scott Howson said “everything’s on the table” when it comes to divisional alignment, formats and how many games are played, though beginning in early February answers one question after it became unrealistic to start the season Dec. 4 as initially planned because of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This gives us the best chance to have a significant season with fans in the building and we’ll just see what happens here in the next two months,” Howson said by phone after the AHL’s Board of Governors voted to approve the Feb. 5 start date. “We’re going to be flexible and we’re going to do everything we can to play.”

The AHL is the top minor league affiliate for the NHL, which is targeting a Jan. 1 start for the season. A typical AHL season usually starts after the NHL gets underway.

Read the full report here.

4:20 p.m. Lightfoot won’t challenge governor’s indoor dining ban

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she is not asking for “special favors” for Chicago restaurants and has no plans to challenge Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order banning indoor dining in the city.

One day after voicing her concern about the devastating impact on Chicago restaurants, Lightfoot held an hour-long meeting with the governor and came away resigned to the rollback.

She reiterated that the biggest cause of Chicago’s second surge is the dinner parties, card games and other social gatherings that people are having in their own homes, where they’re more inclined to let their guards down.

But even though Chicago restaurants are not the primary cause, they will pay the price when the governor’s ban on indoor dining takes effect, as scheduled, on Friday.

“We had a very frank and productive conversation with the governor and his team and my team as well. We explored a lot of issues. And we came out of that discussion really committed to making sure that we work hard together,” the mayor said at an unrelated event in Pullman.

“We’ve got to … make sure that we communicate effectively to the businesses across Chicago that are gonna be affected. … The most important point is how do we move forward. … We’ve committed to make sure that we continue to work together.”

Read the full story here.

4:18 p.m. Stocks tumble as surging virus cases threaten shutdowns

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 943 points Wednesday as surging coronvirus cases in the U.S. and Europe threaten more business shutdowns and pain for the economy.

The S&P 500 dropped 3.5%, its third straight loss. The index has now given up 5.6% so far this week and is on track for its biggest weekly fall since March, when markets were in a downward spiral.

European markets also sank. Crude oil prices fell sharply as investors anticipated that demand for energy will weaken along with the economy. Treasury yields fell as investors sought shelter in safer assets.

The drop was also based in part on worries the worsening pandemic will mean more restrictions on businesses and drag down the economy.

Markets were dropped even more sharply in Europe, where investors expect the French president to announce tough measures to slow the virus’ spread and German officials agreed to impose a four-week partial lockdown. The measures may not be as stringent as the shutdown orders that swept the world early this year, but the worry is they could still hit the already weakened global economy.

Read the full story here.

3:00 p.m. Families struggle as COVID cases surge: ‘We’re running out of money really fast’

Karla Taylor-Bauman, 50, looks over her piles of medical bills as she sits on her adjustable hospital-type bed in the living room of her parents' North Chicago home, Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 16, 2020. After spending three weeks in a coma earlier this year as a result of severe complications from the coronavirus, Taylor-Bauman moved in with her parents because she requires constant care during recovery. File photo. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Karla Taylor-Bauman, 50, looks over her piles of medical bills as she sits on her adjustable hospital-type bed in the living room of her parents’ North Chicago home, Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 16, 2020. After spending three weeks in a coma earlier this year as a result of severe complications from the coronavirus, Taylor-Bauman moved in with her parents because she requires constant care during recovery. File photo. | Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The tears come when Preslie Paur thinks about the government’s refusal to require wearing face masks in public settings in Utah, where she lives.

The South Salt Lake City woman can’t work at her special education job because of an autoimmune disease.

Her husband, also a special ed teacher, quit because his school district wouldn’t let him work remotely to protect her and their 5-year-old son, who has asthma.

In Twin Falls, Idaho, new data suggest that one in 24 residents has contracted the coronavirus, according to Dr. Joshua Kern, vice president of medical affairs at St. Luke’s Magic Valley Medical Center, where, amid a crush of new cases, nurses have been brought in from Boise, elective surgery has been scaled back and admissions of pediatric patients halted.

“It’s gotten kind of out of hand,” Kern said. “We’ve had something like a third of our total COVID cases in our community in the last two to three weeks. There are a lot of parts of the state suffering under the same burden.”

Read the full story here.

12:36 p.m. Wisconsin cancels Nebraska game after 12 people, including coach Paul Chryst, test positive for COVID-19

No. 9 Wisconsin has canceled its game at Nebraska on Saturday and paused all team activities for at least seven days after a dozen people within the program including coach Paul Chryst tested positive for COVID-19.

School officials said Wednesday that athletic director Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Rebecca Blank made the decision in consultation with Big Ten officials. The game with Nebraska won’t be rescheduled.

“This morning I received the news that I had tested positive via a PCR test I took yesterday,” Chryst said. “I informed my staff and the team this morning and am currently isolating at home. I had not been experiencing any symptoms and feel good as of this morning.”

Wisconsin said six players and six staff members had tested positive over the last five days. Additional test results were pending.

Wisconsin becomes the first Big Ten school to postpone a game since the league started its pandemic-delayed season last week. This is the 37th game involving Football Bowl Subdivision teams to be postponed or canceled since Aug. 6.

Read the full story here.

12:01 p.m. Pritzker says he won’t bow to Lightfoot on COVID-19 restaurant crackdown in Chicago

Friday will be closing time for Chicago’s restaurants no matter what Mayor Lori Lightfoot might argue, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday.

A day after the mayor criticized the governor’s enhanced COVID-19 restrictions that prohibit indoor dining service in the city and said she’d try to persuade him not to implement them, Pritzker said he wouldn’t budge from his restaurant crackdown.

“The same mitigations that went in place for other areas of the state that have tripped those metrics, where we’ve got people getting sick and going into the hospital — places like, Will County and in Kankakee, all the collar counties and many of the regions downstate — we’ve imposed the same sets of metrics and startup mitigations, and we’ll be doing that for the city of Chicago.”

Back when the state was easing down from its first coronavirus peak in July, Pritzker released a resurgence plan outlining potential “mitigations” like indoor dining bans that his health team would slap on regions that cross the 8% testing positivity rate threshold for three consecutive days. They can also go into effect when a region sees a week or more of increased hospital admissions and daily positivity increases, as was the case for Chicago.

Now, with “a COVID storm that’s hit the entire country,” Pritzker said, mitigations will be in effect in eight of the state’s 11 regions by Saturday, including the entire Chicago area.

Read the full story here.

9:35 a.m. Is it the flu or COVID-19? How to tell the difference

Due to overlapping symptoms between influenza and COVID-19, physicians and health experts are urging everyone six months and older to get vaccinated for the flu this year. One infection can make you more susceptible to others by weakening your immune system.

The flu vaccine reduces the severity and risk of serious complications, according to the Mayo Clinic. But it will not protect you from COVID-19.

Many of the steps recommended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 – such as mask-wearing, hand-washing, and physical distancing – also help prevent the spread of seasonal flu. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that positive test results for flu dropped from more than 20% during the pandemic.

The flu and COVID-19 share several common symptoms. Here’s how to tell the two viruses apart:

Read the full story here.

8:13 a.m. Send it back to the chef? Lightfoot wants Pritzker to rethink looming Chicago restaurant crackdown

Four months after reopening from the first devastating coronavirus shutdown, Chicago restaurateurs will be forced to close their dining rooms again beginning Friday as COVID-19 infections soar to spring-like highs statewide.

While Mayor Lori Lightfoot indicated she’d push Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reconsider his latest restrictions on indoor dining, the Democratic governor said skyrocketing case counts and testing positivity rates mean businesses and residents have to buckle down now with a potentially troubling winter looming.

“For a time late in the summer, Chicago seemed to have this more under control than other regions of Illinois, but that’s no longer the case,” Pritzker said while announcing the restaurant rollback Tuesday. “We can’t ignore what is happening all around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything that we saw last spring.”

But Lightfoot, who announced last call for indoor bar service as the city’s coronavirus numbers shot up last week, criticized Pritzker’s new restrictions, saying she’s not sure they’re “reaching the right people.”

Reporters Mitch Armentrout and Fran Spielman have the full story.

7:28 a.m. Sisters stabbed guard 27 times after being told to wear masks at Chicago store, prosecutors allege

He just asked them to wear masks and use hand sanitizer.

And for that, a security guard was stabbed 27 times by a woman while her younger sister held him by his hair in Lawndale over the weekend, Cook County prosecutors said.

“It’s the complete randomness of this. It’s terrifying,” Judge Mary Marubio said Tuesday before ordering the siblings held without bail on attempted murder charges.

Before the stabbing at Snipes shoe store Sunday, 18-year-old Jayla Hill took out her cellphone and began filming the security guard who asked her and her sister to leave for refusing to wear masks, prosecutors said.

Hill allegedly said she was calling someone to “kick his ass,” prompting the 6-foot-5, 270-pound security guard to reach out and try to grab the phone, prosecutors said.

Read the full report here.

New Cases

  • The latest wave of the storm included 6,110 new COVID-19 cases announced by the Illinois Department of Public Health Wednesday, just shy of the record-high 6,161 cases reported by the state last weekend. They were confirmed among 70,752 tests, raising the statewide average positivity rate to a nearly five-month high of 6.7%.
  • Average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Analysis & Commentary

7:11 a.m. Control the virus and protect workers — and the American economy will roar back

Over the past few months, President Donald Trump’s performance has been both unprecedented and unpresidential.

He’s endangered those around him by trying to transform the pandemic into a culture war. He’s derided science, claiming facts are fiction and that his own beliefs should be considered canon. He’s stoked xenophobia without a second thought. And time after time, he’s shown that he neither understands nor respects the heroes protecting this country — the men and women defending it from enemies abroad and those others protecting it from a virus that’s already killed more than 220,000 Americans.

While we can never tolerate or grow numb to Trump’s behavior, the sad reality is that it is no longer surprising. This is who he is.

Read the full guest column from Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Richard Trumka here.

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