Pritzker’s announcement likely ends hopes of a high school basketball season; football still pending (LIVE UPDATES)Sun-Times staffon January 16, 2021 at 6:46 pm

Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at the Thompson Center in March.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

Latest

Pritzker’s latest announcement likely puts an end to hopes of a basketball season; football holds on by a thread

Joliet West’s Trent Howland (4) shoots the ball over Curie’s defense.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Friday was confusing. Documents were emailed to media. Websites that allegedly outline the state’s entire sports policy during coronavirus weren’t updated (and then they were). The Illinois High School Association had a last-minute meeting with Deputy Gov. Jesse Ruiz.

Gov. Pritzker hit on high school sports very briefly in his COVID-19 update.

There was some good news for high school athletes. Low-risk sports will be allowed when regions move to Tier 2. Rockford, Peoria and southern Illinois hit Tier 2 on Friday and some regions in the Chicago area could be there as early next week.

“There are regions that are moving into lower tiers of mitigations,” Pritzker said. “In those tiers there are [sports] that are opening up. That’s a good beginning.”

Low-risk sports (boys and girls bowling, cheerleading, dance, girls gymnastics and boys swimming and diving and badminton) will be allowed to play conference and intra-region games.

Medium-risk sports will be allowed to conduct full practices and high-risk sports (basketball and wrestling) will be allowed to hold no-contact practices in Tier 2. There are no IHSA medium-risk winter sports.

Read the full story here.


News

12:45 p.m. India launches world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination drive

NEW DELHI — India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway.

India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs. But there is no playbook for the enormity of the current challenge.

Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S and several times more than its existing program, which targets 26 million infants. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by 270 million people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19.

For workers who have pulled India’s battered health care system through the pandemic, the vaccinations offered confidence that life can start returning to normal. Many burst with pride.

“I am happy to get an India-made vaccine and that we do not have to depend on others for it,” said Gita Devi, a nurse who was one of the first to get a shot. Devi has treated patients throughout the pandemic in a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in India’s heartland.

Read the full story here.

11:10 a.m. Cook County court employee test positive for COVID-19

An employee of Cook County’s Office of the Chief Judge tested positive for the coronavirus, raising the total number of employees with positive tests to 253.

The employee works in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, the chief judge’s office said Friday in a statement. A new resident at the detention center who had already been released also tested positive.

In addition to the 253 employees who tested positive for the coronavirus, 19 judges have also tested positive since the start of the pandemic, according to the statement.

Read the full story here.

10:00 a.m. Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse found in compliance with COVID-19 regulations after fire leads to evacuation

A city investigation into Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse found it to be in compliance with coronavirus safety regulation after a fire Wednesday evacuated the restaurant.

The fire, which started about 9 p.m. in a second-floor fireplace, was quickly extinguished, and while no one was injured in the blaze, the restaurant did have to evacuate patrons from the building, according to Chicago fire officials.

That led to an investigation from the office of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, which had inspected the famed Gold Coast steakhouse just days before the fire and found them compliant with COVID-19 regulations.

BACP has reached the same conclusion after another investigation on Thursday, according to spokesman Isaac Reichman.

Reporter Sam Kelly has more.

9:45 a.m. Pritzker will allow bars and restaurants to open sooner than planned — but not yet

Illinois’ cash-starved bars and restaurants will be allowed to welcome customers inside sooner than originally ordered by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, but that reopening is still a ways off for Chicago.

The Democratic governor announced Friday that limited indoor service will be allowed for regions of the state that see their COVID-19 metrics improve enough to move down to the state’s Tier 1 mitigation level.

That’s a shift from the original plan laid out by Pritzker’s health team, which would’ve required regions to improve even further to return to the state’s Phase 4 of reopening.

Still, most of the state’s 11 regions remain in Tier 3, including Chicago and its suburbs.

Pritzker’s layers of tiers and mitigations have caused confusion for the thousands of establishments that have seen revenue dry up since the governor shuttered indoor service statewide in November in an effort to stem a record-breaking COVID-19 resurgence.

Reporter Mitchell Armentrout has more.


New cases

  • Public health officials on Thursday announced 6,642 new cases of COVID-19 and 123 more deaths attributed to the disease. That makes 1,059,324 total cases and 18,049 total deaths statewide.

Analysis & Commentary

Who knew?

Apparently, only a few.

Who figured America’s presidential inaugural would be recalibrated by a gruesome twist in American history: sedition fueled by an accelerator named President Donald Trump and his thug acolytes.

The recent attack of domestic terrorism by the latest version of the historic “Plug Uglies,” is not expected to force President-elect Joseph Biden’s inauguration off the steps of the nation’s Capitol this week.

But it’s a good bet the nation’s “House,” invaded last week by soldiers of Trump’s alternative universe, will be hovered by a “Star Wars” sized military force ostensibly protecting celebrants looking sideways — and facing the possibility of a pat-down rather than a pat on the back.

Sadly, our nation’s inaugural transfer of power used to be a ball, a bash to celebrate the success of democracy.

Read the full column from Michael Sneed here.

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