Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening this weekend - Chicago Tribune
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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening this weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

For the first time since mid-March, residents are now permitted to dine inside restaurants, go to the movies and work out at the local gym. They also can bowl, take a yoga class, grab a drink at the bar, visit zoos and attend summer camps.

These renewed freedoms, however, come with a caveat from public health officials: It all can be taken away again if there is a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases or hospitalization rates.

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Illinois health officials Sunday reported 646 new known cases of COVID-19 and 15 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known cases to 141,723 and the confirmed death toll to 6,888.

Here’s what’s happening this weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

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4:42 p.m.: World hits coronavirus milestones: 500,000 dead, 10 million confirmed cases

The world surpassed two sobering coronavirus milestones Sunday — 500,000 confirmed deaths, 10 million confirmed cases — and hit another high mark for daily new infections as governments that attempted reopenings continued to backtrack and warn that worse news could be yet to come.

“COVID-19 has taken a very swift and very dangerous turn in Texas over just the past few weeks,” said Gov. Greg Abbott, who allowed businesses to start reopening in early May but on Friday shut down bars and limited restaurant dining amid a spike in cases. Read more here. — Associated Press

12:40 p.m. (Updated 3:30 p.m.): State reports 646 new known cases, 15 additional deaths

Sunday, Illinois added 15 new deaths from COVID-19 as well as 646 new confirmed cases. The state also announced the results of 23,789 test results.

Surging case numbers in the South and West U.S. brought the country’s total cases to more than 2.5 million according to New York Times data.

The Times identified 31 states where the total cases per day has increased over the last two weeks. Illinois is among the 16 states where the total new cases for the last two weeks is largely steady. Six states are seeing declining new cases during that time period. (The data includes Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico).

The total coronavirus cases in the world is now more than 10 million according to data from Johns Hopkins. The U.S. has the most cases of any country, followed by Brazil with 1.3 million, Russia with 633,542 and India with 528,859. Read more here. — Chicago Tribune Staff

11 a.m., Sunday: ‘Window is closing’ to take action to slow coronavirus, US health secretary says

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stressed that “the window is closing” for the U.S. to take action to effectively curb the coronavirus.

Azar pointed to a recent spike in infections, particularly in the South. He says people have “to act responsibly” by social distancing and wearing face masks, especially “in these hot zones.”

Speaking on NBC and CNN, Azar argued that the U.S. is in a better position than two months ago in fighting the virus because it is conducting more testing and has therapeutics available to treat COVID-19.

But he acknowledged that hospitalizations and deaths could increase in the next few weeks. Read more here. —Associated Press

Saturday

2:30 p.m. (updated 4:15 p.m.): 786 new known COVID-19 cases, 26 additional deaths

On Saturday, Illinois added 26 new deaths from COVID-19 and 786 new confirmed cases. And for the third straight day, the state announced more than 30,000 new test results.

A strand in the national political discussion has been that an increase in testing makes for an increase in cases. When looking only at the net totals of positive coronavirus tests, this is often true and shows in the data from Illinois over the the last three days, when the state has averaged 846 new cases a day.

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Compare that with the week before Illinois hit 30,000 daily tests, and the state averaged 622 cases a day while releasing around 25,000 test results a day.

Alarming? It doesn’t tell the complete story. Looking at the positivity rate, the number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests shows virtually the same level of infections: 2.7% for the last three days with more than 30,000 tests a day and 2.6% for the seven days preceding that.

The testing push has shot the state’s total test results past a total of 1.5 million.

—Chicago Tribune staff

9 a.m.: ‘It’s that perfect storm’: The new challenges facing college athletes on campus — including legal and ethical questions about COVID-19 guidelines

When Illinois athletes prepared to return to campus for voluntary workouts earlier this month, they were asked to sign a form if they wanted to rejoin teammates.

The document asked athletes to responsibly follow guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus — such as completing a virtual screening, reporting to sports medicine staff any known exposure to COVID-19 or any symptoms, wearing a mask in public places and sanitizing hands frequently — and to agree to testing.

Several other Big Ten schools — but not all — asked their athletes to sign similar documents, as have many programs around the nation. A refusal to sign would not revoke an athlete’s scholarship, the universities made clear, but the athletes could be held out of competition.

Like the debate about the overall safety of returning to workouts amid a pandemic, these documents also open questions about the legality and ethics of asking unpaid college students to sign them.

Read more here. —Shannon Ryan

7 a.m.: Phase four of Illinois’s COVID-19 reopening: Settle in, folks, we may be here a while

When the first customer in line at MacArthur’s restaurant pulled down his mask to mug for a camera Friday, the establishment’s manager immediately ordered him to put it back on.

“I’m not playing,” said Vanessa Cobbins, whose father, Mac Alexander, founded the beloved Black-owned Southern food cafeteria in South Austin.

That vigilance reflects the high stakes for people statewide as Illinois significantly loosens restrictions aimed at blunting the spread of COVID-19. After nearly three months of sacrifice and solitude, no one wants to see the state backslide into another lockdown.

“We’re so grateful for the business,” said MacArthur’s manager Maurice Gaiter, as he kept a watchful eye on the lunchtime crowd to ensure patrons were adhering to public health regulations. “What we’re doing now is our very best to comply with the social distancing to keep everyone safe.”

All four regions of the state as designated in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” reopening plan moved into the fourth of five phases Friday, with gatherings of up to 50 people allowed and some recreational opportunities restored.

For the first time since mid-March, residents are now permitted to dine inside restaurants, go to the movies and work out at the local gym. They also can bowl, take a yoga class, grab a drink at the bar, visit zoos and attend summer camps.

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These renewed freedoms, however, come with a caveat from public health officials: It all can be taken away again if there is a spike in confirmed coronavirus cases or hospitalization rates.

“I’m not afraid to protect the people of Illinois by moving a region back to an earlier phase if we see a surge,” Pritzker said Thursday. “Ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to a return to the peak.”

Welcome to phase four, Illinois.

Even with our best behavior, we may be here awhile.

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