Illinois

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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Oct. 16 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

The state also said the seven day-average of coronavirus tests coming back as positive has climbed to 5.1%, surpassing a threshold recommended by the World Health Organization for safely reopening economies.

The record comes as the state also reports the highest number of test results returned in a 24-hour period. The 87,759 results reported Friday outstrips the previous high of 74,286 on Sept. 19. There were 2,529 newly confirmed cases that day.

There also were 38 more fatalities reported Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 9,165 since the pandemic began. In all, there have been 336,174 known cases of COVID-19 in Illinois.

Meanwhile, Chicago Public Schools announced Friday that all students will continue with remote learning when the second quarter starts in November but that some of the district’s “most vulnerable” children will have the option to begin returning to schools before the end of the calendar year.

In explaining their rational for offering in-person classes first to pre-kindergarten and some special education students, CPS officials cited enrollment figures they released Friday that show a drop of 34% in total preschool enrollment from last year.

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

5:40 p.m.: Lake County moved off COVID-19 warning status, but officials warn return to all-remote schooling is a possibility

Lake County was removed from orange COVID-19 warning status by the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday, and is now the only county along the Wisconsin state line not so situated, according to department’s website.

While the reclassification may give residents a temporary sigh of relief, Hannah Goering, the marketing and communications manager for the Lake County Health Department, said it could be short-lived.

5:25 p.m.: COVID-19 numbers are rising in Illinois. How worried should the Chicago area be?

Illinois just announced a record number of new COVID-19 cases. Positivity rates for coronavirus testing are up too. So are hospitalizations and deaths.

But a deeper look at the data can soften the sense of alarm somewhat — at least for the Chicago area, where many pandemic metrics have remained steady for months until some recent upticks. And the state as a whole is still in better shape than its neighbors on most of those same statistics.

As a pandemic-weary public braces for winter, the latest Illinois figures have prompted researchers and public health officials to offer a mix of warnings and reassurance. They worry a second surge may be starting in Illinois while also noting that the shifting pandemic threatens some areas more than others.

3:45 p.m.: Kane, Will counties back on state COVID-19 warning list; Kane health director outlines ‘concerning’ trends

Kane and Will counties have returned to the state’s list of those showing “warning signs” of increased coronavirus risk.

They were among 34 counties statewide on the list Friday, based on measures of the virus’ spread. Their addition to the warning list came the same day Illinois public health officials announced a record-high number of new COVID-19 cases for the second

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health

COVID-19 numbers are rising in Illinois. How worried should the Chicago area be?

Illinois just announced a record number of new COVID-19 cases. Positivity rates for coronavirus testing are up too. So are hospitalizations and deaths.



a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Wearing masks to protect from transmitting COVID-19, people stand in line for early voting at Truman College in Chicago on Oct. 14, 2020.


© Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune/Chicago Tribune/TNS
Wearing masks to protect from transmitting COVID-19, people stand in line for early voting at Truman College in Chicago on Oct. 14, 2020.

But a deeper look at the data can soften the sense of alarm somewhat — at least for the Chicago area, where many pandemic metrics have remained steady for months until some recent upticks. And the state as a whole is still in better shape than its neighbors on most of those same statistics.

As a pandemic-weary public braces for winter, the latest Illinois figures have prompted researchers and public health officials to offer a mix of warnings and reassurance. They worry a second surge may be starting in Illinois while also noting that the shifting pandemic threatens some areas more than others.

“Chicago is doing a little better than downstate Illinois, Illinois is doing a little better than Wisconsin, etc. But broadly, COVID is not going well,” Chicago’s public health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, said in a Facebook Live session on Thursday.

A day earlier, Gov. J.B. Pritzker told reporters the figures were a reminder of the importance of wearing masks and avoiding close contact with others.

“To date, Illinois has had relative success keeping this virus at bay,” Pritzker said, “and we’re still doing better than many of our neighbors. But we can’t let up.”

At the same time, researchers caution that — even seven months into the pandemic — its trajectory remains hard to predict. Without frequent, random testing to gauge the virus’s true spread, the public is left with a buffet of data options that have various quirks and can be tricky to interpret.

Here are the figures researchers cite most often, how the Chicago area measures vs. other parts of Illinois, and reasons for concern as fall moves into winter:

Case counts are rising, but …

Researchers and public health officials agree there’s reason to be nervous in the greater Chicago region. Look no further than the count of new COVID-19 cases reported each day.

The Chicago region — defined by the state as Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, McHenry and Will counties — peaked this spring at roughly 2,350 reported cases per day, based on a seven-day rolling average.

After “bending the curve,” that average fell below 500. Then cases began increasing slowly this summer. That growth eased a bit in September but took a sharper turn higher this month. The latest case figures have averaged more than 1,800 daily.

In other words, we saw a dramatic drop in cases, only to see much of that improvement wiped out.

There are caveats. To start with, assume more people have been infected than these numbers show, as some people never develop symptoms and many don’t get tested. In Chicago, according to Arwady, roughly 3% of residents have officially tested positive

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