(NOTE: Daily press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the player above. Check back for updates.)
Parents wondering what will happen when the school year begins in the fall aren't alone.
Though Illinois has already released some guidance for state schools, questions surrounding best practices have been reignited by comments from the president, vice president and other officials this week.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (July 9):
More Than 1,000 New Coronavirus Cases Lift Illinois' Total Over 150,000
Illinois reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases Thursday, bringing the total for the pandemic so far over 150,000 as the state set a new testing record.
In all, 1,018 new cases were confirmed by state health officials, bringing the statewide total of confirmed cases during the pandemic to 150,450. It marks the first time the state has reported more than 1,000 new daily cases since June 5.
According to the Department of Public Health, there were also 20 additional deaths Thursday, which puts the state’s confirmed fatality count at 7,119.
Illinois also set a new testing record Thursday, with 36,180 new tests, bumping up the statewide total to 1,878,756.
The seven-day positivity rate now sits at 2.6 percent, according to Pritzker.
Even with the uptick in numbers, state health officials have reported positive trends in cases and testing capabilities. According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the state’s positive test results are down more than 70 percent since hitting their peak earlier this year, and hospitalizations due to the virus are also down 70 percent statewide.
As of Thursday, 1,507 people in the state were in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 317 people were in the ICU and 153 were on ventilators.
Lightfoot Says Chicago Seeing 'Uptick' in Younger People Getting Coronavirus
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday that the city is starting to see an increase in coronavirus cases within younger populations, citing a lack of young people wearing masks.
"Unfortunately, we're starting to see, even here in Chicago, a slight uptick in the amount of cases involving that 18- to 29-year-old cohort," Lightfoot said. "They're not wearing face coverings at the rate that they should. I'd like to see it be 100% but we need to keep talking to that young group and say, even if you don't have regard for your own health, and you should."
Though Chicago's data shows the number of cases affecting those in the 18-29 range have dropped dramatically since May and early June, the numbers did show a small spike earlier this month.
On Tuesday, 30 people in that age range tested positive for the virus, but just one week earlier, the number was more than double that.
In total, patients between the ages of 18 and 29 have made up the highest amount of Chicago's 54,050 cases, with 10,226 total cases so far. The age group also has one of the highest positivity rates in the city, with 5.8%. That's just under the 5.9% reported for patients between the ages of 0 to 17.
Still, the age group also has the second-lowest amount of deaths, with 18 total fatalities reported so far.
The average age of new coronavirus patients has dropped by roughly 15 years compared with only a few months ago as the coronavirus reignites in some states, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Says Announcement Coming 'Soon' on CPS' Plans for Fall
As questions over returning to school in the fall continue to grow, an announcement is expected "soon" for Chicago Public Schools, according to the city's mayor.
Speaking at an unrelated press conference Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said details on the district's reopening plan are set to be released, though she declined to give a specific timeline.
"As with everything, we're going to be guided by the public health guidance and we need to take our time and see where we are in the arc of this virus at that point. But having said that, of course, CPS with a lot of different stakeholders has been working on the reopening opening plan and what that will look like," she said. "I will let them give the specifics, but we plan to make an announcement relatively soon about what that might look like. But of course, we have contingency plans, if our public health metrics are not where we need them to be in late August."
The state of Illinois has already unveiled its guidelines for the return to school in the fall, which could allow students back in classrooms.
Chicago Public Schools has said it will work to develop its own rules and regulations to allow children to return to schools safely.
Woman Yelled 'I Am a Schoolteacher and Have COVID-19,' Spit in Man's Face: Police
A woman upset that a man removed his face mask after checking out at a north suburban store allegedly yelled that she was a school teacher with COVID-19 before spitting in his face.
Police said the incident happened on June 16 at a retail store in the 25900 block of Riverwoods Road in Mettawa.
There, Lake County Sheriff's deputies say a 50-year-old man had checked out and was in the process of leaving the store when he removed his face mask. That's when police say Elizabeth Mach, 45, of the 500 block of Vine Avenue in Highland Park, rammed her shopping cart into his and began yelling at him to put his mask back on.
The man ignored the woman until she yelled "I am a schoolteacher and I have COVID-19," removed her face covering and spit in his face, the sheriff's office said. The woman fled the scene in her vehicle.
Police said they were able to identify the woman during an investigation and on Wednesday they obtained an arrest warrant on charges of battery and disorderly conduct.
Mach was arrested without incident Wednesday and a judge set her bond at $40,000. She is next due in court on July 29.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Releases Report From COVID-19 Recovery Task Force
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday released the recommendations from a group of experts and leaders tasked with aiding in the city's economic recovery plan.
Lightfoot said the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force compiled an advisory report with 17 recommendations "and four existing initiatives to advance a targeted set of outcomes for Chicago."
The task force, which launched in April, is comprised of industry experts, community leaders and regional partners all tasked with taiding the city's economic recovery planning and helping rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am deeply grateful for the hard work of the Recovery Task Force, and their commitment to doubling down on our mission of building a better Chicago that ends economic hardship, confronts racial inequities and unites all of the City’s residents,” Lightfoot said in a statement. "With their invaluable contributions we will transform the COVID-19 crisis into the once-in-a-generation opportunity that it presents to eliminate the deep, glaring chasms of inequity it has brought to the surface. While we don't know when this crisis will end, we do know that our recovery from it will not be reached with any short cuts or half measures."
Lightfoot co-chaired the effort with Samuel Skinner, a former White House Chief of Staff and U.S. Transportation Secretary who has served as a point person on several economic crises like Hurricane Hugo and the 1989 San Francisco earthquake.
Schools Look to Keep Kids Safe as Trump Administration Pushes for In-Class Learning to Resume
As President Donald Trump’s administration pushes for schools to reopen this fall, millions of teachers and parents across the United States are wondering whether their kids will be in their classrooms in the fall, or whether they’ll have to go back to virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Those concerns are also being felt in Illinois, where the state Board of Education has faced pushback for its limitations on class sizes, group sizes and in-person instruction.
“For those of us working parents who don’t have access to childcare, or don’t feel comfortable enrolling our children in childcare at this time, we cannot work part time and home school part time,” Katie Eskey, a Naperville parent, said.
Eskey is also concerned that a return to e-learning, which was mandated by the state amid the pandemic earlier this year, would mean more issues for her kids, as learning electronically wasn’t a popular decision in her household.
Citing similar concerns, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both said that returning to school is of utmost importance for children and their physical and mental well being.
“(Reopening schools is important) for the well-being of our kids, for their academic advancement and for working families, and to continue the momentum we see in this economy,” Pence said.
School districts are implementing different policies in an effort to keep kids safe.
While some districts, including those in suburban Kankakee, are looking at potentially using a hybrid model that blends in-class and online learning, others, such as District 41 in Glen Ellyn, are working hard to ensure enough social distancing to help keep kids safe.
As of now, Glen Ellyn plans to have kids in school five days a week, but only to operate with half-day schedules, with the rest of learning being done at home.
Chicago Public Schools will announce return-to-class guidelines in the near future, according to officials.
By the Numbers: Illinois Records Highest Daily Increase in COVID-19 Cases Since Early June
Coronavirus cases in Illinois have been trending downward in recent weeks, but the state recorded a large jump in positive tests Wednesday, recording the single-highest increase in cases in more than a month.
According to data released by the Illinois Department of Public Health, state labs reported 980 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday, the largest single-day increase since 1,156 new cases of the virus were confirmed on June 5.
The positive tests also pushed Illinois perilously close to breaking a long-running streak of maintaining a daily positivity rate (defined as the percentage of test results that come back positive in a given day) of under three percent. That streak dates back to June 16, and Illinois nearly ended that run on Wednesday but came up just short at 2.99 percent.
That daily positivity rate is worth keeping an eye on, as Illinois has jumped above 2.9 percent positivity on two of the last three days. The rate has been fluctuating considerably as of late, dropping to just 2.17 percent on Tuesday, but with higher test numbers continuing to roll in and with the Phase Four easing of restrictions now almost two weeks old, some increase in cases or positivity rates could be forthcoming.
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