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

Monday, July 20, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Illinois reported 965 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 161,575.

State health officials also said six more people have died after contracting the virus. So far, 7,295 people have died in Illinois.

The state also reported 32,113 new COVID-19 tests in a span of 24 hours, a day after setting a record with 46,099 tests.

Although the state continues to record low numbers of new confirmed deaths, as other states see surges in the number of people killed by the virus, Illinois officials worry we could see a resurgence here.

Here’s what’s happening Monday regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

6 a.m.: COVID-19 took a big toll in Illinois. Will deaths surge again?

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the United States, Illinois was one of the first hot spots in the country, fueling a death toll that remains among the nation’s highest. Now — after big drops in daily deaths in Illinois and other hard-hit states — the Sun Belt is seeing a massive surge. The daily death rate in Arizona is now as high as Illinois’ ever was, after adjusting for population.

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The sharp increases in deaths in these Southern and Western states have added to growing unease in Illinois, where the downward trends on cases and positive test results have started to inch back up.

Researchers say that although the latest data does not signal the need for outright alarm, it does suggest that the state, without changes, could be on the verge of another deadly surge. Read more here. — Joe Mahr

6 a.m.: Opioid overdoses skyrocket in the face of COVID-19 pandemic; stronger drugs, scarce treatment blamed

As opioid-related deaths have sharply increased so far this year, Chicago drug users navigating increasingly unsafe drugs on the market and a changed landscape due to the societal impacts of COVID-19.

In Cook County, opioid overdose deaths this year are on pace to double last year’s figures, with the long-simmering public health crisis spiking while Chicago also faces increased gun violence and continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

The deaths in the three overlapping crises are disproportionately impacting the Black community, highlighting racial inequities in health care, housing, education and other areas. The toll is particularly heavy on the city’s West Side, where since late March, nearly 80 people have died in just a few ZIP codes.

Meanwhile, experts say street drugs are increasingly being cut with more dangerous substances, raising the risk of fatal overdose at a time when the pandemic has resulted in closures of some clinics and a reduction in available social services Read more here. — Madeline Buckley, John Keilman

6 a.m.: The risk of drownings has rarely been higher as Chicago endures a pandemic and one of its hottest summers

When public swimming pools and beaches closed, the key to surviving a sweltering Chicago summer during the pandemic was simple for those who could afford it: Buy a pool.

For the rest of us, the options are scarce and mostly illegal, like sneaking a swim in sometimes-dangerous waters where there are no lifeguards.

And that’s increasingly worrying safety experts, who say the risk of drownings has rarely been higher as Chicago suffers through one of its hottest summers.

“There are a lot of factors coming together here that cause us to be concerned about the potential rise in drowning numbers,” said Connie Harvey, national director of Aquatics Centennial Initiatives for the American Red Cross.

“There are fewer places to swim that are protected by lifeguards, but people are still going to go to the water,” she said. “It’s a hot summer, they’re going to find places to swim.” Read more here. — Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

6 a.m.: Sticky notes on the bathroom door and wipes by the coffee pot. Employees find new rules as they return to the office.

Some Chicago offices are starting to reopen with a limited number of employees who are volunteering to return. As they do, companies are piloting new safety policies to protect workers from a health crisis that shows few signs of waning. The early steps, from practical safeguards to quirky solutions, offer a glimpse at what office life might be like once more companies bring employees back.

Hand sanitizer is everywhere, and certain desks are blocked off to promote social distancing while working. Conference rooms are often off limits, as are dining areas. There are signs on nearly every wall, door and TV screen reminding workers about the new rules.

Steps that once might have felt invasive, like daily temperature checks and health assessments, are often required before employees can walk through the front door. Read more here. — Ally Marotti and Lauren Zumbach



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