Note: Press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the video player above.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to make an announcement on new guidelines for the state early Friday, with a source saying it’s likely about new enforcement mechanisms available to local authorities to enforce a mandate requiring face coverings.
That announcement comes after Illinois reported its highest number of daily cases in recent weeks on Thursday.
Among those testing positive recently was Chicago Ald. Michael Scott Jr., who attended an event with Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday. The mayor’s office said Lightfoot has since tested negative for COVID-19.
Here are the latest coronavirus updates from around Illinois today, August 7:
Gov. Pritzker to Announce New Coronavirus Guidelines
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to make an announcement Friday morning on new coronavirus guidelines in the state, according to his public schedule.
The governor is set to join industry leaders to “announce new guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” his office said.
The announcement is set to take place at 9:30 a.m. in Chicago and can be watched live in the video player above.
It wasn’t immediately clear what exactly the governor will announce, though he has been traveling across the state in recent days encouraging residents to wear masks as cases across the state continue to rise. It is expected his Friday announcement will center on masks.
A source told NBC 5 the governor will file with a Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to provide local authorities with enforcement options for masks.
Earlier this week, the governor indicated he had asked the committee to “consider a rule that would impose fines when people are not requiring masks to be worn.”
“They didn’t want to do that,” he said. “They wanted to consider legislation and then didn’t bring up that legislation. So we are certainly considering what rule we could put in place that JCAR would approve.”
Lake View YMCA Staffer Tests Positive for COVID-19
A staff member at the Lake View YMCA has tested positive for the coronavirus, the North Side center announced Thursday.
The employee last reported to work on Aug. 1, kept to one isolated room and did not interact with other staff, Executive Director Brandon Krozel wrote in an email to Lake View YMCA members.
“We are informing you of this development out of an abundance of caution and believe that the risk to you is low,” Krozel said. “We have already conducted an extensive deep cleaning of the center and the staff member who has contracted the coronavirus is currently self-isolated at home for 14 days per CDC recommendations.”
Anyone who may have had contact with the staff member has been notified, Krozel said, noting that everyone at the center, located at 3333 N. Marshfield Ave., has been wearing face masks.
Krozel said the YMCA has “intensified our regular facility cleanings with additional deep-cleaning and sanitizing of all areas,” in addition to implementing social distancing and face mask requirements.
“We believe that the risk of exposure is lessened by the numerous safety precautions that we always undertake at the Y,” Krozel said. “However, we must acknowledge that as with many things an element of risk is always present.”
Loyola University Suspends On-Campus Housing for Fall Semester
Loyola University Chicago will suspend on-campus housing for the upcoming fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement from the university.
University officials distributed a letter on Thursday alerting students and staff of the decision to close on-campus housing for the fall semester, which begins Aug. 24.
School officials cite health conditions and concern over future uncertainty regarding the coronavirus for the decision to close doors.
Loyola University Chicago will suspend on-campus housing for the upcoming fall semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement from the university. NBC 5’s Natalie Martinez reports
“With predictions of increased outbreaks in the coming months, and early reports of COVID-19 clusters at other higher education institutions, we simply cannot put our on-campus residential students in harm’s way and risk further disruption,” the statement reads.
In a previous statement, officials announced classes will resume in the fall to a primarily online mode of instruction and in-person classes will be limited to courses that require doing so, like research-based classes and labs.
How to Safely Open Colleges? Test Everyone and Test Often, Experts Say
A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded colleges would need to test students for coronavirus every two days in order to reopen safely.
But with the costs and number of tests needed for that level of broad, repeated testing, scientists are looking into a cheaper alternative: pool testing.
Instead of testing individual samples, in pooling, multiple samples are collected and tested together in groups. If the group tests negative, all people in that pool are presumed to be negative for the virus. If a group tests positive, all individuals are then re-tested.
“Pooling would give us the capacity to go from a half a million tests a day to potentially 5 million individuals tested,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, in June.
According to Birx and other experts, pool testing would also be much more cost-effective and allow entities, such as colleges and certain businesses, to conduct surveillance screening – testing large swaths of the population and not just those with symptoms.
A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded colleges would need to test students for coronavirus every two days in order to reopen safely. NBC 5’s Katie Kim reports.
NBC 5 Investigates polled dozens of Illinois universities to find if they have plans to pool test. While many said their plans are still being developed, a few said they will expand surveillance testing.
UIUC, which has developed a saliva test that the university says will allow it to test up to 10,000 people a day, said it will require faculty and students who attend in-person activities to be tested twice a week. A university spokesperson said it is seeking FDA approval for the saliva test for broader use.
Gov. Pritzker also said his administration is in talks with UIUC to make the saliva test more widely available throughout Illinois.
Bradley University in Peoria plans to randomly select 300 people each week for surveillance testing. The Illinois Institute of Technology also said it will begin voluntary random testing every two weeks to determine the prevalence of the virus on campus.
Chicago Ald. Michael Scott Jr. Tests Positive for Coronavirus, Lightfoot Tests Negative
Chicago Ald. Michael Scott Jr., who represents the city’s 24th Ward, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the alderman said in a statement released Thursday evening.
Scott said he underwent coronavirus testing Friday at the “Bike the Boulevard” event, which was hosted by the 24th Ward and the city’s 10th and 11th police districts.
Scott said he received his positive results Thursday, and was at home and experiencing no symptoms. The alderman added he is following all necessary health protocols outlined by the Chicago Department of Public Health.
On Wednesday, Scott had attended a press conference alongside Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Lightfoot has since tested negative for the coronavirus, the mayor’s office stated.
“She will continue to follow the guidance of the Department of Public Health over the course of the standard 14-day incubation period,” a spokeswoman for the mayor said. “She will not be quarantining given that she was not in close proximity with the Alderman for an extended period of time, per CDPH and CDC guidelines on quarantining. All participants were wearing masks and practicing proper social distancing for the duration of yesterday’s press conference.”
Illinois Reports Nearly 2,000 New Coronavirus Cases Thursday
Health officials in Illinois reported more than 1,900 new cases of coronavirus Thursday, marking the highest daily total in recent weeks.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state saw 1,953 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases since the pandemic began to 188,424.
The number is the highest daily case increase since May 24, which saw more than 2,500 new cases in a single day. That date also reported significantly fewer test results, however.
Thursday’s 21 additional fatalities bring the state’s death toll to 7,594, according to IDPH.
The number of coronavirus tests decreased slightly from a day earlier, with 41,686 test samples returned to state laboratories over the last 24 hours. In all, 2,937,749 tests have been conducted during the pandemic.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate increased slightly, returning to 4% for the second time this week. The last time the state went above 4 percent in that category was on June 11, according to data compiled by the NBC 5 Investigates team.
At least 1,517 coronavirus patients were in Illinois hospitals as of Wednesday evening. Of those patients, 346 have been admitted to intensive care units, while 132 are currently on ventilators.
The state’s recovery rate, defined as the percentage of
patients who aren’t reporting coronavirus symptoms six or more weeks after their
first positive test, still stands at 95 percent.
Chicago Lakefront Restaurants Allowed to Reopen as Beaches Remain Closed
Restaurants on Chicago’s lakefront are now able to open for business for the first time this summer during the pandemic, city officials said Wednesday, even as the city’s beaches must remain closed.
Lakefront concessions fell under Chicago’s order to close the lakefront during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, but will now be allowed to reopen under parameters that other restaurants currently have to follow due to the pandemic.
“Chicago Park District and City officials have engaged concessionaires during the past few months to determine when and how lakefront concessions can open safely given public health guidance,” the park district said in a statement.
Beachside restaurants along Lake Michigan are able to open for business for the first time this summer during the pandemic, according to health and city officials.
Restaurant vendors were notified this week that they could reopen even though beaches must remain closed. Vendors can open as early as this week provided they have the proper health and safety precautions in place, the city said.
“With the exception of the harbors, golf courses, and trail, the lakefront, including beaches, remain closed,” the park district’s statement reads. “Lakefront restaurants with patios can accommodate seated dining service; grab and go concessions will require patrons to make their purchase and keep it moving.”