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

Tuesday, August 04, 2020
Chicago Tribune

As Illinois reported 1,298 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the launch of a $5 million multimedia campaign Monday to push the use of face masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. The governor said it was “worthy of considering a fine” for those who flout mask regulations.

The state also reported 10 additional deaths. Illinois now has 183,241 total known infections and 7,526 fatalities.

Cook County officials issued health guidance Monday that recommends but does not require that restaurants and other businesses in the suburbs further restrict in-person services to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Positivity rates have been rising in the counties surrounding Chicago, showing an evolution in the spread of the pandemic.

The Cook County Department of Public Health is asking suburban bars, fitness clubs, personal care businesses and others to follow the guidelines as COVID-19 rates for people in their 20s have soared to be about 2 1/2 times higher than they were at the end of March.

Meanwhile, Chicago is cracking down on large parties after the city shut down a trap music warehouse event in the West Humboldt Park neighborhood over the weekend, officials said.

 

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

6:45 a.m.: Chicago to update emergency travel order

The city of Chicago was scheduled Tuesday to update its emergency travel order, which requires anyone traveling to Chicago from out of state to quarantine for 14 days if they’re coming from states considered high risk for COVID-19 and have been in an at-risk state for a certain period of time.

On July 28, Chicago added Wisconsin and three other states to its list of travel states that can trigger a quarantine, bringing the number of states to 22.

Check back for updates. — Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Parents who want schools to reopen this fall say it’s a matter of choice, not politics. ‘Students’ mental health ... has got to be weighed.'

When Mairin Gradek’s local schools superintendent posted a cheerful YouTube video in early July describing tentative plans to welcome students back into the classroom, the Arlington Heights mother of three was excited that more remote learning was merely an option for parents, not the whole plan.

Gradek’s optimism that her neighborhood schools would reopen this fall was also buoyed by the results of a recent School District 25 survey, which found that around 75% of parents supported either an in-person or hybrid plan, with remote learning trailing as the least popular option in third place.

But in recent days, District 25 joined a rapidly growing list of suburban school systems that have abandoned hopes of bringing kids back into the classroom at the start of the new school year.

“In my naivete, I had assumed that I didn’t have to provide public comment on this issue, because it looked like my wishes for schools to reopen were being served, and that e-learning would only be one of the options,” Gradek said. “Parents like me are seeking at least some bit of in-person learning for our kids, so I’m still praying that the district’s decision will change.”

Now, with the start of school just weeks away, many parents say they feel like they’re part of a silent majority, whose desire to have their children back in school has been pushed aside by school officials who are buckling to pressure from teachers unions. Read more here. —Karen Ann Cullotta

6 a.m.: In search for COVID-19 treatments, consumer group pushes drugmaker Gilead to test alternative to remdesivir

The pharmaceutical company that makes remdesivir — the only medication that has emergency authorization to fight COVID-19 — should also be conducting human trials on a related drug with strong potential, according to a citizen advocacy group that believes the alternative could be more effective, less expensive and easier to produce.

Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen sent a letter dated Tuesday to the CEO of Gilead Sciences and top federal regulators, urging the company and the government to work together to move forward with clinical trials of the drug “or publicly provide evidence why it is not scientifically or medically feasible to develop this drug in parallel with its close analogue, remdesivir.”

Failing either of those options, the company should “release permission so other researchers can pursue it,” said Public Citizen health researcher Michael Abrams, who crafted the letter. The nonprofit group, founded by Ralph Nader, has long advocated for greater corporate responsibility.

Officials from Public Citizen, joined by two drug researchers from Texas, suggested in the letter “there are significant financial incentives” for Gilead to stick with remdesivir over the lesser-known drug, known only as GS-441524.

Specifically, the patent on GS-441524 dates to around 2009, compared with remdesivir about five years later, meaning that Gilead has exclusive rights to produce remdesivir further into the future. Remdesivir is an expensive drug, priced at $390 per dose, which comes to $2,340 for each patient treated over the course of five days.

Gilead spokesman Chris Ridley said the decision to move forward with remdesivir was based on “available evidence” indicating that remdesivir generated more of a key virus-fighting molecule and was more effective against the new coronavirus than the other drug. Read more here. —Hal Dardick

 

Here are five stories from Monday related to COVID-19:

 



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