COVID-19 in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Friday – Chicago Tribune

Meanwhile, the state moved back into more strict coronavirus restrictions Friday, entering Tier 3 mitigation levels designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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The measures close most businesses and public places designed for people to congregate, such as theaters, museums and banquet halls, as well as banning indoor dining and closing bars except for outdoor service. The rules limit at-home gatherings to household members, decrease legal capacity at retail stores, personal care service businesses like salons and health and fitness centers.

The crackdown comes as the state continues to see an explosion in COVID-19 cases and a return to high numbers of deaths, coming close to numbers seen in the spring.

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

5:19 p.m.: Catholic archdiocese updates COVID-19 guidance for parishes in Cook, Lake counties

The Archdiocese of Chicago released updated guidance for its parishes this week to address the state’s recent tightening of restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The protocols mandate there may be “no in-person meetings on parish grounds unless absolutely essential” and reminded members that non-church gatherings and graveside final committals must be limited to 10 people. For committals within a cemetery chapel, attendance cannot exceed 25% of the room’s capacity.

Additionally, the protocols said clergy and bereavement ministers do not need to attend or minister wakes or funeral vigils if they have concerns there may be more than 10 people. Parish staff were encouraged to complete work from home.Parishes also must maintain attendance limits for Masses and sacramental celebrations, including for weddings and funeral Masses within the church, as has been done since in-person services resumed in the late spring.

Bishop Robert Casey, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Chicago, said the guidance was sent because people have been concerned with the rise in coronavirus infection rates. He said church officials continue to monitor and update protocols based on advisories from government and health officials.

”It’s just another communication reminding everybody that we remain diligent in observing how we’re living through this,” Casey said.

The archdiocese also sent out surveys to some of its members to gauge the “temperature of how things are going” in parishes and schools. The survey was meant to touch base with church members given particularly high stress levels with the pandemic, Casey said.

”We’re looking at those results,” Casey said. “It’s not because we are determining some drastic change of course, right, it’s simply again being diligent with the ongoing reality of our pandemic that we’ve done for months.”

4:01 p.m.: Coronavirus at Illinois long-term care facilities: 43,233 confirmed cases and 5,782 deaths

The Illinois Department of Public Health is releasing information on COVID-19 tied to long-term care facilities in Illinois. The data shows outbreaks have occurred at 1,261 long-term care facilities in 89 counties. Of those, 832 facilities have an “active” outbreak, defined as a positive test result in the past 28 days. In all, 43,233 confirmed cases can be tied to long-term care facilities, with 5,782 deaths, as of Nov. 20.

12:55 p.m.: Chicago adding COVID-19 testing facilities at O’Hare and Midway airports next month

The Chicago Department of Aviation is planning to add COVID-19 testing facilities at O’Hare and Midway airports by next month for travelers and employees.

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The city announced a request for proposal Friday for drive-up and walk-up facilities, with both the rapid and PCR tests offered. The tests are not free but should be covered by insurance.

”We believe it will be the most comprehensive testing system of any airports in the U.S.,” said Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Matt McGrath.

At O’Hare International Airport, the plan calls for a drive-up testing site in a remote parking lot on the northeast side of the airport, and a pre-security walk-up site “easily accessible” by foot from the terminals.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health announced this week plans to open a community-based testing site at a Midway Airport parking lot on Tuesday, but the Aviation Department also is looking to add a walk-up site within the terminal, McGrath said.

12:04 p.m.: 13,012 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 126 additional deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Friday announced 13,012 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 126 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 634,395 and the statewide death toll to 11,304 since the start of the pandemic. Officials also reported 116,024 new tests in the last 24 hours.

The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 11.5% for the period ending Thursday, up from 8% on Nov. 1.

—Chicago Tribune staff

10:49 a.m.: Rising COVID-19 cases force hard conversations among families, last-minute travel changes ahead of Thanksgiving

Erin Vickers didn’t want to be the only one not joining her family for Thanksgiving at her brother’s house in Virginia.

But as soon as Chicago’s stay-at-home advisory was announced, Vickers, 37, of Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, emailed her family and told them she wouldn’t be making the flight. They were sad, but didn’t try to change her mind.

“To me, it’s too far away to be talking about. If it’s still like this, it will be tough,” she said.

10:12 a.m.: Cafe Marie-Jeanne, the beloved Humboldt Park restaurant, closing Monday

Though we sadly should be getting used to restaurant closings in 2020, this one really hurts. Cafe Marie-Jeanne (1001 N. California Ave.), which is co-owned by the husband and wife team of Michael Simmons and Val Szafranski, made the announcement Thursday night on Instagram.

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In the message, they explained that they are planning to stay open until Monday. They urge fans to “come say hi, get one last cheeseburger, see what fun cmj classics we have on special, and make a deal on a bunch of wine.”

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9:50 a.m.: CTA to run holiday train and buses, but riders won’t be able to board

The CTA will run its holiday train and buses, despite the coronavirus pandemic, but only Santa, his elves and CTA workers, not regular riders, will be able to board this year because of COVID-19 danagers, the transit agency announced Friday.

The holiday train will start making its runs Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving, the agency said in a news release Friday. Holiday buses will start moving through Chicago’s neighborhoods Dec. 1.

“Santa and his elves will stay socially distanced this holiday season, meaning that customers won’t be able to board the CTA Holiday Train or the CTA Holiday Bus,” according to the release. “Instead, the CTA Holiday Fleet will run along each rail line and multiple bus routes, spreading holiday cheer across the city.”

The six-car holiday train will be “decorated with holiday scenes, thousands of sparkling lights and bright LED signage displays,” with Santa and his reindeer riding on a flatbed car in the middle of the train, according to the release.

7:53 a.m.: Getting COVID-19 tests for kids can be difficult, but schools often require them. ‘It really puts parents in a tricky position.’

For months, many Illinois parents have struggled to get the COVID-19 tests schools and day cares may require before a child can return after illness. They often face confusing obstacles and requirements: Many pediatricians won’t test kids for COVID-19, some testing sites have age restrictions and some day cares and schools only accept certain kinds of tests.

The situation has gotten worse amid the current COVID-19 surge in Illinois, which in many cases has lengthened wait times for testing. At a time when many parents are working from home or worried about keeping their jobs, the challenges surrounding testing adds another level of stress.

7 a.m.: Illinois under Tier 3 mitigation as COVID-19 cases continue surge

The recent surge in coronavirus cases statewide has caused Illinois to move back into harsher coronavirus restrictions Friday.

The state now is under Tier 3 mitigation regulations designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The measures close most businesses and public places designed for people to congregate, such as theaters, museums and banquet halls, as well as banning indoor dining and closing bars except for outdoor service. The rules limit at-home gatherings to household members, decrease legal capacity at retail stores, personal care service businesses like salons and health and fitness centers.

The crackdown comes as the country sees an explosion in COVID-19 cases and a return to high numbers of deaths, with Illinois well above the number of daily known cases seen in the spring and coming close to the number of daily deaths seen in the pandemic’s first wave.

—Chicago Tribune staff

6:15 a.m.: Pfizer seeking emergency use of COVID-19 vaccine, which could bring first batch of shots to public by December

Pfizer said Friday it is asking U.S. regulators to allow emergency use of its COVID-19 vaccine, starting the clock on a process that could bring limited first shots as early as next month and eventually an end to the pandemic — but not until after a long, hard winter.

The action comes days after Pfizer Inc. and its German partner BioNTech announced that its vaccine appears 95% effective at preventing mild to severe COVID-19 disease in a large and ongoing study.

The companies said that protection plus a good safety record means the vaccine should qualify for emergency use authorization, something the Food and Drug Administration can grant before the final testing is fully complete. In addition to Friday’s FDA submission, they have already started “rolling” applications in Europe and the U.K. and intend to submit similar information soon.

“Our work to deliver a safe and effective vaccine has never been more urgent,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement.

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