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 Latest coronavirus news for August 23, 2020: Live updates

The Latest
Illinois officials hope testing can control coronavirus on campus

AP

University of Illinois officials expect confirmed cases of the coronavirus to rise as classes begin Monday in Champaign-Urbana but they hope routine testing and other precautions can keep spread of the virus under control on campus.

Models developed by the university predict a few hundred confirmed cases of COVID-19 cases during the first weeks of the fall semester, officials said in a statement this week.

Saliva testing developed at the school has already been used to test 60,000 staff and students since July.

Read the full story here.

News
9:41 a.m. Bears move practice after 9 false positive coronavirus tests

The Bears moved their morning practice to the afternoon Sunday after they said league testing produced nine positive tests among players and staff. The Bears said all nine have been proved to be false positives.

“[Sunday] morning we learned yesterday’s Covid-19 testing identified nine players/staff as positive,” the team said in a statement. “We followed additional NFL-NFLPA testing protocol and confirmed all nine results as false positives. Out of an abundance of caution, we postponed this morning’s practice to this afternoon at 1:30pm.”

The NFL singled out the BioReference laboratory in New Jersey for irregular results, though the Bears have said they use a similar lab in Minnesota.

Multiple teams altered their morning practice schedules.

Read the full story from Patrick Finley here.

9:27 a.m. Governors across the U.S. ignore emails over state reopening plans

As South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster prepared to announce the end of a coronavirus stay-at-home order, his top staff received an email from the state health department.

The message, highlighted in bold, was clear: Wait longer before allowing customers back inside restaurants, hair salons and other businesses where people will be in close contact.

Instead, McMaster pressed ahead with a plan written by the state restaurant association to resume inside dining on May 11. The guidelines made masks optional for employees and allowed more customers inside than the health agency had advised.

A few days later, the Republican governor opened the doors to salons, fitness centers and swimming pools. He did not wait to gauge the effect of the restaurant reopening on the virus, as public health officials had suggested. Like many states, South Carolina later experienced a surge in infections that forced McMaster to dial back his reopening plan.

He was hardly alone. Thousands of pages of emails provided to The Associated Press under open-records laws show that governors across the U.S. were inundated with reopening advice from a wide range of industries — from campgrounds in New Hampshire to car washes in Washington. Some governors put economic interests ahead of public health guidance, and certain businesses were allowed to write the rules that would govern their own operations.

As job losses accelerated, the pressure to reopen intensified.

Read the full story here.

7:15 a.m. St. Rita switches to remote learning after 2 students test positive for COVID-19

St. Rita of Cascia High School on the Southwest Side made it only a few days before it was forced to temporarily shift classes online after two students tested positive for the coronavirus.

After classes started Monday, St. Rita administrators sent an email Thursday informing families that two students had contracted the contagious respiratory virus, and several others had been in close contact with them outside of school.

School officials said they don’t think the virus was contracted on campus, and that exposure would’ve been minimal due to the safety precautions set in place. They’ll revert to e-learning until at least Sept. 8.

“As we move on we will continue to adjust to make this the safest and most productive experience possible,” officials said in the email. “Our teachers have worked hard throughout the summer to improve the quality of our remote learning.”

St. Rita is thought to be the first Catholic school in Chicago to switch solely to online learning.

Read the full story by Madeline Kenney here.

7 a.m. College students demand tuition cuts amid plans to keep classes virtual

As more universities abandon plans to reopen and decide instead to keep classes online this fall, it’s leading to conflict between students who say they deserve tuition discounts and college leaders who insist remote learning is worth the full cost.

Disputes are flaring both at colleges that announced weeks ago they would stick with virtual instruction and at those that only recently lost hope of reopening their campuses. Among the latest schools facing pressure to lower tuition are Michigan State University and Ithaca College, which scrapped plans to reopen after seeing other colleges struggle to contain coronavirus outbreaks.

The scourge has killed more than 175,000 people in the United States. Worldwide, the confirmed death toll hit 800,000 on Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and cases were nearing 23 million.

In petitions started at dozens of universities, students arguing for reduced tuition say online classes fail to deliver the same experience they get on campus. Video lectures are stilted and awkward, they say, and there’s little personal connection with professors or classmates.

Read the full story here.

New Cases
2,356 new Illinois coronavirus cases after record testing day on Saturday.
Health officials announce Friday nearly a fifth of Illinois is at a “warning level” after 2,208 new COVID-19 cases are reported.
Chicago Fire player tests positive for COVID-19
More than 37,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus over the first three weeks of August, compared to 22,925 in all of June.
Five Notre Dame football players test positive for COVID-19.
Analysis & Commentary
7:29 a.m. Fun and flavor of political conventions fade amid pandemic

It’s no longer a circus.

The big top is different, not gone. But the traditional political grub fests once held outside our national political conventions have disappeared, jettisoned by a pandemic.

What fun they were … if the pickings were good.

Outside the political wigwam was the juicy steak of journalism: private venues feeding a press hungry for news not available under the convention tent. Party havens for hustlers, glad handers, gadflies, lugubrious leakers, hustlers and hucksters — they were delicious.

These coveted private, invitation-only “after-parties,” tossed by celebs, charities, pols, major firms, and media groups, once buzzed with deals and appeals — where drinks flowed and handshakes were under the table or in a quiet corner of the room.

To a journalist, an invite to an after-party was creme; a place where scoops were netted, scores were settled; and new sources formed.

No more. For now.

Read more of Michael Sneed’s pre-pandemic convention memories.


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