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With COVID-19 cases on the rise, officials are urging people to take precautions more seriously

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

With 11 more deaths attributed to COVID-19 by public health officials on Saturday, Illinois’ coronavirus death toll has climbed to 8,008.

Since a South Side woman became the state’s first resident known to succumb to the virus March 16, COVID-19 has killed an average of about 48 Illinoisans per day over that five-month stretch.

And with cases on the rise again statewide, officials are urging people to take health precautions more seriously to help save lives.

“Today is a solemn day in Illinois as we’ve now lost 8,000 lives to COVID-19,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “As we mourn the family, friends and neighbors who have been taken too soon, let’s do our part to prevent more senseless tragedy. Wear a mask. Watch your distance. Wash your hands. Every action counts.”

Read the full story from Mitchell Armentrout here.

7:15 a.m. Masks in public restrooms? Urinals may shoot ‘plumes’ of inhalable coronavirus particles into the air

Wearing a mask in public restrooms should be mandatory during the pandemic, researchers say, because there’s increasing evidence that flushing toilets – and now urinals – can release inhalable coronavirus particles into the air.

The coronavirus can be found in a person’s urine or stool, and flushing urinals can generate an “alarming upward flow” of particles that “travel faster and fly farther” than particles from a toilet flush, according to a study published in the journal Physics of Fluid Monday.

“Urinal flushing indeed promotes the spread of bacteria and viruses,” researcher Xiangdong Liu said in a press release. “Wearing a mask should be mandatory within public restrooms during the pandemic, and anti-diffusion improvements are urgently needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Liu and other researchers from Yangzhou University in China simulated urinal flushing using computer models and estimated that, within just five seconds of flushing, virus particles could reach a height of more than 2 feet off the ground.

Read the full story here.

6:52 a.m. Coronavirus put more cyclists on downstate Illinois trails

Stores haven’t faced this serious of a bike shortage since a 1970s boom driven by environmental concerns, and metro-east trails are busier than ever.

Bicycle sales soared in March of this year, when the coronavirus closed gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons and other businesses. State officials designated bike shops as “essential” parts of the transportation industry and allowed them to stay open.

“(Biking is) a way to keep active, and a lot of folks have had this newfound time on their hands,” said Jon Greenstreet, co-owner of a O’Fallon bike shop.

Many big-box stores have been sold out of bicycles since April because they only carry lower-priced basic models that are popular with newcomers, Greenstreet said. One supplier told him that his inventory for the whole year was depleted in a week.

Read the full story here.

New Cases
Analysis & Commentary

7:29 a.m. Pritzker did not handle Metro East pandemic mitigation well

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state COVID-19 “mitigation” plan for the Metro East on Aug. 16, he said it was done in conjunction “with local officials in the Metro East region and across the border in St. Louis.”

Last week, though, the governor admitted the cross-border arrangement to try to contain the virus’ spread was a “mistake.”

Man, was it ever.

Instead of sticking to the state’s original mitigation plan, which would’ve included things like reducing indoor restaurant capacity and shutting down all indoor bar service, Pritzker only ordered bars and restaurants to close at 11 p.m., which was in line with what St. Louis was planning at the time.

Read the full column by Rich Miller here.

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