US COVID-19 deaths top 3,100 in a single day for the first time (LIVE UPDATES)

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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Number of Americans hospitalized exceeded 100,000, over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times
Rush University Medical Center staff see patients in the Brennan Pavilion, the hospital’s main lobby, which was transformed into a low-acuity treatment area during the coronavirus pandemic, Thursday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2020.

The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, obliterating the record set last spring, while the number of Americans hospitalized with the virus has eclipsed 100,000 for the first time and new cases are topping 200,000 a day, according to figures released Thursday.
The three benchmarks altogether showed a country slipping deeper into crisis, with perhaps the worst yet to come, in part because of the delayed effects from Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans disregarded warnings to stay home and celebrate only with members of their household.
Across the U.S., the surge has swamped hospitals with patients and left nurses and other health care workers shorthanded and burned out.
“The reality is December and January and February are going to be rough times. I actually believe they are going to be the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation,” Dr. Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Wednesday.
Read the full story here.

11:56 a.m. Jim Brickman holiday concerts transformed into virtual interactive events
Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and pianist Jim Brickman has always considered himself an optimist. But even the purest of optimists sound a tad weary of this pandemic-riddled year.
“I’m doing… good,” Brickman says with as much as enthusiasm as he can muster during a recent interviews. “I mean, I miss traveling, especially internationally. [Pauses] I try my best to think about the benefits of this time rather than what I am missing.”
One of those benefits is his “Comfort & Joy at Home 2020” virtual tour, a live event running through Dec. 23 that gives fans the chance to enjoy Brickman’s beloved holiday show from the comfort of their homes while, at the same time, supporting their local venues during these challenging times.
“I wanted to give back to the theaters that were always so supportive of me,” says Brickman, who will donate a portion of the proceeds of his Dec. 4 show to North Central College’s Fine & Performing Arts Department. “I also wanted to create something that simulated the tour that we would normally be going on, rather than do a national livestream somewhat passively, which wouldn’t have any community quality to it.”
Read the full story here.
9:08 a.m. Lightfoot plans $450M in short-term borrowing to buy time for Congress to ride to the rescue
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is planning $450 million in short-term borrowing — for less than a year, at an interest rate of 1.95% — to buy time for Congress to ride to the rescue of pandemic-ravaged cities.
The $12.8 billion budget narrowly approved by the City Council last week includes plans to refinance $1.7 billion in general obligation and sales tax securitization bonds and claim $949 million in savings in the first two years.
That would extend the debt eight years and return Chicago to the days of “scoop-and-toss” borrowing that former Mayor Rahm Emanuel ended (though not nearly fast enough for Wall Street rating agencies).
Lightfoot also plans to borrow against future revenue from the sale of recreational and medical marijuana to avert the need for 350 layoffs and issue $1.54 billion in general obligation bonds to bankroll the first two years of her five-year capital plan.
Reporter Fran Spielman has the full story.
8:25 a.m. 238 more Illinois coronavirus deaths, most ever reported by state throughout pandemic

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Illinois public health officials attributed an additional 238 deaths to the coronavirus Wednesday, the highest daily number of viral fatalities reported by the state throughout nine months of the pandemic.
That figure, which shatters the previous high of 191 deaths on May 13, includes some death that occurred over the long Thanksgiving weekend. The Illinois Department of Public Health previously logged a total of 362 coronavirus deaths from the holiday through Sunday.
A total of 1,634 lives have been lost to COVID-19 during the past two weeks, an average of about 117 per day. That’s almost five times the rate compared to two months ago.
Seventy-one of the latest victims were from Cook County. Another 56 lived in the collar counties.
Read the full story here.

New Cases

Illinois public health officials reported the highest single-day death toll attributed to the coronavirus in the state Wednesday, with 238 deaths, shattering the previous high of 191 deaths on May 13. In the week since Thanksgiving, COVID-19 has claimed an average of 116 lives per day.

A judge and 12 more employees at the Cook County chief judge’s office have tested positive for COVID-19, the judge’s office reported Tuesday. These 13 additional cases bring the total number of employees infected with COVID-19 to 180 since the start of the pandemic, the judge’s office said.

Analysis & Commentary
11:57 a.m. Controlling community spread of COVID-19 is essential to protecting nursing home residents
In a recent Sun-Times article by Frank Main and Caroline Hurley, an attorney who stands to profit from this pandemic accused the nursing home industry of being unprepared to deal with the coronavirus.
It’s true that at the beginning of the pandemic, it was unclear to nursing homes — and to everyone else — what steps needed to be taken to keep coronavirus out and treat those who contracted the disease. Along with the confusion and guidance that evolved daily, our nursing home residents and staff were immediately at risk due to the very nature of our high-touch care, congregate settings and medically fragile population.
Thanks to our dedicated staff members and an ongoing partnership with public health officials, tremendous progress has been made. In fact, between July and the latest surge in mid-October, nursing homes steadily represented just 2 to 3 percent of all new cases in Illinois.
We regularly test residents and staff, screen employees daily, don PPE and keep residents distanced from each other and the outside world. And yet even those measures are not enough to prevent asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic essential workers from unknowingly introducing the virus in our long-term care facilities.
Read the full column here.
9:15 a.m. Celebrities, stop partying like arrogant buffoons
It has long been a fashionable and celebrated pastime in Republican circles to mock Hollywood celebrities for their elitist, superficial and often silly proclivities, their inability to relate to average Americans and the belief that rules don’t apply to them.
Hollywood is in fact a reviled category of people for many on the right — unless, of course, one shows up at your national convention to speak to an empty chair, or is Angelina Jolie’s estranged dad, or Chachi. Otherwise, though, to many conservatives, celebrities are bad and evil and out of touch.
They don’t have any business telling “Real America” what to do, and they possess few valuable life skills. (Incidentally, the reviled skills they do have made two celebrity types, Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, perfectly acceptable candidates for president.)
Celebrities, according to the Fox News wing of the party, should keep their politics to themselves. They should shut up and sing, or shut up and dribble, or shut up and post strange videos about fried fish from their lavish bathrooms, in Madonna’s case.
Unless, that is, their politics are supportive of President Trump, in which case, welcome to the program, Kirstie Alley, Kid Rock, James Woods and Antonio Sabato Jr. — what are your thoughts on China’s trade policies, election fraud and pulling troops out of Afghanistan?
Ignoring these inconvenient holes in the Republicans’ argument against celebrity, they do occasionally stumble into a point. Whether it’s stuff like the college admissions scandal, or well-known climate hypocrise, or the entertainment industry’s protection of powerful predators, it’s not a stretch to say that Hollywood, like anywhere else, is filled with imperfect and questionable moral authorities.
During the current public health crisis, however, much of Hollywood has been fairly responsible about following COVID-19 protocols and precautions. Los Angeles has endured several lockdowns, movie and television production has halted, and many celebs have helped encourage others to stay home and stay safe — albeit in occasionally cringe-worthy ways.
Read the full column here.

9:10 a.m. A national pandemic plan — finally — comes to the rescue first of health care workers and the elderly
An advisory panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted Tuesday in favor of a policy every American should be able to get behind:
Giving front-line health care workers and nursing home residents top priority for a COVID-19 vaccine.
CDC Director Robert Redfield is expected to approve the recommendations by the Advisory Council on Immunization Practices. States will have the final say on who gets a vaccine first, once a vaccine is approved and the federal government begins shipments. But, for once, they’re getting sound guidance from Washington.
Our country sorely needs a national strategy, based on science, to rein in this pandemic. With these recommendations, we might finally have the beginnings of one, just as the single most powerful tool against the disease — a safe, highly effective vaccine — is within reach.
Read the full column from the CST Editorial Board here.

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