US coronavirus cases fall in recent weeks, experts credit masks (LIVE UPDATES)

US coronavirus cases fall in recent weeks, experts credit
masks (LIVE UPDATES) 1


Experts credit masks as rate of new US coronavirus cases falls

Medical personnel administer COVID-19 testing at a drive-thru site in San Antonio. Eric Gay/AP Photo

NEW YORK — The number of Americans newly diagnosed with the coronavirus is falling — a development experts credit at least partly to increased wearing of masks — even as the outbreak continues to claim nearly 1,000 lives in the U.S. each day.

About 43,000 new cases have been reported daily over the past two weeks across the country, down 21 percent since early August, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. While the U.S., India and Brazil still have the highest numbers of new cases in the world, the trend down is encouraging.

“It’s profoundly hopeful news,” said Dr. Monica Gandhi, an infectious-diseases expert at the University of California, San Francisco, who credits the American public’s growing understanding of how the virus spreads, more mask-wearing and, possibly, an increasing level of immunity.

“Hopefully all those factors are coming into play to get this virus under control in this country that’s really been battered by the pandemic,” she said.

The virus is blamed for more than 5.7 million confirmed infections and about 178,000 deaths in the U.S. Worldwide, the death toll is put at more than 810,000, with about 23.7 million cases.

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12 p.m. Going south? Far south suburbs hit with restaurant, bar and other restrictions Monday to combat outbreaks linked to ‘COVID fatigue’

A wide swath of Chicago’s south suburbs took a step backward from their coronavirus re-openings Monday as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced tighter business restrictions in Will and Kankakee counties due to a rise in positive coronavirus tests.

Beginning Wednesday, bars and restaurants in the region are barred from seating customers indoors and outdoor service will be cut off at 11 p.m., under the new COVID-19 “mitigations” handed down by the Democratic governor’s office.

Party buses are banned, and casinos, which have to close by 11 p.m. as well, will be capped at 25% capacity along with most other venues. The restrictions don’t apply to schools, Pritzker’s office said.

Will and Kankakee counties were saddled with the restrictions because the region’s testing positivity rate topped 8% for three consecutive days, the threshold set by Pritzker’s health team that triggers a state intervention. Experts say the positivity rate indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading through a region.

Read Mitchell Armentrout’s full story here.

9:24 a.m. Five months late and not how they envisioned it, Fire set for home opener

Fire coach Raphael Wicky had three updates Monday.

“First, the player who was confirmed positive on Friday is self-isolating,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘He continues to be asymptomatic and is in good spirits. Second, all other players and staff have continued to test negative, thankfully, and are all asymptomatic. And third, our club followed all the health, safety and medical protocols put in place by Major League Soccer. We have done so the entire time since March. We did it in Orlando in the bubble, and we continue to do it now.”

That Wicky had to make that statement is a part of life these days, especially after the Fire’s announcement late Friday night. It’s another sign that COVID-19 will loom over everything Tuesday night, when the team makes its Soldier Field return against FC Cincinnati.

The Fire were supposed to play at the lakefront March 21 against Atlanta United, but that game was postponed because of the pandemic. Instead, the Fire have had to wait five months for their Soldier Field bow, and there will be no fans in the stands because of safety reasons.

That’s not quite how the Fire envisioned their return, but the pandemic has altered all their plans.

Read Brian Sandalow’s full report here.

9:18 a.m. Vic Mensa set for Lakeshore Drive-In live show

Chicago hip-hop artist/activist Vic Mensa has dropped a seven-track EP which includes collaborations with BJ the Chicago Kid, Peter CottonTale, SAINt JHN, Eryn Allen Kane and Snoh Aalegra, among others.

On Monday, Mensa announced a COVID-friendly drive-in live performance scheduled to take place Sept. 5 at the Lakeshore Drive-In, (the Adler Planetarium’s parking lot, 1362 S. Linn White Dr.), marking his first live performance in nearly a year. Show time is 7 p.m.

A limited number of tickets, $25-$230 per car (up to four persons), are available via Universe. There is a maximum of 6 persons per car; additional ticket purchase will be required. No outside food or drink, pets permitted. Attendees under age 17 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

The all-ages event will adhere to social distancing guidelines by requiring concertgoers to park their vehicles one full space apart. All attendees must wear a mask or facial covering when outside any vehicle. Masks will also be available for purchase at the event.

“In a time when the people are hurting, we need healing,” said Mensa in a statement. “Music is medicine, and the sickness is real. I’m excited to be able to play my part.”

Read Evan Moore’s full story here.

New Cases

  • Over the last two weeks, the state has averaged 1,885 new coronavirus cases per day, more than triple the state’s running rate on June 24.
  • 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

9:22 a.m. A summer sports season like none we’ve seen before

One thing’s for sure: You’ve never seen a sports season like this one.

It’s late August, and last weekend you could watch four NBA playoff games in a single day?

Watch the NHL in full Stanley Cup-playoff mode?

Watch the Indianapolis 500, which usually takes place in May?

Of course, the operative word here is watch. More precisely, watch on TV, because the idea of lots of spectators — or even anybody — attending these events is something of an anachronism.

People are learning, swiftly and sadly, to stay away from each other, especially from crowds. (That is, if you’re not at a beach party in Wisconsin or with protesters boycotting Costco over its mask-wearing policy.)

A pandemic changes the world in many ways, and some of those ways will not be fully apparent until the coronavirus has been wrestled into submission.

Read Rick Telander’s full column here.

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