Illinois’ latest COVID-19 numbers suggest most of the state may have gotten through the worst of the Delta variant storm — for now — but downstate hospitals are still being stretched thin.
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Tuesday reported 3,002 new cases of the disease were diagnosed among almost 74,000 tests, lowering the average statewide case positivity rate to 3.4%, its lowest point since late July.
After two months of exponential increases, daily caseloads now have been on the decline since Labor Day weekend. New hospital admissions have trended downward, too, with the 2,039 COVID-19 patients hospitalized Monday night marking a 10% decrease since last week.
In Chicago, the improvement has been even more pronounced. The city’s positivity rate is down to 3%, with average daily cases down 8% since last week and hospital admissions down 50%.
“We really are looking like we’re coming down the other side of this,” city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said. “Broadly, things are going quite well, honestly, in Chicago at this point.”
New COVID-19 cases by day
Graphic by Jesse Howe and Caroline Hurley | Sun-Times
The situation is still far worse in southern Illinois, but even that region — the least vaccinated in the state — is seeing marginal improvement. Two intensive care unit hospital beds were available for the region’s 400,000-plus residents Monday night following an entire week of operating at full capacity, which had forced hospitals to divert some patients as far away as St. Louis or Nashville to receive critical care.
Southern Illinois’ regional positivity rate also dipped below 10% Tuesday for the first time since mid-August. Only about 37% of eligible residents in the region are fully vaccinated, compared to about 62% statewide. In Chicago, it’s 66%.
The nation as a whole is “still not doing very well” in containing the Delta variant surge, Arwady said. The city updated its travel quarantine advisory for unvaccinated people to remove California and Puerto Rico, where case numbers have improved, but nonessential travel is still discouraged across the rest of the country.
While coronavirus deaths remain on the rise in Illinois, experts say that’s to be expected because it takes several weeks for ballooning cases to develop into fatal infections. The state reported 23 more deaths Tuesday, while the virus has claimed an average of 37 Illinois lives each day over the past week.
As officials urge unvaccinated residents to finally roll up a sleeve, they’re also reminding people sign up for a flu shot early this fall.
“Flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given at the same time if you haven’t already gotten your COVID-19 vaccine,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “Vaccines are our best protection against severe illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths due to either flu or COVID-19.”
India, home to the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, had halted exports of vaccines in April, as a devastating second wave of the coronavirus ravaged the country recording over 400,000 daily cases. Now, cases have fallen to just over 30,000 a day, and its vaccine drive has gathered momentum.
Australia’ssecond most populous state, Victoria, reported 507 new locally acquired coronavirus cases and one related death on Sunday, as the state remains in a months-long lockdown imposed to rein in the highly infectious Delta variant.
There are now 5,262 active cases of the virus in Victoria, home to nearly 7 million people, Reuters reports.
Mexico reported 11,711 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 765 deaths on Saturday, Reuters reports.
It brings the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 3,564,694 and 271,303 fatalities, according to health ministry data.
Boris Johnson is expected to push Joe Biden for a restoration of UK-US travel during a visit to the White House.
Mr Biden’s administration imposed a ban due to soaring rates of the Delta variant of coronavirus.
Johnson will also meet vice-president Kamala Harris and other senior figures in American politics next week, PA reports.
The US administered 384,911,290 doses of Covid-19 vaccines as of Saturday morning and distributed 466,569,635 doses, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.
Those figures are up from 383,994,877 vaccine doses the CDC said had gone into arms by September 17, out of 464,315,725 doses delivered.
The agency said 211,489,242 people had received at least one dose, while 181,035,022 people were fully vaccinated as of 6 a.m. ET Saturday, Reuters reports.
Those most at risk from Covid-19 in Australia say the easing of restrictions when vaccination targets are met will bring anxiety and danger.
In the roadmap to freedom, I hear nothing about people like me, other than as a qualifying postscript to the Covid deaths: ‘But they had an underlying health condition’,” says Racquel Sherry.
“Freedom day doesn’t include me.”
Sherry, 49 and based in Sydney, is immunocompromised and afraid.
Food charities say demand for assistance in south-west and western Sydney is continuing to grow, with more than five times the number of hampers being handed out each week since before lockdown.
OzHarvest, a food rescue organisation that has been providing food hampers and cooked meals for people in need, has established two “hamper hubs” in the 12 local government areas hardest hit by NSW’s Covid outbreak, in Lakemba and Granville, to deal with the increasing demand.
Sarah Flomersfeld, the NSW operations lead at OzHarvest, said there has been a 500% increase in demand for hampers since the start of this year’s lockdown in greater Sydney.
“We’ve seen unprecedented demand across New South Wales, but particularly in western Sydney. We’re delivering about 150,000kg across greater Sydney, which is about 350,000 meals every week,” she said.
A school district in the Canadian province of British Columbia will be locking down schools from Monday due to ongoing anti-vaccine protests.
The “hold and secure” protocol was enacted on Friday after people protesting against vaccines and masks, who the district said had been targeting schools all week, entered two school buildings in and around Salmon Arm, British Columbia.
The protocol meant that students could not leave or enter the building for the rest of the day.
All schools in the district will be under the same “hold and secure” guidance from Monday.
Canada has seen a wave of anti-vaccine protests ramp up in recent weeks as the country’s federal election draws nearer, Reuters reports.
France has reported 7,414 new coronavirus cases, Reuters reports. The country has recorded more than 6.94 million cases in total.
England’s deputy chief medical officer asked ministers to withhold all UK clinical trial data from the EU if European countries continued to deny entry to British vaccine trial volunteers, the Observer can reveal.
Jonathan Van-Tam made the extraordinary proposal after months of uncertainty for the 19,000 volunteers who are in effect unable to travel to Europe to see family, work or go on holiday because they took part in trials of Novavax and Valneva.
Because neither treatment has yet been approved by medical regulators, people who received vaccines during the trials are faced with a catch-22. They have had two doses, so they are not allowed other vaccines through the NHS. But since their trial vaccines were unlicensed, they cannot prove their vaccination status outside the UK, which means that many countries require them to quarantine.
France reported 1,837 people in intensive care with Covid-19, down by 54, Reuters reports.
Dozens of the world’s biggest brands have been advertising on websites that spread Covid-19 misinformation and conspiracy theories, it has emerged.
The companies, as well as an NHS service, are among a string of household names whose ads appear to have helped fund websites that host false and outlandish claims, for example that powerful people secretly engineered the pandemic, or that vaccines have caused thousands of deaths.
France reported 89,206 coronavirus deaths in hospital, an increase of 42, Reuters reports.
The country has had more than 115,000 deaths overall.
Around 25,000 people joined a massive outdoor drinking party marking the start of term at a Madrid university without observing safety precautions, police said Saturday, admitting they were caught off-guard.
Spanish media said it was the biggest such gathering since the start of the coronavirus pandemic when large public gatherings were halted to stop the spread of the virus, AFP reports.
“There were thousands of people on the grounds of Complutense University, about 25,000,” a municipal police statement said, indicating the gathering appeared to have been organised online via Whatsapp.
Images on social media showed vast crowds of beaming youngsters gathered on the campus, drinking, dancing and hanging out with hardly a mask in sight.
“Without prior warning from the university or time to prepare an appropriate operation, breaking up a gathering of some 25,000 people is an almost impossible job,” police said, indicating they had only reached the site after midnight.
Although Spain has lifted many of its pandemic safety restrictions, people are still required to wear masks outdoors if they are unable to maintain a 1.5-metre (five-foot) safety distance from those around them.
And large gatherings remain banned, although the numbers vary from region to region.
But some people have dropped their guard given the rapid pace of the vaccination programme, with more than 75 percent of Spain’s 47 million residents now fully vaccinated.
Some more data from Italy. Patients in hospital with Covid-19 – not including those in intensive care – stood at 3,958 on Saturday, down from 3,989 a day earlier. There were 31 new admissions to intensive care units, down from 34 on Friday.
The total number of intensive care patients fell to 519 from a previous 525, Reuters reports. Some 355,933 tests for Covid-19 were carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 284,579, the health ministry said.
Artist Michael Craig-Martin’s paintings of Covid era items in pictures.
Following is a summary of current health news briefs.
Theranos founder’s defense may turn on state of mind, experts say
As Elizabeth Holmes’ fraud trial gets underway this week, lawyers for the former Silicon Valley entrepreneur may try to show she was a true believer in the blood-testing technology at her startup Theranos Inc, and never intended to defraud investors and patients, legal experts said. On Wednesday, federal jurors in San Jose, California will hear opening arguments in the case against the Stanford University dropout who once dazzled Silicon Valley and is now charged with misleading investors and patients by falsely claiming that the company’s printer-sized devices could run a range of tests and produce accurate results using a single drop of blood.
75% of U.S. adults have taken at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine – CDC
75% of adults in the United States have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday morning, the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The agency said 193,798,688 of adults have had at least one shot, while 165,947,460 people, or 64.3% of the adult population, are fully vaccinated.
Factbox – Latest on the worldwide spread of the coronavirus
President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
Spain authorises booster COVID-19 shots for severely immunocompromised people
Spain’s healthcare regulator approved on Tuesday a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for people with severely compromised immune systems who are likely to have weaker protection from the conventional two-dose inoculation schemes. The so-called booster shot should be administered 28 days after the previous one in some cases, and preferably the same type of vaccine is to be used, the Public Health Commission said in a statement. It would not say how many people could get such shots.
Mexico’s Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Tuesday that penalizing abortion is unconstitutional, a major victory for advocates of women’s health and human rights, just as parts of the United States enact tougher laws against the practice. The court ruling in the majority Roman Catholic nation follows moves to decriminalize abortion at state level, although most of the country still has tough laws in place against women terminating their pregnancy early.
AstraZeneca boss Soriot says do not rush needlessly into COVID booster vaccines – The Telegraph
AstraZeneca Plc Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said booster COVID vaccine doses may not be needed for everyone in Britain and rushing into a nationwide rollout of third doses risks piling extra pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), the Telegraph reported on Tuesday. “We need the weight of the clinical evidence gathered from real world use before we can make an informed decision on a third dose,” Soriot wrote in the newspaper.
Biden to outline plan to curb coronavirus Delta variant as cases grow
President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday. The United States, which leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, is struggling to stem a wave of infections driven by the variant even as officials try to persuade Americans who have resisted vaccination to get the shots. Rising case loads have raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors and upending company return-to-office plans.
Venezuela receives first batch of vaccines through COVAX mechanism
Venezuela has received its first batch of coronavirus vaccines through the COVAX mechanism intended for poor countries, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Tuesday, after months of delays the government attributed to U.S. sanctions. The South American country has received 693,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinovac Biotech, the first of a total of 11 million it will receive through COVAX, overseen by the GAVI alliance and the World Health Organization.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co will require all its employees working in the United States and Puerto Rico to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus effective Nov. 1, the drugmaker said on Tuesday. In the face of a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, spurred by the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant, many U.S. companies have come out with mask mandates and changed their vaccination policies.
Coronavirus live updates: Philippines to lift travel ban on India, 9 other countries
India on Saturday reported 42,618 new Covid cases and 330 deaths in last 24 hours, according to health ministry’s updated data at 8 am. The total cases have mounted to 3,29,45,907. Meanwhile, the total recoveries have jumped to 3,21,00,001. Stay with TOI for all updates.Read Less
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has announced a plan for schools to return to face-to-face learning from 25 October.
Students will return on a staggered basis, with kindergarten and year one students to return to the classroom first, and students in year two, six and 11 going back from 1 November.
New freedoms have been announced for fully vaccinated people and the regional lockdown was extended, with all of New South Wales under stay-at-home restrictions until 10 September.
The greater Sydney lockdown has been extended until at least the end of September.
Here are the current Covid restrictions in place in New South Wales and ACT.
When can you leave home?
There is no change to the four essential reasons people are allowed to leave home:
Shopping for food or other essential goods and services. You must shop within 5km of home if you are within greater Sydney. Browsing in shops is prohibited, and only one person per household, a day may leave the home for shopping.
Medical care or compassionate needs, including getting a Covid-19 vaccine.
Exercise outdoors in groups of two, who cannot travel further than 5km from their home or local government area.
Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home
See here for the full list of reasonable excuses to leave your home in NSW.
In the ACT the reasons to leave home are:
To shop for essentials like groceries and medicine and supplies that are essential for personal needs or for vulnerable people.
To obtain essential health care, including to undertake a Covid-19 test or receive scheduled vaccination.
To exercise outdoors for no more than one hour a day, with one other person, or your household group.
A curfew from 9pm to 5am is in place in the 12 Sydney LGAs of highest concern. Previously exercise was limited to one hour a day, but people are now allowed unlimited time for outdoor exercise. Face masks will also be mandatory outdoors, except when exercising.
Garden centres, office supply stores, hardware stores and pet supply stores are closed except for click and collect.
Childcare workers and disability support workers who live or work the areas of concern must have had their first vaccine dose by 30 August.Authorised workers from the areas of concern, or those entering to work need a permit.
Authorised workers who work outside the local government areas of concern, are only permitted to work if rapid antigen testing is implemented at their worksite or the worker has had the first vaccination dose by 30 August.
On Saturday 14 August, the government announced that eligible workers aged 17 years and older who live in the LGAs of concern are eligible for one $320 payment in a four-week period if they get tested for Covid-19 and isolate until a negative test is returned. Those waiting on their test results will get the $320 payment in their bank account within three business days of applying online at Service NSW.
There will also be a new $400 hardship payment payable through the Red Cross for temporary visa holders and others in the community who are ineligible for government financial support.
What about work?
Authorised workers from the LGAs of concern are required to carry a permit from Service NSW declaring that they are an authorised worker and cannot work from home.
Anyone entering an LGA of concern for the purposes of work must carry a worker permit issued by Service NSW.
What if I live outside the ACT but travel across the border for work?
The ACT has declared all of NSW as a Covid-19 hotspot. Residents who lived across the border in one of the following approved postcodes may enter the ACT for essential work and healthcare reasons without an exemption:
2581 Gunning, Collector
2582 Murrumbateman, Yass
2618 Wallaroo, areas along the ACT’s north-western edge
If you live outside these postcodes you will be required to seek an exemption.
If you live in the ACT but travel into NSW for work, you are expected to follow the rules of the ACT lockdown even when in NSW. You will also have to complete a new declaration form every 72 hours.
How does the NSW single bubble work?
Single bubbles have been introduced for the first time in greater Sydney. People who live alone can nominate one person, a friend or family member, who will be allowed to visit, but it must be the same person for the whole of lockdown. They also cannot be from one of the eight LGAs in hard lockdown.
For single residents in the eight LGAs subject to a hard lockdown, the person they nominate to join their bubble must live within 5kms of their home.From 12.01am on Saturday 21 August people in those LGAs will also be required to register their nominated “singles bubble” with the NSW government.
Can I exercise?
Outdoor exercise is limited to two people. However, members of the same household gathering outdoors for exercise will be allowed to do so in groups larger than two.
People must stay in their local government area or within5km of home for exercise and outdoor recreation.
The NSW restrictions state that no community sport in greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour, should proceed.
In the ACT, you can exercise outdoors for no more than one hour a day, with one other person, or your household group. Gyms are closed and personal training is not permitted inside or outside.
What businesses can open in lockdown?
The following retail premises in greater Sydney must close except for click and collect:
Garden centres and plant nurseries
Office supplies, hardware and building supplies, landscaping material supplies, rural supplies and pet supplies stores (tradespeople are allowed to shop in-store where relevant).
To remain open are:
Supermarkets and grocery stores (including butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable stores, liquor stores and fishmongers)
Stores that predominantly sell health, medical, maternity and infant supplies
Pharmacies and chemists
Banks and financial institutions
Agricultural and rural supplies
Post offices and newsagents
Employers must allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so, failure to do so can result in a fine of up to $10,000.
See here for a full list of which businesses are open and closed.
Business restrictions for the ACT can be found here
What about construction?
Construction work has resumed at “non-occupied sites” outside the hotspot LGAs in NSW. Construction sites must have Covid safety plans.
Tradespeople are allowed to attend homes outside the hotspot LGAs as long as the work can be carried out without contact with the residents.
Construction work in the ACT can continue as usual, but mask rules apply, full details can be found here.
Are schools open?
NSW schools will begin returning to face-to-face learning on 25 October, with a staggered return for different year groups.
Kindergarten and year one students will return to the classroom first, and year 12 students will also be able to increase their time on campus.
Students in year two, six and 11 will return to the classroom from 1 November, with all pupils due back by the second week of November.
Vaccinations for all school staff across all sectors will be mandatory from 8 November. There will also be compulsory mask wearing for teachers and high school students. Primary students will be encouraged to wear masks.
If an area comes out of lockdown settings earlier, students will be able to return to the classroom immediately.
People are not currently allowed to attend or hold a wedding in greater Sydney or locked down regional areas. However, from 12.01am on Friday 3 September, weddings will be back on in NSW, provided that they are kept to no more than five guests.
Weddings will remain subject to NSW travel orders. Vaccinations are encouraged but not required in the health orders.
Weddings are allowed in the ACT but with no more than five attendees (including the two persons being married, celebrant and two witnesses).
What about funerals?
Currently, funerals can continue to take place, including in the locked-down areas, with a maximum of 10 people, including the person conducting the service. Attending a funeral is a reasonable excuse to leave home.
In the ACT, the limit is 10 people not including people necessary to conduct the funeral.
Can I have visitors to my house?
If you are in greater Sydney, you cannot have visitors to your house and you must comply with the stay-at-home rules. If you want to visit another person you will need a reasonable excuse to be away from your place of residence. A visitor does not include a person at the place of residence who is there:
For work or attend a university or other tertiary education facility;
As a carer(only one visitor can enter another residence to fulfil carers’ responsibilities or provide care or assistance, or for compassionate reasons);
To give effect to arrangements between parents and children under 18 or their siblings;
To assist a person to move places of residence;
To avoid an injury or serious risk of harm;
Because of an emergency;
To view or inspect property to lease or purchase it.
In the ACT, no more than two people are permitted to visit another household, but only for the approved reasons outlined above under stay at home or for compassionate purposes.
Intimate partner visits are allowed. People who live alone can identify one other household that they can visit or receive visits from.
What are the restrictions at hospitality and entertainment venues?
In greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and other locked down areas of NSW food businesses can open for takeaway only. Entertainment facilities, such as theatres, cinemas, music halls, concert halls and dance halls and amusement centres, such as places to play billiards, pool, pinball machines or video games are all closed.
Outside of those areas, the one person per 4 sq metre rule has been re-introduced for all indoor and outdoor settings, including weddings and funerals.
Drinking while standing at indoor venues is also not allowed and outdoor seated events are limited to only 50% seated capacity.
Singing by audiences at indoor shows or by congregants at indoor places of worship is also banned, and dancing is not allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs. However, dancing is allowed at weddings for the bridal party only (no more than 20 people).
Can I travel interstate?
People in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong cannot travel.
People in the ACT can only travel if they meet another jurisdiction’s travel requirements prior to entering.
Anyone who has been in the ACT in the past 14 days and is now in NSW is expected to follow the rules of the ACT lockdown for the duration of that lockdown – and also comply with any NSW lockdown rules, if they are in a locked down area.
Anyone who has been in the ACT in the past 14 days and travels to NSW must complete a declaration form. For people who travel frequently between jurisdictions, a new declaration form is required every 72 hours.
People outside of greater Sydney also cannot enter greater Sydney for the purposes of exercise or outdoor recreation. People can only enter greater Sydney for a funeral or memorial service, or for obtaining goods or services if those goods or services are not reasonably available outside of greater Sydney.
A person over 18 who is leaving greater Sydney must also carry evidence showing their address and produce it to a police officer on request.
Other states and territories have closed their borders to parts of NSW and the ACT. Each state and territory is updating guidance on travel rules individually:
What about public gatherings?
From 13 September, households in Sydney LGAs of concern will be allowed an extra hour outside, as long as the adults have received two doses of vaccination.
Outside of those areas, from 13 September, adults who have been double vaccinated will be able to gather in groups of five, outside, within the 5km limit.
Until then, outdoor public gatherings are limited in greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains and Wollongong and other areas in lockdown to two people. In these areas, you must not participate in an outdoor public gathering unless you are:
Working or attending a university or other tertiary education facility
Providing care or assistance to vulnerable persons
Gathering with your household
Gathering for a funeral
Providing emergency assistance to a person
Fulfilling a legal obligation
Moving home or moving your business to a new premises
Outside of the areas in lockdown, up to 200 people can gather in an outdoor public place such as a park, reserve, beach, garden or public space.
Outdoor seated events are limited to 50% seated capacity.
What are the rules around masks?
From 12.01am Monday, 23 August, the following additional rule will also be introduced for Greater Sydney (including regional NSW, until 28 August):
Mask wearing will be mandatory when outside your home, except when exercising. In the ACT, face masks must be worn at all times upon leaving home, including in workplaces, and by all people aged 12 and above.
Due to the unprecedented and ongoing nature of the coronavirus outbreak, this article is being regularly updated to ensure that it reflects the current situation at the date of publication. Any significant corrections made to this or previous versions of the article will be footnoted in line with Guardian editorial policy.
Navigating “Corona” rules: As in the United States, Germany’s states have different coronavirus protocols and social norms. If you travel throughout the country, expect the rules to shift. Remember, too, that protocols can change rapidly, depending on local infection rates. In general, regulations relating to the coronavirus — called “Corona” in Germany — remain stricter than those in the United States. Unless you’re renting a private house and sticking to outdoor spaces when sightseeing, expect to see these three words a lot: “geimpft, getestet, genesen.” They translate to “vaccinated, tested, recovered.” You must meet one of these criteria to dine indoors at many restaurants and participate in some indoor attractions.
European lawmakers and business groups voiced mounting criticism of continued U.S. restrictions on international travel. As vaccinated American tourists are traveling back and forth for their summer holidays in Paris or Rome, European allies or partners of the Biden administration are finding it increasingly difficult to defend the U.S. approach.
Officials in Tokyo reported a record for coronavirus infections Tuesday, registering 2,848 new cases, its highest daily count ever and four times the average at the end of June. Even as case numbers spiked in the city, however, the situation inside the Olympic bubble appeared to be much more under control.
After the president of Tajikistan’s sister died in the hospital, reportedly of covid-19, her three sons attacked and beat up the country’s health minister and a senior doctor, according to local media. The reports cast a rare spotlight on the sudden surge of cases in this Central Asian country that for a time denied it had any infections.
Fresh coronavirus outbreaks are forcing factory shutdowns in countries such as Vietnam and Bangladesh, aggravating supply chain disruptions that could leave some U.S. retailers with empty shelves as consumers begin their back-to-school shopping.
Iran, one of the pandemic’s hardest-hit nations, reported its largest single-day increase in new coronavirus cases Tuesday, recording nearly 35,000 infections and 357 deaths. The recent surge has been blamed on the more contagious delta variant. About 3 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, according to publicly available figures.
Chinese researchers found that antibodies produced by the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine fell below a key threshold about six months after the second dose, raising concerns about waning immunity as new variants spread.