As the U.S. nears 175,000 COVID-19 deaths, the daily average number of new cases in the Peoria area continues to rise.
This week saw an average of 85 new cases each day, a rise of 16 more cases than last week, said Peoria City/County Health Department Administrator Monica Hendrickson in the weekly COVID-19 update on YouTube.
There is some good news, however. The number of Tri-County residents who have recovered from COVID-19 rose by 5% from last week, the number of people in isolation has gone down and hospital usage has remained steady at about 1.6%, said Hendrickson.
There is also good news on the national front as cases in the hard-hit south begin to decline. CDC Director Robert Redfield said during an interview with the editor of JAMA that mask wearing and social distancing measures helped bring the outbreak under control. He expects the number of deaths in the U.S. to begin dropping as early as next week.
New developments with vaccines and tests
On the national level, makers of a potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate reported strong results for an early-stage trial, according to USA TODAY.
Right here in Illinois, researchers have received FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a brand new rapid, saliva-based COVID-19 test.
Developed at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the new test is already being used.
"We are already working to deploy this to more public universities across the state over the next weeks and months and exploring rolling this out to do testing for K-12 schools and even more testing at our long-term care facilities as well," said Gov. JB Pritzker earlier this week. "The potential here is enormous. I’m so proud — but not at all surprised — to see this type of groundbreaking work come out of our own University of Illinois."
Are children more susceptible to COVID-19 than we originally thought?
Because children experience few symptoms, they have been mostly ignored and untested early in the pandemic, according to an article in the Washington Post. But it’s possible they may be as susceptible to the virus as adults.
A study in the Journal of Pediatrics found high levels of the virus in the airways of children, even those without symptoms. Researchers are trying to decide how worried we should be about these findings.
Outbreaks in schools near and far
With both primary and secondary schools opening all over the country, COVID-19 cases are being widely reported.
Morton School District Assistant Superintendent Craig Smock said Tuesday that he knows of 15 district students who have tested positive for COVID-19 since school began. Seven tested positive before classes started and have recovered, eight are in quarantine and doing their classwork remotely.
Three schools in Dunlap have reported a possible or a confirmed positive test in the first week of school. Dunlap High School, Dunlap Grade School and Ridgeview Elementary School are all dealing with cases.
And at Rockford University, 31 students were quarantined on the very first day of school, according to a Rockford Register Star story. A pick-up basketball game is being blamed for the quarantine. According to the university, the quarantine was done "out of an abundance of caution."
Even Ivy League schools are dealing with COVID-19. According to the Washington Post, a leaked email written by a professor at Yale University warned students in July to be "emotionally prepared for widespread infections — and possibly deaths" when campus reopened.
The number of unemployed rose last week to 1.1 million, up from 971,000 the prior week. According to USA Today, a mind-boggling 57.3 million workers have filed for unemployment over the past 22 weeks. The pre-pandemic all-time high for weekly claims was 695,000 during a 1982 recession.
Movie theaters reopen across the nation
Perhaps a welcome distraction to all those who are newly unemployed, some movie theaters have reopened across the U.S.
According to USA Today, AMC opened 113 locations, advertising retro pricing and retro screenings to entice audiences back to the movies. Regal, the second-largest exhibitor, soon followed suit.
According to information on AMC’s website, theaters will reopen in waves. While no Tri-County theaters are open yet, Grand Prairie 18 is scheduled to reopen Aug. 27 and Sunnyland 10 on Sept. 3.
Information from the Washington Post, USA TODAY, JAMA, and the Rockford Register Star was used to compile this report.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.