PEORIA – As coronavirus deaths in the U.S. crossed the 200,000 threshold, Gov. JB Pritzker lauded Illinois’ COVID-19 testing program as a strong response to the unprecedented threat.


Last weekend, Illinois reported more than 74,000 tests in a one-day period, a new high. The state is averaging more than 52,000 tests each day, a number that puts Illinois among the top testing states in the U.S. The state was also among the first to surpass 5 million tests since the onset of the pandemic.


"At this point we are by far the best testing state in the Midwest, and the best testing state between the two coasts," Pritzker said during his weekly address.


In spite of those efforts, people continue to die from COVID-19. More than 8,500 Illinois residents have died of COVID-19. And while positivity rates in Illinois are better than in surrounding states, Pritzker said they are not yet good enough to stop the current mitigation policies, according to Capitol News Illinois.


"I would love it if we could get below 2%, that would be terrific," he said. "We’re not anywhere near that right now."


Should COVID-19 survivors be screened for heart damage?


Because there is strong evidence that COVID-19 can damage the heart, some experts are suggesting that recovered COVID patients should get a cardiac screening before working out, according to USA TODAY and the Arizona Republic.


People who have been sick with COVID-19 for more than three days should get a blood test and an electrocardiogram before returning to strenuous exercise, said Dr. Steven Erickson, medical director for Banner University Sports Medicine and Concussion Specialists in Phoenix. The blood test measures a protein that is released into the bloodstream when the heart is injured, and the electrocardiogram measures the heart’s electrical signal.


Athletes should be symptom-free for at least 14 days before resuming strenuous activity. Activities should be resumed gradually and include monitoring for cardiac symptoms.


Is COVID-19 airborne or not?


The debate continues between scientists and policymakers on how COVID-19 is spread.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention removed newly crafted language stating that COVID-19 is spread via airborne transmission.


"Unfortunately, an early draft of a revision went up without any technical review," said Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases. "We are returning to the earlier version and revisiting that process. It was a failure of process at CDC."


Aerosol biologists have been saying for months that the virus floats through the air, pointing to super-spreading events in choirs, buses, bars and other indoor spaces, according to the Washington Post. But officials who removed the new language said it had the power to shift policy and force a change in how indoor spaces are ventilated.


Missouri governor tests positive for COVID-19


Missouri Gov. Mike Parson and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19 this week.


Parson, a Republican who has refused to require residents to wear masks, is not experiencing symptoms and plans to continue working while in quarantine. Teresa Parson experienced mild symptoms, according to The Associated Press.


Bradley University resumes in-person classes


BU students went back to class on Wednesday after a campus-wide quarantine was imposed Sept. 8 when the school had more than 50 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 500 students in quarantine.


While students got more freedom this week, it was with the stipulation that they follow rules imposed by the university designed to slow the spread of the virus on campus. Students who violate the policy face penalties.


During the quarantine, 10 students received written notice, 11 were given warnings and $250 fines, three were facing possible bans from campus, and one was facing suspension for the remainder of the academic year.


COVID-19 vaccinations for children?


Children aren’t being included in clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine, so it’s likely they won’t be vaccinated until next year or beyond.


Some say that’s not a problem — most children don’t get severely ill from COVID-19 — but others are concerned because kids can pass the virus to others. Experts from around the country debated the issue in a USA TODAY story.


Emory University School of Medicine pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Evan Anderson wants to see the expansion of clinical trials to include children so they can be vaccinated before the 2021 school year.


Children have generallly been spared from the worst effects of COVID-19, representing more than a quarter of the U.S. population but less than .1% of deaths, said Dr. Paul Offitt, director of the Vaccine Education Center and an attending physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


Information from USA TODAY, the Arizona Republic, The Washington Post, The Associated Press and Capitol News Illinois was used to compile this report.


Leslie Renken can be reached at 270-8503 or lrenken@pjstar.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.