Confidential data shows many Illinois coronavirus outbreaks have been undisclosed: report

Outbreaks of coronavirus in schools, workplaces and other facilities are driving the surge of new COVID-19 cases in Illinois, some of which have not been publicly identified, according to a new study. 

The study from journalists at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting published in USA Today indicates that individual clusters of coronavirus infections are primarily responsible for the latest wave of new COVID-19 cases vexing public health officials in the state, with several outbreaks occurring at correctional facilities and a major military base.

The second-largest outbreak identified by the study, which until now has not been reported to news organizations, is occurring at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Lake County, Ill., where 228 new cases of COVID-19 have been identified over the past month according to confidential data recorded by Illinois officials and obtained by the study.

The number of cases

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Confidential coronavirus data shows undisclosed outbreaks in Illinois

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Confidential statewide coronavirus outbreak data shows workplace, school and prison outbreaks are driving the increases — and that many of these outbreaks have never been made public. (Photo: wellesenterprises / Getty Images)

Like many Midwestern states, Illinois has struggled with rising coronavirus cases and death counts recently, surpassing 300,000 confirmed cases this month and recording its highest daily death count since late June on Friday. 

Public health officials issued a “warning list” for 28 Illinois counties at risk for coronavirus surges and blamed, in part, businesses who were “blatantly disregarding mitigation measures, people not social distancing, gathering in large groups and not using face coverings.”

Now, confidential statewide coronavirus outbreak data, obtained by the Documenting COVID-19 project at the Brown Institute for Media Innovation as part of a collaboration with the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, shows workplace, school and prison outbreaks are driving the increases — and that

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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Oct. 7 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Officials reported 58,820 new tests in the last 24 hours, as the state surpasses 6 million total COVID-19 tests. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.5%.

The new statewide numbers come as Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that the gains that most regions in Illinois had been making in bringing down COVID-19 positivity rates in recent weeks have “cooled off a bit.” The governor noted specifically that the northeastern region that includes Lake and McHenry counties has seen a reversal after a period of decline.

“That progress has cooled off a bit, across Illinois,” Pritzker said. “We are seeing changes in positivity averages around the state level off, with three regions that were decreasing last week now sitting at a stable level.”

Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

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Illinois reports first West Nile virus death of the year in Chicago resident

A Chicago resident died of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus. The death marks the first West Nile virus-related fatality in the state this year, Illinois health officials announced this week.

The resident, who was not identified, first fell ill in mid-September and subsequently tested positive for the disease, officials with the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) said in a news release. 

“Although we are already into fall, West Nile virus remains a risk until the first hard frost,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “It’s important for everyone to continue taking precautions such as using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and staying indoors between dusk and dawn.”

West Nile virus, which was first reported in the U.S. in 1999, is typically spread by infected mosquitoes. Though side effects can be severe, most people who are infected experience little to no symptoms and fully recover.

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COVID-19 in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Thursday

The daily number of new known coronavirus cases announced by Illinois officials on Thursday was the highest in nearly five months, except for a day in early September when the state caught up on a testing backlog.

The 3,059 new known cases represents the first time the daily count has topped 3,000 since May 14, when the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 3,239 cases. The department reported 5,368 new cases on Sept. 4, but that was due to a backlog in processing test results.

In addition to the newly confirmed cases, which bring the total number known infections to 310,700 statewide since the pandemic began, officials on Thursday reported 32 more fatalities. That brings the death toll to 8,910. Officials also reported 72,491 new tests in the last 24 hours. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.7%.

The new numbers come as Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that the

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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Sept. 30 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

“IDPH recognizes that some who will choose to gather together anyway, and instead of denying that reality, we are issuing guidance and recommendations for safer ways to celebrate together in person,” IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike wrote in a statement. “Remember, we know what our best tools are: wearing our masks, keeping our distance, limiting event sizes, washing your hands, and looking out for public health and each other.”

Additionally, the central Illinois region around Champaign-Urbana could be hit with stricter restrictions on restaurants, bars and other businesses as the percentage of positive coronavirus tests is on the rise, state public officials warned on Wednesday.

Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

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American Airlines will begin furloughing 19,000 employees on Thursday after lawmakers and the White House failed

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Illinois governor self-isolates after staffer tests positive for COVID-19

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) will self-isolate for 14 days after a member of his staff tested positive for COVID-19.

The staff member tested positive for coronavirus on Monday after experiencing symptoms, the governor’s office said in a Tuesday statement. The person attended events in the state with Pritzker last week and on Sunday. 

All other close contacts with the staffer are also set to self-isolate for 14 days. Contact tracing is underway, and staff who report to the governor’s office must test negative for COVID-19 before they can return. 

“Let this be a reminder to everyone that this virus knows no bounds and we must take this seriously,” Pritzker tweeted Tuesday, urging Illinois residents to wear a face mask or covering in public, practice social distancing and frequently wash their hands. 

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Illinois Added More Than 4,000 New Coronavirus Cases Over Weekend

ILLINOIS — State health officials over the weekend announced more than 4,000 new cases of the coronavirus — 2,441 on Saturday and 1604 on Sunday — and another 39 deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the virus. Saturday marked the 4th time in a week the state added more than 2,000 new cases in a single day.

The statewide totals now stand at 287,930 confirmed infections and 8,601 known deaths. Another 2,489 probable cases and 244 probable deaths are not included in the official totals.

The latest deaths include:

  • Carroll County: 1 male 80s

  • Cook County: 1 male 50s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s

  • DuPage County: 1 female 60s

  • Hamilton County: 1 male 60s

  • Monroe County: 1 female 80s

  • Peoria County: 1 female 80s

  • Tazewell County: 1 female 60s, 1 female 90s

Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned last week

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