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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: State's Top Doctor on New CDC Quarantine Guidance, Large Wedding at Suburban Hotel

NBC Chicago logo NBC Chicago 12/4/2020
a group of people walking down the street: Residents line up for COVID-19 testing at Pritzker College Prep high school in the Hermosa neighborhood on November 30, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. © Getty Images

Residents line up for COVID-19 testing at Pritzker College Prep high school in the Hermosa neighborhood on November 30, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

Illinois' top doctor offered up some recent clarification surrounding new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortening the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Meanwhile, management of a north suburban hotel that hosted a large indoor wedding reception has apologized, saying they "sincerely regret" allowing the event to proceed in violation of the state's coronavirus restrictions.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Dec. 3):

Illinois' Top Doctor Clarifies Latest Quarantine Guidance From CDC

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Illinois' top doctor offered up some recent clarification surrounding new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortening the recommended length of quarantine after exposure to someone with COVID-19.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said that while the agency recommends people exposed to someone with the virus can stop quarantining after 10 days as long as they have no symptoms, it does not mean that someone won't develop symptoms after those 10 days.

"Risk of that happening is 1-10%," Ezike said.

She also noted that while people can stop quarantining after seven days if they also receive a negative test and no symptoms, "you still have to quarantine between the time you took the test and when you got the negative result."

Ezike said the change in guidance aims to encourage additional compliance.

"Better adherence can reduce stress by less infections," she said.

The new guidelines released Wednesday will allow people who have come in contact to someone infected with the virus to resume normal activity after 10 days if no symptoms are reported, or 7 days if they receive a negative test result. That’s down from the 14-day period recommended since the onset of the pandemic.

Dr. Henry Walke, the agency’s coronavirus incident manager, said on a call with reporters that the sample for the negative test should be collected within 48 hours of the final day of quarantine.

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“We continue to refine our guidance to prevent transmission and protect Americans,” Walke said. “Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to follow critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time.”

Walke added that regardless of the length of quarantine, people should monitor their own symptoms for a full 14 days after an exposure.

The policy change has been discussed for some time, as scientists have studied the incubation period for the virus. The policy would hasten the return to normal activities by those deemed to be “close contacts” of those infected with the virus, which has infected more than 13.5 million Americans and killed at least 270,000.

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While the CDC had said the incubation period for the virus was thought to extend to 14 days, most individuals became infectious and developed symptoms between 4 and 5 days after exposure.

Pritzker Urges Illinois Residents to Donate Blood During Pandemic, Holidays

Health Officials Investigating Large Wedding Held at Suburban Hotel in Violation of Coronavirus Restrictions

Cook County health officials are investigating after a large wedding was held Wednesday at a north suburban hotel in violation of restrictions on gathering sizes implemented earlier this year to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The wedding took place Wednesday night at the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook, located at 2855 Milwaukee Ave in Northbrook. A Village of Northbrook official on Thursday clarified that the hotel is technically outside of the village's limits, noting that the village was aware of reports of the wedding.

Video taken from outside the hotel showed the bride and groom entering a luxury car for what appeared to be a send-off from the reception as a large crowd gathered nearby, waving to the couple, with few members of the group wearing masks and no social distancing in place.

Management of the hotel apologized Thursday, saying they "sincerely regret" allowing the event to proceed in violation of the state's coronavirus restrictions.

"The coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for the hospitality industry and our family-owned business," a statement from the the Hilton Chicago/Northbrook read. "However, our hope to keep the hotel afloat and employees working should not outweigh health and safety. We are committed to working with state and local health authorities to ensure our hotel is abiding by all safety measures and mitigation guidelines."

Management said staff "immediately reviewed" the hotel's bookings to "ensure any business that is inconsistent with the state’s guidelines are not held at this property."

"It will take time, but we hope to rebuild the trust of our guests, staff and community have placed in us for so many years,” Holly Allgauer-Cir, general manager for the hotel, said in a statement.

A spokesperson for Hilton said in a statement that the hotel is independently operated but the company was "shocked" by the event and contacted its ownership.

“The safety and wellbeing of our guests and Team Members has always been and remains our top priority," the statement from Hilton reads. "We were shocked to learn that one of our independently owned and operated hotels chose to host an event that disregarded both local regulations and Hilton's brand standards. We immediately connected with the hotel’s ownership to understand the facts and are now addressing our expectations with them directly."

Earlier Thursday, Cook County health officials said the venue will likely be issued "notices of violation" for allowing the event, which violated statewide restrictions on gathering sizes and indoor dining.

According to Cook County Health Department Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Rubin, the department plans to issue notices to the hotel for violating "at least a couple of different ordinances, including our order of not allowing indoor dining."

The violation notices likely won't result in immediately fines or penalties, Rubin said, but she noted that the department is still working with its legal team to determine next steps. Repeated notices are escalated to the Cook County State's Attorney's office, which can decide on penalties, if any.

Rubin said the newlyweds and attendees won't be cited for the event because "we don't cite individuals for their behavior." Other businesses involved in the wedding, such as caterers, could still receive violation notices, however.

"This event should not have happened," Rubin said. "It's put a lot of individuals in danger. I don't even know where to begin. This is the kind of thing that we've been trying to avoid and educate the community about since day one."

Illinois Reports 10,959 New Coronavirus Cases and 192 Deaths

Illinois health officials on Thursday reported 10,959 new coronavirus cases and 192 deaths, matching the second highest number of deaths in a single day after setting a record the day before.

The 10,959 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases reported Thursday lifted the total number of cases to 759,562 statewide since the pandemic began, officials said. IDPH noted for the second consecutive day that some data reported was delayed from the past holiday weekend but did not specify which data was delayed.

The deaths reported Thursday brought the death toll to 12,830, according to IDPH. Illinois saw its largest one-day death toll ever reported in a 24-hour period the day before, with 238 fatalities on Wednesday. Thursday's 192 deaths matched the now second highest single-day record set during the first wave of the pandemic on May 13.

A total of 106,778 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, IDPH said. That figure was up from Wednesday's number following a slowdown over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, when daily testing numbers were in the 60,000 to 80,000 range.

In all, the state has performed 10,806,364 tests since the pandemic began, officials said.

The state’s average rolling positivity rate on all tests conducted declined slightly to 10.4% on Thursday from 10.6% on Wednesday, after that figure increased for the two days prior. In the last seven days, the average positivity rate for individuals tested for the virus stands at 12.3%, which was down from 12.5% the day before.

A total of 5,653 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide as of Wednesday night, officials said. Of those patients, 1,170 were using ICU beds, authorities say, and 693 were on ventilators.

Gov. Pritzker Says He Will Get COVID Vaccine Once One is Approved

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he plans to get the coronavirus vaccine once one is approved.

The governor said he would "absolutely" get the vaccine to help ease any possible concerns but "not jumping ahead of someone more at risk."

Pritzker said decisions on who get the vaccine and when will be determined by the FDA, but noted that a vaccine advisory team will also be analyzing trial data to determine if the vaccines are safe.

"There are competing views where some want to be at the front and some don't want to at all," Pritzker said.

Pritzker said the state is expecting more than 100,000 doses, according to early estimations, for its initial shipment.

The CDC said the first doses should go to healthcare workers who care for COVID-19 patients and those working in nursing homes when a vaccine becomes publicly available.

The "first mass air shipment" of COVID-19 vaccines arrived at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Friday as airlines and pharmaceutical companies continued to prepare for large-scale distribution.

Hospital Stay Lengths Decrease in Second Wave of COVID-19: Illinois' Top Doctor

Compared to the spring, patients have remained in the hospital for a shorter period of time in the second wave of the coronavirus, according to Illinois' top doctor.

During a daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said patients, on average, stay in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven to nine days as opposed to nine to eleven days in the first wave.

"There is some good news," Ezike said. "You have a much better chance of surviving COVID in hospitals as opposed to wave one."

She added that though the average has dropped, some patients' stays can last up to weeks or months at a time. Ezike said hospital stays for patients in long term care facilities also shrunk by "a day or two."

Much of the reason for the shorter hospital stays has to do with increased medical research and more tools such as utilizing proning, Remdesivir and antibodies, according to Ezike.

Q&A: What We Know So Far About a COVID-19 Vaccine in Chicago

As Chicago and Illinois officials prepare to roll out a coronavirus vaccine once one is available, there are still many questions left to be answered.

The city's top doctor, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, answered several during a Q&A session at a briefing Tuesday.

Here's what we know so far:

When will a vaccine likely arrive in the city?

Chicago is expecting to see its first doses of the vaccine in the third or fourth week of December, with multiple candidates currently before the Food and Drug Administration as they seek emergency approval this month.

Who will be among the first to get it?

After the CDPH held its press conference on Tuesday to lay out plans, the CDC voted by a 13-1 margin to include healthcare workers who care for COVID-19 patients and those working in nursing homes in the very first group that will receive the vaccine when it becomes publicly available.

The big question will be which group would be next to receive the vaccine, with those with underlying medical conditions, critical workers and senior citizens all potentially next in line for the treatment. The CDC has yet to make that determination, but with shipments of vaccines accelerating as more is produced and as more companies come to market with their own treatments, that decision will need to be made quickly.

How will the vaccine work?

The vaccine will be given in two doses.

"Both of these first two vaccines that we're talking about, you get a first dose and then you get a second dose either 21 or 28 days later," Arwady said.

You can find more questions and their answers here.

Here's What Gov. Pritzker Has Said About Another Stay-at-Home Order for Illinois

As health officials across the U.S. brace for a potential surge in coronavirus cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, might Illinois see another statewide stay-at-home order? Here's a look at what Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said most recently on the topic.

He last discussed the possibility on Monday, saying in his daily briefing on the pandemic that he has always kept another stay-at-home in his consideration, but that his hope was to avoid one.

"I've been very transparent with everybody that when we put the Tier 3 mitigations in place, it's short of a stay-at-home order, because we may be able to avoid a stay-at-home order. And that's our goal. That's our hope," Pritzker said, referring to the enhanced restrictions that took effect in all of the state's 11 health care regions last month to slow the spread of the deadly virus. "And if everybody follows the mitigations and if we don't see as big a surge as is being discussed nationwide, we'll be able to avoid a stay-at-home order."

Pritzker added that Tier 3, which shut down indoor bar and restaurant service and imposed restrictions like stricter capacity limits on several industries was "right up against the list of mitigations that you could put in place."

"Obviously there are a number of other things that are left but a stay-at-home order is about the furthest that one could go," he continued.

If the state's metrics do not continue to improve or if there is a major surge following the Thanksgiving holiday, Pritzker said another stay-at-home order is possible but it would be different from the one issued in March at the outset of the pandemic.

"It wouldn't be exactly like the one in the spring if it did happen, but it's not something right now that we think we're going to have to do," he said.

"What we're worried about is when you see the hospitalization numbers - we're at a peak that we haven't seen before, at least we've just come off that peak by a little bit," Pritzker continued. "If we got a surge like we've had over the last three to four weeks come on top of where we are now, that would be something that would be extraordinarily worrisome for all of us."

Read more here.

Pritzker Recommends COVID-19 Testing for Residents Who Traveled for Thanksgiving Holiday

During his daily coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Pritzker said that the Illinois Department of Public Health is encouraging residents who traveled for the holiday to get tested for the virus between five and seven days after their return to the state.

“If you didn’t socially distance at Thanksgiving and spent time with people who are not in your own family bubble, you may feel fine now – but you could nevertheless be passing COVID-19 onto others without knowing it,” he said.”

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