Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 11,891 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 127 additional deaths reported Saturday

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Meanwhile, the state moved back into more strict coronavirus restrictions Friday, entering Tier 3 mitigation levels designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The measures close most businesses and public places designed for people to congregate, such as theaters, museums and banquet halls, as well as banning indoor dining and closing bars except for outdoor service. The rules limit at-home gatherings to household members, decrease legal capacity at retail stores, personal care service businesses like salons and health and fitness centers.

The crackdown comes as the state continues to see an explosion in COVID-19 cases and a return to high numbers of deaths, coming close to numbers seen in the spring.

The seven-day average for deaths of people with COVID-19 in Illinois has risen to 115, more than double where it stood two weeks ago.

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

Midwestern governors urge residents to wear masks during Thanksgiving, shrink gathering sizes: ‘We know what will happen’

Coronavirus infections are ravaging South Dakota, where more than half of tests have come back positive for weeks.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem won’t issue a mask mandate but suggests smaller gatherings “may be smarter this year.”

Some governors who for months echoed President Donald Trump’s criticism of measures to control the coronavirus are now relenting, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who recently ordered the use of masks statewide.

Republican and Democratic governors from several Midwestern states issued a joint video urging people to say home for Thanksgiving and wear masks to slow the spread of the virus until a vaccine is widely available.

Hospitals in many states are running out of beds and are short on nurses, including in the states where governors are reluctant to act.

“We know what will happen. We know that three to four weeks from Thanksgiving, we will see an exacerbation of the outbreaks,” said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association.

CDC scientists believe about 40% of infected people don’t have obvious symptoms but can still spread the virus.

The U.S. leads the world with 11.9 million cases and more than 254,000 deaths.

11,891 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 127 additional deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Saturday announced 11,891 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 127 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 646,286 and the statewide death toll to 11,430 since the start of the pandemic. Officials also reported 120,284 new tests in the last 24 hours.

The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 11.5% for the period ending Friday, up from 8% on Nov. 1.

Millions of Americans appear set to defy government guidance to stay home this Thanksgiving, disregarding the growing peril of COVID-19 to gather with distant loved ones. To Erica Ernst, it is a familiar scenario.

She is president of the Chicago Recovery Alliance, a group that tries to minimize the odds of HIV transmission and drug overdose through harm reduction, which aims to minimize the danger of risky behavior rather than try to stop it altogether.

Ernst said this phase of the pandemic reminds her of the early days of the HIV crisis, when people lapsed into denial, fatalism or exhaustion instead of taking simple steps to protect themselves.

“A lot of people died,” she said. “Older folks in harm reduction or older gay men can tell you they lost their whole social group. We forget these things. We push them aside. But the messaging just needs to keep going out and keep getting pushed.”

The messaging, in the case of the pandemic, should be about minimizing risk, Ernst and other harm reduction experts said. Some people will gather no matter what, they said, so government officials should talk more about how to do it in the safest possible manner.

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