Masks will be required in all University of Illinois classrooms next year (LIVE UPDATES)

Masks will be required in all University of Illinois classrooms next year (LIVE UPDATES)

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Masks will be required in all University of Illinois classrooms next year

Tera Petty, 32, of Wicker Park, wears a green mask with ducks. “I love the ducks on it. I thought it was cute and different and I love the color with my skin tone.”

Tera Petty, 32, of Wicker Park, wears a green mask in Chicago. File photo.
Annie Costabile/Sun-Times

In-person instruction will take place in the fall at the University of Illinois, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place to protect students if the state has moved into Phase IV of its reopening schedule, officials said Thursday.

Students who don’t or can’t return to the central Illinois campus can take classes online, according to the university. Those who have signed up to live in university housing or freshmen required to live on campus will have to submit special documentation and receive approval to learn from a distance.

In announcing the plans, Chancellor Robert Jones said there will be as much in-person instruction and residential occupancy as restrictions of space, health and safety allows. Classes will be in spaces that allow adequate social distancing between students and professors. As an added precaution, face coverings will be required in all instructional spaces and classrooms.

Similar plans are being put into place for Illinois’ campuses in Chicago and Springfield, according to university officials.

Read the full story here.


7:57 a.m. Hugs, haircuts, handshakes — Dr. Ezike’s do’s and don’t’s. (Spoiler alert: Handshake time frame ‘between a year and never again’)

Dr. Ngozi Ezike didn’t let her kids see their friends until this week.

And that was a carefully supervised backyard get-together — with masks.

She’s all for outdoor dining with the safety guidance she helped craft. And she got a manicure behind plexiglass from a woman who has done her nails for 15 years.

But handshakes?

“Not now. Between a year and never again,” the head of the Illinois Department of Public Health told the Sun-Times in a wide-ranging interview about her personal do’s and don’ts as she helps Illinois navigate through the pandemic.

A hug from a friend?

“No, we can show love virtually. I think that might be for a year or two,” she said.

For months, Ezike has been the state’s go-to for public health guidance as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s chief advisor on Illinois’ response to COVID-19.

Read the full story from reporter Tina Sfondeles.

7:03 a.m. Unique Chicago COVID-19 virus linked to early cases in China

A unique COVID-19 virus that spread through Chicago appears to link directly to an early outbreak in China and may not spread as easily and as rapidly as the virus prevalent in New York and elsewhere in the U.S., according to new research.

In a preliminary study of genetic makeup of the coronavirus in Chicago, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers discovered a unique type that is more likely to be found locally than other parts of the country. The goal of better understanding the genetic difference in virus outbreaks is to use that information to develop effective vaccines.

After studying the genetic makeup of dozens of virus samples of nearly 90 people, the Northwestern researchers determined that there were three main types of the virus found locally.

Almost 60 percent of the samples studied were closely related to the virus that is prevalent in New York, which has been traced to Europe.

Reporter Brett Chase has the full story.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

8:13 a.m. A ‘last responder’s’ COVID-19 message: ‘If they won’t listen to a doctor, maybe they’ll listen to an undertaker’

In a normal month, Symonds’ Funeral Home in north suburban Highwood handles five to eight funerals.

As the COVID-19 pandemic peaked here in May, that number jumped to 44.

The vast majority of those were COVID cases, said Irving Symonds III, the second-generation funeral home operator who is only just now starting to see his workload ease slightly.

“It’s still busy. It’s not like what it was. We really got slammed,” said Symonds, who spent much of May with families lined up outside his office door seeking to make arrangements while he got only three hours sleep per night trying to keep up with the work.

As Illinois continues with its reopening process and life returns to some semblance of normal, it would be a tragedy if people failed to keep in mind that what we’ve been dealing with is real — and continues to be real.

And I can’t think of any place better to bring home that point than a funeral home, where death gets about as real as real can get.

“We’re the last responders,” said Symonds, drawing on a reference to his profession that has been popularized during this pandemic.

Read the full commentary from columnist Mark Brown on a local funeral home operator at the front lines of COVID-19.

Published at Fri, 19 Jun 2020 13:34:49 +0000

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