Illinois health officials Thursday announced 1,953 new known cases of COVID-19 and 28 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 255,643 and the statewide death toll to 8,242 since the start of the pandemic.

Also Thursday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined local officials in Rockford to announce a nearly $17 million effort to connect roughly 1,300 people who are unemployed amid the coronavirus pandemic with training and jobs, including temporary jobs assisting with the response to COVID-19.

Two federal grants totaling $16.6 million will be distributed to a dozen local workforce agencies across the state to help train and employ out-of-work residents for jobs such as contact tracing, building sanitation, temperature screening, and food preparation and distribution. Priority will be given to applicants who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

The city-county public health department said there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison.

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

1:44 p.m.: Marriage and dating 6 months into a pandemic: more pressure, less sex

Divorce is hard. Add a global pandemic and it may cause you to rethink some things. That was the reality for three couples whom attorney Susan Myres counseled on divorce. At the beginning of the pandemic, they all decided to step back and reconsider going through with separating in the midst of a global crisis.

“I think COVID, for people with a kindness and generosity in their heart, made them kind of sit up straight and think about, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’,” said Myres, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which is based in Chicago.

About six months into COVID-19, many people are working from home, meaning they may be spending a lot more time with their significant others. But regardless of if you’re just dating or thinking of starting a family, many relationships are under significant stress.

1:33 p.m.: Coronavirus vaccine trial stopped after woman develops severe neurological symptoms

A woman who received an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed severe neurological symptoms that prompted a pause in testing, a spokesman for drugmaker AstraZeneca said Thursday.

The study participant in late-stage testing reported symptoms consistent with transverse myelitis, a rare inflammation of the spinal cord, said company spokesman Matthew Kent.

“We don’t know if it is (transverse myelitis),” Kent said. “More tests are being done now as part of the follow-up.”

2:35 p.m.: GOP’s slimmed-down coronavirus aid bill scuttled by Senate Democrats

Senate Democrats scuttled a scaled-back GOP coronavirus rescue package on Thursday, saying the measure shortchanged too many pressing needs as the pandemic continues its assault on the country.

The mostly party-line vote capped weeks of wrangling over a fifth relief bill that all sides say they want but are unable to deliver. The bipartisan spirit that powered earlier aid measures has given way to election-season political combat and name-calling. The 52-47 vote fell well short of what was needed to overcome a filibuster and seems likely to end hopes for coronavirus relief before the November election.

12:20 p.m.: Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces funding to connect 1,300 unemployed residents with training and jobs, some in coronavirus response

Gov. J.B. Pritzker joined local officials in Rockford on Thursday to announce a nearly $17 million effort to connect roughly 1,300 people who are unemployed amid the coronavirus pandemic with training and jobs, including temporary jobs assisting with the response to COVID-19.

Two federal grants totaling $16.6 million will be distributed to a dozen local workforce agencies across the state to help train and employ out-of-work residents for jobs such as contact tracing, building sanitation, temperature screening, and food preparation and distribution. Priority will be given to applicants who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

12:05 p.m.: 1,953 new known COVID-19 cases and 28 more deaths reported

Illinois health officials Thursday announced 1,953 new known cases of COVID-19 and 28 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 255,643 and the statewide death toll to 8,242 since the start of the pandemic.

11:47 a.m.: As homes become offices, gyms and more, COVID-19 has upended how we think our living spaces should work

Your home is working overtime during the pandemic. For many, what was once just a dwelling has become classroom, office, restaurant, gym, movie theater and more. COVID-19 has not only kept most of us confined to our quarters for the past six months — it has also altered the very definition of home.

As homebuyers increasingly seek out pandemic-friendly features like home offices and expansive outdoor space, Chicago-area real estate developers, designers and agents are helping them find the features they need to live in this new normal.

9:39 a.m.: Trump’s own words in Bob Woodward book refocus attention on his handling of the coronavirus

Try as he might to change the subject, President Donald Trump can’t escape the coronavirus.

In April, the president tried to shift the public’s focus to the economy. In July, to defending the country’s “heritage.” In September, to enforcing “law and order.” But all along the way, the death toll from the coronavirus continued to mount.

And now, Trump’s own words are redirecting attention to his handling of the pandemic when he can least afford it — less than two months before Election Day.

8:04 a.m.: From speedier Wi-Fi to new bikes: As the pandemic drags on, companies paying for work-from-home perks beyond the basics

Six months into the coronavirus pandemic and with no return to the office in sight, Chicago-area employers are realizing that working remotely through a global health crisis requires more than helping employees pay for a comfy office chair. They are investing in intangibles that can help with mental wellness, like exercise, online tutoring for kids, or sessions with a life coach.

Not every company is pouring money into their employees’ remote work setups. In the midst of an economic downturn and an ongoing unemployment crisis, the investments are a luxury not all can afford.

7:56 a.m.: US unemployment claims hold steady at 884,000

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits was unchanged last week at 884,000, a sign that layoffs are stuck at a historically high level six months after the viral pandemic flattened the economy.

In Illinois last week, 23,305 people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, down from 26,194 initial claims a week earlier.

7:47 a.m.: University of Wisconsin-Madison moves classes online, quarantines students in two dorms as coronavirus cases spike on campus

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is moving all classes online and quarantining students in two of its largest dorms as it deals with rising cases of COVID-19.

Colleges across the country have been grappling with outbreaks in recent weeks after choosing to return to in-person instruction, but system President Tommy Thompson insisted on opening campuses this fall despite the warning signs.

According to UW-Madison data, 1,044 students and 26 employees have tested positive for the virus since Aug. 6. The city-county public health department said there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison.

7 a.m.: State to announce new support for Illinois residents who have lost jobs because of COVID-19

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was scheduled to be in Rockford on Thursday to announce “investments to expand job opportunities” for people in Illinois who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus.

Pritzker was scheduled to make the announcement at a federal- and state-taxpayer funded center, The Workford Connection, which is one of 22 local state-chartered boards designed to connect people who are unemployed and those seeking workers and provide job training.

6 a.m.: 10 things science has learned about COVID-19 in less than a year

It’s been only nine months since the world learned of a new coronavirus that would trigger a pandemic declaration in March and ultimately disrupt billions of lives.

That’s little more than a blink of the eye when it comes to understanding a novel disease, and the advice from scientists and doctors is still evolving as they accumulate experience with COVID-19.

But there are a few things that science has learned — so far — about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the disease it causes, including the benefits of wearing a face mask and that sometimes 6 feet of social distance isn’t enough.

Here are five stories from Wednesday related to COVID-19.



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