How Chicago is honoring coronavirus victims (LIVE UPDATES)

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. The latest
Chicago joins President-elect Biden in national coronavirus memorial ahead of inauguration

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Mayor Lori Lightfoot (left) and first lady Amy Eshleman hold candles while looking out toward a darkened Chicago skyline during a national COVID-19 memorial, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.

Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost.
His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling.
“To heal we must remember,” the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic’s victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool.
“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness … and remember all who we lost,” Biden said.
Chicago joined the nation’s capital in remembering the victims of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some buildings across the city arranged their window lights to look like candles.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and first lady Amy Eshleman stood in Millennium Park and looked over a darkened downtown skyline to honor the memory of victims of the pandemic.
See more photos of Chicago honoring COVID-19 victims here.

11:42 a.m. Older adults resilient in the face of COVID-19 pandemic despite isolation, study finds

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began engulfing everyone’s lives, older people generally have been viewed as among those at higher risk in a coronavirus-saturated, increasingly isolated world.
But that’s just physical health, When it comes to mental and emotional health, older adults in the United States are showing resilience and are persevering despite struggles with loneliness and isolation, according to the latest results of an ongoing study.
The newest data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, conducted by the social research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, is part of a longer-term study designed to track the physical and emotional well-being of older Americans over time.
Only 9% of older adults reported having “fair or poor overall mental health” during the pandemic — similar to their previous answers and an indication of what the study calls “some signs of resilience.”
Still, the study found that general happiness has declined. About half as many older adults now report they are very happy or extremely happy, and an increasing number report occasional feelings of depression or isolation.
Read Paul Saltzman’s full story here.
9:20 a.m. Biden challenges all Americans to wear masks for his first 100 days

In his first official acts as president, Joe Biden is signing executives orders on a broad range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and immigration, to fulfill campaign promises.
Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
He is challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration. That’s a critical period, since communities will still be vulnerable to the virus even as the pace of vaccination increases in pursuit of Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.
Read more highlights of the actions Biden plans to take.
7:59 a.m. Field Museum to reopen this week, offer two free days next week
After two lonely months, the dinosaurs of the Field Museum will be welcoming guests back into their habitat this week.
The museum Tuesday announced the end of its latest COVID-19 closure, beginning with members-only days on Thursday and Friday. The general public will be admitted starting Saturday.
Entry is free for Illinois residents on Monday, Jan. 25, and Thursday, Jan. 28.
The precautions enforced during the museum’s summer and fall opening — mandatory masks, reduced capacity and social distancing — again will be in effect.
Read more about the reopening from Darel Jevens.

New cases

The virus is still claiming lives at a rapid clip, with 33 more deaths announced statewide Tuesday, including 21 Chicago area residents. About 79 Illinoisans have died of COVID-19 each day over the last week, though that’s down from an average of about 131 daily fatalities this time last month.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 4,318 new infections were detected among the latest batch of 71,533 tests on Tuesday. That puts the seven-day average statewide positivity rate at 5.7%, its lowest point in nearly three months.
Hospital numbers are back down to October levels, too, with 3,335 COVID-19 patients hospitalized statewide as of Monday night.

Analysis & commentary
6:33 a.m. Biden’s inaugural address: Unity call depends on beating the COVID pandemic
The presidential inauguration speech Joe Biden delivers Wednesday will be “built around the theme of unity,” his team said. Whether Biden can bridge our deep divides and rebuild trust in government — the key to unity — depends entirely on Biden’s success in rescuing the nation from the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Biden has been saying, the coronavirus crisis will get worse before it gets better.
Biden becomes the 46th president — and Kamala Harris becomes the first vice president who is female, Black and of Asian descent — with the nation in turmoil as the pandemic has claimed the lives of 400,000 in the U.S.
On Tuesday night, as the sun was setting over fortress Washington, with the city in lockdown two weeks after a mob of pro-Trump supporters attacked Congress, Biden and Harris paid tribute to the COVID dead at the Lincoln Memorial.
The reflecting pool was lined with 400 columns of amber lights as Biden spoke about healing the nation.
“To heal, we must remember,” said Biden. It is “important to do that as a nation.”
“Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights in the darkness along this sacred pool of reflection and remember all who we have lost,” Biden said. He turned to the lights, planted like tombstones, as gospel singer Yolanda Adams sang “Hallelujah.”
No matter your politics, your views of soon to be ex-President Donald Trump, the mainstream media, this columnist, masks and social distancing — can we agree — it is better for everyone to get past this pandemic nightmare.
Keep reading Lynn Sweet’s column here.

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