Home Latest News Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Friday - Chicago Tribune

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Friday – Chicago Tribune


Officials on Friday reported 3,137 new known cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total since the outbreak began, as well as an additional 105 deaths. That brings the statewide total to 56,055 known cases, as well as a death toll totaling 2,457.

The numbers came as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s modified stay-at-home order took effect today, but the Democratic governor is facing multiple legal challenges to the cornerstone of his coronavirus response and political pressure from Republicans in more conservative corners of the state to reopen the economy more quickly.

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

4:40 p.m.: Indiana officials refuse to say which nursing homes COVID-19 residents, leaving some families scrambling for answers

Since COVID-19 shut down visiting at nursing homes, many families have been scrambling for information, which can be easily missed from facilities, or left to look on social media for answers as Indiana declines to publicly name where residents and staff are getting sick.

Michelle Wilcox, of Portage, said she received word that her father, who lives in Dyer Nursing and Rehabilitation in Dyer, tested positive for COVID-19 after first testing negative when he’d gotten sick in March. The nursing home didn’t tell her, though; the news came from her brother, she said. And the only reason her dad knew that he was sick, she said, was because another COVID-19 patient was moved into his room.

After posting her concerns in a social media group devoted to COVID-19 support, two different employees reached out to her privately with news that shook her. One of the messages, of which Wilcox provided to the Post-Tribune, said Dyer had 19 positive COVID-19 patients on its nursing side, and the person who sent the message was about to return to work after being down with the virus.

The second message warned Wilcox to check on her dad every day, which she has. She said he’s doing better and that the home has since contacted her stepmom, but she remains concerned.

“We weren’t able to get any answers from the nursing home, and if the whole place is infected, I want him out of there,” Wilcox said. “My dad has health issues, and we’re upset because we weren’t being told anything.”

Indiana is alone in surrounding states with its refusal as Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio are publicly disclosing per facility COVID-19 cases and deaths. Read more here.—Meredith Colias-Pete and Michelle L. Quinn

4 p.m.: McCormick Place medical facility to wind down, as COVID-19 growth slows

State and city officials are winding down the alternate care facility they set up at McCormick Place, saying the extra space to treat patients is not needed now that the growth of COVID-19 is slowing in Illinois.

McCormick will no longer accept new patients, and after the last of the current patients leaves, officials will take down half of its existing 1,000 beds — those meant for people who are mildly ill. Dr. Nick Turkal, executive director of the McCormick Place alternate care site, declined to say how many patients were at McCormick on Friday.

Officials plan to keep the other 500 beds standing for the time being, though without staff, Turkal said. Those beds were to accommodate sicker patients. Read more here.—Lisa Schencker

3:46 p.m.: Remembering the lives of those in Illinois who died from coronavirus

They were mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. Many were proud grandparents. Two were sisters from a tight-knit South Side family. All were loved, relatives say, and will be forever missed.

As the number of deaths attributable to COVID-19 ticks upward, the Tribune is working to chronicle those who have lost their lives in the Chicago area or who have connections to our region. These are some of those victims.

On Friday, we posted new profiles of Ronald Newman, 59, of Chicago; Oluwayemisi “Yemi” Ogunnubi, 59, of Chicago; and Carol DeWitt, 60, of Chicago.

To read the full details on those we wrote about Friday and the dozens of others we’ve memorialized, go here. —Chicago Tribune staff

3:27 p.m.: He knew what he signed up for, Grubhub says about Chicago Pizza Boss’ viral receipt

A few days ago, Giuseppe Badalamenti, the owner of Chicago Pizza Boss, posted about his receipt from Grubhub on Facebook. In a photo included with the post you can see that he received $1,042.63 in orders from the online ordering and delivery company, but after all the fees were applied, he only made $376.54.

His post quickly went viral, racking up hundreds of comments and 2,500 shares.

After the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of dining rooms across the country, many people criticized Grubhub for announcing a promotion that was pitched to help restaurants, yet forced any participating restaurant to eat the costs. But in an official statement, Grubhub claims that the restaurateur knew exactly what he had signed up for. Read more here.—Nick Kindelsperger

3:02 p.m.: With fewer people on the roads, crashes are down — but some drivers see lack of traffic as excuse to speed

Total car crashes have dropped as more people are staying off the roads during the coronavirus pandemic, but state and local officials say some drivers are using the wide-open spaces as an excuse to speed.

In Illinois, crash rates dropped by more than half statewide April 1 through April 26 compared with the same period last year — to 1,608 statewide and to 688 on Cook County non-Tollway roads, according to the Illinois State Police.

This can be explained by fewer cars on the road, with schools and businesses closed. A national study conducted by INRIX, a provider of travel time information for travelers and shipping companies, found that vehicle miles traveled in Illinois dropped as much as 52% because of the pandemic, with lower travel times on ordinarily jammed expressways like the Eisenhower and Kennedy.

But Chicago has also seen a 14% increase in speeding tickets generated by automated cameras, while Illinois State Police figures show a modest increase in the rate of personal injury crashes in Cook County, which could indicate more reckless driving.

Crashes that involved personal injuries accounted for almost 18% of all Cook County crashes in April 2020, up from just under 11% in the same month a year earlier.

While state police Sgt. Jacqueline Cepeda could not say for sure that the increased rate of injury crashes in Cook County was linked to speeding, she said that when there is less traffic, there is a “temptation” to step on the gas. Read more here.—Mary Wisniewski

2:50 p.m.: Officials report the highest daily total of new known COVID-19 cases since the outbreak began

Officials on Friday reported 3,137 new known cases of COVID-19, the highest daily total since the outbreak began, as well as an additional 105 deaths. That brings the statewide total to 56,055 known cases, as well as a death toll totaling 2,457.

2:43 p.m.: Artisans hit hard as festivals are canceled because of the coronavirus. ‘It’s not how I envisioned the year.’

The colorful T-shirts Kathy Kelly designs, each of which bears a comical black cat, have become a popular item at the Midwest art festivals where she sets up shop.

But Kelly, from Jefferson Park, said she couldn’t find the color she needed for one of this year’s shirts, holding up the project. Kelly designs four new shirts each year.

In hindsight, the delay turned out to be a blessing, because the COVID-19 health crisis forced organizers to scrap art festivals and street fairs scheduled to take place in the Chicago area in May, June and beyond. But even though she saved money by not creating new shirts, Kelly said she’s anxious about what those cancellations will mean for her income. Kelly teaches high school art at Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Skokie, but makes about 70% of her income selling her work at art festivals.

“Nothing compares to this. We’ve never gone through anything like this,” said Kelly, who has been selling T-shirts, calendars and note cards for 30 years.

For many artisans, their main source of income is selling products at art festivals. Spring and summer festivals filled with vendors selling photographs, jewelry, pottery, clothing, and more attract thousands of visitors during the sunny weather. Several Chicago events were canceled this year including the Old Town Art Fair, Logan Square Arts Festival, the 57th Street Art Fair and Maifest.

Those canceled shows mean lost revenue that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars for some artisans, many of whom don’t have a large financial cushion. Read more here.–Abdel Jimenez

2:14 p.m.: R Kelly once again seeks to exit Chicago’s federal jail over COVID-19 threat

Will the third time be the charm for R. Kelly?

The indicted singer on Friday once again asked to be released on bond from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, citing a new medical report that his lawyers say shows Kelly is borderline diabetic and has high blood pressure and cholesterol, putting him at serious risk for COVID-19.

Kelly’s lawyer Steve Greenberg wrote in a letter to U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly in New York that MCC officials withheld Kelly’s medical report from them for nearly a month as the coronavirus was spreading in the high-rise jail.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, there had been 74 confirmed cases of the virus among the 650 inmates at the MCC as of Thursday — a dramatic spike from just a few days ago.

Donnelly has twice before denied Kelly’s request for bond, agreeing with prosecutors that he is a significant flight risk and would have the potential to tamper with witnesses if he was released. At the time of her most recent decision, the MCC had seen only a handful of COVID-19 cases. Read more here.—Jason Meisner

1:07 p.m.: Buy a book, make a donation: Longtime indie bookstores struggle to shore up business during pandemic

Sara Paretsky launched the 20th V.I. Warshawski detective novel the same way she did the first book in the series: at an event with Women & Children First. This time, however, she wasn’t surrounded by adoring readers in a cozy nook of the Andersonville bookstore. Instead, she sat alone in front of her computer, peering into a camera.

“Hello? Are we here? Is anybody here? Is it just me?” Paretsky asked.As the author gave her Facebook Live audiencefive minutes to settle in, she used her iPhone to play a musical fanfare befitting a pause in BBC programming and then proceeded to deliver 45 minutes of lively conversation about writing, Warshawski and the latest book, “Dead Land.” Read more here.—Jennifer Day

12:50 p.m.: Bobbleheads of Lightfoot, Pritzker coming soon as coronavirus collectibles

Depending on how you look at a bobblehead, it can be nodding “yes,” like a governor asked if he wants more PPE, or shaking “no,” like a mayor urging people to stay off her city’s lakefront. The images come to mind because Illinois’ most prominent officials in the effort to combat the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, are being memorialized in the mysteriously enduring kitsch format of plastic doll bearing an oversized, spring-mounted noggin.

The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum of Milwaukee announced Friday it is commemorating the two leaders from the state to its immediate south, with a portion of the proceeds going to fight COVID-19 charities. The $25 Lightfoot and Pritzker dolls (plus $8 shipping) can be ordered now for an expected mid-July arrival.

“I think it’s something to take your mind off all the other craziness going on,” said Phil Sklar, co-founder and CEO of the 4,000-square-foot business in the Walker’s Point neighborhood. “We see these people daily during the news and press briefings, and a lot of people have really been drawn to them in one way or another.” Read more here. —Steve Johnson

12:33 p.m.: After rural church files federal lawsuit, ‘free exercise of religion’ is a permitted essential activity under Pritzker’s modified stay-at-home order

On the same day a northwest Illinois church filed a federal lawsuit accusing Gov. J.B. Pritzker of religious discrimination, the governor’s office released a modified stay-at-home order that expressly allows Illinois residents to leave their homes “to engage in the free exercise of religion.”

According to the executive order signed Thursday, religious practice is now considered a permitted essential activity “provided that such exercise must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and the limit on gatherings of more than ten people in keeping with CDC guidelines for the protection of public health.”

The governor’s order encourages religious communities to worship via online or drive-in services in order to follow these rules.

“The goal of the new stay at home order is to continue protecting the health and safety of all Illinoisans, while working with medical experts to ensure people throughout the State can continue to participate in worship services,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement Friday.

The governor’s initial order, which took effect March 21, did not list religious services as an essential activity. Read more here. —Antonia Ayres-Brown and Dan Petrella

12:23 p.m.: Chicago’s pothole artist blesses the city with coronavirus mosaics in Uptown

Chicago’s pothole artist has struck again, this time embedding an Uptown street with tile mosaics inspired by the coronavirus pandemic. You can look for them on Gunnison Street, if you live in the neighborhood, just west of Broadway: a roll of toilet paper, a bottle of Purell and a can of Old Style, each with a halo. Plus a red star from the Chicago flag. Street artist Jim Bachor, known for works that have filled Chicago’s cratered pavements with everything from pictures of cats to “LIAR” spelled out in tile and concrete on Wabash outside of Trump Tower, said he wanted to do something in response to the pandemic.

“This is a really weird time,” he said. “Of course, potholes are universally hated, and with the coronavirus affecting everyone, I thought, what can everyone relate to?”

Toilet paper seemed a natural choice. This is not necessarily a time to be funny, he said, “but there is some humor there, this human nature of hoarding. Toilet paper? It’s like, ‘what?’ It’s not like the virus attacks your digestive system. Then there’s our alcohol consumption — and Old Style is Chicago’s beer.”

Bachor said he does have a couple more coronavirus mosaics in mind. He’s thinking just commands, in black and white: “WASH YOUR HANDS” and “GO HOME.” Read more here. —Doug George

12:10 p.m.: Illinois spent more than $200 million battling coronavirus: What is the money for?

As if this week, the state has spent more than $200 million battling COVID-19, not including compensation for state workers. The money goes for gloves, masks, ventilators, testing supplies or materials to help set up field hospitals at McCormick Place and across the state. The state is also issuing emergency grants to bars, restaurants and hotels, businesses hard hit.

The state Comptroller’s office is tracking the spending. The Tribune took that data and created a tool where you can search for different expenses.

Data from late March and early April showed most spending on PPE, personal protective equipment like gloves and masks, while spending in late April was more focused on materials for coronavirus tests. Read more here.—Jonathon Berlin

12:05 p.m.: Protesters demanding Gov. Pritzker end stay-at-home order gather outside Thompson Center

A group of protesters who want Gov. J.B. Pritzker to announce a plan to reopen Illinois and end his stay-at-home order gathered Friday outside the Thompson Center in the Loop.

The midday Friday demonstration is the latest in a series of protests around the country against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. It follows a Sunday event during which a small group of protesters demonstrated outside the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield and coincided with another demonstration planned in Springfield.

Several dozen people gathered in the plaza in front of the Thompson Center, demanding that the governor reopen the state as a counter-protest by vehicle rolled down Randolph Street.With signs like, “The Cure is worst than the disease,” the protesters waved American flags.

Lines of cars of counter protesters beeped their horns loudly, with signs on their cars proclaiming: “Trump/Pence: Greatest threat to humanity.” Read more here.—Madeline Buckley

11:21 a.m.: Suspension of civil and criminal court operations in Cook County extended to May 31

An order to suspend most civil and criminal court operations in Cook County has been extended to May 31, according to a statement from Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

Court activity has been significantly curtailed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as a way to prevent the spread of the virus.Some emergency matters, including orders of protection, will continue to be heard in person. For example, petitioners appearing in domestic violence court appear via videoconference from a room inside courthouse.

The court has also moved to videoconferencing for other hearings, including bail and bail review.—Annie Sweeney

10:55 a.m.: State bar exam postponed until September

The Illinois Supreme Court is postponing the state’s bar exam until September because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release.

The exam, which new graduates must pass in order to begin practicing law in Illinois, was originally scheduled to take place in late July. It will now be administered on Sept. 9 and 10, according to the release.

“This decision was made after careful consideration of the health and safety issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic, ” Chief Justice Anne M. Burke said. “The Court would like to thank the Board, the law school deans and other stakeholders for their helpful input.” Read more here.—Elyssa Cherney

10:17 a.m.: ‘We can have conversations like everything is normal.’ At a social distance, students gather in Lane Tech parking lot and talk about the school year they missed

Aiden Cloud is happy to be back at school.

In these times, that means sitting in the trunk of his car, in the parking lot of Lane Tech College Prep, socially distanced from classmates in their own cars.

“It’s a great way to escape for a little bit,” said Cloud, an 18-year-old senior at the North Side school. “We can have conversations like everything is normal.”

Sometimes they bring take-out from nearby favorites, like Pi-Hi, other times they just sit and talk for three or four hours. About missed goodbyes, idled prom dresses, canceled sports, delayed tests, and even more stress about getting into college — whatever that will look like. Read more here. —Sophie Sherry

10:15 a.m.: Chicago announces mask giveaways, local modifications to state’s revised state-home order: No golfing in city parks

The city on Friday announced local modifications to the state’s stay-at-home order to “ensure Chicago continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve.”

Local municipalities are “permitted to enact stricter provisions” than those in the order, the city said in a release.

The Lakefront Trail and adjacent parks will remain closed through May, and fishing and boating will also be prohibited, although people can access their boats for maintenance and de-winterization, the release said.

Even though golfing was permitted under certain circumstances under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s modified order, it is not yet allowed in the city, “recognizing that Chicago still has further to go to bring down the curve,” the release said.

Animal grooming services, greenhouses, garden centers and nurseries are now also allowed to open in the city beginning Friday. Retail stores in Chicago that are not designated as essential may re-open for online or phone orders for delivery or curbside pickup.

Businesses are required to supply face coverings, gloves and other protective equipment for employees.

As throughout the state, city residents over 2 are required to wear face coverings in public places when they cannot social distance. The city is distributing 250,000 reusable cloth masks to Aldermanic offices and another 750,000 masks will be distributed to vulnerable populations through the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team. —Madeline Buckley

9:57 a.m.: Survey says: Illinois residents give Pritzker thumbs-up, Trump thumbs-down in the middle on handling of coronavirus crisis

Illinois’ slice of a new national poll shows Gov. J.B. Pritzker is getting good marks and President Donald Trump middling reviews for their handling of the coronavirus. The state’s residents also already are down with wearing face masks out in public, a requirement in Illinois as of today. Read more here. —Rick Pearson

9:23 a.m.: Amid stay-at-home order, summer camps face uncertainty

Come each June, children would flock to Meredith Rogowski’s arts and crafts camp to make creative projects with colorful balls of yarn, paint, fabric and other materials.

But when Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended the state’s stay-at-home order through most of May, Rogowski reluctantly came to the conclusion to cancel the camp this year, a financial and emotional blow for her, the campers and the employees.

Camp DIY, which Rogowski directs with a partner, was sold out at both its Evanston and Wilmette locations with more than 300 enrolled. But the start date is too close to the earliest possible end of the stay-at-home order, she said.

Chicago-area summer camps are trying to decide what to do as the state remains shut down at least through May 30. It is putting them in a tough financial position as they figure out whether they can refund families, and survive beyond this year. Read more here. —Madeline Buckley

7:30 a.m.: Mask on one of Art Institute lions cut off, stolen early Friday

An Art Institute of Chicago security guard saw two men early Friday cut off and steal a Chicago flag mask on one of the museum’s lion statues that was installed Thursday, according to police.

The security guard saw the two males, whose ages weren’t specified by police, get out of a black Chevrolet sedan just before 12:25 a.m. outside the Art Institute, 111 S. Michigan Ave., according to a police media notification.

The two climbed one of the lion statues and cut off and took the lion’s mask.The two men then fled in the car, according to police.

No one was in custody and police were releasing no further details. Read more here.—Liam Ford

A Chicago flag mask on one of the lions at the Art Institute on Thursday, April 30, 2020.

A Chicago flag mask on one of the lions at the Art Institute on Thursday, April 30, 2020.(Jos M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

6:20 a.m.: In neighborhoods where it fights violence, GoodKids MadCity raises money for those struggling during pandemic

At 19, Alycia Kamil is a leader of GoodKids MadCity, a group of young people dedicated to fighting violence where they live in Chicago.

It’s only natural, she believes, that they also help their neighborhoods deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

“We already see ourselves left out of a lot of help that’s going around,” Kamil said. “We always say that if nobody is going to do it for us, (then) we have to do it for us.”

Every Friday, the group puts $50 into the hands of nearly two dozen young people of color. So far, the group has reached 100 people between the ages of 18 and 24. Read more here. —Sophie Sherry

5 a.m.: Pritzker says coronavirus contact tracing is a key to reopening Illinois. Public health leaders concede the system isn’t ready yet.

One of the key conditions Gov. J.B. Pritzker says must be met before Illinois can lift its stay-at-home order is a comprehensive way to track, warn and quarantine everyone who has had significant contact with newly diagnosed COVID-19 patients.

“That is something that we’re working very hard to spin up, to get going in a large way,” the governor said this week. “I’m pushing hard on the team — they know it — for us to get that going because … that allows us to open up the economy even more.”

But state, Chicago and Cook County public health leaders concede they’re not yet ready to fully roll out a coronavirus contact tracing system. The big problems to solve? Finding enough workers and putting technology in place. Read more here. —Hal Dardick and Dan Petrella

5 a.m.: Mask sewing project among Chicago refugee groups leads to new career goal: ‘This is my job’

From her dining room table in the city’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, Sandra Muyumba some nights doesn’t even want to sleep because of how focused she’s become on making face masks.

Just weeks ago, Muyumba, 48, had never made a face mask but now she’s gotten the technique down to 20 minutes, five minutes for cutting and the rest spent sewing. Her husband helps her iron the masks. Muyumba, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who spent time in Namibia, is part of the Sewing Studio group. put together by RefugeeOne, which has made 1,000 masks to be donated to various community groups.

“I’m starting a bit late, not early in the morning because I need to do the house chores,” Muyumba said by phone about her routine. “I cook then I cannot stand up to do anything. I have to sit and do my work.”

RefugeeOne, a resettlement agency based in Chicago, got a grant from a local church to undertake the project, said Jims Porter, a spokesman for the organization. They’ve delivered masks to groups such as Selfhelp Home and other local organizations, Porter said. Annie Kaufman, manager of the Sewing Studio, said they expect to finish the project by this week, although the studio is also working on other projects related to masks. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón

12:01 a.m.: Ravinia cancels entire 2020 season

For the first time since 1935, the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park will fall silent.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer’s festival has been canceled.

“There’s not going to be any Ravinia 2020,” said Ravinia President and CEO Welz Kauffman in an interview Thursday afternoon.

“No festival, no Ravinia Steans Music Institute, no events of any sort. The safety and health piece — it just really comes down to that.

“To try to figure that out and make it work, without risk? There’s always risk, but all the various pieces of this — it just doesn’t work. And it’s heartbreaking.” Read more here. —Howard Reich

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