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Illinois coronavirus cases at 112,017; 4,884 COVID-19 deaths; latest Chicago area updates

CHICAGO (WLS) — As the number of novel coronavirus cases increases across the U.S. and around the world, the number of confirmed Illinois cases has reached 112,017, with a total of 4,884 deaths.

We’ll update this page with the latest local information to keep you and your family safe. You can find all of ABC7’s latest reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak here.

ZIP CODE MAP: Where is coronavirus in Illinois?
REMEMBERING VICTIMS: Coronavirus deaths in Illinois by county
SEE LOCATIONS: Coronavirus testing in the Chicago area


May 25, 2020

More than 1.7K new COVID-19 cases, 31 deaths announced in Illinois
Public health officials announced 1,713 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 additional deaths, for a total of 112,0017 cases including 4,884 deaths in 100 counties in Illinois. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 21,643 specimens for a total of 769,564. The statewide rolling positivity rate for May 16-May 22 is 12%.

Illinois grants to help expand broadband, digital access
A new state grant program will provide communities with money and expertise to expand broadband capacity and improve digital access as more people work, shop and go to school online during the coronavirus pandemic. The $150,000 Illinois Connected Communities grant program will provide grants of up to $15,000, on a competitive basis. Erin Guthrie is director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Guthrie says “there’s never been a more important time to improve digital access in our state.”

Memorial Day events go virtual amid pandemic
Parades and ceremonies across the Chicago area have been forced to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Arlington Heights, a small groups of cars drove past Memorial Park paying their respects. While the parade is canceled, the ceremony is still happening, only it’s virtual, recorded on video for those who want to watch on YouTube to pay tribute to service men and women.

Elmhurst observed Memorial Day with a convoy instead of the usual parade.

The annual WOOGMS Parade on the North Side is also going virtual, with appearances from Governor JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and more.

May 24, 2020

Chicago churches fined last week hold services again

As debate continues across the country over when to reopen churches, several in Chicago held services Sunday.

Elim Romaninan and Metro Praise International churches, which both have been fined by Chicago police for violating the stay-at-home order last week, held services again.

The pastor at Metro Praise International told ABC7 that they are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millionaire businessman and ex-mayoral candidate Willie Willson said he’s covering the fines for those churches.

Gov. Pritzker releases business reopening guidelines

Gov. JB Pritzker on Sunday released guidelines for businesses and workplaces to safely reopen during Phase Three of Illinois’ reopening plan.

Gov. Pritzker broke down guidelines by specific industries such as restaurants, retail and health and fitness centers.

In addition to industry-specific guidelines, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Public Health developed a common set of standards all businesses must follow. Those standards include the required use of face coverings, social distancing and informational signage on site, among other preventative measures.

The guidelines can be found online on the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

Vitalant, Chicago police and fire stress need for COVID-19 plasma donors

The Chicago Medical Society and Vitalant are working together to recruit COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors. Vitalant has already processed dozens of donors, but continues to look for volunteers.

Illinois House passes $40 billion budget relying heavily on federal funding

The Illinois House passed a $40 billion state budget late Saturday that relies heavily on federal funding.

“This budget begins to address the financial upheaval we are facing, but more hard choices about how to spend and save these dollars wisely remain to be made,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement.

May 23, 2020

Illinois’ COVID-19 cases top 107K with over 4K deaths as Memorial Day weekend gets underway

lllinois health officials announced 75 additional deaths and 2,352 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. That brings the statewide total to 107,796, including 4,790 deaths.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 25,114 specimens for a total of 722,247. On Saturday, the state reported its seven-day rolling positivity rate at 13%.

May 22, 2020

Churches can hold services under new guidelines in Phase 3

President Donald Trump declared houses of worship essential on Friday and threatened to override governors if they aren’t allowed to reopen this weekend.

Less than two hours after President Trump’s statement, Gov. JB Pritzker said houses of worship in the state can hold outdoor and drive-in services when Phase 3 of the reopening begins on May 29.

“I know worship is as essential as food and water for most of us, and it’s my priority to provide guidance to ensure it can proceed safely,” Pritzker said.

As small business reopen they find shortage of workers

As small businesses struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, some are running into a new problem when they’re cleared to open their doors: they can’t find enough people to work.

Some employees have returned to previous health care professions, like nursing, and plan to stay in those jobs during the pandemic Others live with or are taking care of family that are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age, pre-existing medical conditions, or other reasons.

Some owners are also way of hiring too quickly, wanting to make sure their staff respects virus control measures like social distancing.

General Assembly approves vote-by-mail expansion for 2020 election

With concerns about in-person voting in the November election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to expand vote by mail this fall.

Anyone who has voted in the last two years or who registered to vote in 2020 will be sent an application for a vote-by-mail balllot. The bill now heads to Gov. Pritzker for his signature.

Justice Dept. supports downstate lawmaker’s lawsuit against Illinois stay-at-home order

The Department of Justice issued a statement of interest in support of a downstate lawmaker’s lawsuit against Governor J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order Friday afternoon.

In his lawsuit, state Representative Darren Bailey alleged that Pritzker’s actions were unlawful because the stay-at-home order extended beyond the 30-day time period imposed by the legislature.

City won’t enter Phase 3 of reopening until early June, Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is holding Chicago back from moving into the next phase of reopening along with the rest of the state next week.

Mayor Lightfoot said the city’s health metrics show Chicago is not ready to transition to Phase 3 of Gov. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan on May 29. However, she said the trends suggest Chicago will be ready to move to Phase 3 in early June.

May 21, 2020

Why the pandemic is deepening a racial divide in Chicago area communities

COVID-19 may be colorblind, but its impact is not. The virus is disproportionately killing more African Americans and Latinx. Inadequate medical care, access to testing and underlying health conditions are some of the explanations. Members of both communities say COVID should be a call to action to bridge the racial divide now.

Lightfoot says city restaurants won’t open outside seating on May 29

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she doesn’t think Chicago restaurants will be ready to reopen for outdoor dining by May 29, though she hopes to be able to take those steps sometime in June.

The mayor said she understands the plight of restaurateurs, and said the city is still making progress in this pandemic, but progress that has to remain at a slow pace in order to not slip backwards. She also warned that Chicagoans will still need to take precautions when the city reopens.

Some communities home to Chicago’s essential workers hit hard by COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, millions of essential workers continue to work outside their homes, putting them at a higher risk of exposure to the virus. Minorities make up a large percentage of these workers. Their communities are being hit hard by infections and deaths from the coronavirus.

Critical workers stock our grocery shelves, deliver our mail and take care of the elderly. In many cases essential workers live below the poverty line. COVID-19 has made their jobs more dangerous. Here in Chicago, many essential workers live in communities of color, some of which are coronavirus hot spots.

Thousands of citations issued to Chicago businesses for operating during stay-at-home order

The Restore Illinois plan is very specific about which businesses can be open, like grocery and hardware stores, and those that must stay closed. However, businesses of all kinds have continued to operate, leading to thousands of complaints.

There were 3,829 complaints filed since the stay at home order began in March, according to the Commissioner of Chicago’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Pritzker won’t be changing reopening regions, as restaurants and bars given go-ahead to open outdoor seating on May 29

Gov. Pritzker defended his decision to keep the suburbs lumped in with Chicago Thursday, saying he has no plans to change the four regions in his reopening plan.

He side-stepped a question about whether Chicago’s delayed reopening of outdoor dining supports the argument of some suburban mayors that they should be separate from Chicago in the reopening plan. The governor said all municipalities have discretion to impose tighter restrictions.

“We’ve tried to provide a baseline to protect people in various communities, in different cities and counties. They can do something that’s more stringent and decide not to allow certain activities because maybe they’re a hotspot,” Gov. Pritzker.

CVS to open 17 new COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites across Illinois

CVS announced that it is opening 17 new drive-thru testing sites in Illinois.

The testing sites will utilize self-swab tests. Patients must register in advance at starting on May 22 to make an appointment.

Patients will be directed to a drive-thru where they will be given a testing kit and instructions. Test results are expected within three days.

May 20, 2020

COVID-19 remote learning yields some nearly empty online classrooms

When the I-Team discovered that both Illinois and Chicago education officials were unable to provide any data showing whether students are actually logging in to online remote learning during the pandemic, they launched an investigation and found some nearly empty virtual classrooms.

North suburbs weigh risks of opening lakefront for Memorial Day weekend

Some north suburban municipalities are taking the long, harsh winter and difficult spring into consideration as they weigh whether to open the lakefront for Memorial Day weekend.

Officials with suburbs along the lakefront have been in constant contact with each other, as well as the county and state, heading into this weekend to find ways to strike a balance between letting residents enjoy the lake while being safe.

Free testing at Loreotto Hospital aims to help underserved West Side communities

Loretto Hospital continues to expand its offer of free, easy-access testing for COVID-19, helping underserved and disproportionately affected communities on the city’s West Side.

Located in the Austin neighborhood, Loretto has been walking drive thru and walk up testing since April.

Pritzker announces major changes to next phase of reopening

Gov. JB Pritzker announced several major changes to the next phase of his “Restore Illinois” plan Wednesday.

The governor is easing rules to allow for outdoor seating when the state is expected to move into Phase 3 on May 29. Tables will have to be kept six feet apart and away from sidewalks and staff will have to wear masks.

Pritzker also announced said all state parks will reopen on May 29 and outdoor activities with groups of up to 10 people can resume, including boating and camping. Illinois will also allow the reopening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, and golf courses will be able to accommodate foursomes at the same tee time.

More than 1.8 million Illinois residents will also soon be able to use their SNAP card to purchase groceries online.

Oprah donates $5M to Chicago COVID-19 fight in communities of color

Oprah Winfrey is donating $5 million to Chicago to help black and brown communities in the fight against COVID-19.

Oprah’s donation will support Live Healthy Chicago, an initiative that provides families in predominately African-American and Latinx communities.

“It is our essential work to give back. That’s essential work,” Oprah said.

Oprah is donating a total of $12 million to COVID-19 relief efforts across the country.

State lawmakers to meet for special session

The Illinois General Assembly will meet for a special session in Springfield.

Republican lawmakers are promising to challenge Governor JB Pritzker’s order allowing businesses that violate the stay-at-home order to be penalized.

Republicans and local officials have been calling for a faster reopening of the state. Governor Pritzker said all regions in the state are on track to move into Phase Three of his reopening plan.

May 19, 2020

Chicago running club has plan to reopen lakefront trails

The 11,000 members of the Chicago Area Runners Association are ready to help the city reopen the lakefront trails this summer.

“At no time have we felt that the mayor was wrong,” said Greg Hipp, executive director of CARA. “We just think it’s time for the mayor to help us move forward.”

Thousands of runners are urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to get the lakefront trails back open. CARA’s executive director said his organization is ready to help.

Small business owners in food industry plead for more time to use PPP loans

Payrol Protection Program loans must be used, primarily for payroll, within eight weeks in order to qualify for forgiveness from the federal government. But for owners of restaurants, cafes, bars and other food industry businesses that can’t yet reopen, that’s just not enough time.

“It’s going to be a hard road back for us, and everybody else. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Woodlawn or the Loop,” said the owner of Build Coffee in Woodlawn. “For any of u to have a chance of a comeback, we are going to need that support in two months.”

COVID-19 outbreaks at IL meat packing plants prompt some calls for shutdowns

Meat packing plants remain a hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks, in Illinois and nationwide, and some are now calling for them to be shut down.

“I have a long list of factory complaints, it’s not just Smithfield,” said State Rep. Karina Villa (D-IL 49). “Smithfield is the one that got the attention.”

Rockford mayor calls for June 1 reopening

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara is planning for restaurants and many other businesses to reopen on June 1.

“We will move to open in Rockford and Winnebago County on June 1,” Mayor McNamara said. “The three areas include restaurants, they include childcare facilities and youth programs and houses of worship.”

A group called Rebounding Working Groups is expected to make its final recommendations to the public on Tuesday, May 26.

Ditka’s Chicago restaurant to close permanently

Mike Ditka’s restaurant in Chicago will close permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ownership group said the restaurant had a short time left on its lease.

Locations in Oak Brook Terrace and in Pittsburgh and Grill 89 in Westmont will remain open.

May 18, 2020

Illinois to expand contact tracing program

Gov. JB Pritzker laid out details of a new contract tracing system to be launched with local health departments in the next few weeks.

“The first contact will be through a technological platform, such as text message or an email, which we hope most individuals will respond to,” said Dr. Wayne Duffus, of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. “And if this is ineffective at least three phone calls will be made, and only as a last resort. Will there be in-person visits.”

The state is launching pilot programs in Lake and St. Clair counties. Currently, only 29% of known cases are engaged in a tracing process. The goal is for that figure to be above 60%.

You can apply to be a contact tracer here.

Sean Penn, Mayor Lightfoot tour COVID-19 testing site
Actor Sean Penn joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot for a tour of a COVID-19 testing site in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood Monday morning.

The site is one of six that the city is setting up with the help of the nonprofit group CORE, which Penn co-founded.

World-famous chef Jose Andres was also on hand for the tour. Andres is providing meals for all of the employees working at the sites.

May 17, 2020

1st Ribfest to be held in Romeoville canceled amid COVID-19 health, safety concerns, Exchange Club of Naperville says
The Exchange Club of Naperville, organizers of the 33rd annual Ribfest, announced Sunday that the July festival would be canceled amid health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival had previously been held in Naperville but was scheduled to be in south suburban Romeoville July 2 through 5.

Illinois COVID-19 cases top 94K
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,734 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 51 additional deaths.

Businesses that defy stay-at-home order to face misdemeanor
Businesses that defy Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order could face a misdemeanor under emergency rules his administration has filed. The change took effect Friday when the rules were filed, but legislators on a bipartisan committee have the chance to review it on Wednesday. If they don’t reject it, it’ll remain in effect for 150 days. Class A misdemeanors are punished by a fine between $75 and $2,500. The Pritzker’s administration’s general counsel Ann Spillane likens it to a traffic ticket. However, some Republicans called it an overreach of Pritzker’s powers.

Adler Planetarium to lay off 120 due to revenue loss amid COVID-19 pandemic
Chicago’s lakefront planetarium will lay off 120 part-time and full-time employees because of revenue loss during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials with Adler Planetarium say they anticipate continued revenue declines and reductions were made across the organization.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Howell says employees are being laid off to help the planetarium survive and it is clear that the facility along Lake Michigan won’t reopen to visitors anytime soon with stay-at-home orders in place.

Adler just celebrated its 90th anniversary.

May 16, 2020

Illinois reports more than 2,000 additional cases, 74 deaths
Public health officials say more than than 2,000 additional cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Illinois and 74 more people have died. Statewide, 92,457 people have tested positive for the virus including the 2,008 new cases reported Saturday. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 4,129 people have died. A third resident of the Illinois Manteno Veterans’ Home is among those to die and 63 people have tested positive for the virus at the facility. Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that the state can expand testing to more people.

May 15, 2020

Wrigley Field organist serenades neighborhood missing baseball

Wrigleyville would normally be filled with the sounds and fans of baseball right now, but coronavirus and the stay-at-home order means there’s silence at Wrigley Field. Except, that is, for a short time and a nostalgic concert Friday evening.

A familiar sound drifted out of the Friendly Confines: a solo organist at the keyboard.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would like to see baseball played in some capacity this summer, but right now how and when that would happen is a matter of negotiations between the league and the players’ union.

McHenry allows outdoor tables in parking spots for families to eat carryout food

McHenry is allowing restaurants to set up outdoor tables in parking lots where patrons can eat their carryout meals.

The mayor signed an executive order that designates parking spaces in front of restaurants for outdoor seating. Tables are set up for families to eat while social distancing.

Democrats push #3 trillion coronavirus relief bill through House

Democrats powered a massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill through the House on Friday, an election-year measure designed to brace a U.S. economy in free fall and a health care system struggling to contain a pandemic still pummeling the country.

The 208-199 vote, over strong Republican opposition, advances what boils down to a campaign-season display of Democratic economic and health-care priorities.

Nearly half of Illinois COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities

New public health data obtained by the I-Team shows the residents of Illinois long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, are particularly vulnerable to the devastating impact of COVID-19.

Infections and deaths have jumped in the past week and there is also an increase in the number of counties and long-term care facilities impacted.

Lightfoot warns churches, worshippers who plan to defy stay-at-home order

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a warning for churches and worshippers who planned to defy state and local stay-at-home orders and open this weekend.

“This is not playing Russian roulette. This is playing with a gun that is fully loaded and cocked,” the mayor said.

The warning comes a day after millionaire businessman and former candidate for mayor, Willie Wilson, threw his support behind the effort to reopen churches.

GOP congressmen fire off angry letter over Pritzker funding comments

Illinois’ Republican congressmen fired off a letter to congressional leaders, writing, “We write to you with deep concern over the recent threats issued by Governor JB Pritzker to possibly withhold federal aid.”

The congressmen’s letter asks Congress for action.

“We urge you to act immediately to ensure no governor can withhold federal funds,” they write.
“I know they have the best interests of their constituents at heart, but in this case I think they are missing the point,” Pritzker said during is Friday afternoon update.

State still poised to move onto next phase of reopening as cases top 90K
Illinois as a whole is still poised to move onto the next phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan, even as the COVID-19 case count edged closer to 100,000, Governor JB Pritzker said Friday,.

The state reported 2,432 new cases and 130 more deaths Friday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced at Friday’s daily update. The total number of cases stands at 90,369 including 4,058 deaths.

May 14, 2020

12-year-old boy is Cook County’s youngest COVID-19 death

Ernesto Guzman, 12, died of COVID-19 complications on May 14, making him Cook County’s youngest victim of the pandemic so far. He spent the last days of his very young life struggling in a bed at Christ Hospital.

Neighbors remember Ernesto struggling to get from his family’s front porch to the school bus.

“He had a walker with him, but I could tell his balance was not fully there,” said Rolando Perez, a neighbor. “His strength, I believe, was limited.”

According to a GoFundMe page posted by his uncle, Ernesto suffered from a rare disease that damages nerves and weakens muscles. But it was complications of COVID-19 that killed him at just 12 years old.

Cardinal Blase Cupich plans gradual reopening for Chicago Roman Catholic churches

Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich’s plan to begin gradually reopening the archdiocese’s Roman Catholic churches is developed by coordinating with the governor’s office and public health officials.

On Thursday, Cardinal Cupich told ABC 7’s Alan Krashesky that Chicago Catholics should not expect church as usual.

The first phase of the cardinal’s plan begins next week, when parish volunteers will be trained to implement the gradual reopening in webinars. On May 23, churches that pass a readiness test would be allowed to open for funerals, weddings, baptisms and reconciliation, but only for groups of 10 people or less. On May 30, those churches could expand to include private prayer and adoration, also limited to 10 people groups.

Illinois on track to move to next phase of reopening

Illinois appears to be moving closer to the next phase in the plan to reopen, but the pressure continues to mount from counties that want to reopen now.

Gov. Pritzker defended his plan to reopen Illinois after residents and business owners in Will County filed a lawsuit demanding lost compensation.

Illinois launches new jobs website

The state announced Get Hired Illinois, a new job placement and training website with free online courses and certificate programs.

The governor said with so many people working from home, there’s a need for hiring in the IT industry, and some of the certificate programs offered on that portal can help people enter that field.

Illinois reports 3.2K new COVID-19 cases

Illinois’ confirmed coronavirus cases grew by more than 3,200 Thursday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 3,239 new COVID-19 cases and 138 additional deaths. There are now 87,937 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state, with a death toll of 3,928.

Within the past 24 hours, the state has conducted 22,678 coronavirus tests.

Willie Wilson supports churches reopening for in-person services

Millionaire businessman and ex-mayoral candidate Willie Wilson has announced his support for churches to resume in-person service this Sunday.

Wilson said churches plan to reopen Sunday despite the state’s stay-at-home order.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already threatened to take action and Governor JB Pritzker called the move “ridiculous.”

Chicago gives nearly 1K small businesses COVID-19 relief grants

Mayor Lightfoot and BACP announced Thursday that grants have been awarded to nearly 1,000 microbusinesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak through the $5 million Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program.

Through this program, 959 microbusinesses from across 36 low- and moderate-income community areas have received a grant of $5,000 just one week after applications closed for the program on Monday, May 4.

The 959 businesses awarded today are located throughout Chicago and represent all types of industries, from coffee shops and general retail to daycares and travel companies.

More than 90 percent of the awardees identify as having diverse ownership, including 55 percent women, 45 percent African American and 34 percent Latinx.

May 13, 2020

Chicago Archdiocese announces timeline for reopening churches
The Archdiocese of Chicago has announced a timeline for gradually reopening churches as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The timeline is limited to small gatherings like weddings, funerals and baptisms capped at 10 people, with private prayer and adoration with 10 or less people coming later.

The archdiocese said the second phase of their reopening plan would allow for the reopening of churches for masses for larger groups, but that phase of the plan has not been approved by state officials. There is no timeline set for reopening for mass, the Chicago Archdiocese said.

Historians: 1918 pandemic was fought using similar tactics, faced similar pressures as COVID-19
How did Chicago fight the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918? A lot like how we’re fighting COVID-19 now.

Closed businesses, masks, and stay-at-home orders were all part of the safety measures taken during the 1918 pandemic, and there was also a similar push to reopen economies.

Historians also say the influenza pandemic offers lessons for municipalities outside Cook County who are urging Governor JB Pritzker to open sooner; in 1918, cities who chose to keep their labor forces healthy recovered more quickly.

Calls intensify for more COVID-19 testing at nursing homes
A Chicago-area pastor is joining a chorus of calls for more COVID-19 testing focused on nursing home residents and staff.

Nearly half of statewide COVID-19 deaths are associated with nursing homes, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Shelter finds homes for pets whose owners died of COVID-19
In anticipation of the COVID-19 spread, Chicago Animal Care and Control prepared for a surge of coronavirus patients giving up pets that they couldn’t care for.

So far, Chicago Animal Care and Control have taken in six dogs and one cat. All but two are pets of people who have died from COVID-19.

The goal is to return the pets to their owners once they’re out of the hospital, and to find homes for the others. All of the pets have been tested for COVID-19.

Judge denies churches’ lawsuits against Pritzker, stay-at-home order
A judge has denied two Chicago area churches requests for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to allow them to open for services during the extended stay-at-home order.

In his decision, Judge Robert Gettleman called the lawsuit “ill-founded and selfish,” writing, “An injunction would risk the lives of the plaintiffs’ congregants, as well as the lives of their family members, friends, co-workers and other members of their community with whom they come in contact. Their interest in communal services cannot and does not outweighs the health and safety of the public.”

A different judge also rejected a lawsuit from a third church in Lena, Illinois, on the same public health grounds.

Mayor Lightfoot reveals what Chicago needs to do to enter next phase of reopening
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed new details Wednesday about what it will take for the city to enter its next reopening phase.

Mayor Lightfoot said the plan to reopen Chicago will be a slow and calculated process, one the city has specifically tailored to the needs of residents, with an initial focus on essential workers.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

The city is now preparing to reopen and expand business operations in Chicago, but with the caveat that the plan is dependent on residents complying with public health guidelines.

Special legislative session to convene in Springfield next week
After repeated calls to return to Springfield, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have called lawmakers back into session.

A special legislative session will convene next Wednesday through Friday. The House will meet at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center to allow for social distancing. The Senate will meet in the senate Chamber.

The governor said it will be critical for them to pass a COVID-19 relief package and a balanced budget. But he warned without federal help, there may be critical cuts to higher education and other basic services.

Illinois reports largest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths so far
Illinois has reported its largest jump in COVID-19 deaths in a single day so far, state health officials said Wednesday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 192 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 3,792. The number of COVID-19 cases grew by 1,677 to a total of 84,698 Wednesday.

The virus has spread to 99 Illinois counties, with Edwards County now reporting a case.

The state conducted 17,668 tests in the past 24 hours. In total, 489,359 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far.

Downstate county defies Gov. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order
Officials in Madison County, which borders St. Louis, have voted to defy Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

The county’s plan allows restaurants, bars, salons, daycares and gyms to open. Restaurants, retail shops and gyms can only hold 25% of their capacities. Salons will have to limit customers to appointment only.

So far Madison County reported 445 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths.

“What we’re really trying to do here is balance our public health with our economy and jobs and also our constitutional rights,” Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

Adams County in western Illinois looks poised to follow suit.

Elmhurst closes pools for summer, Aurora theatre, park to remain closed
Elmhurst will keep its pools closed for the summer season due to COVID-19. The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads in water, but officials are concerned about being able to social distance.

Meanwhile, Aurora has canceled events at the Paramount Theatre and River Edge Park. The mayor, who battled the coronavirus himself, says these were not easy decisions to make, but health experts made stern recommendations that need to be followed.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said the decisions were not easy decisions to make, but health experts made stern recommendations that need to be followed.Mayor Irvin himself battled COVID-19.

City receives donation of 1 million protective masks for frontline workers
University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs announced a donation Tuesday from a group of Chinese-American business leaders of one million protective masks for first responders and others on the frontlines in Chicago.

The University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs are working with city agencies and local nonprofits to distribute the protective masks to those most in need, including first responders across city agencies, essential staff at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) working to feed and support families during the temporary school closure, and non-profit organizations.

The effort to organize this donation was led by Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, and his wife Cherry Chen, in coordination with the Crime and Education Labs, which work with nonprofits and governments to use data science and social science to solve pressing crime and human capital challenges facing cities.

Pritzker’s stay-at-home-order faces new legal challenge
Republican State Representative John Cabello has filed a restraining order seeking to overturn Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. The filing is in addition to the lawsuit Cabello filed in April.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a motion asking that this restraining order request be moved to federal court, according to court records.

“Do we think everything needs to open? No. But we feel that the constitutionality of what he is doing with extending his order another 30 days or longer is the issue,” Cabello said.

May 12, 2020

DuPage County mayors anxious to reopen faster
Mayors in DuPage County are the latest to push back against the Restore Illinois plan, saying they should be allowed to reopen faster than state guidelines.

“Everybody would like to draw a different map,” Pritzker said during his Tuesday afternoon news conference and update. “We wish there was a national plan for reopening but there isn’t.”

Cook County Sheriff calls jail case ‘constitutional whack-a-mole’
The past week the number of infected detainees at Cook County Jail has dropped by nearly 100, according to Cook County Department of Corrections data.

That sharp, and welcome, decline comes as Sheriff Thomas Dart appealed a federal judge’s order requiring the jail step up social distancing, special detainee housing arrangements and coronavirus testing.

Dart maintains the civil rights attorneys and detainees who filed a lawsuit against him and the jail are playing “constitutional whack-a-mole” secretly aimed at achieving the wholesale release of jail prisoners.

Illinois reports record number of new COVID-19 cases as testing increases
As Illinois reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker continues to take heat over his plan to reopen the state’s economy.

Illinois health officials announced 4,014 new cases of COVID-19, including 144 additional deaths, on Tuesday. That brings the statewide total to 83,021, including 3,601 deaths.

Officials announced Illinois completed a new record amount of tests in the last 24 hours, with 29,266 tests completed, which coincided with the record single-day increase in new cases.

Blue Angels pay tribute to Chicago area healthcare workers
The US Navy Blue Angels flew over the Chicago area in order to salute healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 15 minute flyover began on the South Side and took the Blue Angels over the North and South sides of the city as well as the southern and western suburbs, finishing up along the lakefront before heading back out over Lake Michigan.

The Blue Angels flew over Detroit before coming to Chicago and were headed to Indianapolis afterward.

CFD holds graduation for 88 new first responders
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was on hand as 88 new first responders graduated from the Chicago Fire Department.

The ceremony was held at Navy Pier and recognized newly recruited firefighters who started classes in November of 2019.

The graduating class includes 16 military veterans, 14 former Chicago Police Officers and 26 former graduates of Chicago Public Schools.

“These men and women have answered the call to join the ranks of our beloved Department, to make sure we maintain the numbers needed to respond to any emergency in any neighborhood, be it manmade, natural or even this medical pandemic,” said Commissioner Richard Ford. “I would like to also thank their families for giving these candidates the support needed to make it into and through our training academy to now serve as the newest Chicago Firefighters.”

May 11, 2020

Arlington Heights COVID-19 survivor says plasma donation saved life
Eric Heumann spent 34 days in the hospital battling COVID-19, 17 of them on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. He also had pneumonia in both lungs.

At one point his heart stopped and he had to be revived. He said he finally turned the corner toward recovery after receiving a plasma donation from a fellow COVID-19 survivor.

“I think that that’s what really saved my life,” Heumann said.

Thousands of cases stalled as Cook County courts remain closed in lockdown
Cook County courts are considering some modified reopening possibly in June, according to Chief Judge Tim Evans, but currently justice is being delayed for thousands of defendants.

Many courtrooms and court buildings are closed. According to emergency measures for Cook County, similar to others across the state, regular casework is delayed, postponed, being held by phone or by videoconference.

In federal courts, data reveal civil filings continuing at a normal pace, but hearings, decisions and regular case activity is down more than 40 percent.

Elmhurst mayor pushes back on Pritzker’s reopening plan
In a letter sent to Governor Pritzker, Mayor Steve Morley said Elmhurst should not have to wait for Chicago to catch up to his community’s progress.

The governor has said before that DuPage and Cook Counties are included in the same region because many people travel back and forth between the two areas.

COVID patients face long road to recovery after leaving hospital
Leaving the hospital after surviving the coronavirus is just the first step in a long road toward full recovery, COVID-19 survivors and doctors say.

Dr. Larissa Pavone, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Marianjoy, said many COVID patients are severely deconditioned after spending long periods of time in intensive care. Therapists help patients with speech, cognition and everyday physical activities.

Chicago area Red Lobster apologizes for crowded waiting area on Mother’s Day
An Oak Lawn Red Lobster restaurant is apologizing for a social distancing debacle on Mother’s Day.

A customer said dozens of people stood shoulder-to-shoulder to pick up their pre-ordered Mother’s Day dinners at Oak Lawn’s Red Lobster restaurant on Sunday.

Red Lobster issued a statement Monday apologizing for the problems at the location.

6 new COVID-19 testing sites to open in Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city will be launching six new COVID-19 testing sites across the city this month.

One of the sites at Guaranteed Rate Field will be dedicated to first reponders and healthcare workers.

The sites are being launched with help from Community Organized Relief Efforts or CORE, after Rev. Jesse Jackson reached out to CORE’s leader, actor Sean Penn.

The first sites will open later in the week with the rest opening by the end of the month, bringing the city’s testing capacity to 10,000 per-day.

Pritzker staff member tests positive for COVID-19
A senior member of Governor JB Pritzker’s staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

The staffer, who was asymptomatic when they tested positive late last week, had been in close contact with the governor and staff member. All other staff members and the governor have since tested negative.

As a result of the positive case, all staff members who had been working at the Thompson Center will be working remotely until the IDPH advises they no longer have to.

Cook County correctional officer dies of apparent COVID-19 complications, sheriff’s office says
A 51-year-old correctional officer in Cook County has died of apparent COVID-19 complications, the sheriff’s office announced Sunday.

Antoine Jones died Sunday after being diagnosed with coronavirus in late March, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The South Side resident has worked with the sheriff’s office since 2002. He leaves behind a wife and five adult children.

May 10, 2020

Blue Angels announce Chicago flyover to salute health care workers

The Blue Angels are coming to Chicago.
As part of their salute to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus, the world-renowned Navy pilots have been paying tribute with a series of flyovers in America’s major cities.

The next round of flyovers is slated for Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Illinois reports under 2K new COVID-19 cases for 1st time in 12 days
Illinois has reported less than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in 12 days.

On Sunday, Illinois health officials announced 1,656 new coronavirus cases and 57 additional deaths, a noticeable drop in both cases and deaths over the past few days. There are now 77,741 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state, and a total of 3,406 deaths.

Chicago groups come together to help decrease number of deaths in black, brown communities due to COVID-19
Seven organizations from the West and South side of Chicago have banded together to decrease the high number of black and brown deaths due to COVID-19. They’re doing so with an initiative called WE GOT US.

U of I Chancellor says students should expect face-to-face classes this fall
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones joined Newsviews to talk about the challenge of educating students this fall. Jones said the final decision will be made in June but that students should plan to be back on campus.

May 9, 2020
Chicago company launches ‘Small Brand. Big Heart’ fundraiser to benefit Children of Restaurant Employees

House of Somrus specialized in Indian-inspired cream liqueurs, including Chai and Mango, but once COVID-19 hit, they decided to use their resources to try and make a difference. After an initial donation, the company aims to raise at least $125,000 to benefit Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE). Somrus has also promised a 10% match program once the fund reaches $25,000, and will remain until it reaches $125,000.

Illinois among 6 states to receive supply of remdesivir
The federal government has announced it’s shipping donated remdesivir to help patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in six states, including Illinois.

Illinois is poised to receive a supply of the medication, which is considered the first drug that appears to help some COVID-19 patients recover faster. Iowa, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey will also get cases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday.

The Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the drug to treat hospitalized patients. Gilead Sciences, Inc., the maker, donated it to the federal government. It’ll be up to state health departments to distribute it to hospitals.

Chicago protesters demand reopening of Illinois businesses on 2nd weekend of new stay-at-home order
Gov. JB Pritzker is no longer holding weekend COVID-19 briefings at Chicago’s Thompson Center, but protesters are still showing up to try to get his attention.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Thompson Center Saturday, calling for the governor to reopen Illinois. The protesters point to the toll the stay-at- home order is having on the state’s workforce.

4 Chicago businesses chosen to make 1M masks for city
Four local and diverse businesses have been selected to make one million reusable cloth masks for Chicago residents.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a release on Saturday that 250,000 of those masks will be distributed to aldermanic offices. In addition, the city’s Racial Equity Rapid Response team will give out 750,000 of the masks to Chicago’s most disproportionately impacted neighborhoods.

The companies are Barbara Bates Designs, G.A.I.A.U. Product Design & Development Ltd., Silk Screen Express and The Will Group.

Illinois reports 2.3K new COVID-19 cases, 111 deaths
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois has increased by more than 2,300 to a total of 76,085, state health officials reported Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 111 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 3,349.

Illinois conducted more than 16,600 tests within the past 24 hours.

Delta suspends service at Midway, 9 other locations through September to minimize COVID-19 risk
Delta is temporarily suspending service at 10 locations, starting Wednesday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those locations is Chicago’s Midway Airport.

May 8, 2020

Chicago terror convict Tahawwur Rana seeks prison release due to COVID-19
The ABC7 I-Team has learned that a Chicago man convicted in a major terrorism case in the area is making a bid to get out of prison early because of COVID-19.

Tahawwur Rana, 59, is doing time in a California federal prison and a new court filing in Chicago Friday stated that he’s tested positive for the virus.

The former Chicago travel agent was convicted of ties to a Pakistani terror organization, the same group responsible a deadly siege on Mumbai, India in 2008.

Rana said he tested positive for the virus on May 1. He said his life is at risk, and that he wants out early from behind bars.

Pediatricians probe why children largely unaffected by COVID-19
While a small group of children have come down with a serious and mysterious illness that appears to be linked to COVID-19, the majority of kids are largely unaffected by the virus.

Doctors in Chicago are now probing why a virus that is devastating and very deadly in adults seems to by and large bypass children.

Nearly half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities, data shows
Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 500 deaths in the past week have been linked to Illinois’ long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, state health data shows.

Since last Friday, 3,931 new coronavirus cases and 471 additional deaths in Illinois long-term care facilities were caused by COVID-19, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data obtained by the ABC7 I-Team.

The majority of the new cases and deaths are in Cook County, where officials report 2,377 COVID-19 cases and 260 deaths in the last week in long-term care facilities. That’s 60% of the new coronavirus cases and 55% of the newly reported deaths.

Illinois conducts 20K COVID-19 tests in single day for 1st time
Illinois has reached a new COVID-19 testing milestone after conducting more than 20,000 tests in a single day.

Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that 20,671 tests were conducted within 24 hours.

So far, Illinois has conducted a total of just under 400,000 COVID-19 tests.

Pritzker said the state is setting up three more drive-thru testing sites next week. He plans to announce the locations in the coming days.

On Friday, state health officials announced 2,887 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois Friday, including 130 additional deaths. That brings the the state’s total COVID-19 cases to 73,760, including 3,241 deaths.

Pope County is now reporting a case of COVID-19.

Cook County Jail out of electronic monitoring devices in push to reduce inmate population amid COVID-19 crisis
The Cook County Jail has run out of electronic monitoring devices. The efforts to reduce jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a skyrocketing demand in equipment.

University of Chicago Medical Center furloughing non-clinical workers
University of Chicago Medical Center is putting non-clinical workers on furlough. The hospital is losing tens of millions of dollars each month during the pandemic. Staff got an email saying that no one will be getting annual raises, and they will not be paid if they are furloughed. All building projects are also on hold.

Sen. Durbin tours Chicago COVID-19 testing site
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, visited Roseland Community Hospital’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility on Chicago’s South Side Friday.

Orland Park mayor calls for faster reopening of businesses
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has called for speeding up the reopening of businesses in his village. He said many businesses will not survive by the time they are allowed to reopen under Governor JB Pritzker’s plan.

“The governor’s plan would not allow restaurants to reopen until at least June 26. Frankly, most of our small, family-owned restaurants will not survive that long,” Mayor Pekau said.

The village said that it may lose $2.7 million this year in sales tax revenue because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Orland Park Mall is one of several area malls scheduled to reopen on May 31, when the current stay-at-home order ends if it is not extended.

May 7, 2020

COVID-19 test shortages persist in Illinois
Nearly seven weeks into Illinois’ COVID-19 state of emergency, the ABC7 I-Team has learned that there is still a critical shortage of several major testing components, hampering plans for a return to normal. Testing people for the coronavirus remains a challenge for hospitals and laboratories because crucial equipment is not reliably available.

Suburban boy, 6, battles mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19
Sara Garcia’s 6-year-old son Nolan is hospitalized at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital battling a mysterious inflammatory illness that mimics symptoms of Kawasaki’s Disease and appears to be linked to COVID-19.

Nolan is one of a growing number of children nationwide that have developed an inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19. Symptoms include persistent fever, abdominal problems, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes and swollen lymph nodes.

Gig workers, independent contractors eligible for unemployment starting Monday
Amid COVID-19’s mounting economic toll, Illinois is reporting nearly 75,000 unemployment claims were processed last week.

With many still reporting problems filing claims online and over the phone, Gov. JB Pritzker said the state’s unemployment agency continues to increase staffing and update systems.

Starting Monday, independent contractors and gig workers will be eligible for benefits. The state’s computer system has been updated and can now process 140,000 claims an hour, Pritzker said.

Protest in downtown Chicago calls for financial help for working families
Dozens of Chicago protesters are demanding more economic help in dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A caravan of hundreds of vehicles filled with members of over 50 different community organizations across the city and state gathered outside the Thompson Center Thursday afternoon.

They call themselves the Right to Recovery coalition, advocating for everything from workers rights and education to health care and housing. They’re demanding equal access to emergency funding and support as the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

Illinois tops 70K COVID-19 cases, 3K deaths
Illinois’ confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 70,000, state health officials reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,641 new COVID-19 cases and 138 additional deaths Thursday. There are now 70,873 coronavirus cases in Illinois, with a death toll of 3,111.

Illinois conducted more than 17,000 tests in a 24-hour period, state health officials reported Thursday.

Illinois awarded $25M in federal funding to expand COVID-19 testing
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $25 million to dozens of Illinois health centers to expand COVID-19 testing.

The federal agency announced the $25,226,505 award on Thursday. The money will go to 45 health centers across the state.

Waukegan Amazon warehouse worker dies of COVID-19, company says
An Amazon warehouse worker in Waukegan died of COVID-19 related symptoms, the company said in a statement.

The company said the man last worked in the warehouse on March 19 and showed no symptoms.

He later tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24, the company said.

The company said it found out about the man’s passing on April 18 and contacted his family as well as other employees to offer support.

“We are saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Waukegan, Illinois. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues,” Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said in a statement.

Back in April, Amazon workers at a warehouse on Chicago’s Southwest Side walked off the job after one of their colleagues tested positive for COVID-19.
Workers held the walkout to demand that the warehouse be closed immediately for two weeks for sanitation.

Nursing home workers reach tentative deal
A potential strike by thousands of nursing home workers has been averted after a tentative agreement was reached with SEIU Healthcare.

The agreement includes hazard pay for all workers during the COVID-19 crisis as well as fully paid sick days for COVID-19 related testing, illness or quarantine.
SEIU Healthcare provides care to residents at more than 100 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.

May 6, 2020

Coronavirus victim’s daughter says nursing home didn’t tell her about positive test
The daughter of a man who died from coronavirus at Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square said the nursing home withheld information about the virus from family until shortly before he died.

Manuel Vasquez died Tuesday night. His family said they called nearly daily, but the facility told them there were no positive tests.

More than 150 residents at Woodbridge have tested positive for COVID-19.

New contract tracing program aims to speed up Illinois’ reopening
A new program underway in Chicago will train more people to conduct contact tracing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. JB Pritzker has already said that Illinois will need an army of contract tracers before the state can return to normalcy. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 3,800 workers will be needed. But where will those thousands of tracers come from?

Hoping to fill that gap, Oakton Community College unveiled a four-week online course to help train would-be tracers. The online program was developed in consultation with both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and it’s open to anybody. But its focus is on tracing COVID-19 within Chicago’s Northeast region.

Pritzker defends reopening plan to GOP lawmakers, business groups
Governor JB Pritzker’s plan to reopen Illinois came under fire Wednesday as health officials announced 2,270 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois Wednesday, including 136 additional deaths.

That brings the state’s total COVID-19 cases to 68,232, including 2,974 deaths.

Republicans from across the state said the governor’s approach is too broad and the regional plan lumps together communities that may be experiencing very different impacts from COVID-19.

The governor said he wants to get businesses reopened as much as anyone, but only when it’s safe.

Chicago area kids sickened by mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19
There are cases in Chicago of a mysterious illness impacting children that may be connected to COVID-19.

The symptoms are very similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare sickness that involves inflammation of blood vessels.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes and swollen lymph nodes.

Dixon business owner considers going rouge and reopening, violating rules
In many small communities across Illinois, business owners and local leaders are wrestling with why they should fall under the same rules as Chicago and other urban centers in the state when they have comparatively few COVID cases and deaths.

In the town of Dixon, about 100 miles from Chicago, the city council had to get involved this week when a local hair stylist was thinking about going rogue.

Meat shortage fears send customers to local farms, butchers
Outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plant around the country have some fearing a meat shortage.

As some larger grocery chains like Costco and Mariano’s put limits on meat purchases, some customers have gone directly to local farms and buchers to purchase their meat.

At least 12 dead in Westchester nursing center COVID-19 outbreak
At least a dozen residents have died from COVID-19 after a deadly outbreak at a nursing home in Westchester.

In a statement, Westchester Health and Rehab Center said they are closely following CDC guidelines and taking careful measures to ensure they’re in compliance.

Illinois reports 2.2K new COVID-19 cases, 136 deaths
Illinois’ confirmed coronavirus cases have increased by 2,270 Wednesday, to a total of more than 68,000.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 136 additional deaths, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 2,974.

Racial Equality Rapid Response Team to focus on Latino community
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the Racial Equality Rapid Response Team will be increasing its focus on the Latino community on Chicago, which has seen a sharp increase in cases.

One month ago, health officials said Latinos made up 14 percent of cases and 19 percent of deaths and those have risen to 37 percent of cases and 25 percent of deaths.

Mayor Lightfoot said the Racial Equality Rapid Response Team would be focusing on areas seeing the greatest rise in cases, with Latino communities on the Northwest and Southwest sides currently seeing the largest increase.

Lightfoot said there would be a series of virtual town halls to provide information to affected communities.

Pitchfork Music Festival canceled
The annual Pitchfork Music Festival will not be taking place this year in Union Park due to COVID-19 concerns, the festival announced.

In a statement on its website, Pitchfork said, “It can be pretty daunting to think about the future of live music right now, but know that we are fully committed to bringing Pitchfork Music Festival back in 2021, if the public health situation allows for it. In the meantime, we urge everyone to follow local health department guidelines. We are in this together, and if we all do our part, we’ll celebrate next year in person.”

Ticketholders will be contacted directly with refund options.

May 5, 2020

Gov. Pritzker reveals plan to reopen Illinois on state’s deadliest day yet
Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled his new plan to reopen Illinois on Tuesday as health officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period since the outbreak began.

Health officials announced 2,122 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths, on Tuesday, bringing Illinois’ statewide total of coronavirus cases to 65,962, including a total of 2,838 deaths.

Gov. Pritzker detailed a five-phase reopening plan for four Illinois regions: Northeast, North Central, Central, and South. Calling it a “playbook that has never been written before,” Pritzker said each region is able to move through phases separately. During these phases, face coverings and social distancing rules apply.

Cicero officials seek to shut down nursing home
Officials in west suburban Cicero went to court to ask that a nursing home affected by a COVID-19 outbreak be shut down.

City View Multicare Center has has 160 residents and more than 40 staff members test positive for COVID-19 since April 1, town officials said. Nine residents and one staff member have died.

Officials said the nursing home has been cited 10 times for failure to follow coronavirus restrictions. Staff members were even spotted not wearing required personal protective equipment.

May 4, 2020

Latinos now have highest rate of coronavirus infections, IDPH data shows
More than 60 percent of Latinos who get tested for COVID-19 test positive for the virus, data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows.

While the number of deaths among Latinos remains significantly lower than for whites or African Americans in Illinois, their infection rate is now the highest of any ethnicity in the state.

Illinois reports lowest daily COVID-19 death toll in weeks
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday 2,341 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 46 additional deaths, after the state reached record testing numbers over the weekend.

That brings Illinois’ statewide total of coronavirus cases to 63,840, including a total of 2,662 deaths.

As the state saw the lowest one-day total of COVID-19 deaths since mid-April, Gov. Pritzker said it needs to be looked at in the context of multiple days to determine if it’s a true downward trend.

Chicago mayor threatens arrests, even jail after police break up parties amid pandemic
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said citations, arrests and even jail are among the potential penalties for people getting together for parties during the pandemic.

Her threat comes after people were spotted gathering in big crowds this weekend, defying the city’s social distancing guidelines.

“We don’t want to be in a position where we have to arrest people for non-compliance. That’s a fail. That’s a fail on everybody’s part – it’s a fail on the person who is arrested and it’s a fail on our ability as a city, as individuals, as communities to recognize the moment that we’re in,” Lightfoot said.

New COVID-19 testing site opens on Chicago’s Southwest Side
A new COVID-19 testing site opened in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The testing site is located at 5100 South Ashland Avenue.

This new testing site on the Southwest Side will continue to help serve residents in vulnerable areas. There has been a call for for more testing sites in African American and Latino neighborhood by many activists and community leaders.

May 3, 2020

Illinois conducts highest number of COVID-19 tests in 24 hours
Illinois’ COVID-19 testing reached record numbers over the weekend.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Sunday that the state conducted 19,417 tests in a single day, marking Illinois’ highest daily testing total so far.

The testing milestone comes as the state’s number of coronavirus cases climbed by 2,994 to a total of 61,499. Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll has reached 2,619, state health officials reported Sunday.

Chicago police break up multiple large gatherings over weekend

Chicago police broke up at least two large gatherings Saturday after city officials warned that failing to comply with the stay-at-home order is putting lives at risk.

Officers responded to two gatherings on the city’s West Side Saturday night, putting an end to the partying and telling crowds to go home.

With continued warm weather over the weekend, state and local leaders expressed frustration with those ignoring the stay-at-home order.

Chicago police have not made it a practice to cite or arrest anyone when enforcing the stay-at-home order.

Markham testing site the busiest in state, officials say
State officials and a local tow company surprised Illinois National Guard members at a Markham COVID-19 testing site Sunday with food and entertainment, saying the site has become the busiest in the state. Since opening the Markham site a few weeks ago, the location has rapidly become Illinois’ busiest site; over 13,000 tests have been performed in the first 21 days of operation, a statement said.

Latino community makes up majority of Illinois COVID-19 cases

New data shows Hispanics are now the largest group of reported COVID-19 cases in Illinois.

The Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative is now working to deal with the surge in the Latino community.

According to the Illinois Department of Health, Latinos now make up more than 65% of positive cases among those tested.

May 2, 2020

The ‘Old Dolls’ bring decades of experience to COVID-19 fight
A tight-knit group of Northwestern Memorial Hospital nurses are bringing their decades of experience to the fight against coronavirus.

Affectionately known as the “Old Dolls,” these ICU nurses are at higher risk because they are older, and were given the option not to treat COVID-19 patients. Instead, they all chose to put their experience to use on the frontlines of the fight against the virus.

Illinois expands free COVID-19 testing
Illinois officials announced an expansion of free COVID-19 testing on Saturday.

A new drive-thru testing site will open in Waukegan on Sunday. It’ll be open seven days a week to test individuals with coronavirus symptoms.

“By bringing COVID-19 testing into communities free of charge, we are to make testing more readily available and easier to access,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Testing is essential to identify the prevalence of virus circulating in our communities. Through widespread testing, we can make science-based decisions that will help us end this pandemic.”

Families worry over safety of residents stuck inside Chicago nursing home with over 150 COVID-19 cases
A nursing home on Chicago’s Northwest Side currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases among all long-term care facilities in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are 151 coronavirus cases and at least seven deaths at Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square.

Richard Edmond told ABC 7 that both his brothers, Sam and Curtis, have now tested positive for COVID-19. He said they’ve been confined to their rooms during the pandemic.

Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion hasn’t yet returned ABC7’s requests for comment.

Mayor Lightfoot threatens crackdown after police break up house parties across Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is threatening citations and potential jail time to residents failing to comply with the stay-at-home order as house parties continue to be held across the city.

With the weekend bringing warm weather, Chicago police broke up multiple large gatherings Friday night, including a house party with 150 guests.

She said authorities are aware of more parties and gatherings planned for Saturday night.

Lightfoot and Chicago police are asking residents to anonymously submit tips about any house parties at

Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll tops 2.5K on first weekend of relaxed stay-at-home order
Gov. JB Pritzker is dealing with mounting frustrations on the first days of the state’s relaxed stay-at-home order.

For the second day, residents gathered to protest the modified order that took effect Friday.

A rally was held in far north suburban Fox Lake Saturday, a day after hundreds gathered outside Chicago’s Thompson Center.

The demonstration comes as Illinois’ confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,450, with 105 additional deaths.

There are now 58,505 confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, including 2,559 deaths, state health officials said Saturday.

Metra reduces service as ridership plummets during coronavirus crisis
The number of Metra trains rolling in and out of Chicago every day is about to drop dramatically.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the commuter rail agency, in response to the the ridership slump during the coronavirus crisis, is cutting service on its three least busy lines.

May 1, 2020
Plan to track COVID-19 must be in place before state reopens
Governor Pritzker said an apparatus to trace everyone a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in contact with must be in place before the state of Illinois can fully reopen.

The governor’s plan will be aggressive and mandatory, with state officials looking to hire thousands of people who would trace the movements of those infected by COVID-19. Once identified, those they have had contact with would be traced and tested. If positive, they too would be isolated, an ambitious effort to better control the coronavirus pandemic that still has Illinois in a headlock.

Cicero sues City View Multicare Center after COVID-19 cluster reported at nursing home
A west suburban town is demanding that a nursing home close after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were reported at the facility.

The town of Cicero has filed a lawsuit against City View Multicare Center, citing “negligent failures” in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Since the nursing home reported its first two infections on April 1, the virus has spread to more than 160 residents and more than 40 staff members, town officials said.

Cicero officials want the nursing home to transfer its residents to McCormick Place or other hospitals to make sure they get properly cared for and stop the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Chicago’s McCormick Place being dismantled, officials say
An alternate care facility set up at Chicago’s McCormick Place to treat COVID-19 patients is now being phased out of use.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced plans to dismantle the massive, makeshift treatment center on Friday.

Patients who are currently being treated at McCormick Place will continue to get care until they recover. The negative pressure tents will also stay in place for now, according to state and local leaders.

Illinois reports record daily spike in COVID-19 cases
The calls to reopen all businesses in Illinois comes as state health officials reported 3,137 new COVID-19 cases and 105 additional deaths. There are now 56,055 confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, including 2,457 deaths.

Gov. JB Pritzker also called for contract tracing on a “never-before-seen scale” as a route back to normalcy Friday.

Protesters rally on 1st day of modified stay-at-home order
A group is protesting Illinois’ stay-at-home order near Chicago’s James R. Thompson Center Friday, when the state suffered its highest daily spike in coronavirus cases.

Freedom Movement USA, a self-described bipartisan organization, is expected to rally in the Loop from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Modified Illinois stay-at-home order takes effect, along with face mask requirement

An extension to Governor JB Pritzker’s stay-at-home order went into effect, allowing some businesses to reopen with restrictions as well as a mandate that face masks be worn in public.

The masks are required when in public when social distancing is not an option. For example: at work, grocery stores and on public transit. You do not have to wear a mask when running or walking in outside or during outdoor activities on your own property.. The masks are not required for children under two.

Under the modified order, a number of businesses, including golf courses and pet groomers, can reopen with restrictions. Retail stores can reopen by offering delivery and curbside pickup.

Ravinia 2020 season, Spring Awakening silenced by COVID-19
Ravinia’s 2020 season has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

And it’s not just Ravinia. Organizers of Spring Awakening sent an email to supporters, postponing the music festival until 2021.

Other festivals, like Wicker Park Fest, and the biggest music event of the Summer – Lollapalooza – have not made final decisions.

Read Illinois coronavirus coverage from March and April

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source: ABC7 Chicago

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