COVID Illinois

Illinois COVID 19 Today: IL reports 2,149 new coronavirus cases, 20 deaths as 30 IL counties reach ‘warning level’ – WLS-TV

CHICAGO (WLS) — Suburban Cook County was added Friday to a list of Illinois counties now at a “warning” level for COVID-19 cases.

Coronavirus testing: Where to get tested for COVID-19 in Illinois, Chicago area

Counties at the warning level could face new restrictions if more isn’t done to slow the spread of the virus. There are now 30 counties at a warning level in Illinois.

COVID-19 numbers have been on the rise in suburban Cook County. The state has added Cook County to 29 other counties in the state at a warning level, meaning the county is exceeding two or more risk indicators for the spread of the virus.

County health officials say they believe the surge in cases is coming from large private gatherings where people fail to wear masks and observe social distancing.

“We’re in the process of thinking about if we continue to remain in orange, maybe we then recommend further mitigation measures to be put in place throughout suburban Cook County,” Cook County Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Rubin said.

The announcement comes at a difficult time for the county, with many schools returning to session. While many school districts are beginning the year remotely, this could set back hopes of returning to normal anytime soon.

Officials said they may also consider further restrictions on gyms with fitness classes and will work with the Illinois Restaurant Association on any new policies. It’s bad news for restaurant owners or customers who are hoping for a return to normal.

“Every time they restrict our ability to do business, it obviously has a significant impact on our ability to pay the bills,” said Marc Hoffman, with Ala Carte Restaurant Group.

Health officials said there is one bright spot: despite the increase in the number of cases, hospitalizations are not increasing.

Warning Level counties:















Jo Daviess










St. Clair






A map and information of each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website.

Illinois reports 2,149 new COVID-19 cases, 20 deaths

Illinois health officials reported 2,149 new coronavirus cases and 20 additional deaths Friday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health now reports a total of 229,483 cases and 7,997 deaths in 102 counties in the state.

The statewide positivity rate for the period of August 21 – August 27 stands at 4.1%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 48,383 specimens for a total of 3,924,305.

As of Thursday night, 1,546 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 352 patients were in the ICU and 132 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

The deaths include:

-Cook County: 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 male 80s

-DeKalb County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s

-Douglas County: 1 male 90s

-Greene County: 1 female 70s

-Iroquois County: 1 female 80s

-Jefferson County: 1 female 90s

-Jersey County: 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s

-Lake County: 1 male 20s

-Richland County: 1 male 90s

-Rock Island County: 1 male 80s

-Union County: 1 male 50s

-Will County: 1 female 70s

-Williamson County: 1 female 70s

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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counties Illinois

20 Illinois counties at COVID-19 ‘warning level’ – WSIL TV

SPRINGFIELD (WSIL) — The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) says 20 counties in the state are now at a “warning level” for COVID-19.

According to IDPH, a county enters a warning level when it experiences an increase in two or more risk indicators from the state’s COVID-19 Resurgence Mitigation plan.

The 20 counties at a warning level on Friday were:

  • Bureau
  • Cass
  • Clay
  • Clinton
  • Franklin
  • Greene
  • Grundy
  • Hancock
  • Henderson
  • Jefferson
  • Logan
  • Madison
  • Monroe
  • Moultrie
  • Randolph
  • St. Clair
  • Union
  • White
  • Will
  • Williamson

This is the second week in a row that Franklin and Jefferson counties have appeared on the IDPH’s warning level list. It’s the third week in a row for Union County.

“These counties saw cases or outbreaks associated with weddings, businesses, neighborhood gatherings, parties, long-term care facilities and other congregate settings, travel to neighboring states, bars, sports camps, and spread among members of the same household who are not isolating at home. Cases connected to schools are also beginning to be reported.

Public health officials are observing people not social distancing or using face coverings. Additionally, there are reports of individuals who are ill attributing their symptoms to allergies or other illnesses, or not being forthcoming about their symptoms or close contacts,” said a release Friday from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

IDPH uses several factors when deciding if a county has stable COVID-19 activity or if there are warning signs of increased risk.

• New cases per 100,000 people. If there are more than 50 new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.

• Number of deaths. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly number of deaths increases more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.

• Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the 7-day test positivity rate rises above 8%.

• ICU availability. If there are fewer than 20% of intensive care units available in the region, this triggers a warning.

• Weekly emergency department visits. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly percent of COVID-19-like-illness emergency department visits increase by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.

• Weekly hospital admissions. A warning is triggered when the weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.

• Tests perform. This metric is used to provide context and indicate if more testing is needed in the county.

• Clusters. This metric looks at the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks and is used to understand large increase in cases.

A map and information on each county’s status can be found on the IDPH website at

On Friday, IDPH announced 2,208 new cases of COVID-19, including 24 additional confirmed deaths.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 215,929 cases, including 7,857 deaths, in Illinois.

The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases for August 14 – August 20 is 4.3%.

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Illinois Reports

Illinois reports 1,426 new cases of COVID-19, including 12 deaths – WGN TV Chicago


/ Updated:

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,426 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 12 additional confirmed deaths.

On Saturday, health officials said the following deaths were reported:

  • Boone County: 1 male 70s
  • Cook County: 3 females 60s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s, 1 female 90s
  • Cumberland County: 1 female 100+
  • DuPage County: 1 female 80s
  • Kane County: 1 female 30s
  • Lake County: 1 female 70s
  • St. Clair County: 1 female 70s

Currently, the Department of Public Health is reporting a total of 169,883 cases, including 7,397 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois.

As of Friday night, 1,438 people in the state were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19.  Of those, 341 patients were in the ICU and 110 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

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Illinois Pritzker

Illinois Gov. Pritzker Holds Coronavirus Briefing | NBC News – NBC News

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Governor Illinois

Illinois governor self-quarantining after staff member tests positive for coronavirus | TheHill – The Hill

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and several employees in his office will self-quarantine for an “appropriate isolation period” after a staffer tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Pritzker’s office said in a statement on Monday that an employee who is in close contact with the governor and other staff members received a positive test result late last week. Pritzker and every other employee who has come to work in person amid the crisis have tested negative for the virus. 

Pritzker received another test early Sunday and again tested negative. 

Roughly 20 employees in the governor’s office have regularly reported to work at the the James R. Thompson Center amid the coronavirus outbreak. The office said that it has administered daily temperature checks for employees and that every staffer wears a face covering during the workday.

Staff members are also following social distancing and strict hygiene procedures, Pritzker’s office said, adding that government premises would undergo a deep cleaning. 

“The Governor and staff will return to the office when [Illinois Department of Public Health] deems appropriate,” the statement said. 

Pritzker plans to continue holding daily coronavirus briefings through video conferences.

Illinois’s health department had reported more than 77,700 confirmed COVID-19 cases and roughly 3,400 deaths from the disease as of Monday morning. 

Pritzker last week unveiled a five-part tentative plan for reopening businesses and institutions in the state. He said the second phase started on May 1 and that it was predicated on flattening hospital use and infection rates while also increasing testing capacity. 

He said regions that reach “certain thresholds over the next few weeks” will be allowed to enter the third phase, which will permit state parks and some nonessential businesses to reopen.

The governor has been vocal about the need for medical equipment and adequate testing supplies amid the crisis. Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Pritzker said that he was wasn’t “counting on the White House” to help with testing supplies because “there have been too many situations in which they have made promises” but “not delivered.”

“We’re doing it alone, as the White House has left all the states to do. And we have done well spinning up testing. We continue to grow our testing,” Pritzker said.

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Files Illinois

Illinois AG files appeal in state Rep. Darren Bailey’s lawsuit over Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order – Chicago Tribune

The Illinois attorney general’s office filed an appellate court brief Wednesday seeking to overturn a southern Illinois judge’s ruling that temporarily exempts a Republican state representative from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order.

State Rep. Darren Bailey request for a personal exemption from the order “besides being dangerous — is flawed as a matter of law,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office argues in the filing with Illinois 5th District Appellate Court.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, poses at his district office, April 29, 2src2src, in Louisville, Ill. Bailey challenged in court Gov. J.B. Pritzker's authority to extend the stay-at-home order.

State Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, poses at his district office, April 29, 2020, in Louisville, Ill. Bailey challenged in court Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s authority to extend the stay-at-home order.(John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

The filing comes two days after a Clay County judge issued a temporary order freeing Bailey from Pritzker’s directive, which is aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus.

In his lawsuit, Bailey argues that Pritzker has exceeded his legal authority under the state Emergency Management Agency Act by extending the order beyond 30 days.

The AG’s office argued the lawsuit rests on an erroneous reading of the act and ignores the governor’s independent authority under the Illinois Constitution to take the actions Bailey challenged,” the filing says.

“It also contradicts the long-standing practice by numerous governors of issuing multiple and often successive emergency disaster proclamations that have allowed them to continue exercising emergency powers for the duration of the disaster.”

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Pritzker and his two immediate predecessors, Republican Bruce Rauner and Democrat Pat Quinn, issued disaster proclamations for flooding and extended them beyond 30 days, according to the filing. When Pritzker did so last May, “his efforts were celebrated by Bailey himself,” the filing states.

The judge’s order also “improperly disrupts the status quo and places undue weight on the personal harm to Bailey as compared with the immense public health crisis that will occur should Bailey and others cease compliance with the governor’s orders.”

The attorney general’s office also seeks to poke holes in Bailey’s argument that approval from the General Assembly is required to extend a disaster declaration beyond 30 days.

While the legislature gave itself “an express oversight role” in some aspects of emergency management through the Emergency Management Agency Act, the fact that the section that gives the governor the power declare disasters contains no such language “demonstrates that it intended to grant the governor the authority to issue disaster proclamations and use his emergency powers without the limitations suggested by Bailey,” according to the attorney general’s office.

The appeal comes the same day a second GOP lawmaker, Rep. John Cabello of Machesney Park, filed a separate lawsuit in Winnebago County challenging the stay-at-home order on similar grounds to Bailey’s lawsuit.

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Illinois reopen

Reopen Illinois rally planned for Loop this Friday – Chicago Tribune

Protesters who want Gov. J.B. Pritzker to announce a plan to reopen the Illinois economy have scheduled a Friday rally outside the Thompson Center in the Loop.

“Illinois residents have tolerated the government’s plan for over a month — without a plan on how to slowly and safely reopen the state’s economy,” a news release announcing the event states. “We need to discuss the process of cautiously returning back to work.”

The Friday demonstration would be the latest in a series of protests around the country against stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Beth Rogers, of Springfield, stands in the rain with her sign demanding,

Beth Rogers, of Springfield, stands in the rain with her sign demanding, “Open Illinois Now,” during a protest in front of the Capitol building on April 25, 2020.(Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register)

It follows a Sunday event where a small group of protesters holding “Don’t tread on me” flags and chanting “Open Illinois!” demonstrated outside the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

Asked about lawsuits against Pritzker to end the stay-at-home order and the planned Friday downtown rally, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday said it only makes sense to start easing the restrictions when evidence shows the state is getting the outbreak under control.

“The notion that we are going to open up before the data and the science tell us that we’re ready is really foolish, and we would be putting lives at risk to do so,” Lightfoot said. “I’m very mindful of what’s happening in other states that haven’t taken the steps that we have taken here in Illinois. And what are we seeing? We’re seeing a doubling of cases at an unbelievable rate, even six weeks into this crisis. So I feel very comfortable about the steps that have been taken here. As far as Chicago, we’re staying the course.”

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The Loop event is being organized by Freedom Movement USA, which on its website describes itself as “a group of like-minded Republican activists.” The organization has held pro-President Donald Trump rallies in other parts of the state.

The Thompson Center event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will feature several speakers, according to the Freedom Movement USA release.

There’s also a petition launched by frequent political candidate William Kelly to seek signatures in support of recalling Pritzker.

A similar rally is planned for noon on Friday in Springfield.

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Coronavirus Illinois

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

Illinois schools will remain closed through the end of the academic year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered Friday. Schools statewide, both public and private, have been closed since March 17 and students will now finish out the remainder of the school year with remote learning.

The announcement came as Pritzker’s administration reported 1,842 new known cases of the new coronavirus. That’s the highest number of new known cases reported in a 24-hour period since the pandemic began. Officials also warned that the pandemic has yet to peak in Illinois.

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

6:58 p.m.: 8 more deaths reported in DuPage County, highest single day yet

Eight more people with the coronavirus died in DuPage County, the highest total in a single day, and half of them were residents of long-term care facilities, officials reported Friday.

The county health department also reported 87 new known cases, which raised the total countywide to 1,560.

The latest victims to die included three men in their 80s who lived in long-term care facilities in Carol Stream, Elmhurst and Wheaton, and a woman in her 90s who lived in a long-term care facility in Lisle, according to a news release. Read more here. —Robert McCoppin

6:17 p.m.: Joliet mayor asks state to conduct investigation of Symphony nursing home, which reported 23 COVID-related deaths

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk on Friday called for a full investigation into the COVID-19-related deaths of 22 patients and one worker at Symphony of Joliet nursing home.

During a news conference, O’Dekirk said he contacted the governor’s office Thursday to request the investigation after hearing what he described as “concerning stories” from Joliet paramedics who have responded to more than 30 calls at the nursing home in recent weeks.

“We don’t have the answers right now, but we’re going to get the answers,” O’Dekirk said. “Certainly Joliet families and people who lost their loved ones inside the nursing home have a right to get those answers.”

O’Dekirk would not elaborate on what the first responders told him they’ve seen inside the facility that caused concern, but said he wants the Illinois Department of Public Health to investigate. Read more here. —Alicia Fabbre and Robert McCoppin

6:14 p.m.: Extension of the school shutdown is a blow to teachers, parents and students – especially the class of 2020

Prom dresses had been picked out, graduation parties had been planned – or at least, still hoped for.

But Friday’s announcement from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker that in-school instruction would be canceled through the end of the academic year made it clear that such events would be off or, at best, completely altered.

It was tough – if widely expected – news to hear, especially for seniors who are facing both the upheaval of long-standing end-of-high-school traditions as well as vast uncertainty about the future.

Read more here as students, parents and teachers react to the extension of the school shutdown. —

5:43 p.m.: Highland Park to require residents to wear face coverings while in public

People in Highland Park will be required to wear face coverings, effective Monday, when doing essential activities during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new emergency order issued by the mayor.

With the requirement, Highland Park also joins a group of several villages and cities throughout the northern suburbs, including Skokie, Glenview and Niles, that have introduced similar emergency orders this week. Read more here. —James T. Norman

5:04 p.m.: Daily Southtown columnist shares his experience as COVID-19 patient

As news worsened a month ago about the coming virus, we vowed to be prepared.

Just a day after joining the throngs at a packed IHSA playoff basketball game to root on the team from my son’s school, we began planning for impending quarantine. We hit the stores for some essentials, including a pork shoulder I could throw on the smoker and turn into a variety of meals, feeding us deliciously for days if need be.

We picked up some seeds for the coming growing season and some crowlers of beer from the local brewery. I ordered a new book of tuba lessons so I could improve on the instrument I’d resumed playing after 25 years.

We would be serious about sheltering in place. And we would be prepared.

But even during a pandemic, nobody is prepared to get sick.

Daily Southtown columnist Paul Eisenberg shares his experience as a COVID-19 patient at University of Chicago Medical Center: “I spent two nights in the pandemic wing of a city hospital during a global virus event, but I was one of the lucky ones.” Read more here.

4:53 p.m.: Lightfoot to seek retroactive City Council approval for budget powers to deal with coronavirus pandemic

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will ask aldermen next week to retroactively bless her executive order that gives her additional power to spend city money and make changes to the 2020 budget to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

The mayor issued the order on March 17, creating a new section in the city’s budget to consolidate coronavirus expenses and giving her the ability to move money around to cover the costs that are piling up as the city tries to cope with the pandemic.

The order also allows the city’s procurement department to “negotiate and execute contracts for emergency supplies and services” up to $1 million, up from the $500,000 cap on such emergency contracts that’s usually in place.

With aldermen grumbling about the move, Lightfoot will introduce an ordinance directly to the Budget Committee on Tuesday, asking for the City Council’s approval of the additional powers. In a bid to quell dissent, Lightfoot also has agreed that her administration will give weekly updates to aldermen on the virus spending. Read more here. —John Byrne

4:46 p.m.: Anderson’s Bookshop had plans to close La Grange location before coronavirus shutdown, employees say

But some employees expressed frustration that owners did not communicate on the fundraising post their plans to close the La Grange store in July, plans they said were told to employees before the state’s stay-at-home order shuttered the storefronts of all non-essential businesses.

As of Thursday, the fundraiser had raised more than $59,000 toward its $100,000 goal.

“Our three bookshops (Naperville, Downers Grove and La Grange), our Anderson’s Toyshop (Naperville) and our school bookfair division (Aurora) need assistance to support our hardworking employees, pay our rents, and allow us to serve you again once this crisis is over,” Anderson’s GoFundMe page reads.

The employees say they were told March 13 that the La Grange store would close July 31, the date when the lease term ended. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order took effect March 21. Read more here. —Bob Chiarito

4:43 p.m.: Provident Hospital to reopen emergency room Monday after coronavirus reconfiguration

Provident Hospital on Chicago’s South Side will reopen its emergency room on Monday after shuttering it for two weeks to reconfigure the facility to handle patients in a time of COVID-19 social distancing, Cook County Health and Hospitals officials announced Friday.

The announcement came less than an hour before nurses were set to speak out about the temporary closure during a shift change. The nurses’ response was organized by National Nurses United, a union.

Among the changes made to the emergency room: new seating to meet social distancing guidelines and set aside space for suspected COVID-19 patients; reconfigured nursing stations to meet the same guidelines; and designating triage, exam and isolation areas for COVID-19 patients.

Provident, a community hospital, and the much larger regional Stroger Hospital are both run by the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. A plan to build a new, $240 million Provident Hospital was put on hold last month after the ouster of Dr. Jay Shannon, the health system’s former CEO. The rest of Provident Hospital and a clinic at the location remained open during the renovations. —Hal Dardick

4:27 p.m.: Former Lake County jail inmate tests positive for coronavirus two days after release

Antonio Ellis of Des Plaines started feeling poorly on April 8.

He woke up that morning in his bunk at the Lake County jail with a headache and, when he stood up, his equilibrium was off. Concerned, he told a correctional officer, who called a nurse.

Ellis said he continued to feel sick through the remainder of the week, with his temperature at one point hitting 101.3 degrees, but the Lake County jail’s health care provider never tested Ellis for the novel coronavirus.

The Lake County jail has not tested any of its inmates for COVID-19, according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli, the spokesman for the jail. He also confirmed Friday that a 28-year-old Des Plaines man, who was in the jail Feb. 27 to April 13, had been tested at a Cook County hospital and come back with positive results. Read more here. —Emily K. Coleman

4:13 p.m.: Pharmacists push for coronavirus protections as they serve potentially ill customers

For generations, Illinois pharmacists have filled prescriptions in friendly, open-air settings without great fear that their normal give-and-take with customers would make them sick. But the coronavirus has changed all that.

With patients lining up at drugstore counters in the middle of a deadly pandemic, rank-and-file pharmacists have been pressing big chains and pharmacy owners to provide protective masks, gloves and sneeze guards to lessen the risks. Read more here. —Ray Long

3:27 p.m.: McCormick Place gets its first COVID-19 patients

McCormick Place got its first COVID-19 patients this week as health care professionals begin trying out the hastily built medical center.

Patients started arriving Tuesday afternoon, and five were there Friday, officials said.

“They are all people who have low-acuity COVID-19,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who noted that the pop-up hospital was not designed to treat the sickest patients. “They will be there for as long as it will take for them to recover.” Read more here. —Hal Dardick and Gregory Pratt

2:51 p.m.: Pritzker officially announces in-person learning will be suspended at schools statewide

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced in-person learning will be suspended at schools statewide through the end of the current school year to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

Schools statewide, both public and private, have been closed a full month, since March 17. Pritzker’s initial school closure order had an expiration date of March 30, which was then extended into April.

Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order is in effect until the end of this month, but he has strongly hinted this week that the order will be extended, with possible modifications. The order took effect March 21, and has been extended once so far. Pritzker said Thursday he planned to announce a decision about the stay-at-home order within the next week, as his administration announced the largest number of deaths the state has seen in a single day.

“Folks, I’ve said time and time again my decisions are hard ones, but they will follow the science and the science says our students can’t go back to their normal routine,” Pritzker said. “Therefore I am suspending in-person learning in schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. We know that there are many school districts with unique challenges, and we will work with them on any issues that may arise. I know that many have felt that this was inevitable. But trust me when I say this was not a decision I made lightly.”

The school closure announcement came as Pritzker’s administration reported 1,842 new known cases of the new coronavirus statewide, including 62 additional deaths. That’s the highest number of new known cases to date.

That brings the total of known cases statewide to 27,575 cases, including 1,134 deaths, with 92 of the state’s 102 counties reporting known cases.

Pritzker will also waive a student teaching requirement for educator candidates who have finished all other requirements needed to become licensed, and he has amended graduation requirements for high school seniors, allowing them to graduate without the normally required participation in consumer education and physical fitness assessments. —Jamie Munks

2:42 p.m.: With federal funds depleted, Chicago-area small businesses can get emergency loans locally. But the process is slow.

Chicago-area small businesses shut out by the depleted federal Paycheck Protection Program may look to the city and state for emergency relief during the coronavirus pandemic, but they shouldn’t expect a check anytime soon.

Established last month, the $100 million Chicago Small Business Resiliency Fund has received more than 8,000 applications, but has approved only 124 loans for about $4.7 million as of Friday, the city said.

“It is going to be a long process, we’re moving as quickly as we can,” said Rosa Escareno, commissioner of the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. “But we certainly understand that quick is just not quick enough for somebody who is really hurting right now.” Read more here. —Robert Channick

2:41 p.m.: Illinois National Guard activated for COVID-19 response at Park Forest developmental center with more than 100 cases

Members of the Illinois National Guard will soon begin performing temperature checks for staff at the state-run Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center to permit employees who had been conducting the checks to return to caring directly for residents, Illinois Department of Human Services spokeswoman Meghan Powers said.

Powers did not immediately say how many Guard members were involved in the effort or when they would take over the temperature checks, which are performed in the course of screening staff members for COVID-19 symptoms prior to their shifts. Read more here. —Zak Koeske

2:34 p.m.: Jenni Spinner, founder of Chicago’s Bon Jovi singalong, just lost her dad to the coronavirus

Al Spinner liked to tuck notes inside the cards he sent his kids for their birthdays and Christmas, not content to let the greeting card companies do all the talking for him.

“When I look at you, here is what I see,” he wrote to his daughter, Jenni, at Christmas 2019. “A well-rounded, educated, smart, clever, funny, caring and involved adult person.”

When Jenni’s dog, Willie, was getting old and struggling to jump onto the bed at night, Al Spinner built a set of stairs (carpeted, no less), to ease Willie’s way. He used the wood from an old cornhole set he’d built a few years back.

“He loved to work with his hands, and he loved to do favors,” Jenni said Friday.

Al Spinner died Thursday from COVID-19. He was 71. Read more here. —Heidi Stevens

1:16 p.m.: Pandemic pivot: How Chicago-area businesses and workers are managing the coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Chicago-area companies and workers to face harsh realities about their paychecks and their place in the local economy. The Tribune is reaching out to hear, and share, their stories. Read more here.

1:11 p.m.: Layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts begin as architects see building slow and fear worse is ahead

As scores of architects were laid off and forced to find make-due jobs during the 1992 real estate recession, a cruel joke made its way around Chicago.

“How do you find an architect?

Now, a dozen years after the Great Recession of 2008 put another cohort of architects out of work, the coronavirus pandemic is placing a financial squeeze on design firms as some clients hit the pause button, revenue streams dry up, and economic storm clouds loom on the horizon.

As a result, it appears likely that more architects will join the 22 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in the last month due to virus-related shutdowns. Read more here. —Blair Kamin

12:08 p.m.: ‘Outgunned, outmanned and underfunded’: Inside Roseland hospital’s battle against the coronavirus

Inside the Roseland Community Hospital intensive care unit, nurse Subu Kirugulige suctions secretions from the mouth of a COVID-19 patient, an unconscious middle-aged man who has been on a ventilator for several days.

A television plays quietly in the background as Kirugulige goes about his work in the cramped room, a three-walled stall with a privacy curtain. The nurse never once glances at the screen, not even when a city public health official declares Chicago has begun to flatten the coronavirus curve.

But Kirugulige’s brow — one of the few parts of his head not covered by a mask or hair net — furrows behind his large face shield.

His 10-bed ICU has been at capacity for weeks. At the moment, there are nine confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. Eight patients are on ventilators. Many of them have organs threatening to fail.

“And I’ve got three more in the emergency room who are waiting for a bed up here,” Kirugulige says after leaving the patient’s room. “I know the city has all the data, but it doesn’t feel like anything is flattening for us.” Read more here. —Stacy St. Clair

12:05 p.m.: Chicago alderman proposes benefits fund for essential city workers who die in a disaster, such as coronavirus pandemic

A Chicago alderman wants to create a fund to pay benefits to the families of city workers who die because they’re required to work during a disaster such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th, said city workers deemed essential during a catastrophe should get benefits like police and firefighters who die in the line of duty. He plans to introduce an “Essential Municipal Employees’ Death Benefit Fund” ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Lopez, a critic of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, wants an initial $1 million payment into the fund. That would cover an $8,000 payment for the employee’s funeral expenses, plus payments of between $20,000 and $40,000 to the surviving family members based on how many children are in the household and whether another parent is still alive.

Families would be eligible for benefits if a family member who works for the city dies “during any current, continuing or future crisis, regardless if it is a natural or man-made phenomenon,” according to Lopez.

While Lightfoot has ordered many members of the city’s huge workforce to work from home, those providing services deemed essential, such as garbage pickup, parts of the water department and various other agencies, have remained on the job. Read more here. —John Byrne

11:54 a.m.: Pritzker expected to close schools for remainder of academic year

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to order that the state’s schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus crisis, sources told the Tribune.

Shutting down the state’s schools was one of the first major moves by Pritzker to address COVID-19 before issuing a statewide stay-at-home order.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday said she expected an announcement to come soon. Though she said she hasn’t discussed keeping schools closed for the rest of the school year with Pritzker, Lightfoot said she would like to talk with him before he announces any decision.

“We have not had that conversation yet with the governor although we are hearing that he might make some kind of announcement later this week,” Lightfoot said. Read more here. —Gregory Pratt

11:45 a.m.: ‘Better Call Saul’ star says son, a DePaul student, had coronavirus

“Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk, who grew up in Naperville, said his son contracted the coronavirus a few weeks ago. Nathan Odenkirk majors in political science at DePaul University.

“My only big concern was Nate had dealt with asthma for a good chunk of his life, so I worried that that would be an extra complication. In the end, it was pretty bad, and it was worse than the flu. And according to him, the pain in his throat was the worst thing of all. But I think also the fatigue, and it lasted longer than the flu. But you know I’d say he got out pretty easily, obviously, compared to a lot of people,” Odenkirk said Thursday on “The Late Late Show with James Corden.” —Tracy Swartz

11:41 a.m.: Man charged with attacking nurse on CTA bus after accusing her of coughing on him

Felony charges have been filed against a man accused of punching a nurse on a CTA bus after complaining that she coughed on him and tried to infect him with the coronavirus.

The nurse, 31, told police she was still wearing her scrubs and mask, and was riding the bus home with a co-worker. She coughed into her elbow and a 29-year-old man accused her of trying to give him the coronavirus, police said. He punched her in the face as he got off the bus. Read more here. —Chicago Tribune staff

11:28 a.m.: Major Frida Kahlo exhibition postponed

“Frida Kahlo 2020” is now going to take place in 2021. The new title? “Frida Kahlo: Timeless.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of DuPage’s Cleve Carney Art Museum is pushing back by almost exactly a year what it says will be the largest exhibition of the iconic Mexican painter’s work in the Chicago area since the 1970s.

Originally scheduled for June 1 to Aug. 31 of 2021, the show will run June 5 to Sept. 6, 2021. Read more here. —Steve Johnson

11:07 a.m.: Third Chicago police officer dies after contracting COVID-19

A third Chicago police officer has died from complications stemming from COVID-19, according to the department.

The officer was assigned to the South Chicago patrol district, which covers the area from 75th Street to the southern edge of the city, and from roughly the Bishop Ford expressway east to Indiana. Read more here. —Peter Nickeas

11:06 a.m.: Wall Street credits ratings agency downgrades Illinois’ debt to one notch above junk status

A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that his administration is projecting the coronavirus pandemic will blow a $2.7 billion hole in this year’s state budget and create an even larger gap next year, a Wall Street credits ratings agency downgraded Illinois’ debt to one notch above junk status.

Fitch Ratings on Thursday downgraded the state’s credit from BBB to BBB-, a reflection of the havoc COVID-19 is wreaking on the state’s precarious finances.

The downgrade “reflects Fitch’s anticipation of a fundamental weakening of the state’s financial resilience given its already tenuous position entering the current severe downturn,” according to the agency’s analysis.

“While Illinois should avoid any immediate cash flow pressures, the state’s lack of meaningful reserves and the limited nature of other fiscal-management tools at its disposal mean Illinois will be challenged to maintain its investment-grade” rating, Fitch said.

Fitch noted that its rating for Illinois is “well below the level of other states” and reflects a long history of “weak operating performance and irresolute fiscal decision-making.” It’s also a reflection of the state’s “elevated” long-term liabilities, including $137 billion in pension debt.

In addition to downgrading the state’s credit rating, which could result in higher borrowing costs that would ultimately be borne by taxpayers, Fitch changed its outlook for Illinois’ finances from “stable” to “negative.”

The agency improved its outlook for the state to “stable” last summer after Illinois received a surprise influx of tax revenue in April 2019 and Pritzker signed what Fitch at the time called a “plausible and achievable” $40 billion spending plan for the current year.

Fitch projects that an economic recovery could begin in the second half of 2020. However, “should the downturn extend well beyond that point, even if for Illinois alone, Fitch’s assessment of the state’s long-term economic growth prospects could be fundamentally weakened from an already modest level,” its analysis says. “This would pressure all aspects of the state’s credit profile.” Read more here. —Dan Petrella

10:42 a.m.: Pritzker strolls with Shedd Aquarium penguins, chastises fish in latest ‘All in Illinois’ video to encourage social distancing

Gov. J.B. Pritzker released a video Friday for the “All in Illinois” campaign featuring a new celebrity cohort—the animals at Shedd Aquarium.

In the video, Pritzker strolls around the aquarium with rockhopper penguins, encouraging them to socially distance by walking six feet apart. Using sea otters and garden eels as examples, the governor also reminds viewers to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, and stay home.

“What is this? Lollapalooza?” Pritzker playfully shouts at a tank full of hundreds of fish before instructing viewers to avoid gathering.

“Shedd Aquarium is proud to partner with the state of Illinois to support and promote the unifying message of ‘All in Illinois’,” Shedd Aquarium CEO and President Bridget Coughlin said in a statement Friday. “We sincerely hope the incredible connection and joy the aquatic world brings to millions of guests each year will also help to amplify this important message to millions more during this unprecedented time when we all must do our part to stay healthy and safe. Read more here. —Antonia Ayres-Brown

9 a.m.: COVID-19 outbreak at Lincoln Park nursing home leaves 4 dead, 10 others sickened as workers run low on protective gowns, other supplies

An outbreak of COVID-19 at a Lincoln Park nursing home has left four residents dead and 10 other people ill with the coronavirus, including six other residents and four workers, according to the religious order that runs the facility.

The virus seemed to spread quickly at St. Mary’s Home, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor at 2325 N. Lakewood Ave., according to Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the order. The facility consists of two connected buildings and contains 76 beds in the nursing home section and 50 independent living apartments.

The facility had tried practicing social distancing for weeks, including serving dinner at individual rooms. But within days, residents started to become sick with COVID-19, Veit said. All four residents who died were in the nursing home, she said. They were between 71 to 97 years old. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón and Cecilia Reyes

8:50 a.m.: Hundreds of people have died of COVID-19 at Illinois nursing homes. The state won’t say which homes.

Nearly 300 Illinois nursing home patients and staff have died from COVID-19, but exactly where still remains largely cloaked in secrecy.

Unlike some states, Illinois hasn’t named specific facilities where the virus has been detected. That’s been true even in cases of significant clusters of deaths.

While state officials signal that could be changing, for now patients, staff and family members often must rely on homes themselves to disclose cases, such as a Joliet home on Wednesday announcing 23 total deaths.

The lack of comprehensive information has led one advocacy group, AARP Illinois, to ask the state to begin posting cases and death counts online for each nursing home. Read more here. —Joe Mahr, Robert McCoppin, Dan Hinkel, Elvia Malagon, Cecilia Reyes

8:30 a.m.: With CPS report cards due, some teachers decry plans to grade students during shutdown

How students’ schoolwork will be graded during the pandemic is a topic that has created confusion since the statewide school shutdown began on March 17.

So when Chicago Public Schools let teachers and families know this week that, with the end of the third quarter, report cards would be forthcoming, some said they were taken by surprise.

With a large chunk of the third quarter having taken place after classrooms were shut down, the Chicago Teachers Union says it’s unfair to give grades to students, especially when some don’t have access to a computer or the internet.

“The customary way of grading is inappropriate given remote learning during a global health pandemic,” Union President Jesse Sharkey said in a news release. Read more here. —Hannah Leone

7:30 a.m.: At 108 years old, Luther Coleman was ‘always trying to help somebody.’ He is the oldest person in Cook County to die from the coronavirus

A little over a month ago, Luther Coleman celebrated his 108th birthday surrounded by generations of family who loved him.

They gathered at the Avantara Evergreen Park nursing home, where Coleman had lived in recent years. The celebration of a long, full life would be the last time his family would get to enjoy the company of a man who seemed to know everything.

Coleman died April 11 after contracting the coronavirus, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He is the oldest person in Cook County to die from the virus, the office said.

“His memory was as good as yours and he could still read without glasses,” said his niece, Bertha Gunter. Read more here. —Morgan Greene

6:45 a.m.: Wisconsin governor extends stay-at-home order another month, closes schools for rest of academic year, angering Republicans

Gov. Tony Evers has closed all K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year and extended Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order for another month, keeping most nonessential businesses shuttered until after the Memorial Day holiday weekend to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Wisconsin Republicans reacted with anger to Evers’ extension, threatening lawsuits, the firing of his health secretary and other curbs on his power.

The president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the powerful state chamber of commerce, also called the legality of the order into question, saying it will lead to more businesses closing and people losing their jobs. Read more here. —Associated Press

6:40 a.m.: Busy, yet struggling: Illinois hospitals lose $1.4 billion a month as coronavirus cancels surgeries

Though Illinois hospitals are, in many ways, busier than ever as they care for patients with the new coronavirus, they’re also taking a financial beating that’s affecting their workers and raising questions about how the institutions will recover once the worst of the pandemic has passed.

The Illinois Health and Hospital Association estimates that hospitals statewide could now be losing about $1.4 billion a month. That’s the money hospitals are missing out on because of canceled elective surgeries and fewer visits by other patients, many of whom may be avoiding medical care for fear of catching the virus.

Hospitals across the country are receiving federal dollars to help them handle their cash-flow issues, but experts say it’s not nearly enough to plug the financial holes many are now facing. Read more here. —Lisa Schencker and David Heinzmann

6:30 a.m.: For a front-lines pharmacist at Rush, for a Homewood librarian, it’s all an anxious Monday: Another Chicago day in the life of coronavirus

About a month ago, as Illinois began to stay at home, as work vanished, as movie theaters closed and supermarkets emptied, we asked four people in the Chicago area to keep a diary for 24 hours and record their thoughts, fears, hopes — to note how the world was upending.

A month ago was long ago.

A month, in corona-time, is more like a lifetime, a day closer to a week, and a week becomes a month. So, it seemed natural then, now deep into a pandemic, to ask another four people to keep diaries for a day and observe a transformed world. What follows are excerpts from those notes, taken again on a Monday, edited and condensed and with added context. Read more here. —Christopher Borrelli

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