By Mark Dice – May 15, 2020
AOC is less intelligent than a brain damaged goat. And, that’s being generous.
By Mark Dice – May 15, 2020
By Jim Hoft – 4/30/2020
An Illinois legislator on Wednesday filed a second legal challenge to Pritzker saying the Democrat governor’s emergency powers are limited to 30 days and that Pritzker therefore had no right to extend his March 21 order through the end of May.
But not all Illinois residents are equal.
Governor Pritzker recently sent his wife and kids to Florida during the state stay-at-home orders.
Pritzker is the latest Democrat leader to get caught breaking the very rules he set for the people of his state.
When confronted on his family’s Florida trip Pritzker told the reporter, “In politics it used to be we kept our families out of it. Yeah, my official duties have nothing to do with my family. So, I’m just not going to answer that question.”
By Tyler Durden – 03/31/2020
In Beverly Hills, the Pottery Barn and West Elm stores near Rodeo Drive were spotted with boards across the windows according to TMZ.
Meanwhile, stores in New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Paris, Vancouver and elsewhere were similarly boarded up.
An individual, right, stands outside of the tent that Edward Hospital set up outside the emergency room in order to test possible coronavirus patients, on March 17, 2020, in Naperville. Six patients were tested Tuesday morning for coronavirus.
On Wednesday, a day after voters went to the polls as 55 new cases of COVID-19 brought the total in the state since the start of the outbreak 160, people were expected to hunker down and settle in for a period of isolation.
Officials Tuesday also announced 22 cases at a nursing home in Willowbrook where an initial case was announced there over the weekend. The coronavirus pandemic has sickened more than 200,000 people around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. More than 8,000 have died, about half of them outside mainland China.
The United States has seen about 6,500 coronavirus cases and more than 110 deaths.
The Tribune is keeping a running list of Chicago-area closings and cancellations and asking experts to answer your questions about COVID-19.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois:
The Illinois Department of Public Health on Wednesday announced 128 new cases of coronavirus in the state, with confirmed cases in two new counties, Kendall and Madison counties.
The statewide total is now 288 cases of coronavirus in 17 counties across Illinois, with cases in people aged 9 to 91.
The state also said 20 more people at a long-term care facility in DuPage County have tested positive for COVID19. In all, 42 people associated with the facility have been stricken, 30 residents and 12 staff.
The first case at the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook was announced over the weekend. — Jamie Munks
A private school in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood has reported six cases of coronavirus, a cluster that might have stemmed from a fundraiser held earlier this month, according its website.
The Lycée Français school president said in an online posting that “all parts of our adult community have been touched,” including parents and staff members. Read more here. – Elyssa Cherney
With state driver’s service facilities closed until at least April 1, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday issued an executive order that temporarily suspends state code dealing with the expiration of vehicle registrations, driver’s licenses, permits and parking decals.
The governor’s order also suspended the state law that sets out requirements for identification cards issued by the Secretary of State.
The order extends 30 days past the end of Pritzker’s disaster proclamation, which extends to April 8. — Jamie Munks
Citing concerns for the health and safety of employees and customers, Fox Valley Mall in Aurora announced it will close Thursday due to the coronavirus outbreak.The mall said it will be closed until approximately April 1. Fox Valley Mall is owned by Centennial Real Estate, which also owns Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills. Read more here.
The economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic mounted Wednesday with word that Detroit’s Big Three automakers have agreed to shut down all their North American factories to protect workers.
Two people briefed on the matter said Wednesday that Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler have agreed to close their factories. The two spoke on condition of anonymity because the closings had not been announced.
The move would idle about 150,000 workers, who are likely to receive supplemental pay in addition to unemployment benefits. The two checks combined will about equal what the workers normally make. — Associated Press
Carts full of toilet paper lead one to ponder just how much damage we can do to our toilets during self-quarantine. (Bidets are becoming popular.) According to Patrick Sullivan, a 24-year plumbing veteran with Wheeling-based Taylor Plumbing Inc., it’s a lot of damage if common sense isn’t used.
Baby wipes? Those don’t go in the toilet.
As for Kleenex? That, too, is a no-go.
Paper towels? Nope. Read more here.
Will County courts will run on a limited scheduled through April in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt ordered Tuesday.
The order reschedules some court cases, including traffic and ordinance violations, to a later date. Notice of the new dates will be mailed by the circuit court clerk’s office. Read more here.
Doreen Hall stood outside her mom’s first-floor room window at Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center on Wednesday morning to get in a short visit — even if it was from outside the building.
“I have to see my mom … that’s my little girl,“ said Hall, who parked her car along the entrance road to the facility and walked across the lawn to her mother’s window.
Her mother, Phyllis Wade, is among the residents inside the Willowbrook nursing home where, officials announced Tuesday, 22 people have tested positive for the coronavirus. The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that six of the patients have been hospitalized, all are in isolation, and public health workers are tracing the people with whom they have been in contact.
Her mother has tested negative. Read more here.
The city of Chicago will ease up on its debt collection practices to give people a break on certain ticket violations as part of an effort to help residents amid the coronavirus outbreak, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Wednesday.
Through at least April 30, Lightfoot said, the city will suspend booting for defaults on payment plans for city debts, she said. The city also will abe limiting ticketing, towing and impounding solely to what she said are public safety related issues.
“We’ve been hearing from lots of folks,” Lightfoot said. — Gregory Pratt
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has activated an Illinois National Guard unit with medical expertise, deploying them throughout the state in an attempt to combat the coronavirus.
The governor called up about 60 service members, including 43 Airmen from the Peoria-based 182nd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group and 17 planners and liaison officers from both National Guard and Air National Guard units from across the state. The group includes medical planners, who will help with the anticipated rise in COVID-19 cases.
Pritzker said the service members will perform “a variety of missions” in the coming days and weeks. For now, the units may assist in distributing meals to schoolchildren who might not be getting enough food during the state-ordered school closures until March 30, the governor said. Read more here. – Stacy St. Clair and Dan Petrella
A man in his 30s is the first Oak Park resident confirmed to have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
According to a village release, the man was screened and tested for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, on Monday at Rush Oak Park Hospital. The positive test was confirmed two days later, officials said. Read more here.
Chicago has joined a growing list of cities establishing COVID-19 relief funds to deploy immediate resources to the families and neighborhoods hit hardest by the economic fallout of the new coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metro Chicago announced the launch of the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, a place where individuals and corporations can donate money to be pooled and distributed to local nonprofits with experience in providing food, housing, health care, child care and other crucial assistance to residents in need.
Within the first 24 hours of launching, the fund raised $8 million. Read more here.
Flight operations at Midway International Airport remained slowed Wednesday after three employees tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Midway’s air traffic control tower remained closed Wednesday for a thorough cleaning, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory said in an email.
The airport is open, but operations remain limited, Chicago Department of Aviation spokesman Matt McGrath said in an email Wednesday. Flights, which can be controlled from an alternate air traffic control facility, were being allowed to land and take off one at a time. As of noon Wednesday, more than half of all flights departing from and arriving at Midway had been canceled, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
“We’re working with the FAA to resume normal operations as quickly and safely as possible — which ultimately means having the tower back in service,” McGrath said. – Lauren Zumbach
A person affiliated with Columbia College Chicago has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a notice posted online. The school did not disclose whether the confirmed case is a student, faculty or staff member.
The person, who is self-isolating and reported only mild symptoms, last visited the campus on Friday, according to a message from Kwang-Wu Kim, president and CEO of the school. The person was in one campus building – located at 33 E. Ida B. Wells Drive – within the last two weeks, and it has been closed for a deep cleaning, Kim said.All other campus buildings and campus housing will close Sunday at 5 p.m. until “further notice,” according to the school.
Columbia College had already suspended all in-person classes and activities through April 6, when courses are expected to resume remotely. – Elyssa Cherney
Ford temporarily shut down production at the Chicago Assembly Plant on the city’s Southeast Side after a confirmed coronavirus case at a Hammond, Ind., seat manufacturing plant disrupted the supply chain.
Michigan-based Lear, which owns the plant, halted operations Tuesday after a worker tested positive for a coronavirus infection. The plant is closed for cleaning, Lear spokesman Brian Corbett said Wednesday.
“The timetable is uncertain for when the plant will reopen, but the intention at this time is to reopen the plant after the cleaning is complete,” Corbett said. “It could take several days to clean the entire facility.”
Ford spokeswoman Kelli Felker confirmed Wednesday the temporary shutdown over the seat supply shortage, but did not offer a timetable for resuming production at the Chicago Assembly Plant.
The automaker’s oldest plant in continuous operation has more than 5,500 hourly employees working three shifts to build the Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator and Police Interceptor SUVs.
The UAW and Detroit’s Big Three automakers – Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler – formed a coronavirus task force this week to implement enhanced protections for manufacturing employees, including social distancing, health screening and increased cleaning efforts. – Robert Channick
On Chicago’s West Side, street outreach workers plan to wear gloves to pass out printed cards with public health information while using social media and the phone to keep in touch with community members and clients.
In Humboldt Park, workers are driving by known hot spots for violence to make sure large crowds aren’t gathering.
While much of the city has closed down to slow the spread of the coronavirus, outreach workers are adapting their strategies to safely serve their neighborhoods where gun violence has been rising this year. Homicides jumped 50% in January, raising concerns after three consecutive years of declines following a spike in 2016.
“We’re trying to flatten the curve, knowing it will hit the neighborhood, knowing we work with the highest risk population,” said Teny Gross, executive director of the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago, which works in Austin, West Garfield Park and Back of the Yards. Read more here.
Retailers from national chains to local supermarkets are encouraging consumers to set aside early morning hours for shoppers who could be at greater risk from the new coronavirus and could be hesitant to shop in crowded stores.
North suburban supermarket Sunset Foods said it plans to set aside the hour after stores open at 7 a.m. for older shoppers or people with health conditions that could make the virus more of a concern, starting Wednesday. Several customers expressed interest in the idea on social media and in emails, said marketing director Sarah Hanlon.
Dollar General, Target, Whole Foods and Jewel-Osco also said they are setting aside time for customers who could be more vulnerable.
Whole Foods and Dollar General said they will set aside an hour for older shoppers each day. Whole Foods said customers who are at least 60 can shop for an hour before a store’s posted opening time. Dollar General asks other shoppers to visit at least an hour after stores open “to allow at-risk populations the ability to purchase the items they need at affordable prices,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s CEO, said in a statement Monday.
Starting this week, Target is reserving the first hour of shopping every Wednesday for “vulnerable guests,” including elderly shoppers and people underlying health concerns, the retailer said Tuesday.
Jewel-Osco’s “Senior Hours,” also intended for “vulnerable” shoppers, will run from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. every Tuesday and Thursday, the company said.
It’s not clear whether the larger retailers will enforce the limits. Sunset Foods, which has stores in Highland Park, Lake Forest, Libertyville, Long Grove and Northbrook, said it won’t check early-morning shoppers at the door.“
We’re just asking the community to do their part to let this vulnerable group have a safer space to shop in,” Hanlon said. – Lauren Zumbach
The state of Illinois has launched a website intended to serve as a clearinghouse for information about coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday. The website has information about the confirmed coronavirus case count in Illinois, as well as information about resources for unemployment assistance, insurance and Medicaid coverage. The website is coronavirus.illinois.gov
An employee for the Chicago Department of Procurement Services has tested positive for COVID-19, a city spokeswoman said.
Officials do not believe the employee contracted the virus at work, an official said. It was unclear whether the case was previously disclosed.
The Department of Assets, Information & Services cleaned and disinfected its office as well as the employee’s workspace and City Hall’s common areas, according to a statement from the city.
“We continue to work closely with the CDPH and follow the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines as we ensure proper protocols and preventative measures are in place for the health and safety of our staff,” the statement said. – John Byrne
Lake County has its third confirmed COVID-19 case, officials said Wednesday.
Indiana has nine new positive cases of the coronavirus, bringing to 39 the number in the state.
The new cases involve two in Marion County, home to Indianapolis, and one each in Clark, Fayette, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jennings, Lake and Madison counties, the Indiana State Department of Health reported.
Indiana has recorded two COVID-19 deaths, one each in Marion and Johnson counties, the department has said. – Post-Tribune staff and Associated Press
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the public will not be allowed to attend Thursday night’s monthly Chicago Police Board meeting.
For the first time in recent memory, the public only will be allowed to listen in on the 7:30 p.m. meeting through an audio conference call, according to city officials. For more information about how to listen in on the call, please visit the police board’s website.
The police board is a nine-member panel that decides on the most serious police disciplinary allegations at its monthly meetings. The public typically is permitted to sign up to speak at the meetings on police matters each month. – Jeremy Gorner
Advocate Lutheran General in Park Ridge had signs outside the hospital Wednesday, indicating that coronavirus testing was available on a drive-up basis if people have registered in advance, as Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn prepped to be able to do testing, along with other hospitals in the system. Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital last week began a pilot program for its hospital system, Advocate Aurora, to do similar drive-up COVID-19 screening.
Wednesday morning, a white tent sat outside Lutheran General on hospital property, with medical providers in full blue protective gear and face masks. Signs with arrows pointed to the area, directing people to near the tent for COVID-19 testing.
A man in a brown Honda Civic pulled up to the tent, in an area that’s usually a parking lot but is now sectioned off with yellow caution tape. Four medical providers in full blue gowns, gloves, face masks and hair coverings were in or around the tent. One medical provider holding a laptop approached the driver’s side of the vehicle.
The line was only two or three cars at any point, and there did not appear to be any wait.Dmitra Miller, 43, from Chicago’s West Side, said she heard reports of drive-thru testing and pulled up, but was told she needed to call her doctor first and make an appointment. Miller, who was wearing a face mask, said she’s had symptoms of the highly contagious new virus and was frustrated that it isn’t easier to get tested.
“There should be a better setup,” she said, adding that she plans to try to come back later.Meanwhile, Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn was being prepped to act as one of the Advocate system’s testing sites for the new coronavirus, a spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
“We are working on logistics now for Christ to be a testing site,” said Johnna Kelly, a spokeswoman for the hospital group, in an email. “We will provide you with more details when those have been confirmed.”A sign outside Christ Medical Center identified the hospital as a “COVID-19 temporary drive-up testing site,” and warning people that “If you do not have a testing order from your physician, STOP. Do not proceed.”
Advocate has 12 hospitals in Illinois.The preparations come in the wake of other private medical practices also starting to do curbside testing. Read more here
– Angie Leventis Lourgos
Local transit operators continue to report a decline in ridership because of the new coronavirus. Pace, the suburban bus service, said it saw a 6% drop in fixed route ridership last week, and preliminary numbers from this week show a greater tumble, according to spokeswoman Maggie Daly Skogsbakken.
Metra said it’s number of passengers on Monday was 30% below a typical Monday, and spokesman Michael Gillis said the count will likely be lower on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Skogsbakken said Pace has plans for potential service reductions, but that it has a duty to keep operational so people have access to work, medical services and food.
“We will follow the direction of our governmental and public health officials and continue to operate service to the extent possible for as long as possible,” Skogsbakken said in an email.
Pace already has moved to “non-school service” operations on routes that ordinarily see a lot of students, and is not running service for special events since they are all canceled, Skogsbakken said. Pace is asking riders, especially seniors and others at higher risk, to limit travel to essential trips. – Mary Wisniewski
United Airlines has slashed about 60% of the flights it expected to operate in April as travel restrictions designed to contain the new coronavirus pandemic take a toll on demand for travel. Read more here
– Lauren Zumbach
After more than a decade of boom times, Chicago developers, contractors and construction workers face an unexpected obstacle to continued prosperity.
Wide-ranging safety precautions are being implemented on job sites to limit the potential spread of the new coronavirus, and to try to avoid the fate of Boston, which on Monday became the first U.S. city to shut down construction entirely. On the West Coast, nine counties in the San Francisco Bay region issued a shelter-in-place order that could affect construction projects there.
A similar construction shutdown in Chicago could endanger the ongoing construction cycle that has reshaped the city’s skyline. Along with the jobs created during construction, the new towers have helped support waves of jobs moving downtown from the suburbs and other cities and boosted the residential population downtown. Read more here
– Ryan Ori
The Porter County Health Department is monitoring 19 people who have signs of COVID-19, a department official told the Board of Commissioners Tuesday.
Of that group, four have been tested for the new coronavirus, said John Pisowicz, the emergency preparedness coordinator for the health department, and two have tested negative. Another two test results are pending, including one for a person with a compromised immune system.
“We would love to keep it out of our county. That is not feasible in this current situation,” said Maria Stamp, the county’s health officer and a medical doctor.
The goal right now is to minimize and slow the spread of the virus so intensive care unit beds are available for those who need them, she said.
“People likely have this and don’t know it,” Stamp said. Read more here
– Amy Lavalley
A medical marijuana dispensary in the Rogers Park neighborhood, Greengate Chicago, has temporarily shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“The risk to all has become too great, and for the greater good of humanity, we have shut our doors for approximately two weeks, to clean and quarantine,” said an email the dispensary sent to customers Tuesday night. “We will miss you all during these difficult times.”
Greengate only sells medical marijuana, and is one of the first dispensaries to stop medical sales because of COVID-19. Special effort is being made throughout the industry to protect the state’s more than 104,000 medical marijuana patients, many of whom have compromised immune systems. Other dispensaries have been adjusting hours, increasing disinfecting efforts and limiting customer entry.
The Herbal Care Center, a dispensary near the Pilsen neighborhood, is also closing to do a deep clean on Thursday, according to a text alert sent to customers. The store plans to resume medical sales Friday, but recreational sales are suspended until further notice.Other shops, including Dispensary33 in the Uptown neighborhood and MOCA Modern Cannabis in the Logan Square neighborhood, also have stopped recreational sales.
Greengate’s closure came days after the state issued guidance to dispensaries on how to help contain COVID-19. The stores must ensure customers don’t come within 6 feet of other patrons, and may take orders from medical patients at the curb or in the parking lot, outside of their shops. – Ally Marotti
The man who makes his living “putting heads in beds” is concerned about the effects of coronavirus reactions will hurt all aspects of the hospitality industry.
Speros Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, said the impact on the hospitality industry and the workers that make their livelihood from it will be devastating.
“This is 25 times worse than Sept. 11,” Batistatos said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the message was different, he said. There was a plan outlining how the government was working and the steps being taken to keep people safe. Batistatos said Americans were encouraged to get out, live their lives and not let anyone keep them down. “Let’s keep the country going.” Read more here
– Carrie Napoleon
A DePaul University faculty member has tested postive for the coronavirus, the school announced early Wednesday morning.
The faculty member, who works at 1150 W. Fullerton Ave., told school officials he was last in the building briefly on Sunday with someone not connected with DePaul but who has also tested positive.
“For precautions and the safety of the community, the building at 1150 W. Fullerton Ave. — including the Chicago Public Library branch and Amita Sage Medical — will close today, March 18, to allow for cleaning,” the school said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.
Amita Sage Medical at the Lincoln Park Campus will reopen on Thursday, it said.
On Tuesday, all university libraries were closed, including the Richardson Library, Loop Library and Rinn Law Library in Lewis Center. All university computer labs were also closed.
Also Tuesday, the Ray Meyer Fitness Center was closed until further notice. All operations and programs were suspended, including drop-in recreation, programs, classes and group fitness.
And starting Wednesday and continiuing through Spring Break, access to the Lincoln Park Student Center will be limited to DePaul students, faculty and staff. DePaul IDs will need to be shown to gain entry, the school said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was scheduled to meet Wednesday morning with officials in Belleville at the St. Clair County Health Department “to discuss the statewide response to COVID-19,” then hold the state’s daily briefing on the new coronavirus Wednesday afternoon in Murphysboro in southern Illinois. — Chicago Tribune staff
The University of Chicago announced Tuesday that a student has tested positive for coronavirus. The Booth School of Business student lives off-campus and is receiving treatment, according to a statement from the university.
The university established a call center for those with questions regarding the virus, which can be reached at 773-795-5374. Questions can also be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. — Paige Fry
A staff member at Libertyville High School in the north suburbs has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to district officials.
District 128 Supt. Prentiss Lea announced the case Tuesday night, the first instance an employee of Lake County K-12 school was confirmed to have COVID-19.
“District 128 continues to take the COVID-19 situation very seriously,” Lea said in a statement. “We are fortunate to partner with the experts at the Lake County Health Department during this uncertain time, and out of an abundance of caution will continue to follow their lead and directives.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least eight cases of coronavirus were reported in Lake County, according to the county health department. It was not immediately clear whether the Libertyville High School employee was among them.
Libertyville High School, along with other Lake County schools, closed Monday as part of a concerted effort to contain the spread of coronavirus.
At District 128, school buildings will be closed this week and also the week after the district’s spring break, which lasts from March 23 through March 27. – Alice Yin
According to the Illinois National Guard, Gov. J.B. Pritzker activated about 60 service members to assist with COVID-19 response.
These include 43 Airmen from the Peoria-based 182nd Airlift Wing’s Medical Group, and 17 planners and liaison officers from both Army National Guard and Air National Guard units from across the state, including medical planners. The activation is to assist with anticipated need for logistical support and medical staffing.
The mayor of Buffalo Grove issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the village Tuesday, after a village employee is suspected of being exposed to the new coronavirus.
“Effective at midnight tonight, all places of public assemblage are ordered closed. This includes public lobbies in all public facilities, except for the Buffalo Grove Police Department. The closures also apply to health and fitness centers, movie theaters, bowling alleys and recreational/entertainment facilities where the public gathers,” read the order from Village President Beverly Sussman. Read more here. – Elizabeth Owens-Schiele
The Cook County medical examiner’s office is reviewing the death of a 61-year-old woman who had tested positive for COVID-19, according to a spokeswoman.
The woman, who lived on the city’s South Side, was pronounced dead at 9:40 p.m. Monday at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
“The Office will conduct a records review on Wednesday, March 18 to determine … cause and manner of death,” a statement from the spokeswoman said. – Elyssa Cherney
A business student at the Illinois Institute of Technology has tested positive for COVID-19, the Chicago school’s first confirmed case on campus, according to a notification sent Thursday.
The student, enrolled in the Stuart School of Business, is in self-isolation off campus and was asymptomatic when last at the university on Thursday. School officials said they could not identify the student due to privacy reasons but said the student had recently been to the downtown campus and its athletic facility.“
The university has since conducted extensive cleaning of these locations to further limit the risks,” the notice said.
Prior to the first diagnosis, IIT announced it was moving all coursework online “until further notice” and canceling a commencement ceremony scheduled for May 16. – Elyssa Cherney
Flight operations at Midway International Airport’s have slowed after three employees tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The airport is still open and will continue to operate “at a reduced rate until the situation is resolved,” the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
Southwest Airlines said flights landing at or departing from Midway have been delayed and could be canceled.
More than 50 flights Tuesday and Wednesday could be affected, said Southwest spokeswoman Ro Hawthorne.
“We have been notified by the FAA that out of an abundance of caution, access to the air traffic control tower at Midway International Airport will be limited, and flight operations will shift to “one-in-one-out.” Subsequently, the FAA has implemented a ground delay program, which applies to any flight bound for Midway that has not yet departed its point of origin. Midway remains open, but operations will be limited until further notice. Travelers are encouraged to contact their airline for the most up-to-date flight information,” the city’s Aviation Department said in an email.
Earlier Tuesday, the FAA said the tower at the Southwest Side airport was cleaned and remained staffed. – Lauren Zumbach
Starting Wednesday, BEDS Plus Care will consolidate its shelter operations at one location and restrict capacity to no more than 50 guests for as long as the coronavirus remains a threat.
Beds Plus typically rotates the location of its overnight shelters between 17 churches in Chicago’s south and western Cook County suburbs, one night at a time, said BEDS Plus communications specialist Valerie Vedral. Read more here.
Chicago Botanic Garden, which had been trying to keep its outdoor spaces open for people to enjoy a walk in nature, said Tuesday it will close effective at 5 p.m. through April 30. The move follows “the recommendations of federal, state, and county officials on the coronavirus health crisis,” the 385-acre Glencoe nature park said in a statement.
Outdoor spaces at Brookfield Zoo and Morton Arboretum remain open. – Steve Johnson
Chicago’s 911 operators were expected to begin screening some callers for possible coronavirus symptoms, the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications said Tuesday.
Plans called for the operators to screen some callers, such as those reporting a medical emergency, and ask about risk factors.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Police Department has announced it will have teams of officers in each district who will be designated to respond to any call for service in which COVID-19 is suspected.
All team members will be trained on and have access to specialized masks that are recommended to prevent the spread of the virus, said department spokesman Anthony Guglielimi. Currently, members of SWAT are being trained to use the masks and the district-level response teams are still being established for each watch.
Interim Supt. Charlie Beck has started two COVID-19 command meetings daily. The department is also setting up a website for officer use only, where they can find information and ask questions. Guglielmi said department officials are concerned about how the pandemic will affect morale and worry of officers and wanted to make sure they had a line of communication directly to them.
Plans are also being drawn up to float officers from specialized units or teams into districts should an officer test positive, requiring any kind of quarantines of their coworkers. – Annie Sweeney
Sunset Foods soon will be reserving the first hour of operations at its grocery store locations throughout the northern suburbs for elderly and immune-compromised individuals. The decision comes in response to the coronavirus pandemic that has led to panic buying and left grocery shelves barren across the country. Read more here.
An employee who works at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago has tested positive for COVID-19, U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer announced this afternoon.
In a letter to workers at the federal high-rise courthouse located at 219 S. Dearborn St., Pallmeyer said the employee works on the eighth floor and was last in the building on Thursday.
Pallmeyer said the “impacted areas” of the courthouse would be appropriately cleaned, but health officials said there was no need to close the courthouse due to the diagnosis.“
I am sharing this information not to alarm you, but to remind you that you should continue to exercise care in all your interactions, and you should monitor yourself for any symptoms associated with COVID-19,” Pallmeyer said in the letter.
While the building remains open, court proceedings are at a virtual standstill as all non-emergency hearings in both civil and criminal cases have been postponed by court order until at least April 6. – Jason Meisner
ComEd, the energy and natural gas utility, is offering flexible payment arrangements, suspending service disconnections for residential and commercial customers who cannot pay on time, and waiving late payment charges through at least May 1.
“We understand that many of our customers may experience a financial strain due to the slowdown in the economy related to the pandemic. The last thing we want our customers and communities to worry about at this stage is whether they will be without power,” ComEd Senior Vice President of Customer Operations and Chief Customer Officer Jane Park said in a letter to customers Tuesday.
The utility company said it will work on a case-by-case basis with customers on flexible payment arrangements, which will be offered to those who indicate that they are experiencing hardship as a result of the new coronavirus. The firm will also allow customers to make transactions online.
ComEd said employees out working in the field may be required to wear masks, gloves or goggles. – Abdel Jimenez
Metra, which has seen a sharp drop in riders because of concerns about the coronavirus, said on Tuesday that it would continue to operate its regular weekday schedule at least until Friday.
But the commuter railroad said in a news release that it is prepared to switch to a modified schedule after that, and that any change would be announced “well in advance.”
Metra advised riders not to travel if they do not have to. Metra is keeping the same number of trains and crews and keeping all cars open despite the drop in ridership, in order to encourage social distancing.
The railroad also said that it is encouraging riders to use the Ventra app to buy all tickets, which minimizes contact between riders and conductors.
Metra said it is stepping up the cleaning and disinfecting of cars, locomotives and stations with extra crews to help with daily cleaning and to provide extra cleaning on weekends. Like the CTA, Metra said it is paying special attention to high-touch areas such as door handles, hand rails and seats. – Mary Wisniewski
The University of Illinois has canceled commencement ceremonies set for May at Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield campuses because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a letter sent Tuesday from the school to students, faculty and staff.
Schools will mail diplomas and are exploring possible alternatives such as rescheduling or holding virtual events to honor the Class of 2020. The letter said:
“This was an outcome we had hoped to avoid. Commencements reflect the very core of our mission and provide a richly deserved celebration for both our graduates and the proud parents, family, friends, faculty and staff who supported them along the way. Every year, ceremonies across the U of I System draw anywhere from a few hundred people at school- and college-based commencements to more than 20,000 at Urbana’s university-wide event.
“Even small turnouts, however, would far exceed the guidance issued last weekend by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the virus. The new guidelines call for canceling or postponing all large gatherings for at least the next eight weeks – a timeline that brings us within days of our May commencements.” – Chicago Tribune staff
While spending time with her husband John at Highland Park Hospital Sunday night, Judy Retzinger was told she would no longer be able to visit him.
“We’ve been banned. There are no in-patient visitors,” Retzinger, who lives in Mundelein, said. “It’s very distressing.”
Retzinger added, “He received very bad news (Tuesday) and I couldn’t be there with him.”
Highland Park Hospital is among a number of Lake County hospitals that – in the wake of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s announcement Monday to close restaurants, bars and state parks – have increased visitor restrictions. Most county hospital policies that limited hours due to COVID-19, have now been changed to exclude all visitors except in special cases.
As of Monday, Lake Forest Hospital allows only one visitor over the age of 18 per patient. North Shore University HealthSystem — which includes Highland Park Hospital, Glenbrook Hospital and Evanston Hospital — prohibits all visitors, with few exceptions. Vista Health System in Waukegan and Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, part of the Advocate Health Care group of hospitals in the region, also are not allowing any visitors, with some exceptions. – Sheryl DeVore
Mayor Lori Lightfoot will allow non-essential city workers to stay home as part of her government’s efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak, her administration announced.
Starting Wednesday, all eligible city employees will be allowed to work from home and telecommute except those providing essential services, Lightfoot said.
Essential services include Chicago Police, Fire, and Office of Emergency Management and Communications personnel, as well as people working in streets and sanitation, the airports and water departments, Lightfoot said.
“That’s not an exhaustive list but those are top line we regard as essential services,” Lightfoot said. All employees will be paid and receive their normal benefits, whether they’re at home or not, Lightfoot said.
“The city remains committed to delivering critical services to our residents throughout this difficult time. Now and in the weeks ahead, perhaps more than ever, Chicagoans will rely on us to deliver for them, to cushion the blow from this terrible disruption, and extend a hand to those most in need,” Lightfoot said. “However, we must balance our mission of service delivery with the need to keep our workforce and the community safe and these new policies are designed to do just that.”
Lightfoot also said the city is working on a local package to support hourly workers that will be released in the next couple days. – Gregory Pratt, John Byrne
State official on Tuesday also announced 55 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total in Illinois to 160 since the start of the outbreak. Cases have occurred in patients ages 9 to 91.
The virus has now been detected in 15 counties across the state.
The woman who died had close contact with another COVID-19 case.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said some of the recent spike in the number of reported cases is the result of more expansive testing. – Dan Petrella
State officials on Tuesday announced the first death in Illinois attributed to the new coronavirus.
The patient was a Chicago woman in her 60s with an underlying health condition.
The patient was not a nursing home resident and was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month.
Officials also announced 22 cases at a nursing home in Willowbrook where an initial case was announced over the weekend.
Among the patients are 18 residents and four staff. All of the patients are isolated at the facility or at a hospital.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity is applying to the federal Small Business Administration for a statewide economic injury declaration. Once approved, this will allow businesses across the state to access disaster assistance loans.
A small south suburban medical practice is offering drive-up coronavirus testing for symptomatic patients who would rather not wait inside a doctor’s office.
Family First Medical Group, with offices in Evergreen Park and Mokena, began providing curbside testing at both locations Monday and will continue doing so as long as necessary, marketing director Ryan Dawson said. Read more here.
The Brookfield Zoo will remain open for as long as possible with limited access to outdoor exhibits only, officials said.
“We thought, what could we do to make this place safer? We are open air with miles of walkways and we have animals outside,” he said. “The biggest issue is having people who are not practicing social distancing and large groups indoors. We decided we still had plenty to offer outdoors and at this time when everyone’s really stressed out, kids are home and there’s lots of things going on with this whole pandemic, how can we give some relief to those families?” Read more here.
As voting got off to a shaky start in Chicago Tuesday, local and state officials bitterly sparred over whether the election should have been postposed because of problems created by the coronavirus outbreak.
“We were urging the postponement of the election … and a conversion to vote by mail for the safety of the voting public,” Chicago Board of Elections spokesman Jim Allen complained after numerous polling places reported problems with equipment because they had changed locations at the last minute.
“It was a snowball we could all see coming down the hill,” he told reporters in a conference call.
A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker shot back that the state offered help, including National Guard troops and volunteers, but the city declined. Read more here.
As voters weighed whether to go to the polls and risk catching COVID-19, the Cook County Clerk’s office said it was suggesting poll workers mark the floor to coax people to practice social distancing.
“The Clerk’s Office encourages #ElectionDay pollworkers to #MarkTheFloor in 6 foot increments with their blue painter’s tape to remind voters to practice social distancing,” Clerk Karen Yarbrough said in a tweet that featured a photo of blue tape, a tape measure and a note about marking the floor.
“It is our job to ensure the safety of those around us while we carry out our civic duty today.” – Chicago Tribune staff
A Chicago Fire Department paramedic has tested positive for the coronavirus, city officials said Tuesday.
Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said the firehouse involved has undergone a standard deep cleaning. Officials have worked to identify people close to the paramedic who may have had contact with the CFD employee, Arwady said during an afternoon press briefing, and their partner is expected to be quarantined.
The administration of Mayor Lori Lightfoot is working closely with the fire department and would be reaching out to anyone who the CFD member helped to transport, Arwady said.
According to a memo from Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II, the department has conducted a “thorough cleaning and disinfection operation” of the firehouse where the paramedic worked, as well as any vehicles and equipment the paramedic used when symptomatic.
A source told the Tribune the paramedic was assigned to Ambulance 38, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
The paramedic did not contract the virus through his employment, a source told the Tribune on Tuesday, but the paramedic did continue to work after exposure. The paramedic stopped working upon testing positive for COVID-19, the source said.
There have been at least two cases in which firefighters or paramedics were exposed to patients who doctors later indicated were presumptive positive for COVID-19, the source told the Tribune. The employees were not asked to self-quarantine or stay home from work after the interactions.
The new case is the first time it has been disclosed that a CFD employee has tested positive for the virus, which has sickened an estimated 190,000 people around the world. Illinois has seen 105 cases since the start of the outbreak, most of which were in Cook County. – Jeremy Gorner, Katherine Rosenberg Douglas, Gregory Pratt
DoorDash announced Tuesday that restaurants can sign up for its delivery service for free and pay no commission fees for 30 days as cities and states across the country force eateries to shut down except for delivery and pickup because of COVID-19.
DoorDash, headquartered in San Francisco, said the waiving of fees for independent restaurants new to the platform is part of a package of efforts to help its members generate $200 million in additional sales this year as the coronavirus deals a heavy blow to the industry. For existing members, the company is reducing commission fees for delivery, waiving fees for pickup orders and earmarking $20 million for marketing campaigns to promote them.
Third-party delivery platforms make money by charging restaurants a percentage of each order, usually 10% to 30%.
Grubhub on Friday announced it was temporarily suspending marketing commissions for independent restaurants on its platform to help them make rent and payroll as sales plunge. UberEats on Monday said it would waive delivery fees for the 100,000 independent restaurants on its platform and roll out daily marketing campaign to promote them.
The delivery companies also are taking steps to protect drivers who remain out and about even as much of the public hunkers down at home. DoorDash has made “Leave it at my door” the default delivery option, to encourage contact-less delivery, and has ordered 1 million hand sanitizers and sets of gloves to distribute to its drivers, it said. – Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
Macy’s joined retailers temporarily closing stores across the country in an attempt to slow the new coronavirus’ spread.
All Macy’s stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury locations, will close by the end of business Tuesday and remain closed through the end of the month, Macy’s said.
“The health and safety of our customers, colleagues and communities is our utmost priority. As a result of the recent COVID-19 developments, we have decided to temporarily close our stores. We will work with government and health officials to assess when we will reopen our stores and safely bring our colleagues back to work,” Macy’s Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette said in a news release.
Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury’s will remain open online and Macy’s said it will provide benefits and compensation to workers affected by the store closures.
Foot traffic along State Street was only down about 16% during the week that ended Monday, compared with the same week last year, according to data from the Chicago Loop Alliance.
But a growing number of stores, from Apple to Urban Outfitters, have closed in recent days as businesses encouraged employees to work from home, large gatherings of people have been banned and much of daily life has ground to a halt. Grocery stores and chains selling staple household items have generally remained open. – Lauren Zumbach
Gary Community School Corp. spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said 5,000 meal packages – good for one week – were distributed Monday from seven pickup sites across the city in a partnership with city churches and organizations.
Schools closed because of coronavirus concerns begin handing out ‘to go’ meals to children in Lake, Porter counties
Three workers at the air traffic control tower at Midway Airport have tested positive for the coronavirus, but the Federal Aviation Administration says there has been no “immediate effect on operations.”
The tower at the Southwest Side airport was cleaned and the tower remains staffed, the FAA said in a statement.
No other details were released, but the agency said “contingency plans are in place to ensure the continuity of maintenance and around-the-clock air traffic control services at Midway and other air traffic facilities across the nation.” It did not elaborate.
With growing numbers of commuters working from home because of concerns over the new coronavirus, crowds are thinning on public transit.
Metra said that on Friday it carried only half the number of passengers it normally has on a typical Friday.
On the CTA, ridership between Wednesday and Friday of last week was down 12% from comparable periods before the outbreak, with a drop of 19% on rail and 6% on buses, said spokesman Brian Steele. CTA ridership numbers were expected to drop more on Tuesday, with the shutdown of Chicago Public Schools.
While health experts advise people to avoid crowded places like public transit during the COVID-19 pandemic, some riders don’t have the option of staying home, or driving. If you need to travel by bus or train, here are some ways to help stay safe, according to experts.
Take a seat. Sit down. It’s better to sit than to stand because people with respiratory ailments cough or sneeze at the level of their faces, which is up by handrails and straps, so that’s where the bugs are.
“Seats tend to accumulate skin microbes, not respiratory microbes,” said Curtis Huttenhower, a professor of biostatistics, immunology and infectious disease at Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health and one of the authors of a 2016 study on microbes on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Try not to touch anything. Try to avoid touching handrails, straps, and seat backs. If you must touch those parts of the car, clean your hands. Wash your hands when you get to your destination, and carry hand sanitizer.
Protect yourself. If you can get them, wear disposable gloves and a mask, though be sure to change them frequently, said Dr. Howard Markel, a professor of communicable diseases and the director of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine.
In a pinch, you can also wear your own winter gloves and a scarf over your face, though make sure you wash them, Markel said. “If you’re really paranoid about breathing in particles, it might help,” Markel said, emphasizing “might.”
Sit by yourself. Try not to sit next to anybody on the train or bus, and steer clear of those who are coughing, sneezing, or otherwise appear to be sick. Dr. Robert Murphy, an infectious disease expert at Northwestern University who rides the north branch of the CTA Red Line, noted that this advice is easier to follow than it was a week ago.
“One of the ways it can be transmitted is if someone coughed and covered their mouth with their hand and then touched a pole or a handle — that’s how you get it,” Murphy said.
Don’t ride. If a train is really crowded, or if you are in a high-risk group, don’t ride. “If you can find an alternative way to get somewhere, do that,” Murphy said.
He notes that taxis and ride-share vehicles also may be carrying the virus, if the driver or a previous passenger is sick. A personal car is a better choice, if you have one available, or a personal or Divvy bike, as long as you wipe down the handlebars before getting on, Murphy said. Read more here
– Mary Wisniewski
Illinois will allow marijuana dispensaries to take orders from medical patients outside of their shops — on the curb, or in the parking lot — to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus.
The state’s Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issued guidance Monday to dispensaries on how to help contain COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Special effort is being made to protect medical patients, many of whom have compromised immune systems, but still need access to medical marijuana.
Typically, dispensaries are only allowed to distribute marijuana products inside a limited access area, as deemed by the state. But until March 30, dispensary workers will be allowed to go outside to medical patients’ cars or adjacent public walkways to take their order. They then must take the cash inside, get the product and bring it back out to the patient.
The rule change applies only to medical patients. Dispensaries are still not allowed to do deliveries.
Dispensary 33 in the Uptown neighborhood stopped recreational sales on Tuesday until further notice, said marketing director Abigail Watkins. The dispensary could not serve recreational customers and keep everyone at a safe distance from each other, she said. Read more here
– Ally Marotti
On Tuesday, Chicago experienced its first St. Patrick’s Day without bars since Prohibition nearly a century ago, but at least one liquor store chain said the Irish whiskey is nonetheless flowing.
Binny’s Beverage Depot, a 72-year-old, family-owned Chicago liquor retailer with 42 Illinois locations, is well-stocked and moving a lot of Jameson and Bushmills in the wake of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order closing all bars through March 30.
“In terms of business, it’s not like a grocery store where we’re running out of toilet paper,” Binny’s spokesman Greg Versch said Monday. “But we are seeing all the St. Patrick’s Day classics selling well.”
Stay-at-home drinking — even alone — may be the new pub crawl in the age of coronavirus. Read more here
– Robert Channick
For Joyce Allphin, being stuck in her cabin as the coronavirus-stricken Grand Princess cruise ship waited for permission to dock wasn’t so bad. The crew brought plenty of food, drink and entertainment options to her door, and she and her roommate could go out on their balcony for some fresh air.
The trouble, she said, started when she left the ship.Marshaled by workers in full protective gear, she and her fellow passengers were given cotton face masks and crammed onto buses that took them to a nearby airport, where they were then jammed onto a plane bound for Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia.
That’s where Allphin, a 77-year-old retiree from Downers Grove, has been since Friday, quarantined in a room that for more than a day, she said, had no soap in its bathroom. While passengers from some other states have been sent home, 51 Illinois residents are still there. Read more here
Three Highland Park paramedics are under quarantine after caring for a person who may have been exposed to the new coronavirus, city officials announced recently.
The three paramedics with the Highland Park Fire Department came into contact with the person while responding to an emergency call Monday at a home in the city, officials said. The person, officials said, may have been exposed to COVID-19 after recently leaving the country for travel.
Following the call, the paramedics sought medical advice at Highland Park Hospital and immediately were quarantined once they returned to the fire station, Highland Park officials said. Read more here
Last week, Lynn Ungar — minister, dog trainer, little-known poet — sat down at the desk next to her kitchen table and began to type.
A friend had posted something on Facebook about how much we need poetry in this anxious coronavirus age and she thought, “Yeah, you’re right.”
Ungar had been thinking about social distancing, the idea that to keep the virus from spreading we need to stay away from each other one another. She’d been reflecting on a question: How do we physically distance ourselves without emotional distancing? In this strange and befuddling moment, she thought, we need to recognize that moving away from other people isn’t an act of emotional disconnection but the opposite: It’s something to do out of a sense of community and compassion for the vulnerable.
And so, with her two Australian shepherds by her side, she spent a little while turning her thoughts into a poem. When she was done, she typed her name and the date at the bottom and posted it on Facebook for her small following of friends and colleagues. Read more here
In East Hyde Park, poll workers have been trying to get Chicago election officials to deliver the correct ballots for the precinct to begin voting.
Just before 11 a.m., poll workers at 5480 S. Cornell Ave. were turning away voters, advising them to go to Jackson Park to cast their ballot. Workers estimate 50 people were turned away in the first five hours of voting.“
Are you not ready yet?” one woman asked the group of six workers. They had set up the polling location, but still had not heard if the correct materials would be delivered to the precinct by the end of the day.
Ca Lofton, one of the election judges, said materials from a different precinct were delivered to the polling location last week. They have no idea where their precinct’s ballots are located.
The poll workers started calling city election officials Monday. but as of Tuesday morning they had not gotten an answer about when or if the correct materials would be delivered, Lofton said.
“Everything is busy,” Lofton said. “We are hopeful they will get us the proper equipment before 7 p.m. so no one will be disenfranchised.”
Lofton said they were staffed enough and prepared to handle voters, though three of their judges decided not to come Tuesday. As for Lofton, 76, she wasn’t going to let the coronavirus stop her from participating in Election Day, noting she lived through the polio epidemic and the civil rights era.
“I’m not afraid,” she said. “This is the most sacred right we have. I have faith in my doctors.” – Elvia Malagon
As every hospital on this planet is or soon will be in the troubling and agonizing process of being stretched to its physical limits under the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, questions abound: Have we enough beds? How many ventilators do we have and how many will we need? How many will die?
Important questions to be sure, essential questions even if precise answers at this point are elusive. But there is also an emotional and ethical component to this ongoing crisis, and it goes to the core of who we are as human beings.
The pandemic has yet to exercise its full force on the United States, yet to hit Chicago hard. But just as we study the charts and numbers embellishing stories about this illness, we should heed a couple of disconcerting facts (consider them harbingers if you must) from across the globe:
In the Chinese city of Wuhan, the need last month was for more than 1,000 ventilators and respirators to help people breathe. Only about half that number were available. How many died as a result? Read more here
The growing number of cases of COVID-19 is creating a host of questions for public health officials and employers — including how much information to reveal about those with the illness in the name of keeping other people safe.
Doctors and other providers with patients who test positive for COVID-19 can’t share identifying information publicly under HIPAA but they must alert public health officials, said Deborah Gersh, chair of the health care practice group at law firm Ropes & Gray in Chicago. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is a federal law that requires privacy protections for health information and applies to most health care providers.
Public health officials may use that information to track down close contacts of people who tested positive. But they can’t reveal anything to the public that could potentially lead to the person’s identity being discovered. Read more here
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has canceled Wednesday’s City Council meeting amid ever-tightening restrictions on public gatherings across the state to counteract the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
Just yesterday afternoon, Lightfoot said a shorter-than-usual City Council meeting would be held to address pressing business related to COVID-19 even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that many events with more than 50 people be canceled. But this morning, she formally canceled the meeting.
Lightfoot’s move to cancel the City Council meeting also followed Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order on Monday limiting certain crowd sizes in Illinois to fewer than 50 people. Pritzker has also ordered all restaurants closed to dine-in service and shut down every school in the state for at least two weeks.
Chicago’s City Council has 50 members and is one of the largest in the country. Meetings are typically attended by the mayor, city clerk, dozens of staff members, the press corps and a significant number of citizens who wish to speak out about issues ranging from horse carriages downtown to police misconduct.
It’s not clear when the meeting will be rescheduled. But Pritzker’s order on Monday also suspended a state requirement that members of government bodies be physically present under most circumstances for public meetings, which will help Chicago and other governments schedule meetings in the future once the technology gets worked out. – Gregory Pratt
McDonald’s is considering deferring rent for franchisees as restaurants around the world close to in-store dining as part of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
In a regulatory filing Tuesday, the Chicago-based fast food giant said it is “working with franchisees around the world in order to evaluate operational feasibility and support financial liquidity (e.g. rent deferrals) during this period of uncertainty.” The company also said it is working with suppliers to ensure continuous supply. – Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz
A second person has died in Indiana from a coronavirus-related death and the first two Lake County cases were announced Tuesday, according to state health officials.
The person, who was older than 60 and had been hospitalized, was from Johnson County, which is just south of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Department of Health. – Associated Press
Although election officials worried that voting might be hampered by a lack of election judges scared off by the coronavirus, the main issue Tuesday morning in Chicago had to do with polling places lacking equipment because they had been relocated due to coronavirus concerns.
Dozens of polling places had to be moved in the last few days, and there were reports that some lacked equipment. City officials say it is the biggest issue so far.
For updates, check the Tribune’s election blog.
Efforts to slow the spread of the new coronavirus mean every public and private school in Illinois is closing Tuesday, if it hasn’t already.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive order closes all kindergarten through 12th grade schools — public and private — “for educational purposes” from March 17 through March 30, with students returning to classes on March 31. Some individual districts, and some other states, have chosen to keep schools closed longer than that.
It’s possible that the Illinois statewide shutdown could be extended. State officials have said that future decisions about statewide closures will be made “in consultation with public health officials.” Read more here
It began with one text message.
On Saturday morning, Jason Vincent, the chef behind Giant and Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar, reached out to his longtime friend and former boss, Jason Hammel, the founder of Logan Square dining staple Lula Cafe.
Vincent asked to get together Sunday, to talk through the public health crisis that was fast becoming a restaurant industry crisis: What could they do to take care of their employees amid cratering business? To boost the chances of their businesses surviving? To be good community stewards? Hammel agreed.
Vincent reached out to a few more restaurant owners to add a few more bodies to the conversation: Diana Davila of Mi Tocaya, Joe Frillman of Daisies and Abe Conlon of Fat Rice. Someone asked if they could invite a few other people. Vincent said sure. Read more here
WHO let the penguins out — in a manner of speaking, anyway.
Shedd Aquarium took this charming video of one of its rockhopper penguins, a male named Wellington, getting the run of the place now that the big lakefront aquarium is closed to try to help prevent coronavirus transmission. Read more here
The Regional Transportation Authority has closed its customer service offices until further notice and has cancelled its March meeting that was scheduled for Thursday. The RTA said its staff will work remotely and people can get help by phone for the following programs:
– To apply for the Reduced Fare or Ride Free programs, visit the RTA website and download an application. For help applying, to renew a permit that expires soon, or to replace a lost or stolen permit, call (312) 913-3110.
– The RTA Travel Training program is temporarily canceling all scheduled sessions with customers. Travel Trainers will reach out to cancel individual appointments and provide rescheduling information. For questions, please call the RTA’s Mobility Services Helpline at (312) 663-HELP (4357).
– The ADA Paratransit Certification Program is suspending all interviews and assessments for ADA paratransit eligibility until further notice because the RTA’s South and Northwest Chicago Mobility Assessment Centers are closed. A representative contact all customers who have scheduled appointments. For more information or to ask any additional questions, please call the RTA’s Mobility Services Helpline at 312-663-HELP (4357). — Chicago Tribune staff
How long will the school shutdown last and could it be extended? Will the days off have to be made up? Are students required to study? Are teachers required to teach? Find out all the details about the school closures here. — Hannah Leone
The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is closing all of its locations, including membership centers, program sites, early childhood centers, and overnight camps. The facilities were closed Monday night and will remain shut until March 29, according to a statement from Richard H. Malone, the president and CEO of the organization.
“As of now, we have a tentative reopen date of Monday, March 30,” he said. “We will continue to monitor guidance from federal, state, and local health authorities during this evolving national emergency to make sure that this plan is in the best interests of the health and safety of our members and staff.”
The organization serves about 200,000 families and individuals. Malone asked that they continued their memberships, despite the shutdown. “We, as a community, will get through this. And when we do, we want to be in the best shape to support you and your family,” he said. — Chicago Tribune staff
DuPage and Lake counties are limiting courthouse operations because of the coronavirus outbreak, but the main courthouses will remain open and more serious cases will still be heard.
In DuPage County, civil and criminal cases will generally be delayed 30 to 60 days through April 17, according to a release from the chief judge.
– Cases that will proceed as originally scheduled include bail hearings; felony, misdemeanor and juvenile cases where the defendants are in custody; jury trial where the defendants are in custody; summary suspension hearings; juvenile detention and shelter care hearings; and emergency motions.
– Traffic courts in Addison, Downers Grove and traffic courtrooms in the main courthouse will be closed through April 17.
– All marriage and civil union ceremonies will be cancelled until April 24, and the safe harbor children’s waiting room will be closed until April 20.
In Lake County, most court dates will be delayed for 28 days, starting Tuesday, according to a statement from the DuPage County state’s attorney’s office.
– All branch court cases are being delayed for 28 days, and prosecutors will not be stationed at branch courts. All “therapeutic intensive monitoring” courts – including Drug Court, Mental Health Court, STOP and Veterans Court – will be delayed until further notice. Emergency matters for those courts will take place on Wednesday afternoons at 1:30 p.m.
– Bond court, juvenile court, and domestic violence court will remain staffed with essential personnel from the Lake County state’s attorney’s office. All criminal cases including bond court, felony and misdemeanor cases, domestic violence, and DUI’s that cannot be delayed will report to courtroom T-110. They include cases for speedy trial terms, statutory summary suspension hearings, forfeiture and probation violation hearings in which an agreement to continue the trial or hearing has not been reached. Bond hearing will continue to be heard daily.
– Prosecutors and other necessary personnel will report to conduct emergency motions, bond hearings, trials involving speedy trial demands where a continuance is not agreed upon, and plea agreements where a defendant is in custody.
– Emergency and plenary orders of protection will continue, as will involuntary mental health admissions and cases involving treatment, fitness and quarantine hearings.
– Prosecutors will be on hand for warrants and other emergency motions. They will also be available at the juvenile centers for detention hearings, emergency motions, and shelter care hearings.
– All family cases will be delayed for 28 days, except matters involving orders of protection assigned to a family law judge, emergency child support issues, and matters where an emergency as defined by statute and local court rule.
–All civil cases will be delayed 28 days except for emergency motions. — Chicago Tribune staff
A graduate medical trainee at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine has tested positive for coronavirus, according to university officials.
The university sent a statement Monday about the person who tested positive. The positive case is a resident physician who is practicing in a clinical setting at UI Health. The person is now self-isolating and recovering at home. — Paige Fry
Northwestern University has reported that there have been three confirmed cases of coronavirus that could have been exposed to others at the university.
All three of the cases were at the Evanston’s campus, according to the university. Two were located at Kellogg Global Hub and one at The Office of the Registrar.
The numbers reported don’t represent those at Northwestern who have tested positive but are not a public risk, the university said. The count also excludes Northwestern Medicine employees.
Northwestern University announced on March 11 that all classes were moved to online formats to help prevent the spread of the virus. — Paige Fry
The Chicago Police Department has canceled all training at its police academy as a coronavirus precaution, according to a police memo obtained by the Tribune.
The suspension of all CPD’s training at the academy comes at a crucial time for a department that has fallen under a federally mandated consent decree to improve training and other policies for its 13,000-plus officers.
On Tuesday, interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck said in a department-wide memo that the threat of the coronavirus has prompted him and his command staff to think of ways CPD can do its part to minimize the spread.“
All training at the academy will be suspended until further notice,” Beck wrote.
Training at the academy will not only be canceled for more than 300 recruits, but also for newly promoted detectives, sergeants and lieutenants and also other officers going through in-service training as part of the consent decree requirement. The recruits, in the meantime, will be working in the 22 district stations to help bring in shipments of tens of thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer, hand wipes and masks, police officials said. They will also help with cleaning police cars with disinfectants.
The training suspension also applies to off-site locations away from the academy, located on the Near West Side. The academy building will be open, however, even with training being halted, according to the memo. The site is slated to be a polling place for Tuesday’s election.
Other facilities were set to be closed as well, the memo states.
“I have also asked that all gyms and workout rooms operated by CPD be shut down in an effort to implement proper infection control,” Beck wrote. “I appreciate the cooperation of all members regarding these changes.” —Jeremy Gorner
By Ryan Ori – 3/11/2020
Tenants in Prudential Plaza and other buildings near Millennium Park have been told an employee at an unidentified company in the two-tower Prudential complex on Tuesday tested positive for COVID-19. Since being diagnosed, the worker has not returned to the property, according to building owner Sterling Bay.
The illness, the first confirmed case involving a large Chicago office property, adds to the challenge of containing an outbreak in Chicago, where some schools have closed and major gatherings such as upcoming St. Patrick’s Day parades have been called off.
Employers are responding with a range of preventive measures, including at least one company that is asking anyone who has been in Prudential Plaza recently to consider working from home for the next two weeks.
“We understand the Prudential building is a common lunch spot for employees working in the area, so please be aware of the situation and avoid the building until it is cleared,” employees of Crain Communications were told in an email Wednesday.
The company, whose publications include Crain’s Chicago Business, has its offices in the office tower at 150 N. Michigan Ave., just across Michigan Avenue from Prudential Plaza.
“If you were in the Prudential building recently, please be aware of your own personal health and speak with your manager about working from home for the next 14 days until the incubation period has expired,” the Crain Communications email said. “If you do not show symptoms during that 14-day period we’ll be happy to have you back in the office.”
Other employers are taking steps such as allowing or encouraging people to work from home.
A confirmed illness at Prudential Plaza is particularly troubling because of the property’s sheer size, at 2.3 million square feet, and its connection to other buildings via the Pedway. The underground walkway is used by thousands of office tenants connect to commuter trains, nearby lunch spots and other businesses.
The complex is along the north edge of Chicago’s biggest tourist destination, Millennium Park, meaning there is typically heavy foot traffic in the area.
“We take this situation extremely seriously,” Sterling Bay spokeswoman Julie Goudie said in an emailed statement. “As soon as we learned of the diagnosis, we immediately notified building tenants and advised anyone who feels ill to stay home and contact a health professional if they experience symptoms of COVID-19.
“We have been and will continue to aggressively clean One Two Pru in accordance with CDC and WHO protocol. The health and safety of our tenant community is our highest priority and we encourage all tenants to continue practicing good personal hygiene as we navigate this moment together.”
The Chicago Tribune is based in One Prudential Plaza, and employees are being given the option of working from home. In an email to employees Wednesday, Editor-in-Chief Colin McMahon told employees the newspaper “asked Prudential services to increase their cleaning regimen in and around our offices, and they have complied. We will continue to work closely with the building on precautions and next steps.”
Goudie said Sterling Bay’s increased cleaning efforts included “the additional measure of an electrostatic sprayer application of a virus-killing cleaning product on common area touchpoints.”
Tenants in the neighboring Aon Center, Chicago’s third-tallest skyscraper, were told the ill Prudential employee does not use the shuttle buses that run between those buildings and commuter train stations on the western edge of the Loop.
“For the past two weeks, the Aon/Prudential shuttle implemented additional disinfectant measures on each shuttle,” said the email sent to Aon Center tenants.
Shuttle buses continue to operate on schedule, according to the email.
In an email, BOMA/Chicago, an association of 240 Chicago buildings, said it was providing its members with updates and guidelines and defers “to our best-in-class building owners and managers to implement the proper cleaning protocols and procedures to help ensure the continued safety of their building tenants.”
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Update (1220ET): Three Boeing workers have tested positive for the virus, the company said. Though Boeing offered few details, we suspect the employees are probably based in Washington State, where Boeing builds its planes.
In Washington DC, authorities are recommending the cancellation or postponement of all “non-essential” gatherings over 1,000.
As students leave campuses around the country either heading back home or hunkering down finish their classes on line, Harvard just announced that it would “pro-rate” students’ room and board.
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Update (1220ET): With the committee in charge of the Tokyo Olympic Games reportedly planning to suggest that the games be delayed, more images of the coronavirus fears’ impact on international travel are circulating online. Check out this.
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Update (1200ET): The CDC has released its latest batch of “confirmed” US figures: 29 deaths, 987 cases and cases confirmed in 39 states as of 10 pm last night.
Around the world, the virus has produced many “isn’t it ironic?” moments, and we just got another in the US when FEMA announced that it would close its Atlanta office after an employee was exposed to the virus.
Over in the UK, a total of 456 people have tested positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am on Wednesday, up from 373 at the same point on Tuesday, the Department of Health said. The jump of 83 new cases is the largest daily jump yet, following the previous ‘largest daily increase’ by only a few days.
Six have died in the UK and tested positive for the virus. Over in Ireland, authorities reported their first death on Wednesday. A 66-year-old Bulgarian woman also succumbed to the virus in the Balkan state, marking the first death there as well.
After the UK Health Minister Nadine Dorries tested positive for the virus, and started showing symptoms on Thursday, the same day she attended an event with the prime minister. Though the UK has elected to keep parliament open, Dorries and a Labour lawmaker who may have been exposed via a meeting with Dorries have decided to self-quarantine.
UK Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood stressed that “we are still in the containment phase” despite an increased number of Covid-19 cases.
She said: “We have identified the first case of community transmission in Scotland which is unrelated to contact or travel. This was identified through our enhanced surveillance scheme.
Sweden has reported its first death from the coronavirus today, with a hospital in Stockholm saying an elderly patient had died in intensive care. Belgium has reported its first three deaths, with 314 cases of coronavirus. Ivory Coast has confirmed its first case of coronavirus, a 45-year-old Ivorian man who had recently travelled to Italy, the health ministry said in a statement. Denmark confirmed a batch of new cases, raising its total to 442.
While Washington State is apparently planning to ban all events with over 250 people, Washington DC has advised citizens to avoid such gatherings.
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Update (1150ET): Rencap’s Charlie Robertson points out that it took 5 days since the first indication of human-to-human transmission happening at a wide scale in the US, and if our numbers track Germany’s, we should have 3,000 cases confirmed by Friday, and 6,000 by Monday.
Though that rate could double if many new clusters are discovered.
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Update (1100ET): With another day of non-stop breaking news headlines about the outbreak as it spreads across the US, Europe and Latin America, we’ve been having troubled keeping up.
Switzerland reported 148 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, with 645 cases in total, 58 cases in Zürich and 78 cases in Geneva.
Indonesia, an Asian nation that didn’t report its first case until more than a month after the global outbreak began reported its first death linked to the virus on Wednesday as well.
National Guard troops have been deployed to a Health Department command post in New Rochelle. Chicago has followed San Francisco and cancelled its St. Patrick’s Day Parade. In NYC, schools will not close, but parent-teacher conferences will be held via phone.
An employee at a ‘Waffle House’ in Metro Atlanta (Cherokee County) has tested positive for the virus, raising fears about a mass outbreak in Georgia. The store has been closed and 12 employees are quarantining and will continue for a few more days.
The Inter-American Development Bank postponed its annual meeting in Colombia, which had been scheduled for next week, over coronavirus fears as the virus spreads across Latin America. The Washington-based bank, the top development institution dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean, announced the decision with Colombian President Ivan Duque on Tuesday evening.
With transports and financials leading equities lower on Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, who testified to Congress on Wednesday tried to offer some reassuring details about the White House plan, which remains very much in the ‘brainstorm’ phase. Still, Mnuchin insisted that Trump is standing by the payroll tax holiday to put more money in the hands of workers. The Treasury is also hoping to delay tax payments and leave $200 billion of “temporary liquidity” in the hands of Americans.
Mnuchin said the White House hopes to strike a deal on the first part of the virus stimulus plan within the next 48 hours. His testimony follows rumors about the administration offering a potential ‘bailout’ to the American shale energy industry. Other stimulus actions will take “a week or two” he added.
Importantly, the Treasury Secretary also insisted that no market interventions are being planned (so no PPT?).
In remarks on Tuesday, CDC Director Robert Redfield said that America had lost valuable time tracking the virus; some regions now can merely try to cope with its spread rather than stop it. And during testimony on Wednesday, Dr. Fauci said that when it comes to the outbreak in the US, “the worst is yet to come” because the virus is “10x more lethal than the seasonal flu”.
If the US doesn’t handle the virus outbreak correctly, “many, many millions of people” will get the virus, he said.
The global coronavirus outbreak has hit a new milestone: It surpassed 120,000 cases overnight. For anybody who’s still bothering to keep track, that’s 15x the number of cases from the SARS outbreak, which continued for nearly a year before it finally petered out.
In the US, the coronavirus outbreak has reached a grim new milestone. Thanks to the administration’s scramble to bring dozens of private and public labs on-line for testing across the country, the CDC has managed to confirm more than 1,000 cases of the virus. In the Westchester County town of New Rochelle, the epicenter of the outbreak in New York State, and the largest on the east coast, woke up to a 1-mile exclusion zone and national guard soldiers in the streets.
The town now looks like a “ghost town” according to several reports.
As the number of cases topped 1,000, the number of deaths has also climbed: Officially, there are 31 deaths and 1,039 confirmed cases, according to the Washington Post, which is significantly more than the number confirmed by Dr. Anthony Fauci during last night’s press conference.
Across the US, Washington State’s King County remains the epicenter of America’s worst outbreak, with 273 cases . New York is No. 2 with 176 (13 additional cases have just been announced). After hinting about ‘mandatory measures’ last night that set tongues wagging about the possibility of Italy-style travel restrictions, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is reportedly planning to announce a plan to…ban all events with more than 250 people, according to MyNorthwest.
At a press conference scheduled for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., it is expected that Gov. Jay Inslee along with regional leaders and city mayors could announce a ban on large gatherings and events of 250 people or more in at least three counties. Any ban would affect upcoming sporting events in the area, including a home game for the XFL’s Seattle Dragons on Sunday.
Inslee has been hinting at this for the past week as a possible preemptive move to curb the spread of coronavirus. Over the weekend, he stated that his office was considering enacting “mandatory measures” in the days ahead.
Monday night on MSBNC, the Washington governor spoke to Rachel Maddow, admitting that soon, the state was “going to have to make some hard decisions.”
He further elaborated on that point during a Tuesday press conference, when he cited the need to “look forward ahead of the curve in Washington state.”
“We need to look at what is coming, not just what is here today,” he detailed, estimating that given limits on testing capacity, experts have told him there could be at least 1,000 untested coronavirus cases across the state.
So much for ‘hard decisions’….
This immense build up, only to announce restrictions that are only ‘slightly’ more comprehensive than the milquetoast event bans embraced by Germany, France, Switzerland and others, brings to mind a tweet we noticed earlier highlighting the sometimes unintended consequences that half-measures can create.
On the east coast, the State of New York is asking businesses to voluntarily consider having employees work two shifts as well as allowing telework, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview with CNN, the network that employs his brother, where he has been making near-daily appearances in addition to his daily press conferences.
“This is about reducing the density,” Cuomo said. “The spread is not going to stop on its own.”
He also announced 20 new cases of virus, bringing total in state to about 193, with most of the new cases diagnosed in New Rochelle, where the virus has clearly been circulating for weeks.
There have been reports that Democrats are pushing for a national emergency declaration which would trigger tens of billions of dollars in funding from FEMA to help with the containment effort, and possibly to help grappled with the economic fallout from the outbreak.
Despite a few notable screwups lately (including a collapsed ad hoc quarantine that left roughly one dozen dead and many trapped in the rubble for days, Beijing continues to insist that it is winning the war against the virus, and while the true scope of China’s outbreak might never be known for sure (some have estimated 1 million cases throughout China), officials did report a slight rise in cases on Wednesday which they blamed on ‘imports from abroad.’
Officials reported 24 additional cases of coronavirus and 22 additional deaths on March 10, compared with 19 additional cases and 17 additional deaths on March 9, bringing the total number of cases in mainland China to 80,778 and death toll at 3,158. China’s Hubei province said it will mandate a return to work according to different levels of risk in an orderly manner, adding that key areas of the Wuhan economy will be allowed to return.
After 11 days of falling case numbers, South Korea reported 242 additional coronavirus cases early Wednesday, bringing its total to 7,555, and 6 additional deaths, increasing the death toll to 60, reversing a streak of declines that had convinced many that Korea’s outbreak had ended.
The South has made remarkable progress in fighting the outbreak, however, a new mass infection incident has popped up that is jeopardizing the government’s widely praised response. Earlier, South Korean authorities told Reuters that they had tested hundreds of staff at a Seoul call center where the disease broke out this week. 13 of the infected workers at the Seoul call center used public transportation to commute, leading to at least 90 other people who had close contact with them being infected. Of the 90 cases mentioned earlier, 62 were in Seoul, and all were located near a public transportation hub connecting Seoul with Incheon and other major cities, via which the virus spread.
The spread has even made it into the armed forces, raising new fears about an outbreak in tightly packed barracks
Elsewhere, Japan is reportedly planning to declare a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak after the number of domestic cases rose by the largest daily number yet, with 59 new cases bringing the total to 1,278, while the total death toll has climbed to 19 and there were 427 discharged from hospital on Tuesday.
Italy’s total coronavirus cases rose to 10,149, from 9172, and the death toll increased to 631 yesterday from 463 in its largest daily jump yet.
By John Byrne – 3/11/2020
The mayor made her decision after days of speculation as other cities from Boston to Dublin dropped their festivities for the holiday. Lightfoot called off Saturday’s downtown parade and Sunday’s South Side Irish parade just days before they were set to step off. She also canceled a smaller Northwest Side parade.
“This was not an easy decision and we don’t take it lightly,” Lightfoot said at a morning news conference with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other officials announcing the decision.
The mayor’s last minute move to shut down the parades reflects the difficulty of the call. The St. Patrick’s Day revelry — which features the famous dyeing of the Chicago River green on the morning of the downtown parade — is a huge boon to Chicago hotels, restaurants and bars as people stream into the city from throughout the Midwest.
Lightfoot said officials would work to reschedule the parades at a later date.
The local tourism industry is already reeling from the recent cancellations of several big trade shows at McCormick Place, and the St. Patrick’s Day events draw tens of thousands of spectators.
But in the end, Lightfoot had to know she would be judged more harshly if Chicago got hit especially hard by the COVID-19 virus and the outbreak was traced back to the decision to go ahead with the parades. Health officials have been warning for weeks that the best way to avoid contracting the respiratory ailment is to avoid close contact with people who are infected.
“Like cities across the nation, we concluded that having a parade at this time posed an unnecessary risk to the public’s health,” she said.
Downtown Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd, noted how hard it was to scrap the events.
“It was a very difficult call for the Mayor,” Reilly said Wednesday. “Nobody is more sensitive to the concerns of the downtown business community than I am, so this is very disappointing. But, as the son of a public health doctor who ran County Hospital, I can say this is 100% the right call.”
Pritzker said he supported the decision as officials were trying to minimize the rampant spread of COVID-19.
“This is not a decision that she took lightly, and we all know what the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations mean to the city of Chicago,” Pritzker said. “Because of what we’ve seen nationally, and across the world, of the increased risk of large gatherings, this was the right call.”
With the mayor out of town on vacation, Pritzker on Tuesday questioned whether Chicago’s parades should happen this weekend, even as event organizers and city officials said the celebrations would go on as planned.
There’s a precedent for a public spectacle causing serious public fallout during an outbreak.
In 1918, Philadelphia went ahead with a parade meant to drum up support for the sale of bonds to fund the U.S. effort in World War I, despite concerns about the burgeoning Spanish flu. Philadelphia then saw particularly high flu rates, and the decision to hold the parade has been blamed by historians.
By KATHERINE ROSENBERG-DOUGLAS – 3/10/2020
The private, all-girls Roman Catholic school, at 7500 W. Talcott Ave. in the Norwood Park West neighborhood, told parents to arrange pickup for their children as of 10 a.m. Tuesday after it was learned a member of its community had contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The school also will be closed Wednesday and a deep cleaning of the property will be conducted, school officials wrote in a social media post.
A Lakeview synagogue and attached day school also were closed Tuesday because a member of the synagogue who has children in the school tested positive for COVID-19, a rabbi with Anshe Emet said.
Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School and Anshe Emet Synagogue sent out email notices Monday to families who have kids in the primary school or who attend the synagogue. Rabbi Michael Siegel said a parent was tested Monday and later made Siegel aware the result was positive.
Siegel, along with Gary Weisserman, head of the school, said the decision to close the school and synagogue were made “out of an abundance of caution” while the children whose parent tested positive also are tested.
“Late this evening we received confirmation that the parent has tested positive for COVID-19. While the Department of Public Health advised that closure is not required, out of an abundance of caution we are canceling school (and all after-school activities) … while we continue to consult with public health officials,” Weisserman wrote in an email.
Siegel said the person who tested positive has not been on campus within the last month and is self-quarantined at home along with the entire family.
“To be very clear, no Bernard Zell student or staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19, and based on conversations with medical experts, we believe the risk to our students and faculty is low. This individual’s spouse and children remain asymptomatic but will undergo testing first thing in the morning,” Weisserman said.
Since the school and synagogue share the same space, the building will be closed and office staff was told to stay home Tuesday. The building is to undergo a deep cleaning of all surfaces, officials said.
The announcements come in the wake of other school closures.
Loyola Academy, a private Jesuit high school at 1100 Laramie Ave. in Wilmette, was closed Monday and Tuesday because a student at the school had contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. School officials said the day would be spent coordinating with public health officials and doing an “enhanced cleaning” of the school.
Classes were canceled at Vaughn Occupational High School for the week beginning Monday, March 9, after a Chicago woman in her 50s who works there as a special education classroom assistant tested positive for coronavirus, marking the sixth case in Illinois.
There have been 11 cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Monday night. Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide disaster proclamation, making Illinois the 14th state to declare an emergency in response to the outbreak of the respiratory virus. The proclamation will allow Illinois to tap additional state and federal resources to combat the spread of the new virus and better coordinate its response.
It was not clear whether the Anshe Emet case was one of the four reported in Chicago Monday. A city official did not immediately respond to a request for more information.
Check back for updates.