Coronavirus live blog, June 5, 2020: State sees 59 more COVID-19 deaths, and Pritzker ‘worried’ protest crowds could mean more cases down the road

Here’s what we happened about the continuing spread of the coronavirus and its ripple effects in Chicago and Illinois.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, June 5, 2020: State sees 59 more COVID-19 deaths, and Pritzker ‘worried’ protest crowds could mean more cases down the road

Friday saw a reduced death count and worry about a spike in the future, a plan by the Mayor to gradually reopen the lakefront and we took a visit to the only county in Illinois not to have a case of COVID-19.

Here’s what happened today in the fight against COVID-19 in Chicago and around the state.


State sees 59 more COVID-19 deaths, and Pritzker ‘worried’ protest crowds could mean more cases down the road


Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

The coronavirus has claimed another 59 lives in Illinois, officials said Friday, as the state has surpassed more than 1 million tests performed.

The state has lost 5,795 to the pandemic. The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 1,156 new cases out of 18,903 tests returned for a daily positivity rate of 6%. In total, there have been 125,915 positive coronavirus tests and 1,000,919 tests performed.

According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office, 2,094 COVID-19 patients are in the state’s hospitals, with 817 in intensive care and 500 on ventilators.

The 59 deaths reported on Friday is a break from the last three days, when the fatality count hovered around or above the 100 mark. Friday’s report closed out the week more like it began, when Monday saw 23 deaths, the lowest daily tally in two months.

Read the full story by Tina Sfondeles here.

1 p.m. Coronavirus pandemic looks different in Scott County

The virus that has raced around the globe and killed more than 100,000 in the United States has yet to reach one small community in Illinois.

Scott County, with a population of about 4,951, is the only one of Illinois’ 102 counties that has not reported a single case of COVID-19.

The mayor of Winchester, the 1,458-population county seat, suspects it’s because so few people move in and out, lowering the risk of anyone bringing in the virus.

The local public health official thinks they might have had a few cases early on, but no one was getting tested then.

Some residents — particularly the younger crowd — think the whole pandemic has been overblown.

“We think it’s more political than anything,” said Dalton Schoenfelder, 20, a laid-off factory worker. “It’s not as bad as people portray it out to be.”

While many downstate Illinois communities have been devastated by the coronavirus and its economic impact — with outbreaks at nursing homes, businesses closed and workers laid off, tiny Scott County is the corner of Illinois that the coronavirus forgot.

Read the full story from Neal Earley here.

12:40 p.m. Lightfoot hopes to reopen lakefront soon — with restrictions

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday she hopes to reopen parts of the lakefront “very soon” — during designated hours and only for certain activities, presumably those that keep moving.

On March 26, Lightfoot famously closed the lakefront and all of its parks, trails and beaches because Chicagoans couldn’t be trusted to maintain social distance.

On Friday, the mayor was asked when and how the lakefront would be reopened.

“Obviously, the circumstances of this week have required us to focus our attention on other issues. But I’m hoping to be able to announce a reopening of the lakefront relatively soon with a plan toward safely minimizing crowding and really having some designated time for particular activities along the lakefront,” she said.

Read the full story here.

10:48 a.m. Illinois schools prepare to reopen for summer classes

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order Thursday allowing Illinois schools to reopen this summer with enhanced safety precautions to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Ultimately though, local school districts will determine whether to resume in-person learning.

Chicago Public Schools previously announced that classes would continue to be held virtually this summer. Students who don’t complete all their work during remote learning this spring will be told to register for summer school to make up, officials have said.

A district spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on whether that plan could change in light of Pritzker’s order.

Over the summer, all schools must follow the Phase 3 requirements of Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, which went into effect May 29. All grade levels, from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, can resume classes under the plan, which prohibits private and public schools from having more than 10 people in any single space.

Read the full story from Tom Schuba here.

8:32 a.m. Reeling Chicago communities ask, ‘Who invests in us now?’

Business leaders, many of them working with Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s recovery initiatives, said there is a strong corporate commitment behind investing and rebuilding in disadvantaged neighborhoods. After the double whammy of the virus and civil unrest, “Businesses have two choices: Give up, or double down. And I believe people want to double down,” said David Casper, chief executive officer of BMO Harris Bank.

Samir Mayekar, deputy mayor for economic development, said corporate leaders are giving him the same assurance.

“We have heard a profound commitment to rebuild,” he said. “We are not concerned that the business community will leave our neighborhoods.”

Some efforts could build on Lightfoot’s initiatives, such as her signature promise to direct $750 million in public improvements to low-income areas of the South Side and West Side. BMO Harris has backed that program with a pledge of $10 million.

Read the full story from David Roeder here.

6:56 a.m. Illinois opens up drive-thru testing sites for all

On Thursday, as officials announced 11 drive-thru testing sites will be open to everyone, regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms.

That’s an effort to keep on top of the spread of the deadly virus as the state moves ahead in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Phase 3 of reopening. Chicago began that phase on Wednesday, with outdoor dining, barbershops and salons and other retail shops opening with strict safety guidelines. The rest of the state did so last Friday.

The state has lost 5,736 people to COVID-19. On Thursday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 929 new cases out of 22,841 tests results. That’s a 4.07% positivity rate, much lower than what the state saw through most of May.

The seven-day statewide positivity for cases — one of the the metrics Pritzker and health officials are using to guide reopening — is 6%. That seven-day figure remaining under 20% for 28 days is one of the requirements for the state to move on to the next phase of reopening.

Read the full story from Tina Sfondeles here.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

7:04 a.m. A smarter way to trace the spread of COVID-19 without violating your privacy rights

Decision-makers across the country are exploring tools they can use in the battle against COVID-19. The latest device to be considered? The smartphone in your hand.

Many believe that the same phone you use to stay connected with your loved ones, get breaking news and play games might slow down the spread of COVID-19. But using our phones for this purpose is not a quick fix, and it runs the risk of tapping into private data stored on them.

Just think about all the ways you use your phones. All the places it goes with you. All the information you share with it. Now imagine giving the government or another third party access to all that information.

Read the full column by Sapna Khatri here.

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