On Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a mandatory quarantine order for people traveling from 15 states in order to prevent another surge of the coronavirus that has plagued other areas of the country. In Illinois, daily case and death totals have gradually trended downward since a record-high 4,014 Illinois cases were announced May 12.
Here’s what happened in the fight against the coronavirus in Chicago, the state and the nation.
Starting next week, anyone arriving in Chicago from a state seeing a surge in new coronavirus cases — whether they’re out-of-state visitors or returning city residents — must quarantine for two weeks under a new public health order issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
The order takes effect Monday and applies to any traveler to Chicago from one of 15 states spanning the South and West that have been beset by massive outbreaks in recent weeks, including Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
The city says it’ll update that list weekly starting July 14, with states added to the quarantine list if they have an infection rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents on a weekly rolling average. States will be removed from the list if their rate drops below that threshold.
The order, issued Thursday evening by Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady, directs travelers “entering or returning to Chicago from states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases to quarantine for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state.”
8:16 p.m. Illinois nears 7,000 COVID-19 deaths – even as it maintains decline in daily fatalities, cases
Another 36 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, raising the state’s coronavirus death toll to 6,987, health officials announced Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported an additional 869 people tested positive for the virus. Nearly 145,000 have contracted the virus over the last five months.
While coronavirus surges in other states have forced officials to scale back reopenings, it’s now been almost a month since Illinois reported 1,000 or more new cases in a single day (June 5).
Daily case and death totals have gradually trended downward since a record-high 4,014 Illinois cases were announced May 12. Officials in Florida announced more than 10,000 new cases Thursday, as that state’s searing COVID-19 resurgence continues.
6:29 p.m. Alabama college students going to ‘COVID parties’ to see who gets sick first, officials say
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As coronavirus cases around the U.S. continue to rise, authorities in one Alabama county may have identified a possible source for their increase.
Infected college students.
Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Chief Randy Smith said Tuesday that city officials were able to confirm incidents of students knowingly diagnosed with COVID-19 still choosing to attend parties and gatherings within the city and county.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” said Smith, who is heading the city of Tuscaloosa’s Incident Command team in response to the coronavirus. “We did some additional research. Not only did the doctors’ offices help confirm it, but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”
Smith did not specify how many students knowingly went to such parties or which university or school they attended.
6 p.m. Confirmed coronavirus cases are rising in 40 of 50 states — including Illinois
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases per day in the U.S. climbed to an all-time high of more than 50,000 on Thursday, with the infection curve rising in 40 of the 50 states in a reversal that has largely spared only the Northeast.
An alarming 36 states are seeing an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus.
“What we’ve seen is a very disturbing week,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said in a livestream with the American Medical Association.
In a major retreat that illustrated how dire things have become in Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the wearing of masks across most of the state after refusing until recently to let even local governments impose such rules.
The surge has been blamed in part on Americans not covering their faces or following other social distancing rules as states lifted their lockdowns over the past few weeks. Fauci warned that if people don’t start complying, “we’re going to be in some serious difficulty.”
The U.S. recorded 50,700 new confirmed cases, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. That represents a doubling of the daily total over the past month and is higher even than what the country witnessed during the most lethal phase of the crisis in April and May, when the New York metropolitan area was easily the worst hot spot in the U.S.
3:35 p.m. Federal judge rejects GOP challenge to Pritzker’s COVID-19 limits on political gatherings, ruling ‘risks are too great’
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday notched a win in federal court against the Illinois Republican Party, which sued the Democratic governor claiming he violated the GOP’s constitutional rights to assemble during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The judge’s opinion was issued just as another lawsuit unfolded in a downstate courtroom. In that suit, state Rep. Darren Bailey, R-Xenia, is challenging Pritzker’s legal authority to issue a stay-at-home order.
The Illinois Republican Party suit, filed in mid-June, argued that while religious groups and protesters have been allowed to gather in groups of more than 10 under Pritzker’s disaster declaration, political groups were not allowed to share the same freedoms — which they said are guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution.
But the judge rejected that argument.
2:20 p.m. Mayor details holiday weekend plans on fighting crime, pandemic
Last weekend, Chicago bars and restaurants finally were allowed to reopen to indoor dining, but with strict limits on capacity and social distancing to fight to spread of the coronavirus.
City officials said then they did not have the staff to actively monitor restaurants or seek out violators; they said enforcement would be “by complaint only,” meaning they’d respond if someone reported a potential violation.
Well, that didn’t last long.
Heading into the long Fourth of July weekend, the city now is vowing to look for and shut down violators, citing the large crowds seen at some establishments that flouted those guidelines.
“Starting now, I have directed my team to ramp up enforcement,” said Rosa Escareno, the city’s Business Affairs and Consumer Protection commissioner.
“We can’t let the excitement” of reopening “reverse the months of progress we have made” to stop the spread of COVID-19, Escareno said.
1:30 p.m. Sox home ballpark transformed into makeshift spring training facility
Guaranteed Rate Field won’t look the same when the White Sox get started at summer camp Friday. Extensive changes in the clubhouse, dugouts and on the field have been made to accommodate a three-week training period while ensuring the health and safety of players because of the coronavirus.
This will be the first time is being used as a makeshift spring training type facility.
“We needed to convert the ballpark into a spring training complex,” said Terry Savarise, senior vice president of stadium operations. “Adding mounds, batting cages, pitching tunnels, expanding dugout and training space to accommodate a large number of players. ... We also needed to create a health bubble to ensure not only the safety of the players and on field staff but for our office and training staff to pull this thing off.”
Two bullpens with two mounds and plates for pitchers and catchers in each one have been installed on the warning tracks in foul territories. With two mounds in the outfield bullpens, there are places for eight pitchers to throw at once, if necessary. Two indoor hitting tunnels were also added.
When camp begins, players will be divided in morning and afternoon sessions, splitting work days to create enough space for all and separation for health reasons.
12:52 p.m. Death Cafes help ease grief, loss in the time of coronavirus
Panic attacks, trouble breathing, relapses that have sent her to bed for 14 hours at a time: At 35, Marissa Oliver has been forced to deal with the specter of death on COVID-19’s terms, yet conversations about her illness, fear and anxiety haven’t been easy.
That’s why she headed onto Zoom to attend a Death Cafe, a gathering of strangers willing to explore mortality and its impact on the living, preferably while sipping tea and eating cake.
“In the Death Cafe, no one winces,” said Oliver, who was diagnosed with the virus in March. “Now, I’m writing down everything in my life that I want to achieve.”
Death Cafes, part of a broader “death-positive” movement to encourage more open discussion about grief, trauma and loss, are held around the world, in nearly 100 countries. While many haven’t migrated online in the pandemic, others have.
The global virus toll and the social isolation it has extracted have opened old, unresolved wounds for some. Others attending virtual Death Cafes are coping with fresh losses from COVID-19, cancer and other illness. Still more bring metaphorical death to the circles: The end of friendships, shattered romances or chronic illness, as Oliver has endured.
9:31 a.m. More help on way for COVID-slammed businesses as Congress sends relief bill to president
The House on Wednesday easily passed a temporary extension of a subsidy program for small businesses slammed by the coronavirus, speeding the measure to President Donald Trump.
Approval by voice vote without debate came after Democrats pushed the legislation through the GOP-controlled Senate late Tuesday as spikes in coronavirus cases in many states led to renewed shutdowns of bars and other businesses.
Trump was expected to sign the measure.
The legislation extends the June 30 deadline for applying for the program to Aug. 8. Lawmakers created the program in March and have modified it twice since, adding money on one occasion and more recently permitting more flexible use of the funding despite some grumbling among GOP conservatives.
About $130 billion of $660 billion approved for the program remains eligible for businesses to seek direct federal subsidies for payroll and other costs such as rent, though demand for the Paycheck Protection Program has pretty much dried up in recent weeks.
8:28 a.m. Cleaning up casinos in time of coronavirus
Imagine Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra sitting down for a hand of blackjack, with their trademark banter muffled by surgical masks — not to mention a plexiglass partition separating all three.
Pass on the Rat Pack star power, take a hit of hand sanitizer, and you’ve got an idea of what a COVID-19 casino looks like.
Illinois gamblers got their first glimpse of that Wednesday as the state’s 10 casinos reopened after three months of an unprecedented statewide shutdown.
Hundreds of clear partitions separated slot machines, cash counters and card dealers sprawled across the gaming floor of Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, where some bettors were so eager to get back to the action in the age of COVID-19 that they lined up before it opened around 11 a.m.
The state’s most lucrative casino hadn’t taken in a chip since March 16, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office shuttered the state’s gambling houses as well as the 36,000 slot machines scattered across more than 7,000 bars, restaurants and other establishments.
But the virus wasn’t scaring off many from returning to the bright lights and high-touch surfaces on Wednesday. Close to a thousand gamblers were on Rivers’ main floor by midday, with around-the-clock cleaning crews sweeping through and hand sanitizing stations set up throughout the building.
7:40 a.m. New normal for reopened Chicago, suburban schools come fall likely to be very different
Goodbye, field trips and perfect attendance awards. Hello, one-way hallways, daily temperature checks and quarantine rooms.
That’s some of what we can look ahead to now that Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his approval last week for schools in Illinois to reopen for in-class instruction this fall, encouraging schools to welcome back kids and staff under detailed state guidelines aimed at keeping them safe.
In Chicago’s new normal, there will be face masks on everyone over 2, bans on handshakes and any other touching, tons of hand-washing and six-feet social distancing requirements in classrooms, on playgrounds and everywhere else at school. Everyone who enters school buildings will get temperature checks, too.
But how that all will work and what the rest of school is going to look like are among the things still to be decided by school districts in the city, suburbs and statewide as schools face the realities of welcoming back to classrooms kids who are likely to be behind academically after learning from home all spring.
7:05 a.m. Trump says he looks like Lone Ranger in a mask and likes it
WASHINGTON — After long resisting wearing a mask in public, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he thinks it makes him look like the Lone Ranger — and he likes it.
“I’m all for masks. I think masks are good,” Trump told Fox Business in an interview. “People have seen me wearing one.”
Trump’s comments came a day after Republican lawmakers suggested that the president wear a mask in public to set a good example for Americans.
“If I were in a tight situation with people, I would absolutely,” Trump said in the interview.
Trump has long resisted being photographed in a mask. In early April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a recommendation that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures were difficult to maintain.
- DeAndre Jordan says he has tested positive for the coronavirus and won’t be joining the Brooklyn Nets in Florida when the NBA season resumes.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 30 additional deaths attributed to COVID-19 and 828 newly confirmed cases of the virus on Wednesday, bringing the state close to the grim milestone of 7,000 people lost to the pandemic.
- Illinois reported 14 COVID-19 deaths Monday, its lowest daily total in three months for the second day in a row as the state’s reopening is underway. That brings the state’s total death toll to 6,902.
- The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association say 16 players tested positive for coronavirus in the first wave of mandatory tests done in preparation for the restart of the season.
Analysis & Commentary
12:16 p.m. As a dad in the age of coronavirus, I’m angry at people who won’t wear a mask to protect my kids
I’m angry. Really angry.
For almost four months, we’ve been stuck inside, like prisoners on house arrest. I wash my hands so often that I wonder if I might not have developed a lifelong neurosis. I trek to the grocery store twice a week, face covered, groping among the produce because I can’t stop my glasses from fogging up. We’ve skipped doctor’s appointments for my older boy Lucca — and my own, too — because we just don’t think it’s worth the risk.
Why do we do these things? Our governor and mayor have asked us to stay home.
But also because we know that, despite the deep frustration, staying at home and washing hands frequently actually works.
How can I be so sure? A month or so before the lockdown, I was at the emergency room with Matteo, our 2-year-old. It was his second or third trip there in as many months. Matteo has asthma. His medicine mostly keeps his breathing under control.
7:44 a.m. Cubs coach Tommy Hottovy hit hard — physically and emotionally — by coronavirus ordeal
Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy didn’t talk much baseball Wednesday during a video conference call with reporters.
He was at Wrigley Field, where the team finally assembled in full ahead of Friday’s start of preseason workouts, but his focus, at least in the morning, was on the coronavirus pandemic.
As most of the team’s players went through intake screening at the ballpark — temperature checks, saliva samples, antibody tests — Hottovy first went on a local radio program, then on Zoom.
Hottovy, 38, spilled details of his own harrowing, debilitating battle with COVID-19, which kept him quarantined in a spare bedroom at home for 30 days. And he spilled tears. The more he relived the experience — especially as it related to wife Andrea, 8-year-old Cameron and 6-year-old Chloe — the more the tears came.
“It’s still kind of raw,” he said, dabbing at his eyes. “The fact that we just got through it and to, like, relive it? Obviously, it affected us pretty significantly for a month.”
It hit Hottovy harder than a lot of people would expect considering his age and his seemingly excellent physical condition. There were strings of sleepless nights. Fevers that raged all day. He developed pneumonia.