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Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 20, 2020: Illinois Department of Public Health announced 3,714 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus

Here’s Tuesday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

The Chicago Department of Public added five states to its emergency travel order Tuesday, raising the number of destinations to 30 states and Puerto Rico.

Here’s what else happened in Chicago and around Illinois in pandemic-related news.


News

8:53 p.m. 30 states now on Chicago’s travel quarantine list as Illinois adds 3,714 more coronavirus cases

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

With the coronavirus flaring to dangerous highs yet again across the United States, it’s now easier to list the states that aren’t on Chicago’s travel quarantine list than those that are.

The Chicago Department of Public added five states to its emergency travel order Tuesday, raising the number of destinations to 30 states and Puerto Rico.

The latest hot-spot states are Colorado, Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia and Texas.

Anyone coming to Chicago from those areas should self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in the city.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office instituted the travel order in July, when Chicago and Illinois were faring well in the pandemic relative to surging states across the South and West.

But for over a month, Illinois itself has met the city’s criteria to be included on the quarantine list. On average, Illinois has added about 29 cases per 100,000 residents on over the last week, nearly double the threshold rate set by Lightfoot’s health team.

And Indiana and Wisconsin are still on the list as testing positivity rates have soared across the Midwest in the last two weeks, turning the region into a focal point of the nation’s COVID-19 resurgence.

Read the full story here.


6:07 p.m. It’s not because of the coronavirus pandemic, but still: ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,’ ‘Charlie Brown Christmas’ headed to AppleTV+

There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.

Actually, that quote is from Linus, the philosopher of the Peanuts franchise, not me. But discuss this I must because I just got a metaphorical rock for Halloween that’s related to the Charlie Brown animated cartoon specials.

It has been announced that the Peanuts TV specials that generations of Americans grew up with are moving to Apple TV+ as part of a new corporate deal.

As Charlie himself would say: Rats!!!!! Will no social, political or cultural norms be preserved in 2020? Can no tradition go unscathed? Is nothing, not even the quest for a pumpkin patch sincere enough to draw the Great Pumpkin to its leafy environs, sacred?

Read the full report here.

4:00 p.m. After facing Bears, the Panthers add player to reserve/COVID-19 list

One day after playing the Bears, the Panthers sent their players and coaches home from their practice facility until Wednesday after discovering a positive coronavirus test Monday morning. Later in the day, they put guard Michael Schofield on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

While that’s certainly concerning for the Bears, the team did not have a positive test of its own Monday. Schofield — from Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park —played five special teams snaps in Sunday’s 23-16 Bears win. Last week, Dr. Allen Sills, the league’s chief medical officer, said the NFL has yet to confirm a case of coronavirus transmission from one team to another on the field.

Because the Bears don’t play again until “Monday Night Football” in Los Angeles, their normal schedule will keep players at home — except for traveling to the Halas Hall parking lot for their daily tests — until Wednesday. Coach Matt Nagy conducted his regular media availability Monday from Halas Hall.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule told reporters, in a conference call from his home, that he learned about the positive test at 4:48 a.m. Monday. Friday, the Panthers put another backup offensive lineman, center Tyler Larsen, on the same list.

Read the full story here.

3:50 p.m. CPS sports says it is planning for Nov. 16 winter sports start date

Chicago Public Schools’ Sports Administration confirmed Monday that it is planning to proceed with the Illinois High School Association’s winter sports start date of Nov. 16. On Tuesday the CPS Communications Department sent a slightly different message.

Public League basketball players and coaches have watched suburban schools and private schools in Chicago hold basketball contact days for several months. CPS has not allowed its football or basketball teams to hold any contact days this fall.

“At this time CPS Sports Administration is proceeding to create guidelines for winter sports including basketball,” CPS Sports Administration Director David Rosengard said in a statement. “We are anticipating receiving additional guidelines from the State of Illinois and the IHSA soon for permission to proceed with a start date of winter sports on November 16. Our CPS winter sports guidelines will need approvals from the City of Chicago Department of Public Health and our CPS Office of Student Health and Welfare. We are optimistic that we can meet the Nov. 16 start date for winter sports once we receive the necessary approvals. All decisions take into consideration the health and welfare of our student athletes, coaches and support staff.”

Read the full story here.

2:33 p.m. Illinois universities cancel spring break

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced this week it will cancel spring break while delaying the start of the spring semester next year due to COVID-19.

“Health and safety remain our top priority,” said UIUC Chancellor Robert J. Jones in a release. “We believe these precautions are necessary to maximize the safety of our entire community.”

The release stated that while classes will begin later, students who will attend in-person classes are required to return early for on-campus COVID testing. Students cannot use campus facilities until they receive two negative tests at least three days apart.

Read the full story here.

2:09 p.m. Pritzker to clamp down on restaurant service in southern, western suburbs

Indoor service will soon be back off the menu for bars and restaurants across many of Chicago’s south and western suburbs as COVID-19 testing positivity rates shoot up statewide.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce his public health team’s latest restrictions on establishments in Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties at a Tuesday afternoon coronavirus briefing.

The testing positivity rate in the Will-Kankakee region is up to 8.6%, while Kane and DuPage have soared to 9%. Tuesday marked a third consecutive day for each region over the 8% threshold set by Pritzker’s health team that triggers state “mitigation” efforts.

Will and Kankakee counties were previously slapped with an indoor service ban in late August, but the region was restored within a month as the positivity rate sank as low as 5.2%.

With the state facing what Pritzker has called a “new wave” of surging coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, business restrictions will be in place across four of the state’s 11 regions by the end of the week — and other regions are flirting with a state intervention as well.

Read the full story here.

12:46 p.m. Lightfoot’s ‘pandemic’ budget: 500 layoffs, $94 million property tax hike

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Raising Chicago’s nickel-a-gallon tax on gasoline to 8 cents and imposing a $94 million property tax increase that will cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 an extra $56 a year.

Eliminating 1,000 vacant city jobs, 450 of them police officers, and laying off up to 500 city employees, but delaying the pink slips until March to give the new Congress a chance to ride to the rescue.

Refinancing $500 million in city debt and raiding Chicago’s $900 million in reserves, but only by $30 million to avoid another drop in Chicago’s already shaky bond rating.

Declaring a record $350 million tax increment financing surplus to generate a $189 million windfall for the Chicago Public Schools, but snatching back $55 million of that money by shifting pension and crossing guard costs from the city to CPS.

Requiring thousands of city employees who don’t belong to unions to take five unpaid furlough days.

Those were among the details revealed Monday as aldermen were briefed on what Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called the “impossible choices” she would need to make to balance what she calls Chicago’s “pandemic budget.”

A property tax increase was her “last resort.” Layoffs and furlough days were “second-to-last.” Yet she is resorting to both those options to plug the gap without federal help.

Read the full story from Fran Spielman here.

12:22 p.m. Fraternal Order of Police offices close due to COVID-19

The Near West Side offices of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 have been closed because of the coronavirus.

“Due to COVID-19 related issues, the FOP offices will be closed until further notice,” read a Monday message on the website of FOP Lodge 7, which represents more than 8,000 rank-and-file Chicago police officers.

FOP president John Catanzara declined in an email to say who or how many people have tested positive for the coronavirus at the police union headquarters, 1412 W. Washington Blvd.

“Please be advised the Lodge is taking every precaution necessary to ensure our staff and members are protected,” the FOP’s message read.

Read the full story here.

10:26 a.m. Foxx quietly starts expunging 1,200 pot convictions after COVID-19 delays

After months of delays prompted by the COVID-19 outbreak, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx quietly started expunging 1,200 additional cannabis convictions.

Starting Oct. 6, Foxx’s office began expunging roughly 300 minor pot convictions each week, according to spokeswoman Sarah Sinovic. Foxx’s push to wipe clean pot-related records comes as she’s locked in a contentious re-election fight with Republican Pat O’Brien, a former Cook County judge who’s outraising the incumbent.

“Felony convictions can follow people long after their time has been served and their debt has been paid,” Foxx said in a statement. “As we work to reform the criminal justice system and develop remedies to systemic barriers, I am proud that justice continues to be served in Cook County, for one, by vacating these low-level cannabis convictions to help move individuals and communities forward.”

Gov. J.B. Prtizker and fellow Democrats pushed recreational cannabis legalization as a conduit for change and a means to create diversity in the state’s cannabis industry, which is overwhelmingly controlled by white-owned firms. But the implementation of the watershed legislation, including the provisions to expunge convictions for possessing 30 grams or less, has largely been put on hold amid the coronavirus shutdowns.

Read the full story from Tom Schuba here.

9:31 a.m. Attorneys create free, virtual clinic to give immigrant Asian business owners legal help

Years after Erica Yang immigrated to the United States, she can still remember how she felt as a teen in a new country.

“The feeling of vulnerability and anxiety and what it feels like to be an outsider,” said Yang, who came to the U.S. from China. “I still remember that feeling when I was in high school.”

Those memories are why Yang, a commercial finance attorney at the Katten Muchin Rosenman law firm, recently co-founded a free, virtual legal clinic aimed at those in the Asian community in Chicago whose primary language isn’t English.

Lawyers Helping Our Community, under the umbrella of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, launched in June as a completely virtual clinic to help the Chinatown business community with civil issues such as evictions and insurance claims.

Yang, 29, thought of the idea for the clinic during the coronavirus pandemic when in-person appointments at many pro bono legal clinics were halted. At the same time, she was hearing business owners in the Chinatown area were struggling to stay afloat.

Read the full story from Elvia Malagón here.

7:56 a.m. Lightfoot warns COVID restrictions could be tightened again: ‘This is a call to action’

With over 500 cases being reported daily — the highest since the tail end of the first wave of cases earlier this year — the mayor on Monday declared: “Make no mistake: We are in the second surge.”

That means the potential for reimposing Phase 3 restrictions. Among other things, that would end indoor dining at restaurants and reduce the size of social gatherings to 10 people or less.

“This is a warning sign,” Lightfoot said at a City Hall news conference. “This is a call to action. ... We don’t want to see us have to go back to the kind of restrictive measures we say in March, April and May. But, if we have to, we will,.”

Read the full story from Fran Spielman here.


New cases

Over the last two weeks, the number of daily cases in Chicago has climbed at the average rate of 508 per day. One day last week, nearly 800 positive tests were reported, the “largest one-day jump” since May 21, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.


Analysis & Commentary

9:26 a.m. With COVID-19 on the rise, Americans have a right to know the details about vaccine spending

COVID-19 is surging to record levels in nearly every state, including Illinois, which on Monday reported over 3,000 new cases of the virus.

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned that our city is on the verge of another strict Phase 3 lockdown — meaning no more indoor restaurant dining, for one, and no social gatherings of more than 10 people — if cases continue to surge past the current average of over 500 a day.

“I don’t want to go there, particularly for those who are in business, the small businesses who have already suffered through a very difficult year,” Lightfoot said. “But I’ve got to do what is right to protect us from this virus.”

Meanwhile, what does President Donald Trump do, on the same day? He makes derogatory remarks about the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Meanwhile, what does President Donald Trump do, on the same day? He makes derogatory remarks about the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“People are tired of listening to Fauci and these idiots,” Trump said. “Every day he goes on television, there’s always a bomb, but there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him . . . Fauci is a disaster.”

In a sense, we expect no better from Trump, an incompetent blowhard who repeatedly downplays this virus as no worse than the flu and holds campaign rallies with hundreds of maskless supporters.

We would say Trump has now hit rock bottom by insulting Fauci. But there truly is no bottom with this president.

Read the full column from the CST Editorial Board here.