Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 27, 2020: Send it back to the chef? Lightfoot wants Pritzker to rethink looming Chicago restaurant crackdown

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Oct. 27, 2020: Send it back to the chef? Lightfoot wants Pritzker to rethink looming Chicago restaurant crackdown

Coronavirus cases are up — and now the number of people dining indoors will be coming down on Friday.

The pandemic isn’t over yet, not by a long shot. Here’s what we learned Tuesday about the coronavirus in Illinois.


8:53 p.m. Send it back to the chef? Lightfoot wants Pritzker to rethink looming Chicago restaurant crackdown

Outdoor dining tables sit empty outside Tavern On Rush and Carmine’s, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.

Outdoor dining tables sit empty outside Tavern On Rush and Carmine’s, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Gov. Pritzker is expected to limit indoor dining as the number of Chicago’s Coronavirus infections continues to grow

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Four months after reopening from the first devastating coronavirus shutdown, Chicago restaurateurs will be forced to close their dining rooms again beginning Friday as COVID-19 infections soar to spring-like highs statewide.

While Mayor Lori Lightfoot indicated she’d push Gov. J.B. Pritzker to reconsider his latest restrictions on indoor dining, the Democratic governor said skyrocketing case counts and testing positivity rates mean businesses and residents have to buckle down now with a potentially troubling winter looming.

“For a time late in the summer, Chicago seemed to have this more under control than other regions of Illinois, but that’s no longer the case,” Pritzker said while announcing the restaurant rollback Tuesday. “We can’t ignore what is happening all around us, because without action, this could look worse than anything that we saw last spring.”

But Lightfoot, who announced last call for indoor bar service as the city’s coronavirus numbers shot up last week, criticized Pritzker’s new restrictions, saying she’s not sure they’re “reaching the right people.”

Reporters Mitch Armentrout and Fran Spielman have the full story.

7:51 p.m. Bars, restaurants in Cook suburbs limited to outdoor service — as owners fight weather, and state battles ‘COVID storm on the rise’


AP Photos

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced restrictions on indoor bar and restaurant service in Chicago Tuesday as coronavirus metrics took another dangerous step in the wrong direction.

City establishments won’t be allowed to seat customers indoors beginning Friday, and outdoor service — already scaling back due to chilling temperatures — will be cut off at 11 p.m. All other gatherings will be limited to 25 people or 25% of room capacity.

The Democratic governor noted Chicago is averaging twice as many COVID-19 hospital admissions per day compared to a month ago, while its positivity rate has almost doubled since the beginning of October.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us — because without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,” Pritzker said in a statement.

Read the full story here.

7:02 p.m. Early childhood programs in communities hardest hit by COVID-19 to get $1.3 million boost

Early childhood programs in Chicago are receiving a federal funding boost to support families in zip codes disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services, which handles city-run preschool, is set to take in $1.3 million that will be distributed to community organizations that work with the department to provide various family services.

The federal dollars come from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief fund, which was split among states and forwarded on to municipalities to support existing programs that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Chicago’s Board of Education, which received the city’s share of the funds, is expected to sign off on an agreement at its monthly meeting Wednesday that will send a portion of the money to DFSS.

DFSS will support some of its community-based partners that serve prenatal parents and children up to five years old in designated communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.

4:25 p.m. Two Wisconsin quarterbacks test positive for COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin might have to rely on a fourth-stringer to lead the offense Saturday at Nebraska after the Badgers’ two healthy quarterbacks tested positive for COVID-19, two people with knowledge of the situation told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tuesday.

The people requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the situation.

Here’s how it got to this point:

The Badgers opened the season without projected starter Jack Coan, who suffered a foot injury on Oct. 3 and underwent surgery four days later.

Redshirt freshman Graham Mertz completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns in his starting debut, a 45-7 victory over Illinois last Friday.

Read the full report here.

12:43 p.m. Woman stabs employee 27 times after being told to wear mask in West Side store: police

A woman stabbed an employee more than two dozen times while another woman held him by the hair after they were told to wear a mask inside a West Side store, according to police.

Jessica Hill, 21, and Jayla Hill, 18, each face a count of attempted murder in the Sunday attack that left the worker in critical condition, Chicago police said.

They entered a small shop about 6 p.m. in the 3200 block of West Roosevelt Road and were greeted by an employee who asked them to put on face masks and use hand sanitizer by the front door, police spokeswoman Karie James said.

The pair refused and began to argue with the employee, a 32-year-old man, James said.

The arguing became physical when one of the women allegedly punched the man in his chest.

Read the full story here.

11:49 a.m. How to apply for Cook County’s coronavirus relief payments

Suburban Cook County residents struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic can apply for a one-time cash payment of $600, county officials announced this week.

The Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Resident Cash Assistance Program aims to distribute a total of $2.1 million to about 3,000 residents, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. The money is being provided through the federal coronavirus relief bill.

To be eligible for the cash payment, you must be a resident of suburban Cook County — city residents are not included in the program. Applicants must provide documentation showing the pandemic’s negative financial impact on their household due to job or wage losses, unpaid leave to care for vulnerable or sick relatives, unpaid sick leave, or loss of wages due to school closures.

Here’s how to apply.

9:01 a.m. Coronavirus deaths rising across US, just as experts feared

BOISE, Idaho — Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in practically every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great.”

With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Newly confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Health experts had warned that it was only a matter of time before deaths turned upward, given the record-breaking surge in cases engulfing the country. Deaths are a lagging indicator — that is, it generally takes a few weeks for people to sicken and die from the coronavirus.

Read the full story here.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

7:11 a.m. Democrat Rep. Sean Casten, Republican Jeanne Ives at odds over COVID-19 response in Illinois 6 Congress race

The role of government in managing the COVID-19 pandemic is a defining issue in the congressional battle between freshman Democratic Rep. Sean Casten and Republican challenger Jeanne Ives.

Casten said in a WGN-TV debate that Ives “celebrates ignorance” when it comes to the science of dealing with coronavirus infections.

Ives said politicians like Casten “don’t trust you to make decisions” when it comes to whether there should be mandates to wear masks or rules about eating in restaurants. “You are treating adults like children,” she said.

The twin health and economic crises speak to Casten and Ives — very differently.

Casten’s political brand is built on his background in science with climate change his central issue.

Ives’ reputation as a fierce social and anti-tax fiscal conservative was solidified when the three-term state representative took on her own party establishment in her nearly successful 2018 GOP primary bid against then-Gov. Bruce Rauner.

Read Lynn Sweet’s full column here.

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