Latest coronavirus news for April 26, 2020: Live updates

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

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Officials on Sunday said another 59 people have died from the coronavirus in Illinois, as the state met its goal for testing for the third day in a row.

Here’s what else happened around the state as the coronavirus pandemic continued.


7:00 p.m. Small-business loan program resumes Monday morning: Here’s what you should know

At 9:30 a.m. Chicago time on Monday, the Small Business Administration restarts the wildly popular COVID-19 loan program, with lenders poised to submit a tidal wave of applications that could quickly use up the new round of funding.

As the economy continues to melt because of the coronavirus pandemic, with lockdowns knocking some businesses out for more than a month, there is desperate need for loans through the new federal Paycheck Protection Program – known as the PPP.

The initial $349 billion in funding appropriated by Congress was exhausted in two weeks. The SBA stopped accepting loan applications from lenders on April 16.

Last week, Congress replenished the PPP pot with $310 billion for loans plus a little over $11 billion to cover lender fees.

Here are some things to know:

Who is eligible for the PPP loans?

The PPP program is aimed at small business and nonprofit employers with fewer than 500 workers. The financial lifeline grants loans equal roughly to about 2.5 times monthly payroll costs.

Does the loan have to be repaid?

No, not if the loan is used as intended, to keep workers on payrolls for eight weeks after the loan is granted and pay some operating costs.

How many got PPP loans that were granted in the first round?

Nationally, there were 1.6 million loans approved. In Illinois, as of April 16, there were 69,893 loans approved totaling $15.9 billion.

For more things to know about the PPP loans, our Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet has you covered. Click here to read the full report as the program resumes Monday.

6:26 p.m. UIC Medical Center nurse who died of COVID-19 ‘gave the ultimate sacrifice’

Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc was considered the mother hen of the neuroscience intensive care unit at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center.

Her locker at work, stocked with medicine and extra scrubs, was open to everyone. The bulging bag she carried was always filled with other essentials like water and reading glasses, which she doled out just as freely. And when a nursing student’s iPad broke down, Pacubas-Le Blanc was quick to replace it with one of her own.

“That’s how big her heart is,” said Eileen Fajardo-Furlin, another nurse who works in the unit.

Joyce Pacubas-Le Blanc died after testing positive for coronavirus, just as Illinois officials announced that some 2,500 healthcare workers have been infected in the state.

Reporter Tom Schuba has the full story.

5:03 p.m. Chicago domestic violence calls up 18% in first weeks of coronavirus shutdown

Domestic violence calls are up in Chicago, with people cooped up at home and stressing over coronavirus and paying bills.

Comparing the period Feb. 21-March 8, before Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s first shelter-in-place order, with March 20-April 5, after Illinoisans were told largely to stay home, calls to the Chicago Police Department about domestic violence increased 18%.

That includes domestic battery, domestic disturbance and violations of orders of protection or child abuse.

Read the full statistics here.

3:28 p.m. VIDEO: Brad Pitt portrays Dr. Fauci on SNL

Check off one of the requests on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s wish list: last night he was portrayed by Brad Pitt.

The casting on this weekend’s “Saturday Night Live at Home” wasn’t entirely a surprise. When CNN prompted Fauci earlier this month with a few actors who could play him on the show, he laughed and chose “Brad Pitt, of course!”

Sure enough, the “Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood” Oscar winner and esteemed sex symbol was there at the start of Saturday’s show, wearing a wig and affecting Fauci’s distinctive rasp.

Read the full episode recap from Darel Jevens here.

2:40 p.m. With 59 more deaths, Illinois surpasses 43,000 coronavirus cases

The state announced Sunday another 59 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois as the Illinois’ total caseload reached 43,903.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the latest deaths while reporting 2,126 new cases of the coronavirus in Illinois since Saturday.

The virus has spread to 96 of the state’s 102 counties, and 1,933 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois.

This is the third day in a row that the state has surpassed its daily testing goal of 10,000 tests.

Reporter Jake Wittich has the full story.

1:22 p.m. Coronavirus pandemic leads to drive-thru wakes; ‘You have to have an opportunity to say goodbye’

America’s love affair with the automobile has produced drive-thru restaurants, dry-cleaners, coffee shops, prayer services, weddings — and now, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, drive-thru wakes like the one held for Rosemarie Santilli.

On Wednesday, cars turned off of Milwaukee Avenue into the parking lot at Kolssak Funeral Home in Wheeling. They threaded through orange cones and lane-dividers to approach two of the funeral home’s rear windows.

Behind the first window was the viewing parlor. Inside were chairs for Mrs. Santilli’s family and a microphone so they could communicate with the motorist-mourners. Another mic was set up outside the window for drivers to have two-way communication with her relatives.

Then, visitors pulled up to a second window to view Mrs. Santilli, who died Sunday at 91.

Read the full story by Maureen O’Donnell here.

12:27 p.m. Live Nation automatically issuing refunds for canceled shows due to COVID-19

It’s official: Live Nation customers will now automatically receive a refund if the concert or show they bought tickets for is canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event promoter, which announced the “Ticket Relief” initiative last week, posted the update on its website and social media accounts Friday.

Read the full announcement here.

11:58 a.m. Illinois man sues Trump for denying stimulus checks to American married immigrants

The plaintiff, named in the class-action lawsuit under the alias “John Doe,” is one of the 1.2 million Americans married to an immigrant without a Social Security number. Because Doe and his spouse file their tax returns jointly, the couple, who have two children who are citizens, have been denied a stimulus check, the lawsuit alleges.

The suit was filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and also names majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as defendants.

The suit claims that Doe and other Americans like him have been discriminated against on the sole basis of whom they chose to marry.

“It’s a deliberately cruel carve-out,” Manar Waheed, senior legislative and advocacy counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in the suit.

Read the full story by Sam Kelly here.

10:15 a.m. Protection vs. privacy? Values clash over proposal to provide first responders with COVID-19 addresses

First responders might want to know when they pull up at a home or apartment whether anyone inside has been infected with COVID-19, so they know how much protective gear they need.

But the people inside have confidentiality rights over their medical records, varying levels of trust toward law enforcement and worries about their own personal safety.

Those competing concerns are intersecting as some public officials push to provide police officers, firefighters and other first responders with the addresses of people who’ve tested positive for coronavirus — and advocacy groups object, arguing it infringes on residents’ rights to privacy and creates more problems than it solves.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners is considering such a move. One advocacy group went to court to get the information for first responders. And DuPage County has already adopted a policy to provide the addresses.

In Cook County, the proposed resolution would allow for the “disclosure of one’s COVID-19 status to first responders, including non-law-enforcement first responders, for purposes of protecting these workers and preventing the further spread of the virus” for 60 days unless the board votes to extend it.

Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton said he introduced the measure after being “contacted by multiple suburban fire and police departments.”

Read the full report from Rachel Hinton here.

9:37 a.m. ‘You are a miracle’: Home care is new front in virus fight

NEW YORK — Ruth Caballero paused outside an unfamiliar apartment door, preparing to meet her new patient.

She covered the knob with a plastic bag. Put on a surgical gown, then a heavy-duty N95 mask, a lighter surgical mask on top. Cap, face shield, shoe covers. Hand sanitizer between each step of the process. Finally, the nurse donned two sets of gloves and knocked on the door with her elbow, ready to care for her first coronavirus patient.

After about three weeks in a hospital, the man was home in his New York apartment but still so weak that sitting up in bed took some persuading.

“You made it out of the hospital, so you are a miracle,” Caballero told him. “Now let’s keep you out of the hospital.”

Home health care is becoming a new front in the national fight against COVID-19 as some patients come back from hospitals and others strive to stay out of them.

Home care nurses, aides and attendants — who normally help an estimated 12 million Americans with everything from bathing to IV medications — are now taking on the difficult and potentially dangerous task of caring for coronavirus patients.

Read the full report here.

8:30 a.m. ICYMI: Potbelly to return $10M federal coronavirus relief loan after public backlash

The Chicago-based sandwich restaurant chain Potbelly announced Saturday it will return a $10 million federal loan after taking heat for accepting the relief money that was meant to go to small businesses struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Potbelly was among a handful of big companies that took a share of $349 billion in relief dollars under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which launched earlier this month and was aimed at companies with fewer than 500 employees.

That prompted the Small Business Administration to issue an advisory Thursday implying that unless those larger companies could prove their eligibility, the money should be returned by May 7.

Potbelly Sandwich Works, which has 474 restaurants and 7,000 employees, said last week it had received a $10 million PPP loan.

“We are returning the PPP loan after further clarification from the Treasury Department,” the Potbelly Corporation said in a statement Saturday. “We will continue to seek alternatives to help support our employees and enable them to return to work so they can serve our loyal customers.”

Read the full report here.

7:24 a.m. Car caravan in Albany Park calls for cancellation or rent, mortgages

Calling for the cancellation of rent and mortgages during the coronavirus pandemic, protesters in about two dozen vehicles drove the streets Saturday in Albany Park to bring awareness to the plight of millions people who are without work, but still have bills coming due.


Nick Stender chats for a rent freeze during a vehicle caravan protest Saturday in Albany Park.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

With May 1 less than a week away, the protesters held signs, called for a rent freeze on megaphones and toured the neighborhood after meeting in the parking lot of Our Lady of Mercy Church at 4432 N. Troy st.

Part of a nationwide call for action, the protestors said with some many businesses closed due to the COVID-19 virus, they worried about they will pay for rent and mortgages and called for additional financial support for renters, homeowners and small landlords.

— Sun-Times Wires

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Analysis & Commentary

2:30 p.m. A laugh amid the pandemic? It’s harder than you think

Our columnist Neil Steinberg didn’t find the jokes in our Sunday paper to be very funny.

But why not?

Read what he has to say about comedy during the time of coronavirus.

11:15 a.m. Coronavirus devastates Filipino immigrant family in Rogers Park

Twenty-year-old Luis Tapiru II became one of the youngest casualties of COVID-19 in the Chicago area when he was found dead on the couch of his family’s Rogers Park condo on April 14.

His parents, Josephine and Luis Sr., already stricken with the disease, were fighting for their lives at AMITA Health St. Francis Hospital in Evanston when their son died at home alone.

Four days after her son’s death, Josephine, 56, who worked as a nurse at a nursing home, died.

It wasn’t until Thursday that Luis Sr. was informed of their deaths. Doctors waited until he was off a ventilator before telling him.

Read the full column from Mark Brown here.

7:23 a.m. Chicago dance studio wants small business PPP loan: 100,000 are ahead in line

Congress sent another $320 billion to a wildly popular, quickly depleted COVID-19 loan program Thursday, though it’s a long shot the Glenwood Dance Studio in East Rogers Park will get any of the cash.

Sandra Verthein, the dance center board president, said she was told by Chase, the dance center’s bank, that there were at least 100,000 applicants ahead of her.

A sign on the closed storefront studio near the Morse Avenue L stop on the Red Line says, “We hope to be dancing with you ASAP,” but based on Verthein’s experience, the PPP dance could be called freestyle frustration.

After President Donald Trump signs the bill, the new money will replenish the Paycheck Protection Program — known as PPP — created to give small business and nonprofit employers a financial lifeline as the economy melts because of the coronavirus lockdowns. The original $346 billion appropriation was exhausted in two weeks.

Verthein’s quest to get a coveted PPP loan for the nonprofit studio, at 7017 N. Glenwood Ave., unfortunately is emblematic of many frustrated employers and self-employed contractors — and is an example of a well-intended program that worked for some and likely may not for others. That is, unless Congress adds a third round of funding.

Read the full column from Lynn Sweet here.

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