Even as officials announced a record-high daily count of 3,137 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday said the McCormick Place alternate care facility will be largely dismantled.
Earlier at his daily briefing, Pritzker said the state has “bent the curve.”
Here’s what else happened as the fight against the novel coronavirus in Illinois continued.
8:57 p.m. Want to support restaurants during the coronavirus pandemic? Here’s how much it costs restaurants when ordering through delivery apps
With restaurants banned from serving dine-in customers amid the coronavirus pandemic, many owners have turned to food delivery apps — like Grubhub, Postmates and Uber Eats — to facilitate their orders.
Many of those apps have seen a “definite uptick” in business over the last six weeks — but it’s apparently coming at a big cost to the restaurateurs.
In a Facebook post published this week, Giuseppe Badalamenti, a restaurant consultant and the owner of Chicago Pizza Boss, shared a snapshot of a March statement from Grubhub, which detailed just how little restaurants profit off of online orders through the app.
The unidentified restaurant, which is a client of Badalamenti, accepted $1,042.63 in 46 pre-paid orders (42 delivery and four pickup) last month. But it earned only $376.54, according to his post, which has been shared by more than 2,500 people.
8:24 p.m. Chicago area companies getting COVID-19 loans include railcar maker that paid CEO $2.1M
Faced with the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump quickly rolled out the Paycheck Protection Program, aiming to keep workers on the payroll at small businesses as business dwindled because of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Among the Chicago-area companies to benefit, records show, were:
A railcar manufacturer — which secured the maximum $10 million — that closed a factory in Virginia last year and opened a new one in Mexico while paying its CEO $2.1 million in total compensation.
A clean-energy company in Cicero that told shareholders when it announced its $9.5 million loan that COVID-19 hadn’t harmed its business.
Two companies that employ thousands of workers — well over the program’s usual 500-employee limit, though businesses also can qualify based on net worth or net income.
7:57 p.m. Michelle Abernathy wasn’t just another COVID-19 victim. She made a difference.
Torrence Jones remembers the day his girlfriend Michelle Abernathy learned a developmentally disabled resident of Ludeman Developmental Center, where they worked, had become the first person there to test positive for COVID-19.
It was March 28, a Saturday. Abernathy had stopped by the Park Forest campus to catch up on work. She was informed the stricken man lived in a housing unit under her supervision.
Abernathy, 52, made sure the resident was receiving proper care and that her staff had personal protective equipment, Jones said.
By the next night, Abernathy had a fever. Fifteen days later, she was dead, a victim of the coronavirus.
7:11 p.m. Reopen Illinois rally draws hundreds to the Thompson Center
Anger and frustration were palpable in the Loop Friday as hundreds of people gathered in the Thompson Center plaza to rally against statewide restrictions that have left scores of people across the state out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While the crowd was small early in the day, it grew to about 300 people — still a far cry from the crowd of 5,000 organizers had anticipated. Street closures were minimal, and the group stayed put at the northwest corner of Randolph and Clark streets throughout the morning and afternoon.
“We are still the land of the free. There are still independent people who can think for themselves and who can protect their own self-interest as they see fit,” former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica told reporters.
6:34 p.m. As new stay-at-home guidelines allow people to ‘expand their quarantine family,’ one epidemiologist advises people to be cautious
As Mother’s Day approaches, many wonder if it’s safe to hug a loved one during the pandemic. One renown epidemiologist says it’s OK — maybe.
“I think a hug or two done in a very safe way with your fabric mask on and your hands clean and after you’ve been very careful, maybe OK, but I can’t promise that it’s going to be OK for everyone. But I can tell you that for me, it may be worth the gamble,” University of Chicago epidemiologist Dr. Emily Landon said Friday.
Landon’s comment came during a livestreamed discussion with fellow infectious disease expert Dr. Allison Bartlett.
In March, Gov. J.B. Pritzker brought Landon to speak alongside him to announce the state’s first stay-at-home order, which ordered people stay inside except from going to work and buying essential goods. Pritzker eased some of those restrictions on Friday.
Landon said the new set of guidelines are a sign people should start to slowly “expand their quarantine family,” with the understanding coronavirus cases are still rising across the state.
“I’m not suggesting that everyone in the family should get together for a big reunion right now,” Landon said, “but if it’s really important to you and mom and … if everyone’s been really careful, everyone’s very low risk and if it’s OK with everyone involved, maybe now’s the time you put your fabric mask on, you wash your hands, and you give everybody a hug on Mother’s Day, and then maybe keep your distance a little bit more again.”
— Carlos Ballesteros
3:40 p.m. State sees record-high case count — 3,137 — as 105 more die of coronavirus
The deaths raised Illinois’ coronavirus toll to 2,457 while with the new cases, the state has seen 56,055 people test positive for the virus.
The state received more than 14,000 test results on Thursday, bringing the tally of tests performed to more than 284,000, according to the Illinois Dept. of Public Health.
The virus has been confirmed in 97 of the state’s 102 counties.
3:09 p.m. Catholic masses to resume in Chicago with 10-person limit? Archdiocese says yes
Chicago area Catholics could soon be back to celebrating mass in person under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s modified stay-at-home order — on a tightly limited basis, from a safe social distance.
After a late revision to Pritzker’s extended order added a provision for “the free exercise of religion,” the local arm of the Catholic Church announced Friday it is planning to resume masses limited to 10 people under guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Facing a federal lawsuit from a northwest Illinois church challenging the governor’s latest order, the Pritzker administration lateThursday added new language including limited religious services as permitted examples of leaving the home for “essential activities” during the coronavirus pandemic.
The new order, effective through May, says leaving home is allowed “to engage in the free exercise of religion, provided that such exercise must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and the limit on gatherings of more than 10 people in keeping with CDC guidelines for the protection of public health.”
2:45 p.m. R. Kelly at ‘high risk’ for diabetes, lawyer says in latest bid to get singer freed over COVID-19 fears
No Rx for R. Kelly … yet.
Singer R. Kelly, who is being held at Chicago’s Metropolitan Correctional Center — where COVID-19 is taking up residence and where Kelly is awaiting trial on numerous sexual abuse charges— has been told he may have a deadly appetizer favored by the virus: diabetes.
That diagnosis was delivered to the R&B superstar Thursday after the results of an initial test were revealed to him, his Chicago attorney Steve Greenberg told Sneed.
“I was able to speak to Robert [Kelly] through a specially arranged phone call and he is now awaiting confirmation he may have diabetes,” Greenberg said.
The singer broke down during the conversation.
“He has been experiencing panic attacks,” Greenberg said. “ ... He is petrified. He is convinced he is going to die while in pretrial detention.”
2:17 p.m. Art Institute lions get new, reinforced masks after one was stolen hours after installation
A face mask adorning one of the iconic lion statues at the entrance of the Art Institute of Chicago was stolen Thursday evening, less than 24 hours after the symbolic masks were applied.
By Friday afternoon, the mask had been replaced and both lion statues were once again sporting the protective gear.
An Art Institute security guard saw two men get out of a black Chevrolet sedan about 10:55 p.m., climb onto one of the statues at the museum at 111 S. Michigan Ave., cut the mask from the lion’s head and take off, according to the Chicago police.
The large-scale masks had been installed early Thursday as a symbolic gesture ahead of a statewide mandate starting Friday requiring people to wear masks in public places amid the coronavirus outbreak. They were designed by Kelly Winter of Dimension Design in Glenview, and the company has plans to replace them.
“We are remaking both masks with new kinds of cables instead of just the strapping that was requested,” said Jim Winter, executive vice president of Dimension Design. “We’re going to use some of the creative methods we normally use. When you use vinyl- or fabric-coated [steel] cables, you get the same results but it will make it very difficult cut them.”
2 p.m. Antibody tests for coronavirus hold promise, but they’re not yet reliable enough
Chicagoans who have a burning curiosity to know whether they’ve been infected with the coronavirus can get an antibody test at a healthcare clinic for about a hundred bucks.
The problem is that no one can say for sure what the test results mean.
Despite a proliferation of COVID-19 antibody tests that are now available, having been churned out hastily under emergency conditions, the science that will help explain whether the antibodies offer future immunity isn’t there yet.
And a recent examination by some of the nation’s top scientists found unacceptably high rates of false positives in some antibody tests, calling into question their usefulness.
As more states inch toward reopening their economies, experts caution that antibody tests are just one tool and an imperfect one at that.
“It’s very early. We need to do so much more work,” says Dr. Mary K. Hayden, chief of the division of infectious diseases at Rush University Medical College and spokeswoman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
1:20 p.m. New Pritzker, Lightfoot bobbleheads a nod to their handling of coronavirus crisis
One of the world’s largest commemorative bobblehead producers gave a nod to Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot this week for their handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Illinois and Chicago.
The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday unveiled bobbleheads featuring Pritzker and Lightfoot.
The museum chose to honor Pritzker and Lightfoot, along with several other governors, for their work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state, co-founder and CEO Phil Sklar said in a statement.
12:43 p.m. Life after coronavirus: How do you think it will be different post-pandemic? We asked, you answered.
Just as 9/11 changed the world in lasting ways, the coronavirus pandemic is sure to change certain aspects of everyday life even after it’s over.
We asked how Chicagoans think life will be different. These were among the answers. Some have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
“I am hoping people have better health and hygiene. Also, we really need to revamp the healthcare system. Maybe now that we know the healthcare field will always need people, more will lean towards that way for their careers.” — Eric Boyd
“I certainly hope people will be more neighborly, friendly, prayerful, helpful, loving, kind, truthful, honest and forgiving if necessary.” — Alice Nicholson
“Initially: overcrowding. Then: anxiety, depression and PTSD through the roof. Hopefully a more health and hygiene conscious population.” — Jessica V. Cortés-Negrón
10:56 a.m. ‘Reopen Illinois’ rally draws small crowd downtown; organizer says he expects thousands later today
Brandon Harris, one of the organizers of today’s Reopen Illinois rally outside the Thompson Center, says 5,000 people are expected to show up later this morning pic.twitter.com/lo9kUvIkNZ— Sam Charles (@samjcharles) May 1, 2020
About 40 people had gathered in the Thompson Center Plaza in the Loop by 10 a.m. to rally for “reopening Illinois.” One of the organizers, Brandon Harris, of Freedom Movement USA, said he expected 5,000 people to show up later in the afternoon and join him in calling on state and local leaders to ease restrictions that would allow more residents to go back to work.
Harris and others were quick to point out that since the stay-at-home order was put into place, Mayor Lori Lightfoot received a haircut, despite salons and barbershops across the state were ordered to be closed.
To Harris, the haircut illustrates a double-standard. “Now they’re breaking their own policies and procedures,” he said.
A counter-protest was scheduled for later Friday morning.
— Sam Charles
9:52 a.m. Amazon, Whole Foods, FedEx workers call in sick en masse Friday over hazard pay
Essential workers will strike nationwide on May Day to demand safer conditions during the coronavirus outbreak, while other groups plan rallies against tight stay-at-home orders they say are crippling the U.S. economy.
Organizers say employees of Amazon, Whole Foods, Target, Fedex and other companies have become the unexpected frontline workers of the pandemic. Employees will walk off the job or call out sick Friday on International Workers’ Day in cities across the U.S. to demand unpaid time off work, hazard pay, sick leave, protective gear and cleaning supplies.
They say flawed policies by employers caused some of their co-workers to contract COVID-19.
“For these reasons, we are engaging in a mass sickout and exercising our right to refuse unsafe work conditions,” according to a statement by Whole Foods workers.
Across the country, workers who interact with the public — nurses, grocery store workers and delivery drivers among them — have taken action in recent weeks to protect themselves. Rolling job actions have popped up across the limping economy, including by Pittsburgh sanitation workers who walked off their jobs and fast-food employees in California who left restaurants to perform socially distant protests in their cars.
8:02 a.m. Ravinia cancels 2020 season due to coronavirus pandemic
The 2020 Ravinia Festival in Highland Park has been canceled.
The move is the latest large-event casualty of the coronavirus pandemic, joining the cancellation of Chicago’s blues and gospel festivals, announced last week.
“There just is no way that we could make this [happen],” said Ravinia president and CEO Welz Kauffman about Friday’s announcement. “We’ve been wracking our brains trying to figure out how to make the social distancing work and ensure the safety of everyone who comes here — the kids and families, the artists, staff and our neighbors. There was just no way to do it. ... And many artists have already canceled their 2020 tours.”
The season shut-down is the first one since the Great Depression forced the now 116-year-old festival to close its doors from 1932 to 1935.
6:56 a.m. Late-night change marks churches as ‘essential,’ but encourages ‘online or drive-in services’
On the same day that Gov. J.B. Pritzker was sued in federal court by a church over the rights of its 80 members to gather, the Democratic governor on Thursday issued an extended stay-at-home executive order that included new language about the “free exercise of religion.”
The extended executive order filed Thursday evening contains a key change under permitted examples of leaving the home for “essential activities” during the coronavirus pandemic.
But any religious gatherings are limited to ten people, much smaller than the worship services to which most Chicago area residents are accustomed.
The new extended order says leaving home is allowed “to engage in the free exercise of religion, provided that such exercise must comply with Social Distancing Requirements and the limit on gatherings of more than 10 people in keeping with CDC guidelines for the protection of public health.”
“Religious organizations and houses of worship are encouraged to use online or drive-in services to protect the health and safety of their congregants,” according to the order.
6:30 a.m. Businesses ready to open as some state COVID-19 restrictions lift
Myeisha Campbell one of the owners of House of Melanin restocks the shelves with an assortment of haircare products, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Oak Park, Ill. | Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times
Chicago-area business owners are preparing to open their doors Friday, hoping to recoup some of the money they lost after being shut down for more than six weeks because of the state’s stay-at-home order.
Changes to the order taking effect Friday will grant some non-essential businesses the ability to begin serving customers again inside brick-and-mortar stores starting Friday.
But the ease in restrictions is far from a return to normalcy.
Businesses with permission to reopen include beauty supply stores, gardening centers, pet grooming and golf courses, as well as some state parks. Many of these must put in place new safety measures, including restricted hours and constant sanitizing, Some will have to add new services, such as curbside pickup.
- One of Mexico’s best-known protest singers, Oscar Chávez, has died at age 85, apparently after being infected with the coronavirus.
- Officials reported Thursday that another 141 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, marking the second highest daily death toll the state has seen during the pandemic. The latest deaths — second only to the 144 announced Tuesday — raised the Illinois total to 2,355.
- The CTA announced the death of a fourth employee from COVID-19. The employee worked in the CTA’s technology department for over 20 years.
- Chicago police announced Tuesday seven more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the department to 421.
- Eighteen employees at a Tootsie Roll manufacturing plant in Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19 since the end of March.
Analysis & Commentary
11:58 a.m. How Gov. Pritzker could slow the spread of COVID-19 at Cook County Jail
As efforts continue to slow the spread of COVID-19 at Cook County Jail by reducing the inmate population, Gov. J.B. Pritzker could help the effort with the stroke of a pen.
Pritzker should lift an executive order that now prevents 120 convicted detainees at the jail from being transferred to state prisons. The governor announced last week he was extending the executive order through the month of May, along with other statewide stay-at-home measures imposed in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Transferring the 120 inmates would provide some relief to Cook County Jail as it fights a pitch battle against a virus that has infected 800 detainees and guards. One corrections officer and six detainees have died from the coronavirus so far.
6:12 a.m. COVID-19 lawsuits a symptom of a pre-existing condition in Illinois — and the nation
The debate over the legality of Pritzker’s directives plays into a national election narrative that the Republicans are testing out right now for President Donald Trump’s looming re-election battle. They contend Democrats are using the COVID-19 pandemic to take away people’s freedoms and as a result, wrecking the economy — as if a highly contagious, unpreventable, incurable disease sweeping the country needed any help.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that the second lawsuit was filed by state Rep. John Cabello, who co-chaired Trump’s presidential campaign in Illinois in 2016.
When somebody in Judge McHaney’s courtroom snickered after the state’s lawyer talked about “millions dying” from COVID-19, it may have just been a reaction to an unintended misstatement or exaggeration. The worldwide death toll has only recently exceeded 200,000 with three million confirmed cases.
Just as likely, the laughter was an expression of a sincerely held, if misguided, belief within a segment of the population that the coronavirus isn’t as dangerous as it has been portrayed.