Latest coronavirus news for May 11, 2020: Live updates

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

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The latest

Activists call on CHA to provide adequate COVID-19 testing, PPE for seniors

Helen Chambers, Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments President, pushes a cart full of face masks and gloves toward the entrance of her building

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Community activists Monday called on the Chicago Housing Authority to provide adequate COVID-19 testing and more personal protective equipment for residents living in the agency’s senior buildings.

While CHA officials said some equipment has been passed out to curb the spread of the deadly virus, the activists said the agency needs to do more.

Nursing homes and health care facilities across the country have made headlines for coronavirus-related deaths, but not enough attention has been paid to seniors living in public housing, the activists said at a news conference at the CHA’s Patrick Sullivan Senior Apartments, 1633 W. Madison St.

“A lot of our seniors are too old to get out,” Rosemary Coleman, president of the CHA’s local advisory council said, calling for mobile testing units.

“Some can hardly walk. We don’t have cars, we can’t catch buses and we can’t stand in long lines to be tested. So, we need a unit to come out and test us for this virus. Some [residents] are asking to be tested, but they have no other way of [getting to test].”

Read the full report from Noah Johnson here.


News

9:19 p.m. We won’t reopen teachers contract for Chicago Public Schools to start on time this fall, Lightfoot says

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she’s not about to reopen the teachers contract that ended an eleven-day strike last fall to pave the way for the on-time start of Chicago Public Schools this fall.

“That’s not gonna happen. … We’re not gonna reopen the bargaining agreement,” the mayor said.

Lightfoot reiterated her determination to reopen schools “in a way that keeps the entire school community safe” — perhaps using staggered schedules to limit the number of students in classrooms at any given time.

“There’ll be plenty of time for discussion but, first and foremost, we’ll be guided by what the public health data tells us. And hopefully, we’ll have a constructive conversation with CTU leadership,” the mayor said.

Read the full report from Fran Spielman here.

8:34 p.m. The Blue Angels to honor frontline workers with flyover Tuesday, and here’s what you should know

Teddy bears in windows, flickering lights, honking, cheering, singing.

Now get ready to add the Blue Angels to the list of ways the nation is honoring health care workers.

Here’s what you need to know about the precision-flying Navy airplanes that are set to pass over Chicago on Tuesday.

The flyover is scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m., although times are subject to change.

Click here for more details about the planes’ flight paths.

8:02 p.m. City Colleges receives $12.7 million in federal stimulus funds to distribute to struggling students

City Colleges of Chicago has received $12.7 million in federal stimulus money that will be distributed to struggling students.

The money isn’t required to go toward tuition but can be spent on day-to-day living expenses.

“Our students are hard-working and resilient, but many of them needed housing, food and financial support before the COVID-19 crisis, and this pandemic has only exacerbated their need,” Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago, said in a statement announcing the stimulus money Monday.

More than 22,000 students are potentially eligible to receive a portion of the money and more than 8,000 students have already applied.

Read the full report from Mitch Dudek here.

7:31 p.m. 54 more die in Illinois of COVID-19 — and one new projection shows peak could hit 300 a day

Another 54 people have died of COVID-19 in Illinois, officials said Monday, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration planned to release new projections that show the state could remain in a peak period of 50 to 150 deaths a day into early June — or as one university suggests, up to 300 lives lost each day into July.

Pritzker on Monday afternoon planned to broadcast his briefing live for the first time in his Chicago home after a senior staffer tested positive for coronavirus. The governor himself has tested negative for coronavirus.

In total, 3,459 people have died of coronavirus in Illinois. The state also reported 1,266 new cases, bringing the total of positive cases to 79,007. The state received 12,441 tests results.

The positivity rate statewide as of Monday is 10.17%. In the Northeast region, which includes Cook County and Chicago, the positivity rate is about 22%.

The number of COVID-19 patients entering ICU beds went up by 16, from Saturday to Sunday night, according to Pritzker’s office. The number of ventilators being used by coronavirus patients also increased by 21, and the total number of COVID-19 patients increased by 26 patients.

Read the full story from reporter Tina Sfondeles.

6:30 p.m. Don’t worry about getting stuck with expired license plate sticker, officials say

Just because the state facilities that handle Illinois drivers’ licenses and emissions testing are closed, drivers are being told not worry if their license plate registration sticker is set to expire.

Once the Illinois Secretary of State’s Driver Services facilities do reopen, residents will have 90 days to renew their expired vehicle registrations. Also put on hold is the requirement for drivers in the Chicago and Metro East regions to get their vehicles’ emissions tested before they renew their registrations.

In March, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced the closure of driver services facilities across the state, as the country braced for the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, it’s not known when driver services facilities will open again, a spokesman for the office said.

But any drivers who have already met the requirements can renew their registrations online.

Click here for more information.

5:55 p.m. Northwestern announces 250 furloughs, $90M budget shortfall

Due to revenue losses caused by the pandemic, Northwestern University on Monday announced plans to furlough about 250 workers, reduce salaries for university leaders, suspend contributions to retirement plans and draw more heavily on its endowment fund.

The measures were enacted to help address a projected $90 million budget shortfall this year, university leadership said in a message to the Northwestern community.

“Even if we resume on-campus activity in the fall, as we hope to do by phases, we are likely to see a significant shortfall in the 2021 fiscal year as well, perhaps as great as or greater than what we are experiencing this year,” the note signed by President Morton Schapiro said.

Read the full story here.

4:55 p.m. Lightfoot hopes to educate defiant church into compliance, avoiding mass arrests

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she had a “very pleasant” conversation with the pastor of an Albany Park church that defied the statewide stay-at-home order and hopes to educate him into compliance, avoiding mass arrests.

“We’re not gonna send in the police to arrest parishioners. People are exercising their faith, and I understand that,” the mayor said.

“But it’s a mistake to gather in large congregate settings — particularly if you have an underlying medical condition [or] you are otherwise in a vulnerable population. That’s hopefully the dialogue that we’ll be able to have with the pastor.”

Lightfoot has not hesitated to play the heavy during the pandemic.

Read the full story from City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

4:40 p.m. Chicago Police Department announces 12 more COVID-19 cases

Chicago police announced Monday 12 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the department to 502.

Of the confirmed cases, 477 are officers and 25 are civilian employees, police said.

The department announced the death of a third officer from complications of the coronavirus on April 17.

Read the full story here.

4:25 p.m. Chicago opening 6 new testing sites pivotal to reopening Chicago economy

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday forged a partnership with a humanitarian organization created by Academy Award-winning actor Sean Penn to open six new testing sites pivotal to slowly reopening the Chicago economy.

To graduate to phase three of the mayor’s five-step reopening plan, the city needs to test at least 5 percent of its residents every month. That means a 50 percent increase by the end of the month — from roughly 3,000 tests a month currently to 5,000, with a longer-term testing goal of 10,000 tests monthly.

The partnership between City Hall and Penn’s Community Organized Relief Effort will help make it happen.

It was brokered by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., the founder of Rainbow PUSH who has been working with Penn for years to bring humanitarian relief to disaster sites around the world, including New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Read the full story from City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

1:45 p.m. Aldermen protect workers from retaliation for COVID-related absences, ease up on businesses

With 32 complaints already pending, Chicago aldermen moved Monday to protect employees from retaliation for absences tied to the coronavirus and threw a bone to struggling businesses.

The City Council unanimously approved a fair workweek ordinance last summer that requires large Chicago employers to give employees at least two weeks’ notice of their schedules and compensate them for last-minute changes.

At a virtual meeting Monday, the City’s Council Committee on Workforce Development agreed to ease up a bit to recognize many businesses may not survive the stay-at-home shutdown of the Chicago economy.

The amendment approved Monday after a rare direct introduction by Mayor Lori Lightfoot would postpone until Jan. 1 the “private cause of action” section that allows aggrieved workers whose schedules are changed without adequate notice or compensation to file their own lawsuits.

Read the full story from City Hall reporter Fran Spielman.

11:55 a.m. Risk of reopening US economy too fast: A W-shaped recovery

WASHINGTON — When the coronavirus erupted in the United States, it triggered quarantines, travel curbs and business shutdowns. Many economists predicted a V-shaped journey for the economy: A sharp drop, then a quick bounce-back as the virus faded and the economy regained health.

Others envisioned a slower, U-shaped course.

Now, as President Donald Trump and many Republicans press to reopen the economy, some experts see an ominous risk: That a too-hasty relaxation of social distancing could ignite a resurgence of COVID-19 cases by fall, sending the economy back into lockdown. The result: a W-shaped disaster in which a tentative recovery would sink back into a “double-dip” recession before rebounding eventually.

“The push to reopen the economy is making a W-shaped recovery very much more likely,” said Jeffrey Frankel, professor of capital formation and growth at the Harvard Kennedy School.

In Frankel’s view, any widespread reopening should wait for a sustained drop in death rates and the broad availability of tests. No one is completely safe until an effective treatment or vaccine can be produced and widely distributed — a scenario that’s likely many months away.

Read the full story here.

10:24 a.m. Gov. Pritzker and staff ordered to stay home after senior staffer tests positive for COVID-19

A member of Gov J.B. Pritzker’s senior staff has tested positive for COVID-19 and all staffers — including the governor — will now work from home for an “appropriate isolation period,” the governor’s office said Monday.

The staff member was asymptomatic and tested positive late last week. That staffer was also in close contact with Pritzker and other staff members, the governor’s office said.

All staffers were tested last week. The Democratic governor and all other senior staffers have tested negative, and Pritzker was tested once again early Sunday and tested negative, his office said.

For more than eight weeks, 20 senior members have been regularly reporting in person to work downtown at the James R. Thompson Center. The employees have used safety protocols like daily temperature checks, wearing face coverings and social distancing.

Read the full story here.

9:28 a.m. MLB’s coronavirus antibody test for employees yields 0.7% positive rate

Just 0.7% of Major League Baseball employees tested positive for antibodies to COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

Results were based from about 5,600 completed records from employees of 26 clubs. Samples were obtained on April 14 and 15.

“It allows us to get a peek of the nation-wide prevalence,” said Dr. Jay Bhattacharya at Stanford, one the study’s leaders, said Sunday.

The start of the baseball season has been delayed because of the virus outbreak. There’s no timetable for when the season might begin.

Read the full story here.

7:16 a.m. ‘No one will ever forget’ pandemic’s toll on Illinois families, health chief says in Mother’s Day message

Illinois Department of Public Health head Dr. Ngozi Ezike on Sunday delivered an emotional Mother’s Day message for her church in west suburban LaGrange — detailing that more than 1,000 mothers have died from COVID-19 in Illinois.

The weekend marked the first time in eight weeks in which Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Ezike didn’t stand before the cameras for daily COVID-19 briefings. Instead, Ezike — a mother of four — spent her Sunday delivering a lengthy sermon for Hope Church via their Facebook page.

“This Mother’s Day is especially challenging. That’s putting it ever so mildly,” Ezike said. “No one will ever forget Mother’s Day 2020.”

The state has lost 3,406 people to COVID-19, including 1,553 in the nursing homes.

Tina Sfondeles reports.

6:39 a.m. Blue Angels announce Chicago flyover planned for Tuesday

The U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels will perform a flyover of Chicago on Tuesday, the Blue Angels announced on social media Sunday.

Known for participating in Chicago Air and Water shows, the pilot squadron’s surprise Tuesday flyover will honor front-line workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We salute and thank all healthcare workers, first responders and other essential personnel serving on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19,” a release said.

Exact routes and times will be announced Monday.

Read the full story from reporter Ben Pope.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

7:01 p.m. Pandemic or not, independent candidates deserve chance to get on Illinois ballot

Illinois must get its election deadlines nailed down quickly if the state is to have a smooth voting process this fall, and that means resolving one particular court dispute almost immediately.

On Friday, a lawyer representing the State Board of Elections asked a federal judge to set an earlier deadline for third party candidates to file petitions to get on the Nov. 3 ballot — and to increase the number of signatures those candidates must gather. As an alternative, the lawyer for the state said, the court could leave it to the election board to decide the deadline and necessary number of signatures.

Just two weeks ago, Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, noting that the coronavirus pandemic would make it more difficult to collect signatures, pushed back the deadline for submitting nominating petitions to Aug. 7 from June 22. Pallmeyer also ruled that candidates need to submit only 10% of the normal number of signatures and can include ones made electronically — with a finger or a computer mouse or stylus.

That has caught the attention of election officials across the state, who worry that the later deadline won’t allow enough time for the normal objection process to play out.

There might not be enough time left to print up the ballots, they warn, especially given that many more people are expected to request mail-in ballots.

Read the full Sun-Times’ editorial here.

2:25 p.m. ‘Those who can pay rent must’: Chicagoland Apartment Association fears ‘tremendous amount of foreclosures’

Michael Mini, executive vice president of the Chicagoland Apartment Association, wrote this letter to the Sun-Times editors, published Sunday:

As a large association of apartment owners and managers with properties ranging from two-flats to high-rises, the Chicagoland Apartment Association is proud to have signed Mayor Lightfoot’s Chicago Housing Solidarity Pledge. During these unprecedented times, true to the Solidarity Pledge, countless property managers are practicing grace and patience when rent is due, including extended payment plans, waiving late fees and offering significant grace periods. We expect these scenarios to repeat tens of thousands of times going forward.

It’s important to emphasize what the mayor has said repeatedly: Those who can pay rent must. Not only is it vital to stabilizing the housing market, it also increases apartment owners’ flexibility to extend a helping hand to the thousands of tenants facing hardship in the wake of the pandemic. Apartment owners are under similar financial pressures. Their monthly costs including payroll, property taxes, insurance, maintenance and capital expenditures.

A group of Illinois lawmakers is endorsing #CancelRent legislation, but we would note the idea of forgiving widespread rent could result in a tremendous amount of foreclosures, exacerbating the region’s shortage of quality affordable housing options. Short of the federal government delivering direct rental assistance, the best strategy is for property managers and residents to partner together.

Early, open communication from residents regarding their COVID-19-related needs is key to finding mutually agreeable resolutions.

Read this and more letters to the editor here.

7:04 a.m. Time for Illinois Legislature to get back to work — safely and remotely

The Illinois Legislature must get back to work — safely and remotely.

Other state legislatures have begun to reconvene online and the Illinois Legislature should do so as well. And we can’t agree with those who say there’s an insurmountable legal obstacle to doing so.

Yes, a state statute requires that the Legislature meet in the seat of government — Springfield. But the statute also says the governor can convene a session of the Legislature elsewhere “in times of pestilence or public danger.”

If this is not a time of pestilence and public danger, we don’t know what would be.

Illinois lawmakers have not met in the Capitol since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, though the spring session was scheduled to run through May 31. As a result, important legislation, including a vote on the state’s budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1, is stalled.

Nobody wants to put state lawmakers in physical peril. Many of them run a particular risk from the coronavirus because of their age or health. But we have learned during this pandemic that online meeting technology can work reasonably well. And if the usual Springfield windbagging is curbed, who’s to complain?

Read the Sun-Times’ editorial in its entirety here.

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