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Latest coronavirus news for May 5, 2020: Live updates

Get the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

The latest

Cook County searching for overlooked COVID-19 deaths as far back as November just ‘to cover our bases’

This image from undated video provided by the Office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shows set-up for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s surge center in Chicago to handle the influx of COVID-19 cases.
This image from undated video provided by the Office of Cook County Board President shows set-up for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s surge center in Chicago. The county is preparing new places to store bodies from a possible surge that could overwhelm hospital morgues.
Office of Cook County Board President via AP

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office is planning to review a “handful” of cases dating as far back as November to determine whether some earlier coronavirus deaths were overlooked.

Officials will scrutinize deaths involving heart attack and pneumonia starting in late fall “to be on the safe side,” said Natalia Derevyanny, a spokeswoman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Both of those causes of death have been linked to the coronavirus. The Wall Street Journal first reported the review of the case files.

The state recorded its first COVID-19 death on March 16, but the medical examiner is investigating whether the death toll could have actually started some three months or more earlier.

Read the full story by Rachel Hinton.


News

9:01 p.m. Young mom, a nurse at Bolingbrook nursing home with soaring COVID-19 toll, is the latest to die

Ninety-three cases of COVID-19 and 10 deaths had been reported at Meadowbrook Manor nursing home in Bolingbrook as of the first of the month.

They’ll need to add Krist Angielen Castro Guzman to the list.

Guzman was a 35-year-old nurse at the facility and the mother of three young children who cared passionately for her patients and feared greatly for her safety during this pandemic.

Guzman died Saturday at AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center in Bolingbrook, where, less than five months earlier, she had given birth to her youngest child.

Guzman died of cardiac arrest an hour after being intubated for respiratory problems caused by the coronavirus, just one day after being admitted to the hospital and barely a week after falling ill, according to her family.

I wonder how many of the people who are so righteously concerned about their right NOT to stay home or NOT wear a face mask in public ever pause to consider the ramifications for health care professionals like Guzman who are duty-bound to attend to the sick.

It’s shameful enough that they pretend it’s OK for the people in nursing homes to die because, well, they’re really old. But to cavalierly sacrifice the nurses and doctors and support personnel as well is beyond all reason.

Read the full story from Mark Brown here.

8:22 p.m. Mask requirement sparks threats, rebellion, shouting at store workers: ‘And we can’t do anything about it’

Employees of grocery stores, pharmacies and hardware stores aren’t just struggling to keep shelves stocked and Illinoisans supplied during the coronavirus pandemic.

They’ve also had to deal with “a very large man” carrying a hunting knife through a DeKalb store, an “irate” man threatening to shoot a worker at a Romeoville store, and even a police officer making a “political protest” at a shop in Peoria — each of them bare-faced in rebellion against state requirements for shoppers to wear face coverings.

Those front-line workers deemed “essential” during the Illinois shutdown have been faced with dozens of such confrontations with customers refusing to follow Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s guidelines to wear masks in stores, according to Rob Karr, president and CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

And with many residents itching to get back to life as they knew it — and Pritzker laying out plans Tuesday for a phased reopening of the state’s economy on a regional basis — some retailers are concerned it could get worse.

“My fear is that these instances will escalate into a situation where someone will get hurt,” an anonymous Carbondale store manager wrote in a complaint submitted to the merchants association, saying they’ve had several issues enforcing the mask guidelines.

“The public is on edge and even a passive approach has sent several customers over the edge to a point they are shouting at our teammates,” that manager wrote.

Read the full story from Mitchell Armentrout here.

7:54 p.m. Judge orders inspection of Cicero nursing home where 10 died from coronavirus

A Cook County judge Tuesday ordered state health officials to conduct within 48 hours an inspection at a west suburban nursing home where nine residents and one worker died from complications related to coronavirus and over 200 others have tested positive.

In her ruling, Judge Alison Conlon granted the town of Cicero’s motion to direct City View MultiCare Facility to follow state guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Conlon also ordered the Illinois Department of Public Health to conduct an inspection the nursing home, at 5824 W. Cermak Road, by Thursday evening. The state’s subsequent report will then be shared Friday with the court and representatives from City View, IDPH and Cicero, the judge said.

The order stems from an emergency motion filed in Cook County Circuit Court last week by Cicero against City View, IDPH and Gov. J.B. Pritzker. The motion accuses City View of failing to take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of coronavirus and sought to transfer its 325 residents to another hospital or facility, as well as allow daily inspections by the Cicero Department of Public Health. Conlon did not grant those two requests Tuesday.

Read the full story by Matthew Hendrickson.

7:21 p.m. South Chicago health center opens drive-thru COVID-19 testing site

Residents of the South Chicago and surrounding neighborhoods can now get tested for the coronavirus close to home.

The Chicago Family Health Center, 9119 S. Exchange, has turned its parking lot into a drive-thru coronavirus testing site as well as a walk-up site for those without cars.

Anyone interested in getting tested must set up an appointment by calling the center, 773-768-5001, for pre-screening and scheduling, according to a release from the center. The hours of the center will vary depending on how many appointments have been made.

“COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the communities CFHC serves due to our patient population’s high rate of pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease,” said Barrett Hatches, Ph.D, Chief Executive Officer. “With expanded testing we hope to reach those who are most at risk of COVID-19 infection and death.”

The center hopes to administer 100 tests per day, the release said. More information can be found at www.chicagofamilyhealth.org.

Alison Martin

7:15 p.m. Skyrocketing meat prices force Pilsen sandwich shop to close indefinitely

Around half of Illinois restaurants are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

One of those that’s managed to stay open is The Jibarito Stop, a popular lunch and dinner spot on 18th Street in Pilsen.

But as COVID-19 ravages meat processing plants across the country, leading to shortages, the Puerto Rican restaurant will close its doors for an indefinite period of time starting Wednesday as prices for some cuts have skyrocketed.

“We usually get around 600 pounds of inside round steak a week for around $3 a pound, but now it’s at $6 a pound,” said Cely Rodriguez, who opened The Jibarito Stop with her business partner Moraima Fuentes in 2015.

“We’ve managed to stay open this long and thankfully so far business has been good, but at this rate, we would start losing money if we didn’t close.”

Read the full story by Carlos Ballesteros here.

3:40 p.m. Here’s how Gov. Pritzker plans to reopen Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans for a phased reopening of Illinois’ economy on a region-by-region basis.

The state is already in the second phase of a five-phase plan “guided by public health metrics designed to provide a framework for reopening businesses, education, and recreational activities in each phase,” according to Pritzker’s office.

Check out the graph below to see the five-step plan and read more from Pritzker here.

Provided
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan for a phased reopening of the Illinois economy on a phased, regional basis.
State of Illinois

Reporter Tina Sfondeles has more about the plan.


2:40 p.m. Pritzker announces plans for phased reopening as Illinois sees worst day with 176 COVID-19 deaths

Illinois officials on Tuesday reported another 176 COVID-19 deaths — the highest daily count the state has seen since the pandemic began — as Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced plans for a phased reopening of Illinois’ economy on a region-by-region basis.

The state is already in the second phase of a five-phase plan “guided by public health metrics designed to provide a framework for reopening businesses, education, and recreational activities in each phase,” according to Pritzker’s office.

That means the curve of the pandemic is flattening. The governor’s “Restore Illinois” plan divides the state into four regions: Northeast Illinois, North Central Illinois, Central Illinois and Southern Illinois.

To get to the third phase, a region “must be at or under a 20% test positivity rate and increasing by no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period.” It must also show a “stability” in hospital admissions in the last 28 days and 14% of ICU beds available.

Read the full story by Tina Sfondeles.

1:45 p.m. Northwestern to give Mayor Lightfoot honorary degree

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will receive an honorary degree from Northwestern University in recognition of her leadership in office, the school announced Tuesday. She’s one of four people who will receive the honor.

Lightfoot will also deliver Northwestern’s commencement address during its virtual graduation ceremony on June 19.

A press release praises the mayor in particular for her efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Using a combination of humor and decisive leadership, Lightfoot has become a leading figure in urging Chicagoans, and others, to adhere to social distancing guidelines,” the statement reads.

“Memes of her appearing in iconic Chicago locations — empty of people — have gone viral on social media. Her ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ campaign has garnered international attention.”

Iconic TV writer and producer Norman Lear, MIT professor emerita JoAnne Stubbe and Harvard professor George M. Whitesides are also receiving honorary degrees from Northwestern.

— Satchel Price

12:15 p.m. Is it safe to hug your mom on Mother’s Day? An expert weighs in

As Mother’s Day approaches, many wonder if it’s safe to hug a loved one during the pandemic. One renowned 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 last week.

Landon’s comment came during a live-streamed 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 May 1.

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.

Read the full story here.

11:54 a.m. Barack and Michelle Obama to deliver ‘virtual’ commencement addresses

With traditional graduation ceremonies across the country canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, America’s three million high school seniors are in for a special send-off thanks to Barack and Michelle Obama.

The former president will deliver a multimedia commencement address at 7 p.m. May 16 airing on all major networks and social media platforms, as part of the one-hour special event “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” hosted by the XQ Institute, the LeBron James Family Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

He will be joined by high school students from the Obama Foundation’s various programs as well as Chicago Public Schools seniors and members of the Obama Youth Jobs Corps.

Read the full story from Miriam Di Nunzio here.

11:10 a.m. Cook County jail braces for influx of inmates amid COVID-19 outbreak

New protocols put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 inside Cook County Jail may not be possible to maintain if the usual summertime rise in arrests leads to an influx of inmates, lawyers for Sheriff Tom Dart said in a court-ordered report.

The report details changes made at the jail where more than 500 detainees and 300-plus jail staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Six detainees and one corrections officer have also died from complications related to coronavirus since late March.

The report given to U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly last week includes more than 200 pages of documentation showing the twice-weekly distribution of soap and cleansers to detainees, and nearly a dozen coronavirus-related disturbances inside the jail complex within the last month.

Andy Grimm details the contents of the court-ordered report here.

8:27 a.m. United Airlines plans to cut 3,400 managers

United Airlines served notice Monday that it will cut 3,400 management jobs, about 30% of its white-collar workforce, in a move that will take a bite out of its Chicago headquarters.

Kate Gebo, the carrier’s executive vice president for human resources, announced the cuts in a memo to employees. It arrived four days after United said it lost $1.7 billion in the first quarter.

“Governmental restrictions on travel, stay-at-home orders and the lack of a medical solution for COVID-19 have brought bookings and demand for travel basically to zero,” Gebo wrote. “This is forcing us to come to terms with the fact that our airline – and our entire workforce – will have to be smaller than it is today, and it’s requiring us to continue taking decisive actions.”

Read the full report from David Roeder here.

7:01 a.m. NU researchers testing symptom tracker ‘like a wireless stethoscope glued to your neck’

A group of Chicago researchers hope an electronic monitor that affixes to the throat like a band-aid will aid in the detection of coronavirus cases among health-care workers who might not recognize subtle symptoms.

The device will also be used to track the recovery of patients from their homes and hospital beds.

“It’s like a wireless stethoscope glued to your neck,” John A. Rogers, a Northwestern University professor of biomedical engineering who works at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab.

The device monitors breathing, coughing, temperature and heart rate — data that is uploaded and made available to doctors every night when the wearer puts it on a charging dock.

The devices are being worn by about 10 doctors and nurses working in Chicago. They’re also on about 20 patients who are recovering at home and in hospital beds. Rogers expects that number to soon grow.

Read the full story by Mitch Dudek here.

6:22 a.m. The inside story on desperately needed swabs: 7 things to know

“We need swabs,” Gov. J. B. Pritzker said at his Sunday briefing, “We don’t have enough swabs.”

Earlier on Sunday, Pritzker said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “Recently we got a call from the White House telling us that in May they’re sending us 600,000 swabs and I’m very grateful for that.”

What is a swab?

It’s an item as light as a feather but in short supply as the demand for COVID-19 testing grows. Mass testing is key to trying to reopen our lives, schools and economy.

The federal Food and Drug Administration in recent weeks has expanded swab testing options and materials, fast tracking decision making in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Swabs are essential to collecting samples from a nose or throat. Swabs are put in a package with a reagent — it could be some kind of a liquid — to preserve the sample. The sample is sent to a lab with a testing machine to see if it is positive for COVID-19.

No swab, no test.

Merriam Webster defines a swab as “a wad of absorbent material usually wound around one end of a small stick and used especially for applying medication or for removing material from an area.”

That definition doesn’t go far enough.

Here are seven things to know about the swabs needed for COVID-19 testing.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

8:45 p.m. Thankfully, Pritzker’s ‘Restore Illinois’ plan relies on science, not politics

Just yesterday, we wrote that America’s road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will be faster, smoother and fairer if we can all, finally, reject the politics of division and find common ground.

We need leaders who seek to unite us, we wrote. We need a plan to reopen the country that is objective, measurable and rooted in science, rather than politics. And we need a plan that recognizes one size does not fit all — if we’re serious about appealing to the good sense of all kinds of folks.

On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker presented a framework for reopening Illinois that fits squarely with this way of thinking. The governor’s plan lays out five phases for returning life to some semblance of normalcy in Illinois, with the move to each happier phase dependent on measurable progress — hard metrics — in beating back the coronavirus. Equally important, the plan divides the state into four regions for purposes of reopening: Northeast Illinois, North Central Illinois, Central Illinois and Southern Illinois.

Read the full editorial by the Chicago Sun-Times editorial board.

4:20 p.m. Will future generations understand what the Virus War of 2020 was really like?

This is a letter in a bottle to future generations who will never understand the fear, confusion and courage of the ordinary person during The Virus War of 2020.

I am talking about the waitress trying to raise her children without a job. You see, the restaurants were closed. The government provided a tiny bit of money, but not enough to pay the rent, feed the kids and keep the phone and internet operating.

Such a woman had to explain to her children why they could not see their friends, go to school, or visit Grandma. Maybe she had to tell them why they didn’t have the computer they needed to attend virtual classes, which were the only ones available.

Read the full column by Phil Kadner here.

1:55 p.m. Testers want tests, but let’s test the testers

Testing. What’s that all about? I understand they scrape inside your nose with a giant swab, then send the tip off to a lab to determine whether you’ve been infected by COVID-19.

But toward what end?

If you’re really sick, doctors need to know if it’s coronavirus to guide treatment. No confusion there. But what’s the goal of testing the general population? To track the pandemic’s spread? Important, but that isn’t why people are jamming National Guard drive-thru locations. Fear? Mere curiosity?

Read the full column by Neil Steinberg.

10:07 a.m. Why we long for cafes, barber shops and other ‘third places’ to reopen

Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic implies many painful losses. Among them are so-called “third places” — the restaurants, bars, gyms, houses of worship, barber shops and other places we frequent that are neither work nor home.

The third place is a concept in sociology and urban planning that recognizes the role these semi-public, semi-private places play in fostering social association, community identity and civic engagement. In giving people a familiar setting for social interaction among regulars, they encourage “place attachment” — the bond between a person and a place.

Now, experiencing the coronavirus from the fortress of our living spaces, we may enjoy being in a haven. But we’ve lost the social and psychological intimacy of third places.

It‘s a significant loss. My three decades of research on urban spaces finds that both public spaces and third places contribute to a healthy, flourishing society.

Read the full column from Setha Low here.

6:34 a.m. America’s road back from COVID-19 must begin with an end to the politics of division

We think we can all agree that the woman who carried an “Arbeit macht frei, JB” sign at a downtown rally on Friday was not speaking for a significant number of people in Illinois.

She was speaking for Nazis.

But more importantly, we don’t believe the hundreds of demonstrators at the Thompson Center rally, or at a larger rally in Springfield on the same day, were speaking for a significant number of people — not when it comes to Illinois’ response to COVID-19.

The demonstrators in their foolish approach — no masks, no social distancing and no respect for science — were out of step with the vast majority of people in Illinois, who accept that the coronavirus is real and deadly and have been working hard to keep it at bay.

Read the full editorial from the Sun-Times Editorial Board.