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Coronavirus live blog, June 23, 2020: Here’s what Phase 4 will look like

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

Barring any spikes in coronavirus cases, Chicago and the rest of the state will move into Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Reopen Illinois ban. More businesses will be able to open at a limited capacity, and people will be able to visit their favorite bars again.

Here’s what else happened in the city as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continued.


News

9:11 p.m. Here’s what Phase 4 will look like

A cyclist rides by a sign letting people know what is and isn’t allowed on the Chicago Lakefront Trails near Montrose Beach, Monday, June 22, 2020.
Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

In Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration Monday released safety guidance for the state’s next phase of reopening, which allows indoor restaurant services, gyms and museums to open with capacity limits beginning Friday.

Notable changes for Phase 4 include allowing gatherings of 50 people or less — and reopening of indoor restaurant services to groups of 10 or less, with tables spaced 6-feet-apart.

Indoor gyms can reopen at 50% capacity, with group fitness classes capped at 50 people, according to the guidelines designed by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The use of face coverings and social distancing is still encouraged under the public safety and health guidelines. Businesses are also encouraged to continue to conduct regular cleanings, to screen employees for temperatures upon entry and to allow employees who can continue working from home to do so. Pritzker’s office said about 400,000 Illinoisans will get back to work in Phase 4.

In Chicago

Public pools will remain closed unless there is a “heat emergency,” but beaches just might open some time next month with social distancing.

Lincoln Park Zoo will remain free, but with reservations required.

Gyms will be open Friday, but you’ll need to work out with a face mask. Equipment will either be six feet apart — or, in smaller facilities, separated by clear plastic screens.

Movie theaters, as well as other theaters and live performance venues can open to audiences of 50 or fewer, but all but the smallest live theaters are likely to remain closed because production costs will far exceed the gate. Standing-room-only live music venues will remain closed — and likely will be the last to reopen.

Click here to read more about Illinois’ transition to Phase 4, and click here for a report specific to Chicago’s reopening.


7:21 p.m. State unveils $85 million in grants for business support

State officials Tuesday said they will issue $85 million in grants to help businesses affected by the pandemic or rioting.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity said applications can be filed beginning Friday and are due July 7. Eligibility rules are available at the agency’s web site, Illinois.gov/dceo.

The grants are available under two programs: $60 million in Business Interruption Grants, or BIG, and $25 million in Rebuilt Distressed Communities assistance. A DCEO official said the money comes from either the federal CARES Act payments to states or proceeds of the Rebuild Illinois capital improvements bonds. Recipients will be picked via lottery.

Reporter David Roeder has the full story.

5 p.m. Fauci: Next few weeks critical to tamping down coronavirus spikes

WASHINGTON — The next few weeks are critical to tamping down a disturbing coronavirus surge, Dr. Anthony Fauci told Congress on Tuesday — issuing a plea for people to avoid crowds and wear masks just hours before mask-shunning President Donald Trump was set to hold a campaign rally in one hot spot.

Fauci and other top health officials also said they have not been asked to slow down virus testing, in contrast to Trump’s claim last weekend that he had ordered fewer tests be performed because they were uncovering too many infections. Trump said earlier Tuesday that he wasn’t kidding when he made that remark.

“We will be doing more testing,” Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, pledged to a House committee conducting oversight of the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic.

The leading public health officials spent more than five hours testifying before the committee at a fraught moment, with coronavirus cases rising in about half the states and political polarization competing for attention with public health recommendations.

Read the full story by The Associated Press here.

12:32 p.m. Fauci hopeful for a vaccine by late 2020, early 2021

The government’s top infectious disease expert said Tuesday he is cautiously optimistic that there will be a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year or early 2021, and warned that the next few weeks will be critical to tamping down coronavirus hot spots around the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and other top health officials also said they have not been asked to slow down testing for coronavirus, an issue that became controversial after President Donald Trump said last weekend that he had asked them to do just that because it was uncovering too many infections. Trump said Wednesday that he wasn’t kidding when he said that.

“We will be doing more testing,” Fauci told a House committee.

The U.S. has tested more than 27 million people, with about 2.3 million – or 8.4% — testing positive.

The health officials returned to Capitol Hill at a fraught moment in the nation’s pandemic response, with coronavirus cases rising in about half the states and political polarization competing for attention with public health recommendations.

“We’ve been hit badly,” said Fauci, infectious diseases chief at the National Institutes of Health. He said he was “really quite concerned” about rising community spread in some states.

“The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges,” he said.

Read the full story here.

11:19 a.m. FDA warns 9 hand sanitizers may contain a potentially fatal ingredient

The US Food and Drug Administration is warning people not to use certain hand sanitizer products due to the potential presence of methanol, a toxic substance when absorbed through skin or ingested.

Methanol is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The FDA advises consumers to “stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately”:

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

Read the full story here.

10:28 a.m. Second City alum, hired by Jimmy Fallon, is working for a different kind of ‘Tonight Show’

For many TV veterans, the transition into quarantine production, with guests patching in from their kitchens and crew members contributing from several miles or several states away, has been wrenching. But Second City alum Rebecca Drysdale has found it sort of thrilling.

“I come from Chicago, where I was doing shows with two chairs and one light,” she said. “So I don’t feel limited. I feel like it’s a fun opportunity to figure out, ‘What can we do with these limitations? What can we do that we couldn’t even do live?’ I think that’s a fun challenge.”

Drysdale now is helping shape “The Tonight Show,” as illustrious a TV franchise as there ever was. And she’s doing it in her jammies.

As the head writer since April, she came aboard just after social distancing rules drove host Jimmy Fallon out of 30 Rock in New York. Now he’s fronting the show from his home, which is by no means a TV studio but does have some phones, his wife and adorable children, and an indoor slide.

Read the full profile by Darel Jevens here.

8:18 a.m. Trump: US doing ‘too good a job’ on testing

President Donald Trump said Monday the United States has done “too good a job” on testing for cases of COVID-19, even as his staff insisted the president was only joking when he said over the weekend that he had instructed aides to “slow the testing down, please.”

The president’s comments at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday brought quick rebukes from the campaign of likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as well as scores of Democratic lawmakers.

In an interview with Scripps for its local TV stations, Trump was asked Monday whether he did indeed tell aides to “slow it down.” He did not directly answer the question.

“If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth,” Trump said. “We’ve done too good a job,” adding that the reason the United States has more coronavirus cases is that it does more testing.

The U.S. is seeing disturbing trends in several benchmarks, including the percentage of tests that prove positive for the virus.

Read the full report here.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

6:43 a.m. College football amid a pandemic is not worth the risk to young men’s lives

How many lives of young men and women should be sacrificed for entertainment — and for billions in profit? That question can’t be ducked as the NCAA allows colleges to begin “voluntary” football practices, and other college teams begin to practice.

Colleges are desperate to open the full football season, a source of millions in profits for colleges and universities. Donald Trump, who pretends that COVID-19 is behind us, wants a return to normal, with stadiums filled with fans cheering their heroes. Players are eager to compete and to display their skills.

Only problem is that the coronavirus doesn’t care about profits or presidents, or about fans or coaches. It doesn’t follow polls, doesn’t care who wins the presidential election, and has no party. It is deadly and it’s still here, even spiking in more than 20 states.

And now, it’s hitting football players hard. Thirty Louisiana State players are in quarantine, either testing positive for the virus or from being in contact with those who tested positive. Twenty-three Clemson football players have tested positive since workouts started on June 1. Thirteen at Texas, 14 at Kansas State, and more at Alabama, Mississippi, Southern Florida, Auburn, Oklahoma State and others.

Read the full commentary from the Rev. Jesse Jackson here.