Coronavirus live blog, June 8, 2020: Chicagoans enjoy outdoors at reopened city parks

Here’s the latest news from the day on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, June 8, 2020: Chicagoans enjoy outdoors at reopened city parks

Illinois health officials on Monday announced another 23 deaths from COVID-19, and increased the state’s pandemic death toll to 5,924.

It’s among the lowest daily death totals announced in the past two months. The lowest reported increases before Monday were 22 on June 1 and 16 on April 2.

Here’s what else happened around Chicago as the city and state continued to battle the coronavirus pandemic.


8:58 p.m. Chicagoans enjoy wide open space of city parks


Two Families in swan boats coast along in the Humboldt Park Lagoon In Humboldt Park, Chicago, Monday June 8, 2020.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Carly Jenkins cradled her slumbering 7-week-old daughter, Delilah, and savored the beauty of a perfect spring morning.

“It’s awesome,” said Jenkins, who’d walked to Lincoln Park Monday with Delilah and Olivia, her 3-year-old, from their home in the Old Town neighborhood. “Your entire mood changes. You’re finally feeling a little bit hopeful.”

There was a lot of that Monday, as the city’s parks west of Lake Shore Drive reopened, as well as many of the public libraries. But Maggie Daley Park and Millennium Park, which would normally be teeming with shrieking children at this time of year, both remained closed.

Jenkins said being in the wide open space of Lincoln Park was a good way to “test the waters.”

“The big areas are great because you can spread out,” she said. “When they shut them off, it confined you to the walkways, and that made them really jam-packed.”

Read the full story by Stefano Esposito here.

7:28 p.m. Dance for Life 2020 will be an online gala

Chicago Dancers United’s annual Dance for Life fundraising gala will be a virtual event this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing guidelines and subsequent shut-down of all theaters.

The annual event at the Auditorium Theatre (this year originally scheduled for Aug. 15) is held in support of The Dancers’ Fund, which provides financial support to dancers in need of critical health care, and this year, also those faced with routine medical expenses due to the pandemic. In addition, the fund’s efforts support AIDS Foundation Chicago and the American Cancer Society.

Reporter Miriam Di Nunzio has the full story.

6:43 p.m. McCormick Place loses biggest show of the year

Bowing to the inevitable impact of COVID-19, sponsors of the International Manufacturing Technology Show canceled the event Monday. It was supposed to be the largest convention on McCormick Place’s calendar for 2020.

Scheduled for Sept. 14-19, the biennial affair was to have drawn more than 129,000 people to Chicago. It also served as an unofficial kickoff to what ordinarily is a busy fall convention season in Chicago; its cancellation could cause other organizations to drop or postpone their physical events set for later this year.

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan for reopening the economy amid the pandemic, conventions could not happen until the state reaches Phase 5 of the recovery plan. It’s currently in Phase 3, and Phase 5 can’t occur until there’s a vaccine or effective treatment of COVID-19 and “the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period,” according to published guidelines.

Reporter David Roeder has the full story.

5:57 p.m. Illinois reports 23 more deaths from coronavirus; among lowest daily increases in months

Illinois health officials on Monday announced another 23 deaths from COVID-19, and increased the state’s pandemic death toll to 5,924.

It’s among the lowest daily death totals announced in the past two months. The lowest reported increases before Monday were 22 on June 1 and 16 on April 2.

The deaths were centered in five counties — Cook, DuPage, Lake, St. Clair and Winnebago — and all victims were older than 50.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also revealed an additional 658 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, raising the total affected population to 128,415. The new positive cases came from the 16,099 tests taken within the last 24 hours, state officials said.

Read the full story here.

3:31 p.m. Without revenue replacement from Congress, Chicago faces ‘really difficult or impossible choices,’ mayor says

Chicago will be faced with a series of “really, really difficult or impossible choices” without another round of stimulus money to replace revenue lost during the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday.

Three weeks ago, Chief Financial Officer Jennie Huang Bennett told the City Council’s Finance Committee the stay-at-home shutdown of the Chicago economy triggered by COVID-19 would cost the city “hundreds of millions” of dollars in revenue and “probably in excess of $500 million.”

Huang Bennett said then that the long-term cost to Chicago would depend on how quickly the local economy bounces back and how much revenue replacement money is earmarked for cities and states in the next wave of stimulus money coming from the federal government.

On Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot openly acknowledged “the partisan divide has reared its ugly head in Washington D.C.” since Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through the U.S. House a $3 trillion stimulus bill that includes $1 trillion for cities and states.

Read the full story by City Hall reporter Fran Spielman here.

2:50 p.m. Families, fishers out and about at reopened Humboldt Park


Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Chicago reopened many of its parks and libraries Monday, much to the delight of locals looking to enjoy the weather or occupy little ones.

Though the Lakefront Trail will remain closed, all lakefront parks west of Lake Shore Drive are now open to the public again, including Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, Harold Washington Park and Jackson Park, as well as Jackson Park Golf Course and Diversey Driving Range.

At Humboldt Park, Moe Perez fished in the lagoon. He said he’s happy the parks have reopened because “people need to get out more, people have been confined for so long, they need fresh air.”

Some families rented swan boats, which an employee at the rental station said has increased steadily since Saturday’s opening. Under a tree, three friends sat and chatted while listening to music.

— Alice Bazerghi

2:01 p.m. All lakefront parks west of Lake Shore Drive reopen Monday

The City of Chicago announced Sunday that several city services would be up and running Monday, including the reopening of some parks and libraries across the city.

Though the Lakefront Trail will remain closed, all lakefront parks west of Lake Shore Drive will be reopened to the public, city officials said. That includes Lincoln Park, Grant Park, Burnham Park, Harold Washington Park and Jackson Park, as well as the Jackson Park Golf Course and Diversey Driving Range.

Many of the Chicago Public Library’s neighborhood branches — along with the Harold Washington Library Center in the Loop — will reopen Monday as well, with new social distancing and safety guidelines that include guided paths and restricted capacities, officials said. A list of open branches and their hours can be found here.

Also, the city will be reopening the City Hall Payment Center at 400 W. Superior St., officials said, though residents are still encouraged to use kiosks or the online portal. Drivers with unpaid tickets who weren’t penalized before March 18 will be notified of due dates for their fines.

Read the full story here.

1:44 p.m. Aldermen advance cocktails-to-go measure — with a twist — amid pleas for more help

Cocktails-to-go could be sold in Chicago — but only by bars and restaurants, not liquor stores and only until 9 p.m. — under a mayoral plan advanced Monday amid pleas for even more help for struggling restaurants and bars.

Bar and brewery owners joined the Illinois Restaurant Association in pleading with the City Council’s License Committee to let bars open outdoor patios and allow at least some indoor dining at restaurants before Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan.

Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia said more than 321,000 restaurant employees have either been laid off or furloughed by restaurants that lost a staggering, $2 billion just in April.

“Anywhere from 20 to 30 percent of restaurants will not reopen after this crisis,” Toia said.

“Every regulatory and legislative action being taken to provide relief matters. That’s why we’ve got to get indoor dining open as soon as possible.”

Read the full story by City Hall reporter Fran Spielman here.

12:05 p.m. Catholic churches welcome back worshippers for the first time in months: ‘I feel back at home’

As the COVID-19 crisis has brought life in Illinois to a halt for months, Consuelo Sierra’s only real connection to her church community has been through a livestream on YouTube.

Each week, she tuned in as the Rev. Stephen Bedenikovic said mass to an empty church at Sacred Heart Croatian Parish in South Deering.

Finally Sunday, just days after the Archdiocese of Chicago gave churches the go-ahead to start holding in-person services, Sierra got to return to Sacred Heart Croatian.

“I feel like I’m picking back up where I left off,” said Sierra, who works in the health insurance industry and lives in Chicago’s East Side neighborhood. “I feel back at home.”

The archdiocese’s newly issued guidance allows churches to reopen but limits attendance to 15% of total seating capacity this weekend, with no more than 50 worshippers allowed for each mass. Next week, seating can increase to 20% of a church’s capacity.

Read the full story by Tom Schuba here.

10:04 a.m. BP to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide amid virus pandemic

Energy producer BP announced Monday that it will slash its global workforce by 10,000 jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic slams the oil and gas industry.

Chief Executive Bernard Looney said that the cuts will affect office-based roles in BP’s global workforce of 70,000 people and come mostly this year. The changes are expected to significantly affect senior levels, cutting the number of group leaders by a third.

“We are protecting the frontline of the company and, as always, prioritizing safe and reliable operations,” Looney said after a call with his staff.

The job cuts come amid a time of tremendous change for BP.

The global energy industry has been hit hard by the pandemic as the widespread limits on business, travel and public life reduced the need for oil, gas and other fuels. Supply was also particularly high when the outbreak began, creating a perfect storm for the industry. With storage facilities filling up, the U.S. price of oil went below zero in April for the first time ever.

Read the full report here.

7:58 a.m. Illinois’ COVID-19 death toll nears 6,000

Illinois recorded another 43 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 5,904.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced an additional 867 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

That brings the state’s case total to 127,757 since Illinois’ first case was reported more than four months ago, although the vast majority have now recovered.

State officials found the new cases among 20,700 tests processed.

More than 1 million people have been tested overall across the state, and the state’s rolling positivity rate over the past week is just 5%.

According to a Friday report, nursing homes have accounted for slightly more than half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths — but only about 15% of its cases. While the majority of victims have been older, Sunday’s deaths included two men in their 30s.

Read the full report by Ben Pope here.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

8:04 a.m. I’m a suburban teacher, and many of my students are losing out with remote learning

In a letter to the Sun-Times editors, Tara Ehrenberg of Melrose Park writes:

Thank you for covering the challenge of educating students during the pandemic. I am a third grade teacher in Melrose Park. Many of my students are among millions in the U.S. who aren’t getting the same educational opportunities as their peers because they lack adequate digital access.

It’s been challenging to switch to e-learning. I am missing 25% of my class because not all of my students have access to technology. They may have cell phones, but they don’t have internet access to the abundance of online resources available to schools right now.

That puts them at a disadvantage because their fellow classmates are able to watch educational videos or play educational games, while they’re just completing worksheets I give them.

Our superintendent had to ask for permission from the state government to allow teachers in schools to prepare learning packets for our students. We are going to school every two weeks to provide work for our students who can’t complete their learning online.

Read this and more letters to the Sun-Times editors here.

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