Coronavirus live blog, July 21, 2020: Kansas added to Chicago’s COVID-19 travel quarantine list

Here’s the day’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, July 21, 2020: Kansas added to Chicago’s COVID-19 travel quarantine list

Eighteen states are now included in Chicago’s emergency travel order. That means anyone coming to Chicago from 18 states, all of which are experiencing serious COVID-19 outbreaks, must quarantine for two weeks.

That’s not the only development of today. Here’s what else happened across the city as the coronavirus pandemic continued.


News

9 p.m. Travelers from Kansas must quarantine for 2 weeks under city order

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A woman wearing a mask shops at a grocery store on April 7, 2020 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images (file photo)

Kansas on Tuesday became the 18thstate on Chicago’s 14-day quarantine list — and Wisconsin could be next.

“Wisconsin is getting very close to being on this list. They could be added as soon as next week,” said Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

“When I talk to folks in Wisconsin — whether that’s the state epidemiologist, whether that’s people just on an anecdotal level — we know that people are not wearing masks there at the level that they are here in Chicago.”

The 14-day quarantine order that now applies to anyone arriving in Chicago from 17 states is not being strictly enforced. Compliance is voluntary. No citations have been issued.

Even so, adding Wisconsin to the list would almost certainly make Chicagoans think twice before taking day trips to Lake Geneva or vacationing in Door County or the Wisconsin Dells.

Earlier this week, Arwady said the travel order has been “very successful from an education standpoint.”

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


8:03 p.m. Anticipating a ‘different’ holiday season amid pandemic, Walmart to remain closed Thanksgiving

Walmart stores will be closed this Thanksgiving, the retailer announced Tuesday.

In a memo to employees, Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner announced another bonus for employees and that stores will break from tradition and close for the holiday, which usually is the start of the holiday shopping season and Black Friday weekend.

“We know holiday shopping will be different this year, and we will be managing sales events differently,” Furner wrote. ”Our best ideas come from our associates, and this year we have decided to close our stores on Thanksgiving Day – November 26.”

Walmart stores haven’t closed on Thanksgiving since the late 1980s, the company told USA TODAY. Christmas is the only day each year most Walmart locations close.

Read the full report here.

5:24 p.m. Pritzker preaches ‘personal responsibility’ as Illinois COVID-19 positivity rate inches upward with another 955 cases

Illinois’ coronavirus testing positivity rate crept upward once more with the latest batch of 955 confirmed cases statewide, officials said Tuesday.

The new cases were detected among 29,745 test results, raising the state’s rolling positivity rate over the last week to 3.1%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Considered a key indicator of how fast COVID-19 is spreading through the state, the positivity rate soared close to 20% at Illinois’ height of the pandemic in mid-May. Since that number fell to 2.5% two weeks ago, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has warned of a steady uptick in cases that could eventually force some regions of the state to scale back reopening.

A day after the Democratic governor said he was worried “our numbers should be going down when, actually, they’re about steady” — that’s just where the latest Illinois figures were.

Read the full story here.

5:05 p.m. US accuses Chinese hackers in targeting of COVID-19 research

WASHINGTON — Hackers working with the Chinese government targeted firms developing vaccines for the coronavirus and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world, the Justice Department said Tuesday as it announced criminal charges.

The indictment does not accuse the two Chinese defendants of actually obtaining the coronavirus research, but it does underscore the extent to which scientific innovation has been a top target for foreign governments and criminal hackers looking to know what American companies are developing during the pandemic. In this case, the hackers researched vulnerabilities in the computer networks of biotech firms and diagnostic companies that were developing vaccines, testing kits and antiviral drugs.

The charges are the latest in a series of aggressive Trump administration actions targeting China. They come as President Donald Trump, his reelection prospects damaged by the coronavirus outbreak, has blamed China for the pandemic and as administration officials have accelerated their warnings about alleged efforts by Beijing to steal intellectual property through hacking and to seek to influence American policy.

Read the full story here.

3:35 p.m. Slight majority of CPS parents want schools to reopen in some form, poll finds

Slightly more than half of Chicago Public Schools parents want some type of in-person instruction in the fall, and the top concern for most parents in the coming months is keeping their children’s learning on track, according to a new poll released Tuesday by an education advocacy group.

But in a sign of the sharp divide of opinions on the critically important issue of health and learning, two out of every five parents said schools should remain fully closed, with nearly all parents surveyed saying they wanted schools to be better cleaned and disinfected.

The poll, which has a 3.8% margin of error, was commissioned by Stand for Children Illinois, an education advocacy group, and conducted by Tulchin Research from July 8 to July 14, in the week leading up to CPS’ fall reopening guidance released last Friday.

Mimi Rodman, Stand for Children Illinois’ executive director, said she views CPS’ plan as addressing parents’ concerns for the most part.

Read the full story here.

3:25 p.m. Indiana’s Lake County, which borders Illinois state line, latest to adopt mask mandate

INDIANAPOLIS — Officials in Indiana’s second-largest county and one of the largest Indianapolis suburbs have adopted face mask mandates for residents and businesses in an attempt to s low the coronavirus spread.

The mandates throughout northwestern Indiana’s Lake County took effect Monday, while the order for the city of Fishers just northeast of Indianapolis will take effect Friday.

Those areas join a growing lists of cities and counties across the state imposing mask requirements. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has declined to issue a statewide mandate even while encouraging face masks as the state has seen recent growth in the number of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Lake County’s health department issued the requirement for mouth and nose face covering inside a businesses or other public places where people cannot maintain at least 6 feet of social distancing. Municipal officials in Gary and Merrillville, both in Lake County, adopted similar orders.

Read the full story here.

2:05 p.m. US accuses Chinese hackers in targeting of COVID-19 research

WASHINGTON — Hackers working with the Chinese government targeted firms developing vaccines for the coronavirus and stole hundreds of millions of dollars worth of intellectual property and trade secrets from companies across the world, the Justice Department said Tuesday as it announced criminal charges.

The indictment does not accuse the two defendants of actually obtaining the coronavirus research, but it does underscore the extent to which scientific innovation has been a top target for foreign governments and criminal hackers looking to know what American companies are developing during the pandemic. In this case, the hackers researched vulnerabilities in the computer networks of biotech firms and diagnostic companies from Maryland to California that were developing vaccines, testing kits and antiviral drugs.

The charges are the latest in a series of aggressive Trump administration actions targeting China. It comes as President Donald Trump, his reelection prospects damaged by the coronavirus outbreak, has blamed China for the pandemic.

Read the full story here.

1 p.m. Advocates for live music work to #SaveOurStages in Chicago and across the country

#SaveOurStages is the hashtag, slogan and rallying cry of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a burgeoning advocacy group that represents nearly 2,000 music clubs spanning all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The coalition’s mission is an increasingly desperate one, with indie concert venues boarded up by COVID-19 finding it increasingly impossible to keep their collective head above water — faced, as they have been since March, with zero revenue topped by undiminished operating costs.

“In my situation with Sub T, it’s about $12,000 overhead a month for just the basics,” said Chicago’s Robert Gomez, a NIVA member who owns 20-year old Wicker Park music room Subterranean and its sister venue, Beat Kitchen. “Mortgage, property tax, insurance, licenses; there hasn’t been a forgiveness on licenses. All these expenses that you still have to absorb — while closed — are my reality.”

Joe Shanahan, founder of the venerable 1,000-capacity Metro, now in its fourth decade, points out, “I keep going back to the fact that we were closed by the city and state, mandated closure; we can’t sell alcohol, we can’t sell tickets. So why am I paying for city or state business and liquor licenses?”

Read the full story from contributor Moira McCormick here.

11:05 a.m. COVID-19 concerns: Pritzker worries ‘our numbers should be going down,’ and warns downstate Metro East could see limits return

State health officials on Monday announced 1,173 new coronavirus cases and six additional deaths. It was the fifth day in the past week that public health officials reported more than 1,000 new cases.

Despite the uptick in infections, the state’s death toll from COVID-19 maintained its relatively lower level, with only six new deaths reported, the second consecutive day with that number.

The seven-day positivity rate also crept up a hair to 3%, from 2.9% over the weekend. The uptick in cases comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker has voiced concerns that the state is moving backward, and may need to potentially reverse course from Phase 4 to Phase 3 in the reopening process — worries he repeated on Monday.

“I worry about that, I don’t think I wake up in the morning thinking ‘Today’s the day where we’re going to announce it,’” Pritzker said at a news conference in Peoria on Monday. “I worry about it because our numbers should be going down when, actually, they’re about steady. And that’s not a good development. Steady is better than up, I mean let’s face it, but what should be happening is we should continue the downward slide.”

And just hours later, state public health officials announced they were “closely monitoring a rise in cases” in the downstate Illinois towns that are part of the St. Louis, Mo., metropolitan area.

The positivity rate in the Metro East area, Region 4 in Pritzker’s revised reopening plan, exceeded 7% on Monday, the seventh day of rising positivity rates. If the area sees three days in a row with averages above 8%, it automatically triggers “the first tier of mitigation steps.”

Mitch Dudek and Tina Sfondeles have the story.

9:15 a.m. Guthrie’s Tavern in Wrigleyville to close, another casualty of COVID-19 restrictions

Guthrie’s Tavern, a Wrigleyville fixture for 34 years, announced its permanent closing Monday in a statement blaming the city’s latest tightening of pandemic-slowing regulations on bars.

“With the new restrictions set today for bars and the ongoing COVID restrictions, we don’t see a way we can survive,” said the statement attributed to “the Guthrie’s staff” on the establishment’s Facebook page.

It said Thursday will be the last day of business. Guthrie’s is at 1300 W. Addison.

Known for its ivy-covered exterior and generous collection of board games, the site had operated as a tavern under several names since Prohibition, becoming Guthrie’s in 1986.

Read the full story here.

7:31 a.m. Republicans mandate at-home COVID-19 pre-convention test for attendees as cases spike in Florida

With COVID-19 cases spiking in Florida, Republican convention goers will have to take an “in-home” COVID-19 test before they depart for Jacksonville, paid for by the Republican National Committee, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

Conventiongoers will have to agree to be tested twice — at home and when they get to Florida.

This comes as President Donald Trump — who moved the main convention venue to Florida from North Carolina to escape coronavirus pandemic restrictions — is confronted with the reality that Florida COVID-19 cases are surging at some 10,000-a-day.

The RNC convention memo, obtained by the Sun-Times, also notes officials are cutting back on the number of people who can attend Jacksonville events, limiting the attendance of alternate delegates and guests.

Lynn Sweet has the scoop.

7:01 a.m. CPS could lose $10M to private schools, district says in lawsuit against Betsy DeVos over coronavirus funding

Chicago Public Schools has joined a federal lawsuit with 12 other states, cities and districts against U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over her insistence that public school districts share more of their federal coronavirus relief funding with private schools.

The complaint centers around more than $13 billion earmarked for schools in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act, which Congress passed in late March.

The legislation calls for states and school districts to receive money based on how much Title I funding they’re allotted to serve low-income students, the lawsuit says. But DeVos, the complaint argues, has instructed funding to be distributed based on a school’s total number of students, which would divert money from public schools serving children from low-income families to wealthier private schools.

CPS’ CARES Act allotment is $205 million of the $569.5 million earmarked for Illinois. Officials estimate CPS would lose about $10 million if DeVos’ distribution guidelines stand.

Read Nader Issa’s full story here.

6:35 a.m. Lightfoot tightens regulations on bars, restaurants, gyms after COVID-19 spike among young people

Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday tightened regulations on Chicago bars, restaurants, gyms and personal services to prevent a spike of coronavirus among young people from turning into a dangerous surge.

Effective at 12:01 a.m. Friday:

  • Bars, taverns breweries and other establishments without a retail food license that serve alcohol for on-site consumption will be prohibited from serving their customers indoors.
  • Restaurants will be permitted to continue to serve alcohol, so long as they strictly enforce the city’s regulations.
  • The maximum party size and table occupancy at restaurants, bars, taverns and breweries will be reduced from 10 people to six.
  • Indoor fitness classes will be limited to a maximum of 10 people.
  • Facials, shaves and other personal services requiring the removal of face coverings will no longer be permitted.
  • Residential property managers will be asked to limit guest entry to five-per-unit to avoid indoor gatherings and parties.

Last week, Lightfoot warned of a rollback unless young people who account for 30 percent of new COVID cases in the city get the message.

Read the full report from Fran Spielman here.


New cases

  • Illinois saw 1,173 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, the fifth day in the past week that public health officials reported more than 1,000 new cases.Despite the uptick in infections, the state’s death toll from COVID-19 remained relatively low, with only six new deaths reported, the second consecutive day with that number.

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