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Latest coronavirus news for July 6, 2020: Live updates

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

The latest

Second consecutive day of 6 coronavirus deaths in Illinois

Customers eat at Broken English Taco Pub, 1400 N. Wells St., in Old Town on the first day of Illinois’ Phase 4 reopening, Friday afternoon, June 26, 2020. Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Illinois health officials Monday announced six additional coronavirus deaths and 614 new cases.

It was the second consecutive day in which the state announced six deaths — the lowest one-day total since March 25.

The numbers through the first days of July mirror the very beginning of the pandemic that has so far cost Illinois 7,026 lives.

The state’s first COVID-19 death occurred March 17.

The announcement of 614 new cases Monday brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois to 147,865. The vast majority of COVID-19 patients recovered.

The state’s positivity rate over the past week is about 2.6%.

Read the full report from Mitch Dudek here.


News

7:53 p.m. As temperatures stay high, Lightfoot orders Park District to open splash pools, but beaches, swimming pools stay closed

With temperatures continuing to rise well into the 90s, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Monday she has ordered the Chicago Park District to open its splash pools, but keep beaches and other swimming pools closed.

Ever since she partially reopened the lakefront — for transit and exercise only — Chicagoans chomping at the bit to take a dip in Lake Michigan or dive into a pool to get some relief from the summer heat have been asking whether beaches and pools would be next.

The answer came Monday during a City Hall news conference called to tout a utility bill relief program included in the mayor’s 2020 budget.

“We don’t see the beaches opening up any time soon,” the mayor said.

“The challenge with the beaches — and with swimming pools, let’s just add that in — is that they are ripe for congregate gathering and not social distancing. … Given where we are — which is progress, but we have some concerns — we’re not gonna take any steps that could tip us ... backwards. So, for now, the beaches and swimming pools will remain closed.”

Chicago has endured a steady string of days with temperatures soaring into the 90s. More of the same is forecast before temperatures finally break on Saturday.

“We’ve got cooling centers that we’ve opened up. We’ve got cooling buses that are gonna be available. We’re gonna be opening up the splash pools in the parks so that adults and children can get some relief,” Lightfoot said.

“But I don’t see a circumstance yet because I don’t think the public health metrics will allow for it where we’re gonna be opening up the beaches or swimming pools.”

Read the full report from Fran Spielman here.

7:24 p.m. New Chicago quarantine order kicks in for travelers from states with skyrocketing COVID cases

Jennifer Carreno was visiting family in Utah when she heard about Chicago’s emergency travel order, which requires people coming to the city from high-COVID states to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Utah is one of those states, but Carreno, who landed Monday at Midway Airport with five other relatives, said she can’t afford to stay home.

Carreno, a cargo worker at O’Hare Airport, flew to Salt Lake City on June 17 to visit family. While there, “none of us really traveled a lot. ... We didn’t go out much.”

Carreno, 22, thought the directive was “kind of weird.”

In announcing the order, the city said it would publicize it on social media and the city’s website, as well as with signs in airports and along highways. It also would direct hotels to inform guests.

Many travelers at Midway on Monday said there were no announcements on their flights. At Midway’s baggage claim area, a single sign about the order stood at the main exit.

The travel order was touted Monday on three billboards along highways near both Midway and O’Hare: “COMING TO CHICAGO FROM A COVID HOT SPOT?/14-DAY SELF-QUARANTINE REQUIRED.”

Those violating the order can be fined $100 to $500 per day, up to $7,000.

Read the full report from Clare Proctor here.

6:39 p.m. Working moms, not dads, will be more likely to quit as the pandemic lingers on

Millions of American families are finding themselves in a jam, with their jobs requiring them to return to work on site and plans from their local school districts calling for children to spend less time in classrooms. At the same time, child care is becoming less available and, in many cases, more costly.

Many working parents with young or school-age children may have to quit their job to stay home as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on. As a sociologist who studies parenthood, gender and labor market inequality, I expect that more women than men will leave their jobs.

In 2019 — before this new disease upended life as we know it — 72% of all U.S. women with children under 18 were working or looking for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The situation was very similar for mothers with spouses and those without them: 70% versus 77%. With nearly all married fathers employed or looking for work, in 64% of families with two parents, both were breadwinners.

Read the full report here.

6:17 p.m. Drive-in movie theater coming to Soldier Field this week

A drive-in movie theater is coming to Soldier Field this week.

Starting Wednesdays, movies will air on a big screen outside the Bears’ home field in the South Lot Festival Area, Block Club Chicago first reported Monday.

The flicks will be shown Wednesdays through Sundays. The lot opens at 7 p.m. with musical performances by DJs and local artists happening until the screening begins at 8:30 p.m.

The initial lineup features a list of classic movies, including “Groundhog Day,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day off,” “Fast & Furious,” “Grease” and “Shrek.”

Tickets — $55 per vehicle (up to six people) — won’t be available for purchase on site, but can be purchased on ticketweb.com. That price includes a bucket of popcorn.

For social distancing purposes, eight feet of separation will be established between cars and pedestrian areas, Block Club reported. Concessions will be cashless and there will also be sanitation stations throughout the lot.

Read the full story from Madeline Kenney here.

4:50 p.m. Wellness checks and lines as Cook County courthouses open, hold more in-person hearings

Although more in-person hearings were held at Cook County courthouses Monday, there was more activity outside some buildings with lines and tents set up for wellness checks for those waiting to go inside.

At the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, sheriff’s deputies stationed outside questioned judges, lawyers, employees and others seeking to enter the courthouse about potential COVID-19 symptoms they may have.

Those without symptoms then went on to walk through a sectioned-off tent — designed to ensure social distancing — before they could pass through the front doors with face masks.

There were some lines to get inside the Daley Center, with a wait time that averaged 20 minutes, according to a spokeswoman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans.

Once inside, security guards at both buildings conducted temperature checks before permitting people to go through the usual security screening process.

The new coronavirus protection procedures were instituted as part of Evans’ latest court order allowing more in-person hearings.

But despite the new order, little changed.

Read the full report from Ben Pope here.

4:21 p.m. City issues 10 citations to five businesses July 4th weekend for social distancing violations

Chicago’s enforcement of the city’s and state’s social distancing rules at local businesses over the holiday weekend yielded 49 investigations and led to ten citations issued to five businesses, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. Each citation carries a fine of up to $10,000, although the department did not specify further about the size of the penalties assessed this weekend.

Task Force investigations were conducted at bars and restaurants in River North, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park and were triggered by reports from consumers; Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareno explained last month that City Hall simply doesn’t have the staff to conduct random inspections.

The city also issued an immediate shutdown order to Chicago Lakefront Cruises, which “showed egregious disregard for the health and safety of their employees and customers by blatantly ignoring the reopening requirements,” according to a BACP spokesperson. Chicago Lakefront Cruises describes its “Summer of George” rental vessel as a 100-foot, two-story “party boat” that can accommodate up to 150 guests on its website, although BACP did not specify how many people were on the boat when the closure order was issued.

The rules in place for businesses operating under Phase 4 of Illinois’ reopening include limiting indoor restaurant service to groups of 10 or less and spacing out tables by 6 feet or more for indoor and outdoor dining. Gatherings of more than 50 people are still prohibited.

Staff report

1:12 p.m. Chicago travel advisory from 15 states with rising COVID-19 numbers begins Monday

Starting Monday, anyone who is traveling or returning to Chicago from states that have seen a spike in COVID-19 infection rates is required to quarantine for two weeks under a travel advisory issued by Mayor Lori Lightfoot last week.

The public health order, issued Thursday evening by Dr. Allison Arwady, who leads the Chicago Department of Public Health, applies to anyone coming to Chicago from one of these 15 designated states where COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Here’s what you need to know about Chicago’s travel advisory:

If a person tested negative for COVID-19 and hasn’t developed any symptoms, would they still have to quarantine for the full two weeks?

In short, yes.

The city said individuals coming from hotbed states are encourage to self-quarantine for two weeks even if they have tested negative for the virus or haven’t shown any symptoms because they can become contagious up to 14 days after their last exposure and could still develop symptoms at a later time.

Read the full story from Madeline Kenney here.

12:00 p.m. Most of WNBA’s older coaches OK with dealing with coronavirus risk in Florida

Mike Thibault knows he could be at higher risk for severe illness if he gets the coronavirus because of his age.

The 69-year-old Washington Mystics coach didn’t hesitate about going down to Florida with his team Monday to prepare for the virus-delayed WNBA season.

“There’s no guarantee. Living in D.C., I wear my mask and stay away from people,” said Thibault, who turns 70 in September. “You go to the grocery store or have food delivered, there is some risk involved in your life. That’s the nature of the virus. I’m not at the same risk as that grocery store worker or restaurant owner heading to work every day. We’re going to a controlled environment.”

Thibault is one of five head coaches in the league over 60, including three over 65 — which puts them in the higher risk category, according to the CDC. No other major sports league has as high a percentage (41.6) of head coaches over 60.

“It’s our job,” said Dallas Wings coach Brian Agler, who is one of the five. “I’m not more concerned because it’s Florida, as the virus is hitting everywhere right now.”

Read the full story here.

9:58 a.m. How start-and-stop reopenings mess with your head amid COVID-19

As coronavirus cases continue to surge in many states, the process of easing restrictions, then slamming them back in place could be America’s new tumultuous reality — one that threatens the psyche of many, experts say.

At least 21 states have paused their plans to reopen their economies, just weeks after unveiling those measures as the nation started to emerge from strict quarantine measures and stay-at-home orders. These stops and starts can trigger feelings of frustration and fatigue and leave people feeling overwhelmed.

“This is very confusing for many people, and rightfully so,” Dr. Ogbonnaya Omenka, assistant professor of public health at Butler University, told USA TODAY.

“Initially, mixed messages defined how states and different jurisdictions were responding to this problem. With public health intervention, clear messaging, even if it’s wrong, is better than mixed messages. Because if the message is clear, you are leaving it still up to the individuals to decide whether they want to acquiesce to it or not,” he said.

“But when it’s mixed, the confusion is: ‘What should I follow?’ We are reaping the fruits of those mixed messages. One thing it did was lure the public into a sense of an oversimplification of the problem.”

Read the full report here.

8:47 a.m. Cook County Circuit Court resuming limited in-person operations Monday

The Cook County Circuit Court system will begin in-person operations Monday, but most cases will continue to be heard virtually.

The court system has been essentially online-only since March 13, when Presiding Judge Timothy Evans issued an order to comply with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. Monday will mark the first small loosening of that order.

Litigants, attorneys and others involved in cases will be asked to confer with the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office before their hearings to figure out whether they’ll be expected to attend in person or via Zoom, according to a news release.

For in-person matters, people entering court buildings will be required to wear masks and given wellness checks at the entrance.

Read the full story from Ben Pope here.

7:31 a.m. Surprise: Justice Kavanaugh sides with Gov. Pritzker over Illinois Republican organizations in COVID-19 crowd restriction case

The Supreme Court always has a justice on duty for emergencies, and on Saturday — Independence Day — Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, was on the job.

And on July 4, Kavanaugh did something that might surprise you, given his conservative and GOP credentials, his days in the George W. Bush White House and the Democratic-led fight over his confirmation.

Kavanaugh sided with Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

He denied an emergency bid by several allied Illinois Republican organizations to block Pritzker’s COVID-19 pandemic related ban on political events with more than 50 people.

The rush for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in this case was pegged — so went the argument — to the urgent need to clear the legal way for a July 4 picnic and fireworks to rally the Will County GOP faithful — at a farm, a place with plenty of room for people to spread out.

That picnic angle is now moot.

Read the full story by Washington bureau chief Lynn Sweet here.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

6:14 p.m. Beware of those going ‘nose commando’ during COVID-19 pandemic

By my count, 44 percent of the American people who wear face masks believe they do not have to be worn over the nose. That is using the same statistical base President Trump used to calculate that 99 percent of coronavirus cases are harmless.

While waiting for takeout at my favorite restaurant, I looked into the kitchen and saw at least two cooks wearing their masks over their mouths but pulled below their nose.

A manager was standing about five feet away and said nothing to them.

Neither did I.

I am COVID-inhibited, meaning I think anyone crazy enough not to wear a mask, or wear it properly, is willing to kill family members and friends and therefore should not be confronted.

It would be like stopping someone on State Street who is screaming and gesturing wildly to ask if they are a madman or simply a stock trader having a bad day.

Yet, someone should say something.

Read the full column from Phil Kadner here.

5:10 p.m. Just in from Florida? Please cool your heels for a couple of weeks

If only for the shaming factor, it’s worth a shot.

We can’t imagine how Chicago will enforce a new rule that anyone arriving in the city from a state that has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases self-quarantine for two weeks. As a practical matter, the Chicago police have enough to worry about without having to issue fines to people recently arriving from, say, Florida or Texas for wandering around town instead of staying put indoors.

But as a matter of raising awareness about the need for travelers from hot spot states to quarantine — and prodding them to do so — Chicago’s rule, which went into effect Monday, is on firm ground.

Chicago protecting itself

Chicago has worked hard, and sacrificed much, to beat back the spread of the coronavirus. It’s only right that the city should protect itself from the irresponsible actions of other cities and states that have done much less and are paying the price.

Chicago’s travel-related quarantine rule, imposed a week after New Jersey, Connecticut and New York State jointly imposed a similar rule, affects travelers from 15 states that have seen significant increases in cases of COVID-19. The states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Not surprisingly, all but two of those states — California and Nevada — were carried by Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and 11 are presided over by Republican governors who continue to cower before the denier-in-chief in the White House. When Trump has sneered about face masks and social distancing, they have sneered, too, or — just as unconscionable — declined to call out his stupidity.

When it comes to domestic travel quarantines that pit cities and states against each other, common sense calls for clear and consistent national guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control. But that’s never going to happen under this president, who has failed from the beginning to lead in the fight against COVID-19.

And so cities and states are rolling out their own rules of quarantine, applying inconsistent standards.

Read the Sun-Times full editorial here.

7:23 a.m. A dreaded call from her Millennial during pandemic’s surge: ‘Mom, I don’t feel well at all’

“Mom, I don’t feel well at all.”

It was a call this Chicago mother had feared, ever since the start of the pandemic lockdowns.

Her millennial offspring was calling from one of the four states worst hit by new coronavirus outbreaks nationwide.

Under a resurgence of the highly contagious virus, Arizona, California, Florida and Texas now account for 50 percent of the 44,000+ new cases daily.

Experts say the U.S. could soon reach 100,000+ cases daily — absent an immediate U-turn.

That’s led states like New York and cities like Chicago to impose quarantines on visitors from impacted states in the South and West. The new rule takes effect here Monday.

Of particular note, at COVID-19’s six-month anniversary in the U.S., infections are skewing younger.

In several states, nearly half the new cases are occurring among millennials — in California, among those under age 35; in Florida, those under age 37.

Read the full column from Maudlyne Ihejirika here.