Coronavirus live blog, July 9, 2020: Illinois reports 1,018 new COVID-19 cases, highest 1-day total since June 5

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

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, July 9, 2020: Illinois reports 1,018 new COVID-19 cases, highest 1-day total since June 5

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said Chicago will need “nothing less than the most breathtaking recovery effort our city has ever seen” to come roaring back from the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home shutdown it triggered.

Today she unveiled her plan for the city’s economic recovery following the pandemic. Here’s what’s in her plan and all the other coronavirus-related news that broke in Chicago and around the state.


8:55 p.m. Biggest coronavirus testing day ever in Illinois results in state’s worst day for new cases in a month


Workers check in residents at a mobile COVID-19 testing site in Chicago on June 23, 2020.

Scott Olson/Getty Images (file photo)

llinois was hit with its worst day for new coronavirus cases in over a month Thursday as health officials announced an additional 1,018 people have tested positive, sending the state’s overall case tally over 150,000.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also said another 20 deaths have been attributed to COVID-19, raising the state’s pandemic death toll to 7,119.

While that increase in deaths is close to the state’s daily average so far in July, Illinois had not tallied 1,000 cases or more in a day since June 5.

And since a nearly three-month low case count of 462 on June 22, daily caseloads have inched upward — but so have the state’s testing numbers.

The latest cases were confirmed among 36,180 test results, the state’s largest batch received in any given day, good for a positivity rate of about 2.8%. That’s above the state’s rolling positivity rate of 2.6% over the last week, but Gov. J.B. Pritkzer’s office said it’s not cause for alarm.

“We’re watching the data closely every day, but our uptick in cases closely correlates with increased testing that’s been accomplished over the last couple of weeks,” Pritzker press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh said.

Read the full story by reporter Mitchell Armentrout here.

4:45 p.m. Baby, don’t you wanna watch? Stars sing ‘Sweet Home Chicago’ to aid local artists

Jim Belushi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Keegan-Michael Key and dozens of other talents with roots in Chicago — singers, actors, dancers and more — belt out the city’s unofficial anthem in a new music video meant to ease the pandemic burden for local artists.

Tony Award winner Jessie Mueller counts down the beats to open the clip, which also spotlights the voices of stage stars E. Faye Butler (riffing, “Let me explain something to you ...) and André De Shields (resplendent in a glittering butterfly pendant). Jazz singer Kurt Elling carries another chunk of the vocal load.

Ramsey Lewis tickles the piano. Survivor rocker Jim Peterik wails on the guitar. Rachel Barton Pine saws away on the violin. Twista spits a mile-a-minute list of the city’s greatest assets.

Chef Rick Bayless dances in front of a flaming grill and confesses, “That was way harder than I thought it would be.”

The six-minute, quick-cut rendition of “Sweet Home Chicago,” from local production company HMS Media, urges viewers to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, which helps artists throughout Chicago and Illinois who are struggling in the wake of COVID-19 closures.

Read the full story and watch the video here.

3:17 p.m. COVID-19 side effect: ‘The Great Restroom Shortage’

Filling up on gas or food is easy with many service stations and chain restaurants off busy Interstate 5. Finding a public restroom, clean or otherwise? Now that can be a challenge.

Whether it’s the Burger King or the El Pollo Loco at the Lyons Avenue exit off the artery linking Los Angeles and San Francisco in this city, or even the Mobil or Shell gas stations, restrooms are temporarily off-limits.

Fear of the coronavirus has made one of the most important conveniences of life on the open road — the public restroom — harder to come by at one long-dependable source: fast-food outlets. Many are now limited to drive-thrus only.

With gas stations not necessarily a sure bet either, motorists are forced to alternatives like truck stops, supermarkets or big-box retailers like Walmart or Home Depot.

Alisa Stewart discovered the problem first hand while leading family trips to Las Vegas, a 290-mile slog one way from home in Santa Monica, California, to visit relatives twice last month. On one journey, rest stops and a Starbucks’ loo were closed. A normally dependable standby, the landmark Mad Greek Cafe in the town of Baker, was shuttered. “Before COVID-19, they were open 24 hours,” she lamented in an email.

The Great Restroom Shortage has been cropping up sporadically around the country.

Read the full story here.

2:45 p.m. Field Museum reopens July 17

After four turbulent months that included the loss of 71 jobs, the Field Museum is set to re-open July 17 following the coronavirus shutdown.

But don’t expect big crowds. The museum plans to cap daily attendance at one-fourth of capacity, officials said Thursday. Masks will be mandatory, and markers on the floor will help people with social distancing.

The museum will open to members only beginning July 17, then to the general public July 24.

The re-opening comes as the Field gets set to welcome a new president later this year. Julian Siggers, director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, takes the helm at Field in September.

Read the full story here.

1:11 p.m. Would you go to the beach or a public pool if you could? What Chicagoans told us.

With temperatures in the 90s for day after day, we asked Chicagoans whether they’d venture out to the city’s pools and beaches if they were open. Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

“I would go to a pool to swim laps where you have a reservation to keep the numbers to a minimum, but hell no to any ‘free swims.’ I don’t really go to the beach because the lake is cold, and sand is annoying.” — Shannon Heath Jeropke

“I would not because it would be flooded with people — taking no safety precautions, of course — and I’m trying to stay healthy! Plus I have my own pool in my backyard.” — Jaleesa Flores

“Ugh. I’d love to go to the beach. I live in Indiana. The national park beaches are beautiful. But they are totally crowded with people coming from Illinois. Can’t find parking, can’t find a socially distanced place to sit, and everyone is leaving loads of trash behind.” — Chris Jacobs Clark

Read more responses from our readers on the topic here.

12:15 p.m. Starbucks in-store customers will be required to wear face masks starting July 15

Starbucks will now require customers and employees to wear face masks when they enter stores.

The policy applies to all company-owned café locations in the U.S., according to a statement by Starbucks.

At select locations where a local government mandate is not in place, customers that may not be wearing a facial covering will have various options to order their Starbucks, including ordering at the drive-thru, curbside pickup through the Starbucks app or placing an order for delivery through Starbucks Delivers.

“The company is committed to playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” reads the statement.

Read the full story here.

11:46 a.m. Woman spits in man’s face during dispute over face mask in Lake County Costco: police

A Highland Park woman was allegedly so mad that a man removed his face mask in a north suburban Costco that she yelled she had COVID-19 before spitting in his face, police said.

Elizabeth H. Mach, 45, allegedly rammed her shopping cart in to the man’s cart after he removed his face mask before he exited the store June 16 in Mettawa, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office.

Mach allegedly told him to put the mask back on since he was not outside the building, the sheriff’s office said.

The man, 50, ignored her, at which point she allegedly yelled, “I am a schoolteacher and I have COVID-19.” She then allegedly removed her own mask and spat in his face.

She left the store in the 25900 block of Riverwoods Road and drove off, the sheriff’s office said.

Read the full story here.

10:13 a.m. Lightfoot unveils roadmap to economic recovery from coronavirus pandemic

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has said Chicago will need “nothing less than the most breathtaking recovery effort our city has ever seen” to come roaring back from the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic and the stay-at-home shutdown it triggered.

She’s said — to some ridicule — that she hopes it will warrant a fifth star on Chicago’s flag.

Now, she has a roadmap to get there.

The 105-page report is called “Forward Together, Building a Stronger Chicago.”

Specific recommendations include:

• A public-private venture fund to provide venture capital for local entrepreneurs.

• A portable benefits program for gig workers.

• Subsidized child care.

• A 211 line for mental health emergencies.

• A wage and standards board to establish a workers’ bill of right.

Read the full story from Fran Spielman here.

8:16 a.m. Too early to tell whether CPS can safely reopen this fall, ex-U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says

Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday it’s “too early to tell” whether the Chicago Public Schools can safely reopen this fall to in-classroom learning.

It all depends on whether Chicago adults behave responsibly or recklessly this summer to prevent a surge in coronavirus cases that mirrors what’s happening in nearly two dozen other states.

“We, as a country, haven’t taken the hard steps we need to open schools and to make things safe,” said Duncan, who spent more than seven years as CPS’ chief executive.

“What we as a country are willing to do — what small sacrifices we’re willing to make so our children can safely return to school this fall — that’s up to us. Schools systems can’t do this by themselves. They don’t live in a bubble.”

Those sacrifices?

“Wear a mask. Don’t hang out at the beaches. Don’t go to bars. Don’t go eat indoors at restaurants,” he said.

Read the full story from City Hall reporter Fran Spielman or listen to the full interview on “The Fran Spielman Show” podcast.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

6:52 p.m. We can’t fly; we can’t hug; at least let us grin

When my boss asked me to gather thoughts on Alinea’s new novel coronavirus-shaped canapé, conscientious newsman that I am, I suggested heading over right away to try the tidbit. To comment intelligently, I had to first sample the purplish sphere of coconut custard with Szechuan peppercorn, dotted with freeze-dried raspberries that caused some on Instagram to grouse that lives lost to COVID-19 are being mocked by a confection.

Shoe-leather reporting. Direct experience. Can’t beat it.

Alas, time is of the essence. So all I could do is acquaint myself with the thorough treatment by Block Club Chicago, which sadly chose to quote one, count ’em, one disgruntled person, complaining on Instagram.

“This isn’t ok ... this isn’t ‘cute.’ This is shameful,” wrote the irked individual.

No, what’s shameful is Donald Trump insisting America’s schools re-open in the fall, pandemic be damned. As is the same people who are willing to sacrifice Grandma to stay behind him now tossing Junior onto the pyre as well. Our nation marinates in humiliation like Hawaiian chicken.

Read Neil Steinberg’s full column here.

8:27 a.m. ‘A hot mess’: Americans face testing delays nationwide as coronavirus cases continues to surge

For two weeks, Rachael Jones has stayed home, going without a paycheck while waiting and waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test from a pharmacy near Philadelphia.

“I’m just so disappointed. I just don’t know how — with the resources and the people we have and the money we have — we can’t get this right,” she said.

Four months, 3 million confirmed infections and over 130,000 deaths into the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., Americans confronted with a resurgence of the scourge are facing long lines at testing sites in the summer heat or are getting turned away. Others are going a week or more without receiving a diagnosis.

Some sites are running out of kits, while labs are reporting shortages of materials and workers to process the swabs.

Some frustrated Americans are left to wonder why the U.S. can’t seem to get its act together, especially after it was given fair warning as the virus wreaked havoc in China and then Italy, Spain and New York.

“It’s a hot mess,” said 47-year-old Jennifer Hudson of Tucson, Arizona. “The fact that we’re relying on companies and we don’t have a national response to this, it’s ridiculous. … It’s keeping people who need tests from getting tests.”

Read the full story here.

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