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Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 25, 2020: 2,514 new COVID-19 cases, 25 more deaths

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

It’s official: Southport Lanes in Lake View is officially closing its doors, becoming another business victim of the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s not all that happened Friday. Here’s a rundown of the day’s coronavirus headlines.


News

8:56 p.m. 2,514 new COVID-19 cases, 25 more deaths: state health officials

A couple wears face masks and latex gloves Friday in the international terminal at O’Hare Airport. Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

The Illinois Department of Public Health Friday announced another 2,514 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and 25 more deaths from the virus.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate — the number used to gauge how quickly the virus is spreading — between Sept. 18 and 24 is 3.6%, up slightly from the 3.5% positivity rate recorded earlier this week.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 69,793 specimens for a total of 5,363,471 since the pandemic began.

As of Thursday night, 1,637 coronavirus patients in Illinois were hospitalized, 371 were in intensive care units and 124 were on ventilators.

“Were starting to see an increase in the number of daily cases,” IDPH spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said. Daily death counts and the number of patients in intensive care and on ventilators have been steady, she said.

Reporter Mitch Dudek has the full story.


4:52 p.m. Another beloved Chicago bar shutters, citing COVID

Southport Lanes is closing its doors permanently on Sept. 27.
Southport Lanes is closing its doors permanently on Sept. 27.
Google Maps

There’s been a lot of reminiscing of late, now that Steve Soble, Southport Lanes’ owner since 1991, has decided to close.

“It’s been one of the strangest six months of our lives,” said Soble, 56, echoing the refrain of many a bar owner in the city. He’s had “virtually no one” inside the 6,250-square-foot bar during the pandemic. Even with 50 or so seats outside, he had to pray for good weather.

“When it rained, it was not even worth opening,” he said.

And so on Sunday the bartender will holler “last call!” one more time. The pins in the adjoining four-lane bowling alley clattered for the last time in mid-March after the statewide shutdown.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito here.

8:32 a.m. Lightfoot’s pandemic conference calls with aldermen violated Open Meetings Act, state attorney general’s office says

Mayor Lori Lightfoot violated the Open Meetings Act by hosting conference calls with aldermen in the early days of the shutdown triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the Illinois Attorney General’s office has concluded.

Deputy Corporation Counsel Jeff Levine had argued the conference calls Lightfoot and top aides held with aldermen on March 26, March 30, April 6 and May 8 did not violate the Open Meetings Act because aldermen were acting as “community-based first responders” and no “legislative deliberation or action” took place.

“It was essential to disseminate public safety-related information as widely as possible to other city officers who could assist in implementing disaster relief and mitigation,” Levine wrote June 26 in response to a complaint filed with the attorney general’s office by Pro Publica reporter Mick Dumke.

“These calls had no legislative aspect whatsoever. Rather, the sole purpose was to convey information regarding the city’s pandemic response to help the aldermen continue to serve effectively in the field as community-based first responders.”

Reporter Fran Spielman has the full story.


New cases

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday announced another 2,257 people had tested positive for COVID-19 and 30 more deaths have been attributed to the virus.

The state’s test positivity rate — the number used to gauge how quickly the virus is spreading — between Sept. 17 and 23 remains at 3.5%, the lowest rate since late July.


Analysis & Commentary

7:02 p.m. Even before any second COVID wave, many Chicagoans are still in need from the first one

The calls come daily to state Rep. Lindsey LaPointe’s office on the Northwest Side from people who need help navigating the state bureaucracy.

They call about unemployment benefits, housing assistance and food stamps. They call about utility bills, problems with state licenses and support for their small businesses.

Many of the callers these days are in tears, not knowing where to turn. Some can’t pay the rent. Others are worried about feeding their families.

Yet what’s striking to LaPointe’s chief of staff, Jessica Genova, is how apologetic many of the callers are, as if they’re feeling guilty about their predicament and needing help.

“I’ve never done this before,” they say.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

7:37 a.m. Leafy suburban paradise roiled by COVID stats

The media consisted of a camera crew, a helicopter, and me.

Although I was there in my unofficial capacity. Not as newspaper columnist but as local resident. I had heard the chopper, looked at my phone — 3:57 p.m. — and remembered that at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Lee Goodman would update the number on his sign to 200,000 to reflect how many Americans have died from COVID-19.

Lee is the sort of fellow no town should be without and, indeed, most towns have one. The local gadfly, or activist — lately I’ve referred to him las “the spoon that stirs the pot.” A retired lawyer, Goodman left the profession to devote his full energies to endeavors such as posting a sign at the busy corner of Shermer and Walters, an area set aside for free expression. It is significant that the other sign, already there, is promoting the annual Lobster Sale at The Episcopal Church of St. James the Less.

As much as I would like to dive into exploring the identity of St. James the Less — cousin of Jesus, apparently — let’s keep our focus on Goodman’s sign.

I witnessed its arrival Saturday — again, again, not in my journalistic capacity, but as a man smoking a cigar while walking a little dog. The sign drew reaction: a zealous spontaneous rally celebrating the glories of Donald Trump and the insulting absurdity of suggesting that a large number of Americans have died of COVID. I watched the commotion, briefly, then left with the conviction that this is going to be a very long six weeks, if not six months, if not six years.

Read the full commentary from columnist Neil Steinberg here.