Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 30, 2020: State will offer small businesses free ‘infection prevention’ training

Here’s Wednesday’s news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois.

SHARE Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 30, 2020: State will offer small businesses free ‘infection prevention’ training

The latest reminder of how the pandemic has upended life in the state came as officials announced 2,273 more people were confirmed to carry the virus among the latest 58,546 tests administered.

Here’s what else happened in Chicago and around Illinois as the coronavirus pandemic continued.


News

8:53 p.m. State will offer small businesses free ‘infection prevention’ training

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The Illinois Department of Labor announced Tuesday a free consulting program to help small businesses reopen under COVID-19 safety guidelines.

The service, called Back to Business Illinois, will connect businesses with up to 250 with consultants in the department’s Workplace Safety and Health Consultation Division, the department said in a statement.

The consultants will “help local small businesses audit their physical operation, identify best practices and find ways to implement them efficiently,” the statement said. They will be paired with businesses “based on their expertise and specific needs to customize the best plan for their business.”

“While this pandemic has affected Illinois’ small businesses in unexpected ways, IDOL remains committed to promoting health and safety during every step of recovery. We are excited to offer this new program in support of our small business owners’ efforts to keep workers and customers safe as these businesses continue to operate,” said IDOL Director Michael Kleinik.

Read the full story from Sam Kelly here.


7:03 p.m. Self-described ‘cautious’ Cook County pol tests positive for COVID-19: ‘I’m not a person who would touch doorknobs’

A commissioner on the Cook County Board has tested positive for the coronavirus about a week after appearing at an event with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

In a series of tweets, Kevin Morrison, who was elected in 2018, said he was “feeling well with very little symptoms.

“Upon receiving my positive test results, I immediately contacted anyone that I knowingly came in contact with and encouraged them to be tested,” Morrison tweeted.

“I will be following Illinois Department of Public Health and Cook County Department of Public Health guidance and will be self-isolating for at least 14 days and will not resume any in-person activities until a confirmed negative test. I encourage everyone to continue to follow public health guidance and to stay safe.”

Reporter Rachel Hinton has the full story.

3:30 p.m. Healthy Halloween? Think candy on driveway tables, no haunted houses or crowded costume parties, Pritzker team says

With the COVID-19 pandemic still haunting Illinois this autumn, public health officials on Wednesday set guidelines for trick-or-treating and other Halloween activities.

And no, that spooky mask won’t cut it as a face covering.

Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the safest option is for all the state’s little goblins and ghouls to stay home instead of going door-to-door looking for candy — but instead of “denying the reality” that people will celebrate anyway, she urged residents to follow health precautions to keep the viral specter at bay.

“Try to be creative this holiday season. Challenge yourself and your kids on how you can celebrate these holidays as safely as possible,” Ezike said.

That means considering virtual gatherings as an alternative. Absent that, the state’s top doctor suggested leaving individually wrapped candy on tables in driveways or other areas outside homes where distance can be maintained — or setting up tables in a large outdoor space for a socially distant Halloween treat parade.

Reporter Mitch Armentrout has the full story.

7:58 a.m. College in Grant Park? Columbia faculty move classes outdoors amid dispute over coronavirus protections

Columbia College instructors and students have been forced to trade-in their state of the art dance and theater facilities for Grant Park’s greenways and concrete walkways over a dispute about coronavirus protections.

After the college’s part-time faculty union, Columbia Faculty Association Local 6602, and school officials failed to come to a safety agreement for the fall semester, several faculty members decided to hold classes outdoors at 11th Street and Michigan Avenue rather than in classrooms that did not meet their safety expectations.

Last week the union filed an unfair labor practices charge against the school over coronavirus-related concerns. The union wants portable air purifiers in all classrooms where in-person instruction will take place, while the college said it’ll only take that precaution where “science shows there is a higher potential of risk,” like in classes that require singing, playing a musical instrument or dancing, according to Lambrini Lukidis, Columbia’s associate vice president for strategic communications.

Reporter Adam Mahoney has the full story.


New cases


Analysis & Commentary

8:23 a.m. How COVID is hammering Chicago’s arts and entertainment scene

Two years ago, we visited Lifeline Theatre in Rogers Park to better understand the role of the arts in a community’s development.

We described in an editorial how Lifeline had been critical to a small but promising resurgence in that small corner of the neighborhood, as if a seed had been planted, leading to new energy and investment.

Now, as COVID-19 rages on, we visited Lifeline again last week, wondering how the theater and the neighborhood are faring.

We found that the symbiotic relationship between the arts and nightlife and a community — where one’s success begets the other’s — continues to hold, for better and worse, in hard times. We found a theater company and neighborhood struggling, yet determined, to hang in there — a story to be found all over town.

We also found ourselves wanting to reaffirm the message of our original editorial. Support the arts, fellow Chicagoans. Now more than ever. They are essential to our city’s identity and post-pandemic future.

Read the full editorial from the Sun-Times editorial board here.

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