Coronavirus Illinois: IL COVID-19 deaths top 6.5K with 692 new cases; Nursing homes to allow outdoor visits soon

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois has released guidance to begin to allow people to visit their loved ones at nursing homes and other health care facilities.

The visitations won't start right away. Facilities will need a written safety plan first.

The change comes as the state's confirmed coronavirus cases grew by nearly 700 on Friday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 692 new COVID-19 cases and 44 deaths, bringing the state's total to 135,470 cases and 6,580 deaths.

Within the past 24 hours, roughly 27,000 tests have been conducted in the state, for a total of 1,311,003. Meanwhile, the preliminary 7-day statewide positive rate for June 12- June 18 is 3%.

New IDPH data shows that 3,649 COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, which accounts for 55% of all coronavirus deaths in Illinois. In contrast, there have been 21,476 COVID cases in these facilities, just 16% of cases across the state.

All visits to these facilities will be outside and appointments are required.

"Families will be able to see their loved ones by appointment in a supervised outdoor setting that ensures a minimum distance of six feet between residents and visitors, with one or two visitors per resident at a time or as determined by the nursing home," the Health Care Council of Illinois said in a statement Friday. "The number of visits allowed per day and the duration of the visit will be determined on an individual basis by each facility based on occupancy and space availability."

Anyone looking to visit will also need to take a health care screening beforehand.

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The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to overturn Pritzker's executive order.

Illinois moves to Phase 4 of reopening next Friday.

But one south suburb is suing Gov. JB Pritzker over the matter.

Two Orland Park residents and a business co-owner joined the village's lawsuit.

The village's Republican mayor has criticized the governor's public health orders.

The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to overturn Pritzker's executive order.

Gov. Pritzker's Office hasn't yet responded to ABC7's requests for comment.

On Thursday, Gov. Pritzker signed into law new protections for Illinois teachers and students as school districts carry out remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The newly signed legislation expands the emergency use of remote learning and waives student assessment requirements, under certain circumstances. It allows for remote learning days and up to five remote learning planning days to be considered attendance days.

"We emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations. Senate Bill 1569 creates a Blended Remote Learning Day option that gives schools additional flexibility as they develop plans for fall," said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala. "Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs."

The legislation also extends teaching and education support professional licenses set to expire on June 30 for another year, and makes changes to the School code to support teacher recruitment.

Restore Illinois: 5-phase reopening plan by Governor Pritzker splits IL into 4 regions
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Here's what you can expect in Phase 3 of Gov. Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan.

On Wednesday, Gov. Pritzker announced a $900 million support package to provide relief to businesses and communities impacted by COVID-19.

Pritzker said programs that are part of the relief package will operate with equity provisions to ensure that those hit hardest by the pandemic benefit from the relief package.
There will be two housing assistance programs as part of the package, with $150 million going to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program and $150 million going toward the Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. The programs will officially launch in August, with the governor extending the residential eviction ban until July 31.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will provide $5,000 grants to tenants who can't pay rent because of COVID-19, with 30,000 renters receiving support through the end of the year. The Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program will give approximately 10,000 homeowners a grant of up to $15,000.

Governor Pritzker's support package also includes $270 million in Business Interruption Grant, with applications being accepted starting Monday. The grants are for businesses including restaurants, bars, salons, gyms and other businesses unable to open or are severely restricted because of COVID-19. Small businesses damaged from civil unrest following the death of George Floyd are also eligible for relief.
Expanded emergency senior services, funding for food banks, grants for restorative justice groups and stipends for adults and youth seeking part-time summer employment are also part of the support package.

Governor Pritzker said the state must mitigate the effects of the virus on Illinois, " in a way that prioritizes those who were hurting long before we ever heard of COVID-19, to be there for people who are in need, people who are falling through the cracks, people who may have never expected themselves to need a helping hand from anyone else, but now they do."
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