Illinois coronavirus cases, COVID-19 deaths; latest Chicago area updates

Navy Pier partially reopens
CHICAGO (WLS) -- As the number of novel coronavirus cases increases across the U.S. and around the world, the number of confirmed Illinois cases has reached 129,837, with a total of 6,095 deaths.

You can find all of ABC7's latest reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak here.

ZIP CODE MAP: Where is coronavirus in Illinois?
REMEMBERING VICTIMS: Coronavirus deaths in Illinois by county
SEE LOCATIONS: Coronavirus testing in the Chicago area

TRACKING CORONAVIRUS IN ILLINOIS:

June 10, 2020

First inmate at Will County Jail tests positive for COVID-19

The Will County Jail has had its first inmate test positive for the coronavirus, the sheriff's office announced Tuesday. The inmate was brought to the Adult Detention Facility on Sunday for a "non-bondable offense," the Will County sheriff's office said.

Per standard procedure during the coronavirus pandemic, he was quarantined in a cell after passing his medical screening, and was scheduled to stay there for 14 days.

The next day, however, the man had an "unrelated medical emergency" and was taken to a local hospital, the sheriff's office said. He was also tested for COVID-19, and came back positive.

The man was taken back to the Adult Detention Facility and placed in a negative airflow cell, the sheriff's office said.

Navy Pier partially reopens

Restaurants and bars are back open at Navy Pier.

Tour boat rides are also back, but other rides including the Ferris Wheel remain closed, Firework shows also remain cancelled.

There will be social distancing ambassadors around Navy Pier to remind people to keep space between groups.

June 9, 2020

Illinois death toll surpasses 6K

Illinois health officials announced that the death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 6,000.

Health officials announced 95 additional deaths, bringing the total to 6,018 deaths.

An additional 797 new confirmed COVID-19 cases were also announced, bringing the total to 129,212.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces $700M budget shortfall

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago is projected to have a $700 million budget shortfall due to COVID-19.

The mayor said the losses come due to lower revenues from parking, hotels and restaurants. She said the city budget was $175 million for March and April.

The city will also begin appropriating more than a billion dollars in grant money from the CARES Act to the COVID-19 response. Lightfoot said the money can't be used for the budget shortfall.

Lollapalooza 2020 cancelled

The annual Lollapalooza music festival will not be taking place in Grant Park this summer due to COVID-19 concerns.

The festival was originally scheduled for July 30-August 2. Instead, organizers say there will be a virtual event instead.

Further details are expected to be released next month, Lollapalooza said.

The city has also cancelled all other large summer events, including the Chicago Air and Water Show and the Taste of Chicago.

Chicago loses another big trade show to coronavirus pandemic
Another trade show that would have brought tens of thousands of visitors to Chicago has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The latest of nearly 100 trade shows to scrap this year's plans is the International Manufacturing Technology Show. All told, those conventions and the loss of spending for hotels, entertainment, transportation and other things add up to a $1.4 billion loss for Chicago. Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's five-phase reopening plan, gatherings of more than 50 people can't be held until there's a vaccine or an effective treatment. Organizers of the International Manufacturing Technology Show didn't see that happening by September, when the show was scheduled.

June 8, 2020

Illinois reports 658 new COVID-19 cases, 23 deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 658 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 Monday, including 23 additional deaths.

That brings the state's total COVID-19 cases to 128,415 and 5,924 total deaths in 101 counties.

In the last 24 hours, labs tested 16,099 specimens for a total of 1,058,873 tests performed in the state. The preliminary 7-day statewide test positivity rate from June 1-June 7 is 5%.

Chicago reopens parks, libraries

Chicago has reopened many parks and library branches.

Parks west of Lake Shore Drive, including Grant Park, Lincoln Park and Burnham Park, are back open. The lakefront will remain closed for now.

Chicago Public Library branches are also back open as well as some city services, including the City Hall Payment Center.

June 7, 2020

Illinois reports 867 new COVID-19 cases, 43 deaths
Illinois health officials announced 867 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, including 43 deaths.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported that the state's total COVID-19 cases have reached 127,757, with a death toll of 5,904.

Within the last 24 hours, more than 20,000 tests have been conducted, for a total of 1,042,774. The preliminary 7-day statewide test positivity rate from May 31 to June 6 is 5%.

June 6, 2020

Illinois reports 975 new COVID-19 cases, 72 deaths
Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 975 to a total of 126,890, state health officials reported Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 72 additional coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the state's toll to 5,864.

Within the last 24 hours, Illinois has conducted more than 21,000 tests, for a total of 1,022,074. The preliminary 7-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tested from May 30-June 5 is 5.5%.

Some Illinois offices open, while others remain closed
Some Illinois employees have returned to work, but many state offices have not reopened since they closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Secretary of State Jesse White is the first elected official to reopen offices in the state. The State Journal-Register reports that he opened driver services offices this week allowing people to obtain or renew licenses in person. Gov. JB Pritzker and the comptroller, treasurer and attorney general's offices still have some people working in the office, and some working from home.

Grants to help historic preservation groups hurt by pandemic
An Illinois historic preservation group is providing financial help to 13 nonprofit organizations that suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The groups selected to receive one-time $2,000 grants from Landmarks Illinois were chosen out of nearly 100 applicants. Landmarks Illinois President and CEO Bonnie McDonald says the money will provide financial relief and help the organizations continue to care for historic places. The organizations include museums, historic buildings or community centers that lost revenue when they were forced to close, such as the Egyptian Theater in DeKalb and the historic Lorraine Theatre in Hoopeston.

June 5, 2020

New Workforce Recovery Initiative launched for those who lost jobs during pandemic

Gov. JB Pritzker announced June 5 the launch of free online career training geared toward helping Illinoisans who have lost their jobs due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Through a partnership with online learning platform Coursera, Illinois residents now have the opportunity to enroll in free virtual training courses to provide training and credentialing that will help ready dislocated workers for jobs in Information Technology and other marketable fields. Visit coursera.org/government/workforce-recovery for more information.

Gov. Pritzker announces first $1.3M awarded to downstate, rural communities as part of small business stabilization fund

Gov. JB Pritzker announced June 5 that the first round of grants, as part of the new Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program, were awarded. The fund was created to support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois that have experienced a negative impact due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The first $1.3 million in grants have been allocated to 65 businesses spanning 28 downstate communities.

Protesters gather as Little Village coal plant demolition resumes after botched implosion covers neighborhood in dust

Protesters gathered Friday morning at the site of an old coal plant in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood, as demolition resumed at the facility. In April, a botched smokestack implosion at the Crawford Coal Plant covered the Southwest Side neighborhood in dust. Many residents were furious with the city for allowing that to happen. They called it a public health hazard, especially during a pandemic.

Illinois schools can reopen for in-person summer instruction

An executive order from Governor JB Pritzker allows schools to reopen for summer in-person instruction as long as COVID-19 guidelines are followed.

All public and non-public schools serving students from kindergarten to 12th grade can reopen for summer schools as long as they follow a series of guidelines.

The guidelines include limiting the number of people in a space to 10 or fewer, providing six feet of distance between people, ensuring hygience supplies and protective equipment are available and being used.

June 4, 2020

Illinois reports more than 920 new COVID-19 cases, 116 deaths

Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases grew by 929 on Thursday, to a total of 124,759, state health officials said.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced 116 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state's death toll to 5,736.

Within the past 24 hours, more than 22,000 tests have been conducted, for a total of 982,016. The preliminary 7-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a percent of a total test from May 28-June 3 is 6%.

Illinois' community-based COVID-19 testing sites now open to all, state says

Anyone can now get tested for coronavirus at Illinois' community-based testing sites, regardless of symptoms or doctor referrals.

The State of Illinois announced its expanded criteria that makes COVID-19 testing available to everyone on Thursday.

Any individual that wants to get tested for coronavirus will now be able to without an appointment, doctor referral or insurance. Testing is available for free.

State health officials recommend that anyone who has recently attended a mass gathering, including rallies and protests, get tested for COVID-19.

For more information, visit the IDPH website.

June 3, 2020

Illinois reports more than 980 new COVID-19 cases, 97 deaths

Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases increased by more than 980, including 97 deaths, on Wednesday, state health officials reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 982 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the state's total to 123,830. Illinois' COVID-19 death toll has reached 5,621.

Within the past 24 hours, more than 24,000 tests have been conducted in the state, for a total of 959,175. The preliminary 7-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tested from May 27-June 2 is 6%.

State-run testing sites reopen in Chicago following protests

COVID-19 testing sites will reopen in Chicago after being closed due to protests and civil unrest around Chicago.

10 of the 11 state-run testing sites will reopen Wednesday. The Waukegan testing site will reopen Thursday in a new location.

Illinois courts to resume as COVID-19 restrictions lift

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Illinois, an administrative order from Chief Judge will allow courts to resume all operations, including non-emergency hearings.

Court personnel and visitors will be required to follow CDC guidelines when doing business at a courthouse.

According to the Southern Illinoisan, an executive order signed last week by Chief Judge Nancy Rosenstengel details that if a judge finds that delaying felony pleas or sentencing cannot be pushed back without harm to the defendant, video and teleconferencing can be used instead. All civil and criminal trials will not be held until after August first.

June 2, 2020

Chicago enters Phase 3 of reopening

The city of Chicago officially joined the rest of the state into moving into Phase 3 of reopening.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot made the decision to go ahead with the scheduled move even with several days of looting and vandalism. Mayor Lightfoot said she spoke with many business owners in hard-hit areas who supported going forward into Phase 3.

"I want every business in Chicago to hear me," Lightfoot said. "And when I say that, we are 110% dedicated to us successfully reopening safely and securely and getting back up on your feet."

The mayor is calling Phase 3 "cautiously reopening" and she is encouraging people to shop local and support those businesses trying to get back on their feet in the midst of the unrest.

June 2, 2020

Health officials announce 1,614 new cases, 113 deaths

Illinois health officials announced 1,614 new cases COVID-19, with 113 deaths in the state. That brings the state to 122,848 cases and 5,525 total deaths. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 16,431 specimens for a total of 934,704. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from May 26-June 1 is 7%.

Chicago moving forward into Phase 3 of reopening

Chicago will move forward with plans to move into Phase 3 of reopening on June 3.

Businesses in many parts of the city have been hard hit by days of looting in wake of the death of George Floyd. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she spoke with many business owners who encouraged her to move forward with plans to move into Phase 3.

"We want economic activity to resume peacefully and safely in every single neighborhood, especially those hurting the most," Lightfoot said

June 1, 2020

Public officials announce 23 additional COVID-19 deaths in Illinois

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 974 new cases of coronavirus disease in Illinois, including 23 additional deaths on Monday. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 121,234 cases, including 5,412 deaths, in 101 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.Laboratories have reported 20,014 specimens for a total of 918,273 in a 24-hour period. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from May 25-May 31 is 6%.

Officials ask those who attended protests, gatherings to self-quarantine

Those who attended protests across the Chicago area or attended other gatherings where they came into close contact with people to self-quarantine for 14 days.

"We may see ourselves take a step backwards down the line when it comes to COVID here in Chicago and that is because it is caused by a virus and that virus does not care about what else is going on in the city," said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.

Dr. Arwady said the city is still seeing hundreds of new cases of COVID-19 each day.

She said that those who have been in close contact with people outside their household to self-quarantine for 14 days and void people who are at high risk.

May 31, 2020

Public officials announce 60 new COVID-19 deaths in Illinois
Public health officials say there have been 1,343 new cases of COVID-19 and 60 additional deaths in Illinois. The state's Department of Public Health announced the latest details on the coronavirus pandemic Sunday. Overall, there have been 120,260 cases, including 5,390 deaths. More than 21,000 tests have been administered in the past 24 hours. For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. But for others, especially older people and the infirm, it can cause severe symptoms and lead to death.

Vehicle emissions testing resumes June 1
Vehicle emissions testing, on hold because of stay-at-home orders issued during the coronavirus pandemic, will resume Monday, state officials said.The Environmental Protection Agency said that with a new phase of the state's recovery plan in place, all emissions testing stations will be open except for those in Waukegan and Markham. Those two sites have become COVID-19 testing drive-through sites. Safety precautions are in place. To reduce traffic volume and wait times, EPA said that motorists with vehicle registration expiration dates of March or earlier should visit a station during June. Those with later expiration dates should wait.

Chicago-area parents seek babysitters amid COVID-19 pandemic
Chicago-area parents are looking for babysitters who will adhere to social distancing rules as many summer camps have closed in an effort to stymie the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. Skokie resident Rebecca Abraham is a nurse in an intensive care unit in a medical system, told the Chicago Tribune that she will be splitting child care expenses with close friends who live nearby to create a "minicamp" for the families' four children. Elizabeth Harz, CEO of Sittercity, says her company has observed a tenfold increase in the number of child care inquiries from April to May.

May 29, 2020

Illinois restaurants take on new look under Phase 3 of Gov. Pritzker's reopening plan
Illinois residents venturing out for in-person dining for the first time in months can expect a whole new experience.

At Valley Lodge Tavern on Wilmette's Central Avenue, employees greeted their customers with face masks Friday. But the restaurant's owner, Bill Stavrou, said diners will notice more changes once they sit down on the patio.

"We're abiding by the rules of social distancing with our tables being separated 6 or more feet," Stavrou said.

The restaurant said the silverware comes pre-wrapped and it's plastic. Customers will be served on a regular plate, with plastic cups for water and a paper menu to order. Diners are also supposed to wear a face covering whenever they're not eating or drinking.

"We're going to encourage masks, of course, and we're going to ensure that our staff has them," Stavrou said. "Our hope is our guests do as well, just to make everyone feel comfortable."

Reopening Chicago: Mayor Lori Lightfoot announces shared streets plan, 6 pilot corridors
Mayor Lori Lightfoot officially announced a shared streets plan for Chicago Friday. It will be known as Chicago's "Our Streets" plan. The plan will close down some city streets in order to make more room for pedestrians and cyclists. It comes one day after Lightfoot announced the city would be moving into Phase 3 of reopening on Wednesday.

Illinois moves into Phase 3 of reopening

Phase 3 of Governor JB Pritzker's reopening plan went into effect for the entire state except for Chicago, which will move into it on June 3.

Restaurants are getting ready to welcome back customers for outdoor dining.

Anna Davidson, the owner of Blackberry Market restaurant in Glen Ellyn, said they are ready to welcome back customers.

"Our top priority is keeping our customers and our staff safe," Davidson said. "Regardless of who you are and what you are about, we all want the same things. We want people to be safe. We want this to end and I think once we understand what we are up against we are all willing to be part of that."

May 28, 2020

Internal CTA report gives poor marks for train cleaning

A Chicago Transit Authority report obtained by the ABC7 I-Team paints a dismal picture of cleanliness on city train lines as the agency prepares for an increase in passengers when the state moves to Phase 3 of the reopening process.

The internal report, which the CTA told the I-Team was preliminary, documented the unsatisfactory results from covert inspections conducted last week on train car cleaning at three stations - one on the Blue Line and two on the Red Line.

Chicago to move into Phase 3 on June 3, Lightfoot says

Chicago will join the rest of Illinois in Phase 3 of reopening on June 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.

The move allows restaurants and coffee shops to reopen with a focus on outdoor space. Small retail stores, office buildings, hair and nail salons, barbershops, and child care centers can also reopen.

Parks and libraries will open on June 8.

Pritzker releases new guidelines for places of worship

Governor JB Pritzker announced new guidelines Thursday for houses of worship to follow as the state moves into Phase Three of its reopening plan. Once the guidelines were released, an organization representing five Lake County churches that recently filed a lawsuit declared victory.

"This is a total and complete victory for people of faith," said Peter Breen, the vice president of the Thomas More Society, in a statement. "Illinois' governor and his administration abused the COVID-19 pandemic to stomp on the religious liberty of the people of Illinois."

Gov. Pritzker released the new guidelines during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

"We're not providing restrictions," he said. "We're simply providing the best recommendations that we can for keeping people safe, so we hope the pastors will follow that guidance."

The new guidelines emphasize that remote and drive-in services remain the safest options, followed by outdoor services.

Illinois could move into Phase 4 by end of June

When Phase 3 begins, it will also be day one of the evaluation period for transition to Phase 4.

The same metrics apply, including test positivity rate and hospital admissions - and if they remain stable, Prizker said Phase 4 could begin as early as June 26.

Illinois reports 1.5K new COVID-19 cases, 104 deaths

Illinois' coronavirus case count grew by more than 1,500 on Thursday, state health officials reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,527 new COVID-19 cases, and 104 additional deaths. That brings the state's case total to 115,833, with a death toll of 5,186.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 25,993 specimens for a total of 829,966. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from May 21-May 27 is 8.3%

Chicago to reopen on June 3, Mayor Lightfoot says

Mayor Lightfoot set a date for June 3 for Chicago to move into Phase 3 of reopening.

The move will allow restaurants and coffee shops to reopen with a focus on outdoor seating as well as hair and nail salons, barbershops and childcare centers.

City services that have been closed to the public, including park facilities and libraries, will reopen on June 8. The lakefront will remain closed.

"Throughout the pandemic, I have been overwhelmed by the service and sacrifice made by countless Chicagoans from every corner of our city and every walk of life," said Mayor Lightfoot. "Our ability to meet this moment would not have been possible without the work and passion of countless other Chicagoans who stepped up for their city during our time of need. It's because of all these efforts that Chicago is poised to begin cautiously reopening on June 3."

Robbins cop back on duty after tough COVID-19 battle

Robbins Police Officer Edward Schmit returned to duty Thursday after recovering from his fight with COVID-19.

At one point, doctors said he had only a 20 percent chance to live and was on a ventilator.

Officer Schmit was released from the hospital on the day after Easter. He admitted to feeling a little tired Thursday but otherwise felt normal.

Suburban businesses get ready to reopen

While Chicago businesses will not be taking part in Phase Three of reopening, stores in the suburbs are getting ready to start serving customers again Friday.

Phase Three will allow customers to return for outdoor dining, with restrictions, including accommodating for social distancing. Retail, barber shops, hair salons, and more are also gearing up to open.

"It's been devastating, so tomorrow is a big day," said Paul Zalmezak, Evanston economic development manager. "It's going to help a little bit, it's not going to solve any problems. We're talking about a handful of tables that you'll be able to have outdoors, but it's something."

2 Cook County judges test positive for COVID-19
A pair of Cook County judges have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first cases of the coronavirus in judges of the Circuit Court, officials announced Thursday.

Both work at the 5th Municipal District in Bridgeview, according to Pat Milhizer, spokesman for the Office of the Chief Judge. They are among a total of 39 employees of the Office of the Chief Judge who have tested positive for the coronavirus, Milhizer said.

The announcement comes on the day Chief Judge Timothy Evans is expected to sign an order extending COVID-19 precautions in the Circuit Court into July.

Milhizer on Thursday also announced two additional COVID-19 cases in the Office of the Chief Judge: a resident at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center on the Near West Side, and an employee of the adult probation department in the 2nd Municipal District in Skokie.

There are now 15 residents of the juvenile detention center who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

CVS to open 24 additional COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites across Illinois

CVS Health expanded its COVID-19 testing program by announcing 24 additional test sites at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations across Illinois opening Friday, May 29.

These additional test sites add to the 16 locations previously opened on May 22 in Illinois for a total of 40 locations across the state.

Self-swab tests will be available to individuals meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria, in addition to age guidelines. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com to schedule an appointment.

May 27, 2020

Chicago child care centers make changes to safely reopen under Phase 3

While the Carole Robertson Center for Learning awaits the city's green light, the facility has been hard at work to make sure that they'll be able to reopen safely.

"We'll take everything out of here and have two wellness rooms here for our staff or children, if they start to exhibit symptoms," said Bela Mote, CEO of the center that serves nearly 1,000 children in Chicago's North Lawndale and Little Village communities. "We're asking parents to pick up children who exhibit symptoms within 90 minutes of the call."

While there is some variation between the specific guidelines outlined by the city and the state for day care centers to follow, there's some crossover regarding what parents can expect.

Parents will have a designated drop-off spot and children will undergo daily wellness checks. Facilities will be required to meet strict capacity limits, with no more than eight infants or 10 children to a room. Children will also be assigned to one group, and not allowed to co-mingle with others. There will be a limit on the number of staff allowed to go into each classroom, and staff will be required to wear masks at all times. All meals will be individually wrapped.

Elk Grove Village auto speaker maker pivots to produce PPE

Elk Grove Village business ATrend laid off workers when orders dried up for their auto speakers in March.

ATrend now make face shields, protective barriers and a range of PPE, including a little piece they call an "ear keeper" that helps masks stay on without hurting your ears.

Those who were laid off are back, and now, they are even hiring.

Illinois seeks to expand contact tracing program

Gov. Pritzker shared an update on Illinois' contact tracing program, which will notify people who may have been in contact with a COVID-positive patient.

The state is providing funding to local health departments for hiring and training, but it could be several weeks before enough contact tracers are in place.

In his COVID-19 briefing, Gov. Pritzker also shared a powerful message about the death of George Floyd, the black man who died in police custody after a white officer was seen kneeling on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis.

Illinois reports over 1.1K new COVID-19 cases, 160 deaths

Illinois' coronavirus cases grew by more than 1,100 Wednesday, state health officials reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 1,111 new COVID-19 cases, including 160 deaths. There's now a total of 114,306 coronavirus cases and 5,083 deaths in Illinois.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 17,179 specimens for a total of 803,973. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity from May 20-26 is 8.6%.

Cook County ME's office surpasses caseload from 2019

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office has surpassed its caseload for 2019 just five months into 2020.

In all of 2019, the medical examiner's office investigated 6,274 deaths.As of May 27, the office has dealt with 6,586 deaths.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle noted homicides and overdoses have not declined as it deals with more than 3,700 deaths from COVID-19.

Mayor Lightfoot releases industry-specific guidelines for Phase 3 of reopening plan

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has released industry-specific guidelines to be followed in Phase 3 of the city's reopening plan.

The guidelines are for restaurants, gyms, childcare centers, non-lakefront parks and more.

It is still not known when the city will enter Phase 3 of reopening, by Mayor Lightfoot has said it is possible in early June.

Pills falsely claiming to treat COVID-19 seized at O'Hare Airport

Customs agents at O'Hare Airport seized thousands of pills that falsely claim to treat COVID-19.

The pills are advertised as a treatment for the disease, but it has not been approved for that use.They were shipped from China.

The pills were turned over to the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations.

May 26, 2020

Elburn restaurant reopens indoor dining in defiance of state order with cops' blessing

Eddie Gaedel's Pub and Grill has pulled back the curtain and reopened their bar that has been closed to diners and drinkers since mid-March. The indoor dining room is now open to 50 percent capacity.

The small family-owned pub started serving in person last Wednesday, blatantly defying the Illinois extended stay-at-home order prohibiting in-person, indoor restaurant service. Even outdoor service can't start until Friday.

"The biggest thing was that the local township here in Elburn, they decided that they weren't going to enforce government mandates for the state of Illinois," their manager said. "With their backing, we decided to just give it a shot."

Free counseling to relatives of coronavirus victims, frontline health care workers

COVID-19 has left countless people grieving the loss of loved ones, often bearing the pain alone.

That's why hospice and end-of-life specialist Vitas Healthcare is offering free counseling all this week to relatives of coronavirus victims as well as frontline health care workers.

Healthcare workers furloughed as state hospitals lose 41.4B a month

They're hailed as the heroes fighting on the frontlines but a growing number of Illinois healthcare workers are finding themselves sidelined by hospitals struggling to keep up with massive financial losses.

According to the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, hospitals have seen outpatient procedures reduced by 50 to 70 percent since mid-March. Inpatient procedures are down 30 to 50 percent.

Illinois may be on 'downward trend' of COVID-19 deaths

For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of deaths from the coronavirus week-to-week in Illinois has dropped, health officials said.

With all four regions of the state now set to move into Phase 3 on Friday, the state announced it has received another shipment of remdesivir, the promising antiviral medicine which will be distributed to hospitals around the state.

But even as Phase 3 will allow social gatherings of up to 10 people, health officials are urging caution.

"I can't give anybody a COVID free pass," Dr. Ezike said. "As you expand your circles, obviously, there's the additional risk of transmission."

Mayor Lightfoot announces RFP for contact tracing

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a $56 million request for proposal to expand contact tracing in Chicago.

The RFP seeks community organizations to hire contact tracers, supervisors and referral coordinators. Contact tracer pay starts at $20 an hour, with supervisors making $24 an hor.

The neighborhood organizations will hire a workforce of 600 people who will be capable of tracing 4,500 contacts per-day.

Chicago police discuss stay-at-home order enforcement

Chicago police discussed their enforcement of the stay-at-home order after criticism stemming from an incident in the Englewood neighborhood that drew criticism, including from Chance The Rapper.

Video shows police engage in a scuffle while trying to break up a large crowd.

"Dispersing crowds is a saving lives effort because dense crowds spread the virus while at the same time their were guns and shots fired in that crowd and our officers had to take action to save lives of people in the crowd that may have been victims of the shots that were being fired," Superintendent David Brown said.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot responded to the video saying, "We will continue to investigate the incident to ensure proper tactics were used - ensuring constitutional rights are protected and that CPD officers are wearing face coverings."

The video prompted Chance The Rapper to tweet, ""Please stop sending large groups of militarized police into our neighborhoods exclusively."

Lightfoot disputed that narrative in her own tweets, saying police "responded to dozens of reports of social distancing violations in every part of Chicago."

Judge: Illinois federal courts will look 'quite different'
The chief judge of federal courts in Northern Illinois says things will look "quite different" as some operations resume at courthouses in Chicago and Rockford. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said in a video message released Monday that a task force has been planning for how to proceed safely during the coronavirus pandemic. She says the court will issue an order Tuesday outlining details. Federal courthouses have been largely empty since mid-March. Pallmeyer says in her message that the task force has been working with public health officials to determine the safest way to screen visitors entering the courthouse, sanitize facilities and eventually resume jury trials.

May 25, 2020

Northwestern, DePaul release plans for students' return to campus
Several Chicago-area universities have unveiled plans for students' return to campus following closures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Northwestern University is announcing a six-phase plan for students and staff to return to campus. Under the plan, face masks will be required in all public and shared environments, and social distancing will be enforced.

Meanwhile, DePaul University announced it'll open for limited in-person learning the fall, with reduced occupancy of on-campus housing.

Most Illinois business gear up to reopen Friday
Business owners across Illinois are getting ready to reopen Friday, when the state is expected to enter Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker's reopening plan.

At Salon Hype in La Grange, the hope is that contactless check-in and movable barriers will entice hair and nail clients back inside - recapturing 50% of pre-pandemic business - all while increasing costs.

Masked clients will get intense, yet safe, one-on-one time when they arrive, he said. They've spent more than $20,000 on retrofitting for safety.

Bluestone Restaurant in Evanston plans to have socially distanced sidewalk tables, 6 feet from the street. Capacity will be less than 50% pre-COVID-19 and servers will wear masks.

Oak Park cafe undergoes redesigns to protect from COVID-19
Live Cafe, a restaurant and event space in Oak Park which normally brings people together, has undergone a redesign to keep people apart during the coronavirus pandemic.

The cafe could have reopened already, but the owner wanted to do her part to keep all her customers and employees safe, especially those who are black and brown.

"All we knew is that we were closing, and that black and brown people were dying. That was very scary," Reesheda Graham Washington said. "I, personally, couldn't afford to live the rest of my life knowing that because I was trying to maintain my business, that I put someone in harm's way in a way that could cause them to lose their life."

Western Springs veterans honored after COVID-19 cancels Memorial Day Parade
Two veterans, both in their 90s, were honored on Memorial Day with a car parade in Western Springs.

Dozens came out to honor Seedy Ulrich and Walt Bergenthal, two of the town's most popular residents.

In a normal year, Western Springs hosts a big Memorial Day parade in the center of town. Walt and Seedy are counting on it happening next year, and hope they will be healthy enough to attend.

More than 1.7K new COVID-19 cases, 31 deaths announced in Illinois
Illinois has reported its lowest daily COVID-19 death toll in more than a month.

Illinois health officials announced 1,713 new COVID-19 cases and 31 additional deaths on Monday. The last time the state reported 31 coronavirus deaths was April 19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health website. There's now a total of 112,017 COVID-19 cases and 4,884 deaths, as Illinois prepares to enter Phase 3 of the governor's reopening plan Friday.

Within the past 24 hours, Illinois has conducted 21,643 coronavirus tests for a total of 769,564. On Monday, the statewide 7-day rolling positive rate for May 16 through May 22 was 12%.

Illinois grants to help expand broadband, digital access
A new state grant program will provide communities with money and expertise to expand broadband capacity and improve digital access as more people work, shop and go to school online during the coronavirus pandemic. The $150,000 Illinois Connected Communities grant program will provide grants of up to $15,000, on a competitive basis. Erin Guthrie is director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Guthrie says "there's never been a more important time to improve digital access in our state."

Memorial Day events go virtual amid pandemic
Parades and ceremonies across the Chicago area have been forced to go virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Arlington Heights, a small groups of cars drove past Memorial Park paying their respects. While the parade is canceled, the ceremony is still happening, only it's virtual, recorded on video for those who want to watch on YouTube to pay tribute to service men and women.

Elmhurst observed Memorial Day with a convoy instead of the usual parade.

The annual WOOGMS Parade on the North Side is also going virtual, with appearances from Governor JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and more.

May 24, 2020

Chicago churches fined last week hold services again

As debate continues across the country over when to reopen churches, several in Chicago held services Sunday.

Elim Romaninan and Metro Praise International churches, which both have been fined by Chicago police for violating the stay-at-home order last week, held services again.

The pastor at Metro Praise International told ABC7 that they are following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Millionaire businessman and ex-mayoral candidate Willie Willson said he's covering the fines for those churches.

Gov. Pritzker releases business reopening guidelines

Gov. JB Pritzker on Sunday released guidelines for businesses and workplaces to safely reopen during Phase Three of Illinois' reopening plan.

Gov. Pritzker broke down guidelines by specific industries such as restaurants, retail and health and fitness centers.

In addition to industry-specific guidelines, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Public Health developed a common set of standards all businesses must follow. Those standards include the required use of face coverings, social distancing and informational signage on site, among other preventative measures.

The guidelines can be found online on the state's Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.

Vitalant, Chicago police and fire stress need for COVID-19 plasma donors

The Chicago Medical Society and Vitalant are working together to recruit COVID-19 convalescent plasma donors. Vitalant has already processed dozens of donors, but continues to look for volunteers.

Illinois House passes $40 billion budget relying heavily on federal funding

The Illinois House passed a $40 billion state budget late Saturday that relies heavily on federal funding.

"This budget begins to address the financial upheaval we are facing, but more hard choices about how to spend and save these dollars wisely remain to be made," Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement.

May 23, 2020

Illinois' COVID-19 cases top 107K with over 4K deaths as Memorial Day weekend gets underway

lllinois health officials announced 75 additional deaths and 2,352 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday. That brings the statewide total to 107,796, including 4,790 deaths.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 25,114 specimens for a total of 722,247. On Saturday, the state reported its seven-day rolling positivity rate at 13%.

May 22, 2020

Churches can hold services under new guidelines in Phase 3

President Donald Trump declared houses of worship essential on Friday and threatened to override governors if they aren't allowed to reopen this weekend.

Less than two hours after President Trump's statement, Gov. JB Pritzker said houses of worship in the state can hold outdoor and drive-in services when Phase 3 of the reopening begins on May 29.

"I know worship is as essential as food and water for most of us, and it's my priority to provide guidance to ensure it can proceed safely," Pritzker said.

As small business reopen they find shortage of workers

As small businesses struggle to survive during the COVID-19 pandemic, some are running into a new problem when they're cleared to open their doors: they can't find enough people to work.

Some employees have returned to previous health care professions, like nursing, and plan to stay in those jobs during the pandemic Others live with or are taking care of family that are vulnerable to COVID-19 due to their age, pre-existing medical conditions, or other reasons.

Some owners are also way of hiring too quickly, wanting to make sure their staff respects virus control measures like social distancing.

General Assembly approves vote-by-mail expansion for 2020 election

With concerns about in-person voting in the November election due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to expand vote by mail this fall.

Anyone who has voted in the last two years or who registered to vote in 2020 will be sent an application for a vote-by-mail balllot. The bill now heads to Gov. Pritzker for his signature.

Justice Dept. supports downstate lawmaker's lawsuit against Illinois stay-at-home order

The Department of Justice issued a statement of interest in support of a downstate lawmaker's lawsuit against Governor J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order Friday afternoon.

In his lawsuit, state Representative Darren Bailey alleged that Pritzker's actions were unlawful because the stay-at-home order extended beyond the 30-day time period imposed by the legislature.

City won't enter Phase 3 of reopening until early June, Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is holding Chicago back from moving into the next phase of reopening along with the rest of the state next week.

Mayor Lightfoot said the city's health metrics show Chicago is not ready to transition to Phase 3 of Gov. Pritzker's Restore Illinois Plan on May 29. However, she said the trends suggest Chicago will be ready to move to Phase 3 in early June.

May 21, 2020

Why the pandemic is deepening a racial divide in Chicago area communities

COVID-19 may be colorblind, but its impact is not. The virus is disproportionately killing more African Americans and Latinx. Inadequate medical care, access to testing and underlying health conditions are some of the explanations. Members of both communities say COVID should be a call to action to bridge the racial divide now.

Lightfoot says city restaurants won't open outside seating on May 29

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday she doesn't think Chicago restaurants will be ready to reopen for outdoor dining by May 29, though she hopes to be able to take those steps sometime in June.

The mayor said she understands the plight of restaurateurs, and said the city is still making progress in this pandemic, but progress that has to remain at a slow pace in order to not slip backwards. She also warned that Chicagoans will still need to take precautions when the city reopens.

Some communities home to Chicago's essential workers hit hard by COVID-19

Throughout the pandemic, millions of essential workers continue to work outside their homes, putting them at a higher risk of exposure to the virus. Minorities make up a large percentage of these workers. Their communities are being hit hard by infections and deaths from the coronavirus.

Critical workers stock our grocery shelves, deliver our mail and take care of the elderly. In many cases essential workers live below the poverty line. COVID-19 has made their jobs more dangerous. Here in Chicago, many essential workers live in communities of color, some of which are coronavirus hot spots.

Thousands of citations issued to Chicago businesses for operating during stay-at-home order

The Restore Illinois plan is very specific about which businesses can be open, like grocery and hardware stores, and those that must stay closed. However, businesses of all kinds have continued to operate, leading to thousands of complaints.

There were 3,829 complaints filed since the stay at home order began in March, according to the Commissioner of Chicago's Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Pritzker won't be changing reopening regions, as restaurants and bars given go-ahead to open outdoor seating on May 29

Gov. Pritzker defended his decision to keep the suburbs lumped in with Chicago Thursday, saying he has no plans to change the four regions in his reopening plan.

He side-stepped a question about whether Chicago's delayed reopening of outdoor dining supports the argument of some suburban mayors that they should be separate from Chicago in the reopening plan. The governor said all municipalities have discretion to impose tighter restrictions.

"We've tried to provide a baseline to protect people in various communities, in different cities and counties. They can do something that's more stringent and decide not to allow certain activities because maybe they're a hotspot," Gov. Pritzker.

CVS to open 17 new COVID-19 drive-thru testing sites across Illinois

CVS announced that it is opening 17 new drive-thru testing sites in Illinois.

The testing sites will utilize self-swab tests. Patients must register in advance at CVS.com starting on May 22 to make an appointment.

Patients will be directed to a drive-thru where they will be given a testing kit and instructions. Test results are expected within three days.

May 20, 2020

COVID-19 remote learning yields some nearly empty online classrooms

When the I-Team discovered that both Illinois and Chicago education officials were unable to provide any data showing whether students are actually logging in to online remote learning during the pandemic, they launched an investigation and found some nearly empty virtual classrooms.

North suburbs weigh risks of opening lakefront for Memorial Day weekend

Some north suburban municipalities are taking the long, harsh winter and difficult spring into consideration as they weigh whether to open the lakefront for Memorial Day weekend.

Officials with suburbs along the lakefront have been in constant contact with each other, as well as the county and state, heading into this weekend to find ways to strike a balance between letting residents enjoy the lake while being safe.

Free testing at Loreotto Hospital aims to help underserved West Side communities

Loretto Hospital continues to expand its offer of free, easy-access testing for COVID-19, helping underserved and disproportionately affected communities on the city's West Side.

Located in the Austin neighborhood, Loretto has been walking drive thru and walk up testing since April.

Pritzker announces major changes to next phase of reopening

Gov. JB Pritzker announced several major changes to the next phase of his "Restore Illinois" plan Wednesday.

The governor is easing rules to allow for outdoor seating when the state is expected to move into Phase 3 on May 29. Tables will have to be kept six feet apart and away from sidewalks and staff will have to wear masks.

Pritzker also announced said all state parks will reopen on May 29 and outdoor activities with groups of up to 10 people can resume, including boating and camping. Illinois will also allow the reopening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities, and golf courses will be able to accommodate foursomes at the same tee time.

More than 1.8 million Illinois residents will also soon be able to use their SNAP card to purchase groceries online.

Oprah donates $5M to Chicago COVID-19 fight in communities of color

Oprah Winfrey is donating $5 million to Chicago to help black and brown communities in the fight against COVID-19.

Oprah's donation will support Live Healthy Chicago, an initiative that provides families in predominately African-American and Latinx communities.

"It is our essential work to give back. That's essential work," Oprah said.

Oprah is donating a total of $12 million to COVID-19 relief efforts across the country.

State lawmakers to meet for special session

The Illinois General Assembly will meet for a special session in Springfield.

Republican lawmakers are promising to challenge Governor JB Pritzker's order allowing businesses that violate the stay-at-home order to be penalized.

Republicans and local officials have been calling for a faster reopening of the state. Governor Pritzker said all regions in the state are on track to move into Phase Three of his reopening plan.

May 19, 2020

Chicago running club has plan to reopen lakefront trails

The 11,000 members of the Chicago Area Runners Association are ready to help the city reopen the lakefront trails this summer.

"At no time have we felt that the mayor was wrong," said Greg Hipp, executive director of CARA. "We just think it's time for the mayor to help us move forward."

Thousands of runners are urging Mayor Lori Lightfoot to get the lakefront trails back open. CARA's executive director said his organization is ready to help.

Small business owners in food industry plead for more time to use PPP loans

Payrol Protection Program loans must be used, primarily for payroll, within eight weeks in order to qualify for forgiveness from the federal government. But for owners of restaurants, cafes, bars and other food industry businesses that can't yet reopen, that's just not enough time.

"It's going to be a hard road back for us, and everybody else. It doesn't matter if you're in Woodlawn or the Loop," said the owner of Build Coffee in Woodlawn. "For any of u to have a chance of a comeback, we are going to need that support in two months."

COVID-19 outbreaks at IL meat packing plants prompt some calls for shutdowns

Meat packing plants remain a hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks, in Illinois and nationwide, and some are now calling for them to be shut down.

"I have a long list of factory complaints, it's not just Smithfield," said State Rep. Karina Villa (D-IL 49). "Smithfield is the one that got the attention."

Rockford mayor calls for June 1 reopening

Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara is planning for restaurants and many other businesses to reopen on June 1.

"We will move to open in Rockford and Winnebago County on June 1," Mayor McNamara said. "The three areas include restaurants, they include childcare facilities and youth programs and houses of worship."

A group called Rebounding Working Groups is expected to make its final recommendations to the public on Tuesday, May 26.

Ditka's Chicago restaurant to close permanently

Mike Ditka's restaurant in Chicago will close permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ownership group said the restaurant had a short time left on its lease.

Locations in Oak Brook Terrace and in Pittsburgh and Grill 89 in Westmont will remain open.

May 18, 2020

Illinois to expand contact tracing program

Gov. JB Pritzker laid out details of a new contract tracing system to be launched with local health departments in the next few weeks.

"The first contact will be through a technological platform, such as text message or an email, which we hope most individuals will respond to," said Dr. Wayne Duffus, of the Illinois Dept. of Public Health. "And if this is ineffective at least three phone calls will be made, and only as a last resort. Will there be in-person visits."

The state is launching pilot programs in Lake and St. Clair counties. Currently, only 29% of known cases are engaged in a tracing process. The goal is for that figure to be above 60%.

You can apply to be a contact tracer here.

Sean Penn, Mayor Lightfoot tour COVID-19 testing site
Actor Sean Penn joined Mayor Lori Lightfoot for a tour of a COVID-19 testing site in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood Monday morning.

The site is one of six that the city is setting up with the help of the nonprofit group CORE, which Penn co-founded.

World-famous chef Jose Andres was also on hand for the tour. Andres is providing meals for all of the employees working at the sites.

May 17, 2020

1st Ribfest to be held in Romeoville canceled amid COVID-19 health, safety concerns, Exchange Club of Naperville says
The Exchange Club of Naperville, organizers of the 33rd annual Ribfest, announced Sunday that the July festival would be canceled amid health and safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival had previously been held in Naperville but was scheduled to be in south suburban Romeoville July 2 through 5.

Illinois COVID-19 cases top 94K
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 1,734 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 51 additional deaths.

Businesses that defy stay-at-home order to face misdemeanor
Businesses that defy Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's stay-at-home order could face a misdemeanor under emergency rules his administration has filed. The change took effect Friday when the rules were filed, but legislators on a bipartisan committee have the chance to review it on Wednesday. If they don't reject it, it'll remain in effect for 150 days. Class A misdemeanors are punished by a fine between $75 and $2,500. The Pritzker's administration's general counsel Ann Spillane likens it to a traffic ticket. However, some Republicans called it an overreach of Pritzker's powers.

Adler Planetarium to lay off 120 due to revenue loss amid COVID-19 pandemic
Chicago's lakefront planetarium will lay off 120 part-time and full-time employees because of revenue loss during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials with Adler Planetarium say they anticipate continued revenue declines and reductions were made across the organization.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Howell says employees are being laid off to help the planetarium survive and it is clear that the facility along Lake Michigan won't reopen to visitors anytime soon with stay-at-home orders in place.

Adler just celebrated its 90th anniversary.

May 16, 2020

Illinois reports more than 2,000 additional cases, 74 deaths
Public health officials say more than than 2,000 additional cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Illinois and 74 more people have died. Statewide, 92,457 people have tested positive for the virus including the 2,008 new cases reported Saturday. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 4,129 people have died. A third resident of the Illinois Manteno Veterans' Home is among those to die and 63 people have tested positive for the virus at the facility. Gov. JB Pritzker announced Friday that the state can expand testing to more people.

May 15, 2020

Wrigley Field organist serenades neighborhood missing baseball

Wrigleyville would normally be filled with the sounds and fans of baseball right now, but coronavirus and the stay-at-home order means there's silence at Wrigley Field. Except, that is, for a short time and a nostalgic concert Friday evening.

A familiar sound drifted out of the Friendly Confines: a solo organist at the keyboard.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she would like to see baseball played in some capacity this summer, but right now how and when that would happen is a matter of negotiations between the league and the players' union.

McHenry allows outdoor tables in parking spots for families to eat carryout food

McHenry is allowing restaurants to set up outdoor tables in parking lots where patrons can eat their carryout meals.

The mayor signed an executive order that designates parking spaces in front of restaurants for outdoor seating. Tables are set up for families to eat while social distancing.

Democrats push #3 trillion coronavirus relief bill through House

Democrats powered a massive $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill through the House on Friday, an election-year measure designed to brace a U.S. economy in free fall and a health care system struggling to contain a pandemic still pummeling the country.

The 208-199 vote, over strong Republican opposition, advances what boils down to a campaign-season display of Democratic economic and health-care priorities.

Nearly half of Illinois COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities

New public health data obtained by the I-Team shows the residents of Illinois long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, are particularly vulnerable to the devastating impact of COVID-19.

Infections and deaths have jumped in the past week and there is also an increase in the number of counties and long-term care facilities impacted.

Lightfoot warns churches, worshippers who plan to defy stay-at-home order

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a warning for churches and worshippers who planned to defy state and local stay-at-home orders and open this weekend.

"This is not playing Russian roulette. This is playing with a gun that is fully loaded and cocked," the mayor said.

The warning comes a day after millionaire businessman and former candidate for mayor, Willie Wilson, threw his support behind the effort to reopen churches.

GOP congressmen fire off angry letter over Pritzker funding comments

Illinois' Republican congressmen fired off a letter to congressional leaders, writing, "We write to you with deep concern over the recent threats issued by Governor JB Pritzker to possibly withhold federal aid."

The congressmen's letter asks Congress for action.

"We urge you to act immediately to ensure no governor can withhold federal funds," they write.
"I know they have the best interests of their constituents at heart, but in this case I think they are missing the point," Pritzker said during is Friday afternoon update.

State still poised to move onto next phase of reopening as cases top 90K
Illinois as a whole is still poised to move onto the next phase of the Restore Illinois reopening plan, even as the COVID-19 case count edged closer to 100,000, Governor JB Pritzker said Friday,.

The state reported 2,432 new cases and 130 more deaths Friday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced at Friday's daily update. The total number of cases stands at 90,369 including 4,058 deaths.

May 14, 2020

12-year-old boy is Cook County's youngest COVID-19 death

Ernesto Guzman, 12, died of COVID-19 complications on May 14, making him Cook County's youngest victim of the pandemic so far. He spent the last days of his very young life struggling in a bed at Christ Hospital.

Neighbors remember Ernesto struggling to get from his family's front porch to the school bus.

"He had a walker with him, but I could tell his balance was not fully there," said Rolando Perez, a neighbor. "His strength, I believe, was limited."

According to a GoFundMe page posted by his uncle, Ernesto suffered from a rare disease that damages nerves and weakens muscles. But it was complications of COVID-19 that killed him at just 12 years old.

Cardinal Blase Cupich plans gradual reopening for Chicago Roman Catholic churches

Chicago's Cardinal Blase Cupich's plan to begin gradually reopening the archdiocese's Roman Catholic churches is developed by coordinating with the governor's office and public health officials.

On Thursday, Cardinal Cupich told ABC 7's Alan Krashesky that Chicago Catholics should not expect church as usual.

The first phase of the cardinal's plan begins next week, when parish volunteers will be trained to implement the gradual reopening in webinars. On May 23, churches that pass a readiness test would be allowed to open for funerals, weddings, baptisms and reconciliation, but only for groups of 10 people or less. On May 30, those churches could expand to include private prayer and adoration, also limited to 10 people groups.

Illinois on track to move to next phase of reopening

Illinois appears to be moving closer to the next phase in the plan to reopen, but the pressure continues to mount from counties that want to reopen now.

Gov. Pritzker defended his plan to reopen Illinois after residents and business owners in Will County filed a lawsuit demanding lost compensation.

Illinois launches new jobs website

The state announced Get Hired Illinois, a new job placement and training website with free online courses and certificate programs.

The governor said with so many people working from home, there's a need for hiring in the IT industry, and some of the certificate programs offered on that portal can help people enter that field.

Illinois reports 3.2K new COVID-19 cases

Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases grew by more than 3,200 Thursday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 3,239 new COVID-19 cases and 138 additional deaths. There are now 87,937 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state, with a death toll of 3,928.

Within the past 24 hours, the state has conducted 22,678 coronavirus tests.

Willie Wilson supports churches reopening for in-person services

Millionaire businessman and ex-mayoral candidate Willie Wilson has announced his support for churches to resume in-person service this Sunday.

Wilson said churches plan to reopen Sunday despite the state's stay-at-home order.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has already threatened to take action and Governor JB Pritzker called the move "ridiculous."

Chicago gives nearly 1K small businesses COVID-19 relief grants

Mayor Lightfoot and BACP announced Thursday that grants have been awarded to nearly 1,000 microbusinesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak through the $5 million Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program.

Through this program, 959 microbusinesses from across 36 low- and moderate-income community areas have received a grant of $5,000 just one week after applications closed for the program on Monday, May 4.

The 959 businesses awarded today are located throughout Chicago and represent all types of industries, from coffee shops and general retail to daycares and travel companies.

More than 90 percent of the awardees identify as having diverse ownership, including 55 percent women, 45 percent African American and 34 percent Latinx.

May 13, 2020

Chicago Archdiocese announces timeline for reopening churches
The Archdiocese of Chicago has announced a timeline for gradually reopening churches as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The timeline is limited to small gatherings like weddings, funerals and baptisms capped at 10 people, with private prayer and adoration with 10 or less people coming later.

The archdiocese said the second phase of their reopening plan would allow for the reopening of churches for masses for larger groups, but that phase of the plan has not been approved by state officials. There is no timeline set for reopening for mass, the Chicago Archdiocese said.

Historians: 1918 pandemic was fought using similar tactics, faced similar pressures as COVID-19
How did Chicago fight the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918? A lot like how we're fighting COVID-19 now.

Closed businesses, masks, and stay-at-home orders were all part of the safety measures taken during the 1918 pandemic, and there was also a similar push to reopen economies.

Historians also say the influenza pandemic offers lessons for municipalities outside Cook County who are urging Governor JB Pritzker to open sooner; in 1918, cities who chose to keep their labor forces healthy recovered more quickly.

Calls intensify for more COVID-19 testing at nursing homes
A Chicago-area pastor is joining a chorus of calls for more COVID-19 testing focused on nursing home residents and staff.

Nearly half of statewide COVID-19 deaths are associated with nursing homes, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Shelter finds homes for pets whose owners died of COVID-19
In anticipation of the COVID-19 spread, Chicago Animal Care and Control prepared for a surge of coronavirus patients giving up pets that they couldn't care for.

So far, Chicago Animal Care and Control have taken in six dogs and one cat. All but two are pets of people who have died from COVID-19.

The goal is to return the pets to their owners once they're out of the hospital, and to find homes for the others. All of the pets have been tested for COVID-19.

Judge denies churches' lawsuits against Pritzker, stay-at-home order
A judge has denied two Chicago area churches requests for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to allow them to open for services during the extended stay-at-home order.

In his decision, Judge Robert Gettleman called the lawsuit "ill-founded and selfish," writing, "An injunction would risk the lives of the plaintiffs' congregants, as well as the lives of their family members, friends, co-workers and other members of their community with whom they come in contact. Their interest in communal services cannot and does not outweighs the health and safety of the public."

A different judge also rejected a lawsuit from a third church in Lena, Illinois, on the same public health grounds.

Mayor Lightfoot reveals what Chicago needs to do to enter next phase of reopening
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed new details Wednesday about what it will take for the city to enter its next reopening phase.

Mayor Lightfoot said the plan to reopen Chicago will be a slow and calculated process, one the city has specifically tailored to the needs of residents, with an initial focus on essential workers.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

The city is now preparing to reopen and expand business operations in Chicago, but with the caveat that the plan is dependent on residents complying with public health guidelines.

Special legislative session to convene in Springfield next week
After repeated calls to return to Springfield, Democratic leaders of the House and Senate have called lawmakers back into session.

A special legislative session will convene next Wednesday through Friday. The House will meet at the Bank of Springfield Convention Center to allow for social distancing. The Senate will meet in the senate Chamber.

The governor said it will be critical for them to pass a COVID-19 relief package and a balanced budget. But he warned without federal help, there may be critical cuts to higher education and other basic services.

Illinois reports largest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths so far
Illinois has reported its largest jump in COVID-19 deaths in a single day so far, state health officials said Wednesday.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced 192 new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the state's death toll to 3,792. The number of COVID-19 cases grew by 1,677 to a total of 84,698 Wednesday.

The virus has spread to 99 Illinois counties, with Edwards County now reporting a case.

The state conducted 17,668 tests in the past 24 hours. In total, 489,359 coronavirus tests have been conducted so far.

Downstate county defies Gov. Pritzker's stay-at-home order
Officials in Madison County, which borders St. Louis, have voted to defy Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order.

The county's plan allows restaurants, bars, salons, daycares and gyms to open. Restaurants, retail shops and gyms can only hold 25% of their capacities. Salons will have to limit customers to appointment only.

So far Madison County reported 445 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 32 deaths.

"What we're really trying to do here is balance our public health with our economy and jobs and also our constitutional rights," Madison County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler said.

Adams County in western Illinois looks poised to follow suit.

Elmhurst closes pools for summer, Aurora theatre, park to remain closed
Elmhurst will keep its pools closed for the summer season due to COVID-19. The CDC says there is no evidence that COVID-19 spreads in water, but officials are concerned about being able to social distance.

Meanwhile, Aurora has canceled events at the Paramount Theatre and River Edge Park. The mayor, who battled the coronavirus himself, says these were not easy decisions to make, but health experts made stern recommendations that need to be followed.

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin said the decisions were not easy decisions to make, but health experts made stern recommendations that need to be followed.Mayor Irvin himself battled COVID-19.

City receives donation of 1 million protective masks for frontline workers
University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs announced a donation Tuesday from a group of Chinese-American business leaders of one million protective masks for first responders and others on the frontlines in Chicago.

The University of Chicago Crime and Education Labs are working with city agencies and local nonprofits to distribute the protective masks to those most in need, including first responders across city agencies, essential staff at Chicago Public Schools (CPS) working to feed and support families during the temporary school closure, and non-profit organizations.

The effort to organize this donation was led by Peng Zhao, CEO of Citadel Securities, and his wife Cherry Chen, in coordination with the Crime and Education Labs, which work with nonprofits and governments to use data science and social science to solve pressing crime and human capital challenges facing cities.

Pritzker's stay-at-home-order faces new legal challenge
Republican State Representative John Cabello has filed a restraining order seeking to overturn Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order. The filing is in addition to the lawsuit Cabello filed in April.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed a motion asking that this restraining order request be moved to federal court, according to court records.

"Do we think everything needs to open? No. But we feel that the constitutionality of what he is doing with extending his order another 30 days or longer is the issue," Cabello said.

May 12, 2020

DuPage County mayors anxious to reopen faster
Mayors in DuPage County are the latest to push back against the Restore Illinois plan, saying they should be allowed to reopen faster than state guidelines.

"Everybody would like to draw a different map," Pritzker said during his Tuesday afternoon news conference and update. "We wish there was a national plan for reopening but there isn't."

Cook County Sheriff calls jail case 'constitutional whack-a-mole'
The past week the number of infected detainees at Cook County Jail has dropped by nearly 100, according to Cook County Department of Corrections data.

That sharp, and welcome, decline comes as Sheriff Thomas Dart appealed a federal judge's order requiring the jail step up social distancing, special detainee housing arrangements and coronavirus testing.

Dart maintains the civil rights attorneys and detainees who filed a lawsuit against him and the jail are playing "constitutional whack-a-mole" secretly aimed at achieving the wholesale release of jail prisoners.

Illinois reports record number of new COVID-19 cases as testing increases
As Illinois reported its highest number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, Gov. JB Pritzker continues to take heat over his plan to reopen the state's economy.

Illinois health officials announced 4,014 new cases of COVID-19, including 144 additional deaths, on Tuesday. That brings the statewide total to 83,021, including 3,601 deaths.

Officials announced Illinois completed a new record amount of tests in the last 24 hours, with 29,266 tests completed, which coincided with the record single-day increase in new cases.

Blue Angels pay tribute to Chicago area healthcare workers
The US Navy Blue Angels flew over the Chicago area in order to salute healthcare workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 15 minute flyover began on the South Side and took the Blue Angels over the North and South sides of the city as well as the southern and western suburbs, finishing up along the lakefront before heading back out over Lake Michigan.

The Blue Angels flew over Detroit before coming to Chicago and were headed to Indianapolis afterward.

CFD holds graduation for 88 new first responders
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was on hand as 88 new first responders graduated from the Chicago Fire Department.

The ceremony was held at Navy Pier and recognized newly recruited firefighters who started classes in November of 2019.

The graduating class includes 16 military veterans, 14 former Chicago Police Officers and 26 former graduates of Chicago Public Schools.

"These men and women have answered the call to join the ranks of our beloved Department, to make sure we maintain the numbers needed to respond to any emergency in any neighborhood, be it manmade, natural or even this medical pandemic," said Commissioner Richard Ford. "I would like to also thank their families for giving these candidates the support needed to make it into and through our training academy to now serve as the newest Chicago Firefighters."

May 11, 2020

Arlington Heights COVID-19 survivor says plasma donation saved life
Eric Heumann spent 34 days in the hospital battling COVID-19, 17 of them on a ventilator in a medically induced coma. He also had pneumonia in both lungs.

At one point his heart stopped and he had to be revived. He said he finally turned the corner toward recovery after receiving a plasma donation from a fellow COVID-19 survivor.

"I think that that's what really saved my life," Heumann said.

Thousands of cases stalled as Cook County courts remain closed in lockdown
Cook County courts are considering some modified reopening possibly in June, according to Chief Judge Tim Evans, but currently justice is being delayed for thousands of defendants.

Many courtrooms and court buildings are closed. According to emergency measures for Cook County, similar to others across the state, regular casework is delayed, postponed, being held by phone or by videoconference.

In federal courts, data reveal civil filings continuing at a normal pace, but hearings, decisions and regular case activity is down more than 40 percent.

Elmhurst mayor pushes back on Pritzker's reopening plan
In a letter sent to Governor Pritzker, Mayor Steve Morley said Elmhurst should not have to wait for Chicago to catch up to his community's progress.

The governor has said before that DuPage and Cook Counties are included in the same region because many people travel back and forth between the two areas.

COVID patients face long road to recovery after leaving hospital
Leaving the hospital after surviving the coronavirus is just the first step in a long road toward full recovery, COVID-19 survivors and doctors say.

Dr. Larissa Pavone, a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician at Marianjoy, said many COVID patients are severely deconditioned after spending long periods of time in intensive care. Therapists help patients with speech, cognition and everyday physical activities.

Chicago area Red Lobster apologizes for crowded waiting area on Mother's Day
An Oak Lawn Red Lobster restaurant is apologizing for a social distancing debacle on Mother's Day.

A customer said dozens of people stood shoulder-to-shoulder to pick up their pre-ordered Mother's Day dinners at Oak Lawn's Red Lobster restaurant on Sunday.

Red Lobster issued a statement Monday apologizing for the problems at the location.

6 new COVID-19 testing sites to open in Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city will be launching six new COVID-19 testing sites across the city this month.

One of the sites at Guaranteed Rate Field will be dedicated to first reponders and healthcare workers.

The sites are being launched with help from Community Organized Relief Efforts or CORE, after Rev. Jesse Jackson reached out to CORE's leader, actor Sean Penn.

The first sites will open later in the week with the rest opening by the end of the month, bringing the city's testing capacity to 10,000 per-day.

Pritzker staff member tests positive for COVID-19
A senior member of Governor JB Pritzker's staff has tested positive for COVID-19.

The staffer, who was asymptomatic when they tested positive late last week, had been in close contact with the governor and staff member. All other staff members and the governor have since tested negative.

As a result of the positive case, all staff members who had been working at the Thompson Center will be working remotely until the IDPH advises they no longer have to.

Cook County correctional officer dies of apparent COVID-19 complications, sheriff's office says
A 51-year-old correctional officer in Cook County has died of apparent COVID-19 complications, the sheriff's office announced Sunday.

Antoine Jones died Sunday after being diagnosed with coronavirus in late March, the Cook County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

The South Side resident has worked with the sheriff's office since 2002. He leaves behind a wife and five adult children.

May 10, 2020

Blue Angels announce Chicago flyover to salute health care workers

The Blue Angels are coming to Chicago.
As part of their salute to health care workers and first responders fighting the coronavirus, the world-renowned Navy pilots have been paying tribute with a series of flyovers in America's major cities.

The next round of flyovers is slated for Detroit, Chicago and Indianapolis on Tuesday.

Illinois reports under 2K new COVID-19 cases for 1st time in 12 days
Illinois has reported less than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time in 12 days.

On Sunday, Illinois health officials announced 1,656 new coronavirus cases and 57 additional deaths, a noticeable drop in both cases and deaths over the past few days. There are now 77,741 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the state, and a total of 3,406 deaths.

Chicago groups come together to help decrease number of deaths in black, brown communities due to COVID-19
Seven organizations from the West and South side of Chicago have banded together to decrease the high number of black and brown deaths due to COVID-19. They're doing so with an initiative called WE GOT US.

U of I Chancellor says students should expect face-to-face classes this fall
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones joined Newsviews to talk about the challenge of educating students this fall. Jones said the final decision will be made in June but that students should plan to be back on campus.

May 9, 2020
Chicago company launches 'Small Brand. Big Heart' fundraiser to benefit Children of Restaurant Employees

House of Somrus specialized in Indian-inspired cream liqueurs, including Chai and Mango, but once COVID-19 hit, they decided to use their resources to try and make a difference. After an initial donation, the company aims to raise at least $125,000 to benefit Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE). Somrus has also promised a 10% match program once the fund reaches $25,000, and will remain until it reaches $125,000.

Illinois among 6 states to receive supply of remdesivir
The federal government has announced it's shipping donated remdesivir to help patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in six states, including Illinois.

Illinois is poised to receive a supply of the medication, which is considered the first drug that appears to help some COVID-19 patients recover faster. Iowa, Connecticut, Maryland, Michigan and New Jersey will also get cases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday.

The Food and Drug Administration approved emergency use of the drug to treat hospitalized patients. Gilead Sciences, Inc., the maker, donated it to the federal government. It'll be up to state health departments to distribute it to hospitals.

Chicago protesters demand reopening of Illinois businesses on 2nd weekend of new stay-at-home order
Gov. JB Pritzker is no longer holding weekend COVID-19 briefings at Chicago's Thompson Center, but protesters are still showing up to try to get his attention.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Thompson Center Saturday, calling for the governor to reopen Illinois. The protesters point to the toll the stay-at- home order is having on the state's workforce.

4 Chicago businesses chosen to make 1M masks for city
Four local and diverse businesses have been selected to make one million reusable cloth masks for Chicago residents.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced in a release on Saturday that 250,000 of those masks will be distributed to aldermanic offices. In addition, the city's Racial Equity Rapid Response team will give out 750,000 of the masks to Chicago's most disproportionately impacted neighborhoods.

The companies are Barbara Bates Designs, G.A.I.A.U. Product Design & Development Ltd., Silk Screen Express and The Will Group.

Illinois reports 2.3K new COVID-19 cases, 111 deaths
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois has increased by more than 2,300 to a total of 76,085, state health officials reported Saturday.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 111 additional COVID-19 deaths, bringing the state's death toll to 3,349.

Illinois conducted more than 16,600 tests within the past 24 hours.

Delta suspends service at Midway, 9 other locations through September to minimize COVID-19 risk
Delta is temporarily suspending service at 10 locations, starting Wednesday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of those locations is Chicago's Midway Airport.

May 8, 2020

Chicago terror convict Tahawwur Rana seeks prison release due to COVID-19
The ABC7 I-Team has learned that a Chicago man convicted in a major terrorism case in the area is making a bid to get out of prison early because of COVID-19.

Tahawwur Rana, 59, is doing time in a California federal prison and a new court filing in Chicago Friday stated that he's tested positive for the virus.

The former Chicago travel agent was convicted of ties to a Pakistani terror organization, the same group responsible a deadly siege on Mumbai, India in 2008.

Rana said he tested positive for the virus on May 1. He said his life is at risk, and that he wants out early from behind bars.

Pediatricians probe why children largely unaffected by COVID-19
While a small group of children have come down with a serious and mysterious illness that appears to be linked to COVID-19, the majority of kids are largely unaffected by the virus.

Doctors in Chicago are now probing why a virus that is devastating and very deadly in adults seems to by and large bypass children.

Nearly half of Illinois' COVID-19 deaths linked to long-term care facilities, data shows
Nearly 4,000 COVID-19 cases and almost 500 deaths in the past week have been linked to Illinois' long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes, state health data shows.

Since last Friday, 3,931 new coronavirus cases and 471 additional deaths in Illinois long-term care facilities were caused by COVID-19, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data obtained by the ABC7 I-Team.

The majority of the new cases and deaths are in Cook County, where officials report 2,377 COVID-19 cases and 260 deaths in the last week in long-term care facilities. That's 60% of the new coronavirus cases and 55% of the newly reported deaths.

Illinois conducts 20K COVID-19 tests in single day for 1st time
Illinois has reached a new COVID-19 testing milestone after conducting more than 20,000 tests in a single day.

Governor JB Pritzker announced Friday that 20,671 tests were conducted within 24 hours.

So far, Illinois has conducted a total of just under 400,000 COVID-19 tests.

Pritzker said the state is setting up three more drive-thru testing sites next week. He plans to announce the locations in the coming days.

On Friday, state health officials announced 2,887 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois Friday, including 130 additional deaths. That brings the the state's total COVID-19 cases to 73,760, including 3,241 deaths.

Pope County is now reporting a case of COVID-19.

Cook County Jail out of electronic monitoring devices in push to reduce inmate population amid COVID-19 crisis
The Cook County Jail has run out of electronic monitoring devices. The efforts to reduce jail population during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a skyrocketing demand in equipment.

University of Chicago Medical Center furloughing non-clinical workers
University of Chicago Medical Center is putting non-clinical workers on furlough. The hospital is losing tens of millions of dollars each month during the pandemic. Staff got an email saying that no one will be getting annual raises, and they will not be paid if they are furloughed. All building projects are also on hold.

Sen. Durbin tours Chicago COVID-19 testing site
U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-IL, visited Roseland Community Hospital's drive-thru COVID-19 testing facility on Chicago's South Side Friday.

Orland Park mayor calls for faster reopening of businesses
Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau has called for speeding up the reopening of businesses in his village. He said many businesses will not survive by the time they are allowed to reopen under Governor JB Pritzker's plan.

"The governor's plan would not allow restaurants to reopen until at least June 26. Frankly, most of our small, family-owned restaurants will not survive that long," Mayor Pekau said.

The village said that it may lose $2.7 million this year in sales tax revenue because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Orland Park Mall is one of several area malls scheduled to reopen on May 31, when the current stay-at-home order ends if it is not extended.

May 7, 2020

COVID-19 test shortages persist in Illinois
Nearly seven weeks into Illinois' COVID-19 state of emergency, the ABC7 I-Team has learned that there is still a critical shortage of several major testing components, hampering plans for a return to normal. Testing people for the coronavirus remains a challenge for hospitals and laboratories because crucial equipment is not reliably available.

Suburban boy, 6, battles mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19
Sara Garcia's 6-year-old son Nolan is hospitalized at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital battling a mysterious inflammatory illness that mimics symptoms of Kawasaki's Disease and appears to be linked to COVID-19.

Nolan is one of a growing number of children nationwide that have developed an inflammatory syndrome related to COVID-19. Symptoms include persistent fever, abdominal problems, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes and swollen lymph nodes.

Gig workers, independent contractors eligible for unemployment starting Monday
Amid COVID-19's mounting economic toll, Illinois is reporting nearly 75,000 unemployment claims were processed last week.

With many still reporting problems filing claims online and over the phone, Gov. JB Pritzker said the state's unemployment agency continues to increase staffing and update systems.

Starting Monday, independent contractors and gig workers will be eligible for benefits. The state's computer system has been updated and can now process 140,000 claims an hour, Pritzker said.

Protest in downtown Chicago calls for financial help for working families
Dozens of Chicago protesters are demanding more economic help in dealing with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A caravan of hundreds of vehicles filled with members of over 50 different community organizations across the city and state gathered outside the Thompson Center Thursday afternoon.

They call themselves the Right to Recovery coalition, advocating for everything from workers rights and education to health care and housing. They're demanding equal access to emergency funding and support as the financial fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

Illinois tops 70K COVID-19 cases, 3K deaths
Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases have surpassed 70,000, state health officials reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 2,641 new COVID-19 cases and 138 additional deaths Thursday. There are now 70,873 coronavirus cases in Illinois, with a death toll of 3,111.

Illinois conducted more than 17,000 tests in a 24-hour period, state health officials reported Thursday.

Illinois awarded $25M in federal funding to expand COVID-19 testing
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding more than $25 million to dozens of Illinois health centers to expand COVID-19 testing.

The federal agency announced the $25,226,505 award on Thursday. The money will go to 45 health centers across the state.

Waukegan Amazon warehouse worker dies of COVID-19, company says
An Amazon warehouse worker in Waukegan died of COVID-19 related symptoms, the company said in a statement.

The company said the man last worked in the warehouse on March 19 and showed no symptoms.

He later tested positive for COVID-19 on March 24, the company said.

The company said it found out about the man's passing on April 18 and contacted his family as well as other employees to offer support.

"We are saddened by the loss of an associate at our site in Waukegan, Illinois. His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues," Amazon spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said in a statement.

Back in April, Amazon workers at a warehouse on Chicago's Southwest Side walked off the job after one of their colleagues tested positive for COVID-19.
Workers held the walkout to demand that the warehouse be closed immediately for two weeks for sanitation.

Nursing home workers reach tentative deal
A potential strike by thousands of nursing home workers has been averted after a tentative agreement was reached with SEIU Healthcare.

The agreement includes hazard pay for all workers during the COVID-19 crisis as well as fully paid sick days for COVID-19 related testing, illness or quarantine.
SEIU Healthcare provides care to residents at more than 100 nursing homes of the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities.

May 6, 2020

Coronavirus victim's daughter says nursing home didn't tell her about positive test
The daughter of a man who died from coronavirus at Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square said the nursing home withheld information about the virus from family until shortly before he died.

Manuel Vasquez died Tuesday night. His family said they called nearly daily, but the facility told them there were no positive tests.

More than 150 residents at Woodbridge have tested positive for COVID-19.

New contract tracing program aims to speed up Illinois' reopening
A new program underway in Chicago will train more people to conduct contact tracing to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. JB Pritzker has already said that Illinois will need an army of contract tracers before the state can return to normalcy. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, 3,800 workers will be needed. But where will those thousands of tracers come from?

Hoping to fill that gap, Oakton Community College unveiled a four-week online course to help train would-be tracers. The online program was developed in consultation with both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health, and it's open to anybody. But its focus is on tracing COVID-19 within Chicago's Northeast region.

Pritzker defends reopening plan to GOP lawmakers, business groups
Governor JB Pritzker's plan to reopen Illinois came under fire Wednesday as health officials announced 2,270 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois Wednesday, including 136 additional deaths.

That brings the state's total COVID-19 cases to 68,232, including 2,974 deaths.

Republicans from across the state said the governor's approach is too broad and the regional plan lumps together communities that may be experiencing very different impacts from COVID-19.

The governor said he wants to get businesses reopened as much as anyone, but only when it's safe.

Chicago area kids sickened by mysterious illness possibly linked to COVID-19
There are cases in Chicago of a mysterious illness impacting children that may be connected to COVID-19.

The symptoms are very similar to toxic shock syndrome or Kawasaki disease, a rare sickness that involves inflammation of blood vessels.

Symptoms include abdominal pain, rash, vomiting, diarrhea, red eyes and swollen lymph nodes.

Dixon business owner considers going rouge and reopening, violating rules
In many small communities across Illinois, business owners and local leaders are wrestling with why they should fall under the same rules as Chicago and other urban centers in the state when they have comparatively few COVID cases and deaths.

In the town of Dixon, about 100 miles from Chicago, the city council had to get involved this week when a local hair stylist was thinking about going rogue.

Meat shortage fears send customers to local farms, butchers
Outbreaks of COVID-19 at meat processing plant around the country have some fearing a meat shortage.

As some larger grocery chains like Costco and Mariano's put limits on meat purchases, some customers have gone directly to local farms and buchers to purchase their meat.

At least 12 dead in Westchester nursing center COVID-19 outbreak
At least a dozen residents have died from COVID-19 after a deadly outbreak at a nursing home in Westchester.

In a statement, Westchester Health and Rehab Center said they are closely following CDC guidelines and taking careful measures to ensure they're in compliance.

Illinois reports 2.2K new COVID-19 cases, 136 deaths
Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases have increased by 2,270 Wednesday, to a total of more than 68,000.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 136 additional deaths, bringing the state's COVID-19 death toll to 2,974.

Racial Equality Rapid Response Team to focus on Latino community
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the Racial Equality Rapid Response Team will be increasing its focus on the Latino community on Chicago, which has seen a sharp increase in cases.

One month ago, health officials said Latinos made up 14 percent of cases and 19 percent of deaths and those have risen to 37 percent of cases and 25 percent of deaths.

Mayor Lightfoot said the Racial Equality Rapid Response Team would be focusing on areas seeing the greatest rise in cases, with Latino communities on the Northwest and Southwest sides currently seeing the largest increase.

Lightfoot said there would be a series of virtual town halls to provide information to affected communities.

Pitchfork Music Festival canceled
The annual Pitchfork Music Festival will not be taking place this year in Union Park due to COVID-19 concerns, the festival announced.

In a statement on its website, Pitchfork said, "It can be pretty daunting to think about the future of live music right now, but know that we are fully committed to bringing Pitchfork Music Festival back in 2021, if the public health situation allows for it. In the meantime, we urge everyone to follow local health department guidelines. We are in this together, and if we all do our part, we'll celebrate next year in person."

Ticketholders will be contacted directly with refund options.

May 5, 2020

Gov. Pritzker reveals plan to reopen Illinois on state's deadliest day yet
Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled his new plan to reopen Illinois on Tuesday as health officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period since the outbreak began.

Health officials announced 2,122 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths, on Tuesday, bringing Illinois' statewide total of coronavirus cases to 65,962, including a total of 2,838 deaths.

Gov. Pritzker detailed a five-phase reopening plan for four Illinois regions: Northeast, North Central, Central, and South. Calling it a "playbook that has never been written before," Pritzker said each region is able to move through phases separately. During these phases, face coverings and social distancing rules apply.

Cicero officials seek to shut down nursing home
Officials in west suburban Cicero went to court to ask that a nursing home affected by a COVID-19 outbreak be shut down.

City View Multicare Center has has 160 residents and more than 40 staff members test positive for COVID-19 since April 1, town officials said. Nine residents and one staff member have died.

Officials said the nursing home has been cited 10 times for failure to follow coronavirus restrictions. Staff members were even spotted not wearing required personal protective equipment.

May 4, 2020

Latinos now have highest rate of coronavirus infections, IDPH data shows
More than 60 percent of Latinos who get tested for COVID-19 test positive for the virus, data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows.

While the number of deaths among Latinos remains significantly lower than for whites or African Americans in Illinois, their infection rate is now the highest of any ethnicity in the state.

Illinois reports lowest daily COVID-19 death toll in weeks
Gov. JB Pritzker announced Monday 2,341 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 46 additional deaths, after the state reached record testing numbers over the weekend.

That brings Illinois' statewide total of coronavirus cases to 63,840, including a total of 2,662 deaths.

As the state saw the lowest one-day total of COVID-19 deaths since mid-April, Gov. Pritzker said it needs to be looked at in the context of multiple days to determine if it's a true downward trend.

Chicago mayor threatens arrests, even jail after police break up parties amid pandemic
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said citations, arrests and even jail are among the potential penalties for people getting together for parties during the pandemic.

Her threat comes after people were spotted gathering in big crowds this weekend, defying the city's social distancing guidelines.

"We don't want to be in a position where we have to arrest people for non-compliance. That's a fail. That's a fail on everybody's part - it's a fail on the person who is arrested and it's a fail on our ability as a city, as individuals, as communities to recognize the moment that we're in," Lightfoot said.

New COVID-19 testing site opens on Chicago's Southwest Side
A new COVID-19 testing site opened in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.

The testing site is located at 5100 South Ashland Avenue.

This new testing site on the Southwest Side will continue to help serve residents in vulnerable areas. There has been a call for for more testing sites in African American and Latino neighborhood by many activists and community leaders.

May 3, 2020

Illinois conducts highest number of COVID-19 tests in 24 hours
Illinois' COVID-19 testing reached record numbers over the weekend.

Gov. JB Pritzker announced Sunday that the state conducted 19,417 tests in a single day, marking Illinois' highest daily testing total so far.

The testing milestone comes as the state's number of coronavirus cases climbed by 2,994 to a total of 61,499. Illinois' COVID-19 death toll has reached 2,619, state health officials reported Sunday.

Chicago police break up multiple large gatherings over weekend

Chicago police broke up at least two large gatherings Saturday after city officials warned that failing to comply with the stay-at-home order is putting lives at risk.

Officers responded to two gatherings on the city's West Side Saturday night, putting an end to the partying and telling crowds to go home.

With continued warm weather over the weekend, state and local leaders expressed frustration with those ignoring the stay-at-home order.

Chicago police have not made it a practice to cite or arrest anyone when enforcing the stay-at-home order.

Markham testing site the busiest in state, officials say
State officials and a local tow company surprised Illinois National Guard members at a Markham COVID-19 testing site Sunday with food and entertainment, saying the site has become the busiest in the state. Since opening the Markham site a few weeks ago, the location has rapidly become Illinois' busiest site; over 13,000 tests have been performed in the first 21 days of operation, a statement said.

Latino community makes up majority of Illinois COVID-19 cases

New data shows Hispanics are now the largest group of reported COVID-19 cases in Illinois.

The Illinois Latino COVID-19 Initiative is now working to deal with the surge in the Latino community.

According to the Illinois Department of Health, Latinos now make up more than 65% of positive cases among those tested.

May 2, 2020

The 'Old Dolls' bring decades of experience to COVID-19 fight
A tight-knit group of Northwestern Memorial Hospital nurses are bringing their decades of experience to the fight against coronavirus.

Affectionately known as the "Old Dolls," these ICU nurses are at higher risk because they are older, and were given the option not to treat COVID-19 patients. Instead, they all chose to put their experience to use on the frontlines of the fight against the virus.

Illinois expands free COVID-19 testing
Illinois officials announced an expansion of free COVID-19 testing on Saturday.

A new drive-thru testing site will open in Waukegan on Sunday. It'll be open seven days a week to test individuals with coronavirus symptoms.

"By bringing COVID-19 testing into communities free of charge, we are to make testing more readily available and easier to access," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "Testing is essential to identify the prevalence of virus circulating in our communities. Through widespread testing, we can make science-based decisions that will help us end this pandemic."

Families worry over safety of residents stuck inside Chicago nursing home with over 150 COVID-19 cases
A nursing home on Chicago's Northwest Side currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases among all long-term care facilities in Illinois.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there are 151 coronavirus cases and at least seven deaths at Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion in Logan Square.

Richard Edmond told ABC 7 that both his brothers, Sam and Curtis, have now tested positive for COVID-19. He said they've been confined to their rooms during the pandemic.

Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion hasn't yet returned ABC7's requests for comment.

Mayor Lightfoot threatens crackdown after police break up house parties across Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is threatening citations and potential jail time to residents failing to comply with the stay-at-home order as house parties continue to be held across the city.

With the weekend bringing warm weather, Chicago police broke up multiple large gatherings Friday night, including a house party with 150 guests.

She said authorities are aware of more parties and gatherings planned for Saturday night.

Lightfoot and Chicago police are asking residents to anonymously submit tips about any house parties at cpdtip.com.

Illinois' COVID-19 death toll tops 2.5K on first weekend of relaxed stay-at-home order
Gov. JB Pritzker is dealing with mounting frustrations on the first days of the state's relaxed stay-at-home order.

For the second day, residents gathered to protest the modified order that took effect Friday.

A rally was held in far north suburban Fox Lake Saturday, a day after hundreds gathered outside Chicago's Thompson Center.

The demonstration comes as Illinois' confirmed coronavirus cases increased by 2,450, with 105 additional deaths.

There are now 58,505 confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, including 2,559 deaths, state health officials said Saturday.

Metra reduces service as ridership plummets during coronavirus crisis
The number of Metra trains rolling in and out of Chicago every day is about to drop dramatically.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the commuter rail agency, in response to the the ridership slump during the coronavirus crisis, is cutting service on its three least busy lines.

May 1, 2020
Plan to track COVID-19 must be in place before state reopens
Governor Pritzker said an apparatus to trace everyone a confirmed case of COVID-19 has been in contact with must be in place before the state of Illinois can fully reopen.

The governor's plan will be aggressive and mandatory, with state officials looking to hire thousands of people who would trace the movements of those infected by COVID-19. Once identified, those they have had contact with would be traced and tested. If positive, they too would be isolated, an ambitious effort to better control the coronavirus pandemic that still has Illinois in a headlock.

Cicero sues City View Multicare Center after COVID-19 cluster reported at nursing home
A west suburban town is demanding that a nursing home close after a cluster of COVID-19 cases were reported at the facility.

The town of Cicero has filed a lawsuit against City View Multicare Center, citing "negligent failures" in preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Since the nursing home reported its first two infections on April 1, the virus has spread to more than 160 residents and more than 40 staff members, town officials said.

Cicero officials want the nursing home to transfer its residents to McCormick Place or other hospitals to make sure they get properly cared for and stop the spread of the virus.

COVID-19 alternate care facility at Chicago's McCormick Place being dismantled, officials say
An alternate care facility set up at Chicago's McCormick Place to treat COVID-19 patients is now being phased out of use.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced plans to dismantle the massive, makeshift treatment center on Friday.

Patients who are currently being treated at McCormick Place will continue to get care until they recover. The negative pressure tents will also stay in place for now, according to state and local leaders.

Illinois reports record daily spike in COVID-19 cases
The calls to reopen all businesses in Illinois comes as state health officials reported 3,137 new COVID-19 cases and 105 additional deaths. There are now 56,055 confirmed coronavirus cases in Illinois, including 2,457 deaths.

Gov. JB Pritzker also called for contract tracing on a "never-before-seen scale" as a route back to normalcy Friday.

Protesters rally on 1st day of modified stay-at-home order
A group is protesting Illinois' stay-at-home order near Chicago's James R. Thompson Center Friday, when the state suffered its highest daily spike in coronavirus cases.

Freedom Movement USA, a self-described bipartisan organization, is expected to rally in the Loop from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Modified Illinois stay-at-home order takes effect, along with face mask requirement

An extension to Governor JB Pritzker's stay-at-home order went into effect, allowing some businesses to reopen with restrictions as well as a mandate that face masks be worn in public.

The masks are required when in public when social distancing is not an option. For example: at work, grocery stores and on public transit. You do not have to wear a mask when running or walking in outside or during outdoor activities on your own property.. The masks are not required for children under two.

Under the modified order, a number of businesses, including golf courses and pet groomers, can reopen with restrictions. Retail stores can reopen by offering delivery and curbside pickup.

Ravinia 2020 season, Spring Awakening silenced by COVID-19
Ravinia's 2020 season has been canceled over coronavirus concerns.

And it's not just Ravinia. Organizers of Spring Awakening sent an email to supporters, postponing the music festival until 2021.

Other festivals, like Wicker Park Fest, and the biggest music event of the Summer - Lollapalooza - have not made final decisions.

Read Illinois coronavirus coverage from March and April"
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