Your NPR news source
Chicago beach

Gulls occupy the 31st Street Beach in Chicago on Monday, May 25, 2020, where on a typical Memorial Day thousands of people would flock. The city’s lakefront continues to be closed as some COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed.

Charles Rex Arbogast

Newsletter: COVID-19 Cases Slightly Rise In Illinois

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and I really need a haircut. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. The good news and bad news about COVID-19 in Illinois

The state is seeing a slight increase in the number of daily cases, causing at least one researcher to question whether some coronavirus restrictions should return, reports the Chicago Tribune. The seven-day average rose from 598 on June 20 to 772 on July 3, the newspaper reports.

“It’s (at) a level of concern that, if we didn’t change what we’re doing now, that we could be headed toward a Texas or Arizona sort of situation,”Jaline Gerardin, a Northwestern University assistant professor who works on virus modeling, told the Trib.

But the positivity rate, or the percentage of people who test positive, remains low — just under 3% — despite the small uptick in cases. Click on the link to learn how Illinois is doing compared to states in the South and West, where large outbreaks threaten to overwhelm hospitals. [Chicago Tribune]

Here’s a map showing where infections are rising in the U.S. [NPR]

Why are U.S. deaths from COVID-19 falling while cases are rising? Because it can take a while for people to die from the disease, public health experts say. [Vox]

Meanwhile, the supply of personal protective gear for frontline health care workers is running low again. [AP]

2. Some big names in Illinois took small-business loans

The Field Museum of Natural History, Oberweis Dairy and Willow Creek Community Church are among the biggest Illinois recipients of the Paycheck Protection Program, reports WBEZ’s Dan Mihalopoulos.

A WBEZ analysis of the federal data found 255 companies, nonprofits and other organizations throughout Illinois got the largest loans available — more than $5 million and as much as $10 million.

The chairman of Oberweis Dairy is Republican state Sen. Jim Oberweis, a self-described supporter of free-market principles. He is running against Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood in the November election.

Oberweis told WBEZ he only serves in an advisory role for the company and receives no salary. Company officials said they were “undoubtedly concerned about the survival of our business given that we couldn’t confidently foresee what parts of it would be allowed to operate.”

Chicago Public Media, the nonprofit organization that operates WBEZ, got $2.8 million in PPP funding, a spokeswoman said. Chicago Public Media recently laid off 12 employees. [WBEZ]

3. Chicago isn’t the only major U.S. city facing a spike in violence

New York City, Atlanta, Miami and several other major cities are also seeing homicides climb at a time when the nation struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, reports The Washington Post.

The summer months typically see an uptick in violence, but some city police departments are facing an increase in homicides compared to last year. And some of the prominent victims are young children.

In Atlanta, 8-year-old Secoriea Turner was fatally shot while riding in a car with her mother over the Fourth of July weekend. In Washington, D.C., 11-year-old Davon McNeal was killed during an anti-violence cookout. And in Chicago, 7-year-old Natalia Wallace was fatally shot outside her family’s house. [Washington Post]

A 33-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Natalia. Chicago police say they are searching for three other suspects. [Chicago Tribune]

4. How will Chicago reopen public schools?

There’s still no word on how Chicago Public Schools will welcome back more than 355,000 students in the fall.

But in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to unveil a plan in the coming days that will likely not have students in schools five days a week, reports The New York Times.

The plan could have staggered schedules for students, who would be in physical classrooms a couple of times a week or a few weeks out of the month, the newspaper reports.

Classes could also be held in gyms and cafeterias to ensure students have enough room to spread out. Students would continue with online classes when they’re not inside schools.

City officials also estimate that one in five teachers would receive medical exemptions that allow them to work remotely, the newspaper reports. [New York Times]

5. International students must leave the U.S. if colleges go online-only

That’s according to a regulation announced this week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. As NPR reports, the new federal guidelines leave foreign students with a tough choice to make: attend in-person classes during a pandemic or take them online from another country.

The rule applies to students with F-1 and M-1 nonimmigrant visas. More than a million higher education students in the U.S. come from outside the country, according to the Institute of International Education. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus, said he tested positive for COVID-19. [NPR]
  • Mary L. Trump’s tell-all memoir describes how a series of family traumas “destroyed” her uncle, President Trump. [Washington Post]
  • Criminal justice groups want Gov. JB Pritzker to release hundreds of people who are still being held in prison despite completing their sentences. [WBEZ]
  • Illinois voters will soon receive applications to vote by mail. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

A campaign is underway to change the name of Chicago’s LGBTQ enclave, Boystown, amid demonstrations against sexism, racism and transphobia within the community. Critics say the gendered name of Boystown promotes misogyny and other forms of discrimination. [Block Club Chicago]

WBEZ’s Vivian McCall recently looked at how recent protests for racial justice have thrown a spotlight on Boystown’s problematic past, such as 2011’s racially charged “Take Back Boystown” campaign. McCall also talked to several LGBTQ people who shared stories of how they repeatedly face discrimination in the area. [WBEZ]

And this Curious City feature looks at the history of Boystown, which got its nickname from a weekly column in a gay Chicago newspaper. The feature, which ran in 2017, also talked to LGBTQ members who questioned whether Boystown is truly inclusive. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good ...

July is usually a big month for movies, so I’d like to know: What are some of your favorite summer movies?

@PublicKristory tweets:

“1996 was an INSANE year for summer movies for me, a 10 year old: Twister; Mission: Impossible; The Cable Guy; Independence Day; Harriet the Spy; Kazaam; Kingpin; Matilda; Nutty Professor; Hunchback of Notre Dame…ALL IN THE SAME SUMMER?!”

What’s your favorite summer movie? Feel free to email at or tweet to @whuntah.

Have a nice night! If you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.

The Latest