Newletter: Gov. Pritzker Predicts Illinois Won’t Return To Normalcy Until 2021

A man and child wearing protective masks pass an encouraging message
A man and child wearing protective masks pass an encouraging message 'Chicago Stay Strong,' chalked outside on a Roscoe Village neighborhood pub by artist Heather Gentile Collins. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
A man and child wearing protective masks pass an encouraging message
A man and child wearing protective masks pass an encouraging message 'Chicago Stay Strong,' chalked outside on a Roscoe Village neighborhood pub by artist Heather Gentile Collins. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Newletter: Gov. Pritzker Predicts Illinois Won’t Return To Normalcy Until 2021

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Hi y’all! It’s Monday, and I’m filling in for Hunter. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Gov. Pritzker predicts Illinois won’t return to normal until 2021

Gov. JB Pritzker said today that he doesn’t think Illinois will return to normal until 2021, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“I’m not a doctor, but that’s what my observation is, that we’re not going to be able to take off the mask and go about everything we were doing seven, eight months ago for a few more months, maybe six-plus months,” Pritzker said at a news conference in Quincy. [Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, Pritzker is replacing two top Illinois Department of Public Health officials in charge of stemming the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes, WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell reports. More than half of coronavirus deaths in the state are tied to nursing homes.

Daniel Levad, who recently was in charge of facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, will replace Debra Bryars and lead the Office of Health Care Regulation. Levad will report directly to IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

The other top official now out is Aimee Isham, chief of the Bureau of Long-Term Care. Her replacement has not been announced. The administration declined to explain the reason for the changes. [WBEZ]

Coronavirus cases continue to rise throughout Illinois. State officials today reported 1,231 new cases and 18 deaths. Over the past week, there have been an average of 1,399 cases per day, an increase of 48% from the average two weeks earlier, according to The New York Times. [WBEZ]

And Wisconsin was added to the city’s emergency travel order, which requires anyone entering Chicago from the listed states to quarantine for 14 days. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said today that Indiana is also being closely watched. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. World’s biggest COVID-19 vaccine study starts today

The vaccine, created by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., will be injected into 30,000 volunteers across hundreds of U.S. cities.

But the results won’t be known immediately. Half the volunteers will get the potential vaccine, and the other half will get a placebo. Then, scientists will track which group is more likely to contract the virus as they go about their daily routines.

The large-scale tests are a requirement of the U.S. government. And the government-funded COVID-19 Prevention Network will conduct a similar trial with a new vaccine each month through fall. More than 150,000 Americans have recently signaled interest in being part of the massive tests, which will help scientists find the safest potential vaccine. [AP]

Meanwhile, Northwestern Medicine is looking for 5,000 volunteers who are at high risk of being exposed to COVID-19. That vaccine study is expected to begin in August. [Chicago Tribune]

Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday that a vaccine is “likely [to be ready in] November, but it is possible it could be earlier.” [The Guardian]

The news comes as California and Florida have both surpassed New York as the states with the most coronavirus cases. And at least 50 hospitals in Florida reached ICU bed capacity over the weekend. [CNN]

3. Republicans propose cutting unemployment benefits

After days of negotiations with the White House, Senate Republicans are expected to propose cutting the emergency federal unemployment benefit from $600 to $200 a week until states can implement a 70% wage replacement plan.

The current benefits are set to expire at the end of the month.

Critics have said the Republican plan is overly complicated for states that are already overwhelmed by millions of unemployment claims. Republicans say the current plan, which Democrats support extending, gives some unemployed workers more money than they would’ve made if working.

Top Democrats and the White House plan to begin negotiations Monday evening. [Washington Post]

In Chicago, thousands more residents can get rent or mortgage relief after Mayor Lori Lightfoot expanded a grant program for people facing eviction or foreclosure. [Block Club Chicago]

4. What factors could change the presidential race?

We’re less than 100 days from the November election, and a series of national surveys show that presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has an advantage over President Donald Trump.

But Biden’s edge comes from a drop in Trump support rather than an increase in Biden support, according to this NPR analysis, which predicts the race will tighten closer to Election Day.

There are still a lot of unknowns that could push the election one way or the other, including the effects of virtual conventions and fundraisers.

But the biggest factor is likely going to be how the pandemic develops over the next four months. Trump’s handling of the pandemic so far has hurt him politically among right-leaning independents. Read more about what else could change the race in the link. [NPR]

Meanwhile, Trump is working on a list of socially conservative judges after crushing Supreme Court losses for conservatives on abortion and LGBTQ protections. [Politico]

5. MLB postpones some games due to COVID-19 cases

After just four days of Major League Baseball, some games have been postponed because of the coronavirus.

The decision comes after eight more players and two coaches on the Miami Marlins received positive test results in the past few days. The Marlins’ game tonight against the Orioles was postposted. So was the New York Yankees’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies, who the Marlins played over the weekend.

The Marlins will stay in Pennsylvania to self-quarantine while the league does more testing. However, the MLB says there are no plans to postpone or cancel other games. [NPR]

Meanwhile, this would have been the first week of the Tokyo Summer Olympics. But even with coronavirus cases spiking in the city, Japanese officials are encouraging domestic travel to make up for the loss in revenue. [CNN]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Deerfield-based Walgreens’ CEO is stepping down. [WBEZ]

  • The Trump administration is sending more federal agents to Portland. [Washington Post]

  • Google employees will work from home through summer 2021. [Forbes]

  • Fifty-nine people were shot in Chicago this weekend, the lowest in a month. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Cork & Kerry, a Beverly staple, was closed by the city for repeated violations of COVID-19 guidelines. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

Speaking of baseball, Curious City recently took a look at the life of Steve Goodman, the super-fan who wrote the Cubs’ song “Go Cubs Go.”

An American folk singer and writer, Goodman was a lifelong, North Side baseball fan. But his first Cubs song, “A Dying Cubs Fan’s Last Request,” wasn’t so popular with the team because it poked fun at their tendency to lose.

He wrote “Go Cubs Go” to get back in the team’s good graces, and it became a hit after Goodman’s death.

The song has always irked me. I grew up in a nearby Midwestern baseball city with a healthy rivalry with the Cubs.

But after almost a decade of living in the Chicago area, I’ve gained a begrudging respect for Cubs fans. And I think next time I hear it, I’ll have a better appreciation for the song and the fan behind it. [WBEZ]

Tell me something good …

Is there a song that triggers a good memory for you?

For me, it’s “Danza Kuduro,” a reggaeton song that my high school class adopted on our senior trip. It has a dance that goes with it, which we performed as a class during our graduation ceremony.

What about you? Feel free to email or tweet me, and your responses may be shared here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! We’ll see you tomorrow.