Newsletter: A Look At Which Businesses May Soon Reopen

Illinois coronavirus
A woman wears mask as she walks in front of an empty restaurant closed due to COVID-19 in Niles, Ill., Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
Illinois coronavirus
A woman wears mask as she walks in front of an empty restaurant closed due to COVID-19 in Niles, Ill., Wednesday, May 13, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: A Look At Which Businesses May Soon Reopen

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and my friends at Curious City are doing an event tonight about maintaining a love life during the pandemic. It’s called “Curious City After Dark.” Here’s what else you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. What’s open — and what’s restricted — in your neck of the woods?

Much of Illinois could look very different by the end of the month. That’s when many parts of the state might enter Phase 3 of Gov. JB Pritzker’s five-step plan for easing coronavirus restrictions. (But Mayor Lori Lightfoot today said the city’s restaurants will not begin reopening before June. Sorry, Chicago.)

WBEZ and The Chicago Reporter created this very handy guide that helps break down what businesses can reopen, and what will remain closed, in your area. [WBEZ]

A lawsuit challenging Pritzker’s stay-at-home order has been moved to federal court, which could delay a ruling. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Meanwhile, state officials today announced 2,268 new cases after 29,307 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. That brings the statewide total to 102,686. Officials also announced 87 new fatalities, pushing the death toll to 4,607 since the pandemic began. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, community groups are helping residents who have seen their water services cut off during the pandemic. [WBEZ]

2. More than 38 million people have filed jobless claims since March

Unemployment figures released today showed 2.4 million people filed for benefits last week. That means 38.6 million people have filed jobless claims in the last nine weeks, or about one out of every four Americans who had a job in February.

The unemployment numbers alone do not capture the full picture of the economic carnage caused by the public health crisis. A new Census Bureau survey shows that 47% of all households say their income has declined.

Today’s news comes as Congress faces a largely partisan debate over whether to approve further federal relief.

House Democrats approved a plan that would extend enhanced employment benefits, which are set to expire in July, into January. Most Congressional Republicans say the total price tag of the relief bill is too much, and they believe the economy will bounce back as states begin to reopen. [NPR]

In Illinois, the unemployment rate is 16.4%, the highest since 1976. [WBEZ]

3. China seeks to tighten grip on Hong Kong

China’s Communist Party is looking to expand its power over Hong Kong through new, controversial national security laws announced today. It’s the most aggressive step taken by China to exert its authority over the former British colony since China reclaimed it in 1997.

The laws would allow Beijing to crack down on protests in the semiautonomous region. Before the pandemic, Hong Kong faced massive anti-government demonstrations that challenged Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Today’s news is expected to reignite civil unrest in Hong Kong. [BBC]

4. Young adults can also be affected by mysterious inflammation syndrome

Doctors are beginning to see patients in their early 20s suffering from an illness that is believed to be linked to COVID-19, reports The Washington Post. The illness, which causes inflammation of the blood vessels, was first noticed in children. Patients experienced fever, abdominal pain and sometimes nausea, vomiting and rashes. [Washington Post]

Meanwhile, about 36,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in the U.S. could have been prevented if stay-at-home orders were enacted a week earlier in March, according to an analysis from Columbia University. [NPR]

Across the U.S., more than 1.5 million COVID-19 cases and more than 93,000 deaths have been reported. Worldwide, the number of cases have surpassed 5 million. The global death toll also grew to more than 329,000. [Johns Hopkins]

5. There’s a 45% chance that person tweeting about the pandemic is a bot

Nearly half of the 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January appear to behave more like computerized robots than humans, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

The tweets appear to be designed to foment divisions in the U.S. and spread misinformation, but it’s not clear who is behind the bots.

“We do know that it looks like it’s a propaganda machine, and it definitely matches the Russian and Chinese playbooks, but it would take a tremendous amount of resources to substantiate that,” said a Carnegie Mellon professor conducting a study on the topic.

A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment on the findings when contacted by NPR, but she said the social media platform has “challenged” 1.5 million accounts over messages about the coronavirus. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The Trump administration wants to pull out of a treaty allowing nations to make unarmed, observational flights over each other’s territory to assure that no military action is being prepared. [AP]
  • Motor vehicle fatalities spiked by 14% in March as states began to shut down. [NPR]
  • The second season of Netflix’s Umbrella Academy finally has a release date. [YouTube]
  • A priest used a water gun to squirt holy water on churchgoers. [Buzzfeed News]

Oh, and one more thing …

Lyndsay Tucker, a 25-year-old employee at a Sephora beauty store in California, keeps getting calls and texts meant for billionaire Elon Musk.

“I asked my mom, ‘Hey, I keep getting these text messages’ — and I was also now starting to get phone calls — ‘for this guy Elon Musk. I don't know who this is,’” Tucker told NPR. “And my mom’s jaw just dropped.”

Tucker’s cellphone number used to be registered to Musk, and she said she gets at least three calls or texts a day that are meant for the Tesla CEO. One message contained a blueprint for a bionic limb.

“Which is, No. 1, really cool,” Tucker said. “But I have no idea how it’s built.” [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

If you could “stay at home” anywhere right now, where would it be? And that’s aside from staying with family members, which is obviously my first one.

Mary writes:

“Ahhhhhh, I would ‘stay at home’ on a tropical beach resort with all of my friends!! How lovely would that be?! You are invited too, Hunter, if you’d like to join ;)”

See you there!

And Hilary writes:

“If I could shelter in place anywhere, it would be in a very small, very simple but beautiful cabin overlooking the Grand Canyon. I'd go hiking every day, and then come back to delicious, healthy food made by the magical chef, and espresso from the magical coffee bar, both just next door.”

Feel free to email at or tweet to @whuntah.

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