Newsletter: Can Illinois Quickly Contain Future Outbreaks?

State officials don’t have some vital information that could help them prevent more outbreaks. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Illinois coronavirus
A man hands over his testing kit to Illinois National Guard soldier Carlye Clehouse at a testing facility in Waukegan, Ill., Saturday, May 2, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
Illinois coronavirus
A man hands over his testing kit to Illinois National Guard soldier Carlye Clehouse at a testing facility in Waukegan, Ill., Saturday, May 2, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: Can Illinois Quickly Contain Future Outbreaks?

State officials don’t have some vital information that could help them prevent more outbreaks. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and here’s what it felt like to put on work pants for the first time in months. And here’s what you actually need to know today . (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Questions emerge over Illinois’ ability to quickly contain future outbreaks

Illinois officials do not know the occupations of almost 80% of COVID-19 patients throughout the state, information that health experts say is vital to preventing and identifying potential future outbreaks, reports WBEZ’s Kristen Schorsch.

What’s causing this giant hole in the data? Many hospitals are not filling out a 14-page form that helps state officials identify COVID-19 patients.

“Knowing where new infections are happening, whether they are among essential workers or health care workers, whether they are at certain ZIP codes — this knowledge is what’s needed in order to know what to do next,” said Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr, an epidemiologist at Columbia University. [WBEZ]

The news comes as Illinois embarks on the high-stakes experiment of easing coronavirus restrictions tomorrow. That means restaurants, retail stores and other businesses in most of Illinois can begin reopening so long as they follow certain guidelines. [Chicago Tribune]

But businesses in Chicago won’t begin to reopen until June 3. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, state officials today announced 104 new deaths, bringing the state’s total number of fatalities to 5,186. Officials also announced 1,527 new cases after 25,993 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. That brings the total number of cases to 115,833 since the pandemic began. [WBEZ]

And new evidence from Indiana and other places suggests the coronavirus is more common and less deadly than previously believed. [NPR]

2. More than 1 in 4 Americans are jobless

Another 2.1 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week, according to federal data released today. That means 40.8 million people — or 26% of the civilian workforce in April — have lost their jobs since the pandemic caused much of the U.S. economy to shut down in March. [NPR]

Today’s unemployment figures come as more than 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, and more than 1.6 million cases, have been reported throughout the U.S. [NPR]

Meanwhile, the White House will not release updated economic projections this summer, breaking decadeslong precedent.

“It gets them off the hook for having to say what the economic outlook looks like,” said a former economic adviser to Sen. John McCain. [Washington Post]

And the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence owns a considerable amount of stocks in companies that have been affected or involved in the work of the coronavirus task force, which Pence chairs. [NPR]

3. Trump vs. social media

President Donald Trump signed an executive order that curbs liability protections for social media companies. The move comes just days after Twitter added fact checks to some of the president’s tweets.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended the move, saying it aimed to “connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, however, criticized Twitter today and said social-media platforms should not be fact-checking what politicians post. [CNBC]

As this analysis from The New York Times points out, Trump’s executive order “could force social media companies to crack down even more on customers just like Mr. Trump.” [New York Times]

4. Minneapolis protests escalate over death of George Floyd

Protests that began peacefully turned violent last night in Minneapolis, where police fired rubber bullets on demonstrators, several buildings caught on fire and one man was fatally shot. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey is seeking help from the National Guard to help prevent more violence.

The protests come after George Floyd died earlier this week while in police custody. A video from a bystander shows an officer pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee over Floyd’s neck. Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying he can’t breathe.

All four officers involved in the arrest have been fired, and Floyd’s family and Frey have called for criminal charges against the cops. The Justice Department says its investigation into the death is a “top priority.” [AP]

5. China moves to crack down on Hong Kong protests

China’s rubber-stamp legislature approved a plan to craft new security laws for Hong Kong that would allow Beijing to crack down on “secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference” in the semi-autonomous city.

Specific details of the law still need to be hashed out, but it could be enacted as soon as next month. China’s move has sparked more protests in Hong Kong, where 300 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that the Trump administration would no longer view Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China, a decision that could endanger the city’s standing as a global financial center. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Researchers are trying to understand why COVID-19 appears to be deadlier in the U.S. and Europe than in Asia. [Washington Post]
  • The ACLU is suing the developer of a facial-recognition tool used by the Chicago Police Department. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Chicago police are investigating an officer’s alleged ties to the Proud Boys. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • The California Clipper will close permanently after 21 years in business. [Eater Chicago]

Oh, and one more thing …

So I finally watched Lady Gaga’s music video for “Stupid Love.” It’s kind of hilarious to watch now because Lady Gaga runs around wearing a face shield in a post-apocalyptic world, but the video was shot before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anyway, NPR examines the evolution of Lady Gaga’s career and how her recent album, Chromatica, “is both a return to form and a full-circle moment, a complete revolution back to the music she not only loves to perform, but loves to hear.” [NPR]

Tell me something good ...

OK, because I can’t stop watching this mesmerizing commercial from the ’90s, I’d like to know what are some of your favorite memories from the ’90s.

Deanna Trejo writes:

“Favorite memories of the ’90s: sipping Mondo coolers and eating Flintstone sherbet push-pops under the back porch with my sisters and brother in the summer. And the music of Arrested Development — it was heavy and weightless all at once.”

And Teri Brunsman writes:

“I am the proud mom of four children, and the first was born in 1990, the fourth in 1999. Everything else that happened in that decade, as important and entertaining as it was, pales by comparison.”

What’s one of your favorite memories from the ’90s? Feel free to email at therundown@wbez.org or tweet to @whuntah.

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