Newsletter: Chicago 12-Year-Old Dies From COVID-19

The death of Ernesto Guzman raises difficult questions about moving forward during the pandemic. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Chicago coronavirus
A protective bandana is placed on the statue of Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, in Chicago’s Oz Park, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo
Chicago coronavirus
A protective bandana is placed on the statue of Dorothy, from the Wizard of Oz, in Chicago’s Oz Park, Wednesday, April 22, 2020. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

Newsletter: Chicago 12-Year-Old Dies From COVID-19

The death of Ernesto Guzman raises difficult questions about moving forward during the pandemic. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Is it really Friday? Am I still Hunter Clauss? Where am I? Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Do we sacrifice vulnerable children for the economy?

That’s one of the many questions raised by the death of Ernesto Guzman, a 12-year-old who died this week from complications of COVID-19, making him the youngest known Illinois victim of the pandemic.

Ernesto, who loved art projects and playing Fortnite, had a history of health problems, reports Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown. “There are other vulnerable children,” Brown writes. “Do we sacrifice them for the sake of the economy, knowing that the financial crisis will take its own toll?” [Sun-Times]

Today, state officials announced 2,432 new cases were reported after 26,565 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. That pushes Illinois’ total number of cases over 90,000 since the outbreak began. Officials also announced 130 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,058.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, urged pregnant women to get tested for the coronavirus when they are admitted to a hospital, saying symptoms of the virus can mimic symptoms associated with labor. [WBEZ]

Here’s a map showing how many cases have been reported throughout Illinois. [WBEZ]

Gov. JB Pritzker’s administration adopted a harder line this week on enforcing the state’s stay-at-home order as some businesses and political leaders become more defiant. Just ask “Poopy.” [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, workers at meat-processing plants in Illinois say they face tough choices: stay home and keep their families healthy, or go to work and keep their jobs. [WBEZ]

And here’s a status report on the Chicago Cubs, the White Sox and other local sports teams. [WBEZ]

2. House expected to approve new wave of stimulus checks

A new $3 trillion relief package is expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House today. The latest proposal, called the “Heroes Act,” would deliver financial aid to state and local governments, extend enhanced jobless benefits and send another round of stimulus checks to millions of people.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has dismissed the plan as a “totally unserious effort.” And President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the plan if it advances to his desk. [AP]

McConnell and other congressional Republicans insist on hitting the pause button on any further aid packages, partly because they hope the economy will bounce back as states begin to reopen. But as the economic damage from the pandemic continues to grow, Republicans might have to start negotiating with Democrats.

“States are going to go under,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told The New York Times. “You’ve got to get negotiations going. You can’t stand in each other’s corners yelling back and forth.” [New York Times]

3. Retail sales plunged 16.4% last month, a historic collapse

The COVID-19 pandemic delivered another devastating punch to retailers last month, according to figures released today by the Commerce Department.

The 16.4% decline in sales, the largest monthly drop on record, presents a grim question: When businesses do reopen, who will be left? Economists have warned that many retailers will not make it through the pandemic, and the road to recovery may be long and difficult as surveys show many shoppers are cautious about returning to stores.

“Anxiety and fear are very strong emotions and consumer behavior may take time to adjust,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. [NPR]

4. CDC releases less detailed guidelines for reopening

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today unveiled just six pages of recommendations to guide schools, businesses and others on how to safely reopen. The guidelines are not as detailed as an internal draft of recommendations that was shelved by the Trump administration, reports The Washington Post.

The CDC guidelines come as many states have already crafted their own guidelines for lifting coronavirus restrictions. The CDC’s recommendations also come a day after Dr. Rick Bright, the former head of a federal agency tasked with developing a coronavirus vaccine, said the U.S. faces the “darkest winter in modern history” unless the federal government creates a detailed master plan for tackling the pandemic. [WaPo]

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration warned that a rapid coronavirus test from Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories may not be reliable. [NPR]

Across the nation, more than 1.4 million cases and more than 85,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

5. Russia is accused of undercounting COVID-19 deaths

How does Russia have the third largest number of coronavirus cases in the world but is ranked 18th in fatalities at a time when there is no vaccination? A team of researchers dug into Russia’s data and discovered the Kremlin may be underreporting its numbers.

That’s because Russia saw nearly 20% more fatalities overall in April than in the same month over the last decade, according to a team of researchers. Russian health officials dispute those findings and say they are following a more thorough process of certifying deaths. [NPR]

Elsewhere in the world, doctors in Vietnam are considering a lung transplant for a British man who could become the country’s first casualty from the coronavirus. [NPR]

In China, doubts are emerging that authorities can test all 11 million residents of Wuhan in 10 days. [BBC]

Worldwide, more than 4.5 million cases and more than 305,000 deaths have been reported. [Johns Hopkins]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth will interview to be former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate. [Chicago Tribune]
  • The PBS NewsHour spoke to 74 former Biden staffers about Tara Reade’s allegations. [PBS]
  • Mayor Lightfoot called off a demolition at a shuttered Little Village coal plant. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Did you miss Nerdette’s live interview with acclaimed author N.K. Jemisin? Don’t worry, you can listen to it here. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

I’m literally counting down the minutes until the weekend, when I spend eight hours a day playing Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch. The video game, which allows players to design their own islands, sold a record 5 million copies in March and has become a great way to forget we’re living through a pandemic.

And players can make money. A Hong Kong food chain called Yummy House will fork over $2,580 for someone to create a branded island. The company said it has received 230 applications, including some from mainland China, where the game is banned. [Business Insider]

Tell me something good ...

I wanna go on vacation but obviously can’t. So I’d like to know what your favorite vacation spot was before the pandemic.

Roger writes:

“A ‘Little Town on the Big Lake’: Washburn, Wisconsin. Why? Quiet, laid back, great bookstore, taste-tempting bakery for breakfast or lunch, a fudge and ice cream shop to fill your sweet tooth, and swimming in the fresh waters of Chequamegon Bay. A night at the ‘Big Blue Tent,’ home of the Big Top Chautauqua and its Blue Canvas Orchestra, is a must. And, then, there are also the Northern Great Lakes visitors center and the Apostle Islands to explore. Great place!”

And @RalphieMelville tweets:

“My favorite place to go on vacation is Seattle. I wish I could go out there and visit my best friend. He lives in the small town of Port Townsend, not far from there. I miss him, and I really like the summer out West.”

Thanks for all the responses this week! I’m sorry I couldn’t include them all, but it was nice hearing from y’all throughout the week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! I’ll see you on Monday.