Newsletter: Does Illinois Need More COVID-19 Restrictions?

People eat outside of a restaurant
People eat outside of a restaurant in Glenview, Illinois. Exerts say Illinois officials should consider bringing back some restrictions, particularly on indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press
People eat outside of a restaurant
People eat outside of a restaurant in Glenview, Illinois. Exerts say Illinois officials should consider bringing back some restrictions, particularly on indoor dining at bars and restaurants. Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

Newsletter: Does Illinois Need More COVID-19 Restrictions?

Hi there. It’s Monday, and I still have paint on my legs after a home improvement project over the weekend. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. As COVID-19 cases rise, should Illinois bring back stricter coronavirus restrictions?

Illinois is heading in the wrong direction in stemming the spread of COVID-19, and experts say that officials should consider bringing back some restrictions, particularly on indoor dining at bars and restaurants.

“It’s a catastrophe,” said Dr. Robert Murphy, a professor of medicine and infectious disease at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, adding that restrictions need to be reinstated “before this gets even more out of control.” [WBEZ]

In the past week, Illinois has averaged more than 900 daily coronavirus cases. (In mid-June, the daily total was regularly under 700.) State officials today announced 883 new cases and six new deaths. Illinois has now recorded more than 154,000 cases and 7,000 fatalities. [WBEZ]

And the city’s health commissioner said young people are driving the increase, with 30% of new Chicago cases coming from those 18 to 29 years old. [WBEZ]

Some of the states first hit by the pandemic, including California, Louisiana, Michigan and Washington state, are seeing numbers climb again. [Bloomberg]

But New York City, which was the epicenter of the pandemic earlier this year, saw its first day in months without a COVID-19 death. [NPR]

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

2. 65,000 mail-in ballots have already been rejected

An NPR analysis found that at least 65,000 mail-in ballots were rejected in primary elections this year because the ballots arrived past the deadline, often through no fault of the voter.

In many states, the deadline is when a ballot arrives, not when it’s postmarked. While the number of rejections are small — around 1% in most states — they could prove crucial in a close election.

First-time, Black or Latino voters are most likely to have their ballot rejected, the analysis found.

Democrats and voter groups have filed lawsuits in at least 10 states to challenge the ballot deadlines, while Republicans and election integrity groups say pushing back deadlines could cause delays and undermine public confidence in the results. [NPR]

And recent polls show President Donald Trump is trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, but polls showed the same thing four years ago when Trump trailed Hillary Clinton. However, pollsters say their work is more accurate this time around. [USA Today]

3. Chicago is rethinking its policy of impounding vehicles for littering and playing loud music

A 16-page proposal introduced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot would completely reform the city’s Vehicle Impoundment Program, which allows officers to seize cars for minor offenses like driving without a license, playing music too loudly or littering.

Most of these seizures were never associated with criminal charges. Yet drivers, a majority who came from Black communities, were still issued huge municipal fines.

The proposed changes — including a cap on fees and changing what offenses qualify for vehicle impoundment — have the potential to affect as many as 80% of cases. [WBEZ]

4. Another violent weekend in Chicago

At least 10 people were killed and 50 others were wounded over the weekend. And for the fourth consecutive weekend, a child under the age of 16 was shot dead.

“The level of violence was similar to the same weekends in 2016 and 2017, the worst years for shootings in Chicago since the 1990s,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Police Superintendent David Brown has recently announced a new specialized police unit to stop the violent flare-ups. [Chicago Tribune]

And a group of young Chicagoans marched in Washington Park and Woodlawn yesterday to protest gun violence. [Block Club Chicago]

5. 25 years ago, Chicago faced a deadly heat wave. Here’s what the city learned.

In July 1995, Chicago faced a deadly heat wave that killed more than 700 people in a week. The elderly, Black and Latino communities suffered a disproportionate loss of life.

Some of those who responded in ’95 told the Chicago Tribune that disparities are still evident today and can be seen during the coronavirus pandemic.

A lack of air conditioning or inability to pay electric bills was one of the drivers of deaths in ’95. Government officials have learned many lessons since, and the number of heat-related deaths each year has dropped significantly.

But with temperatures expected to rise later this week, and many residents reluctant to go to cooling centers due to the coronavirus pandemic, some health experts worry that COVID-19 could upset that progress. [Chicago Tribune]

Here’s what else is happening

  • The U.S. budget deficit hit an all-time high in June. [AP]

  • CDC employees have called out the agency’s “toxic culture.” [NPR]

  • A judge delayed the execution of an Indiana man, who would’ve been the first federal execution in 17 years. [IndyStar]

The Washington Redskins will change their name. [ESPN]

Oh, and one more thing …

The babies of Montrose Beach’s famous Great Lakes piping plovers now have names: Hazel, Esperanza and Nish. The three fuzzy baby birds were named by the Chicago Piping Plovers site after receiving more than 300 nominations.

Their names honor Hazel Johnson, a South Side environmental activist; Chicago’s Hispanic community (Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish); and the Potawatomi, Ojibwa and Odawa nations.

There are only 70 known pairs of Great Lakes piping plovers, which are rarely found in Illinois. [Block Club Chicago]

Tell me something good …

A few weeks ago I finished rewatching Bones, one of those million-season TV shows of yore. And I recently restarted Criminal Minds … which will have 15 seasons when it’s all said and done.

Which makes me wonder: What show or shows have you been watching since pandemic started? Feel free to email or tweet me, and your responses may be shared here this week.

Thanks for reading and have a nice night! I’ll see you tomorrow. P.S. Did a friend forward you this email? Sign up to receive the Daily Rundown in your inbox.