Newsletter: Illinois’ Jobless System Leaked Personal Data

Social security numbers and other personal information were leaked on a state website. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Illinois unemployment
A man checks information in front of Illinois Department of Employment Security in Chicago, Thursday, April 30, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
Illinois unemployment
A man checks information in front of Illinois Department of Employment Security in Chicago, Thursday, April 30, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: Illinois’ Jobless System Leaked Personal Data

Social security numbers and other personal information were leaked on a state website. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Good afternoon! It’s Monday, and I keep waking up at 5 a.m., either because of the birds outside of my window or the never-ending sense of impending doom. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Security lapse exposed personal data of “thousands” of jobless Illinois workers

A business owner told WBEZ that a state jobless system leaked Social Security numbers and other personal information for “thousands and thousands” of applicants for unemployment benefits.

The person, who requested anonymity because of fears of retaliation, said she discovered the massive data breach when she visited the website for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance system, which allows out-of-work independent contractors and gig workers to file for benefits.

“It was 50 pages-plus,” she told WBEZ, which reviewed screen shots of the security lapse. “So we’re talking thousands of people. This is insane.”

Gov. JB Pritzker’s office acknowledged a “glitch” with the new, federally funded computer system had mistakenly “made some private information publicly available” for a short period of time. Officials would not say how many people were affected, but they said the “limited” problem has been fixed. [WBEZ]

The news comes as the Secret Service warns that a Nigerian crime ring has stolen personal information to apply for unemployment checks in Washington State, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Wyoming and Florida. [Axios]

2. Why is Illinois seeing so many coronavirus cases during the stay-at-home order?

The main reason Illinois continues to see new cases is because testing has ramped up, with 400% more tests being conducted in the last month, reports WBEZ’s Curious City. Another reason is that asymptomatic people are not social distancing and unknowingly spreading the virus.

Click the link to learn other reasons why specialists believe the number of cases continue to mount. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, state officials announced 2,294 new cases were reported after 21,297 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. That pushes Illinois’ total number of cases to 96,485 since the outbreak began. Officials also announced 59 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,234. [WBEZ]

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

And Cook County is now getting a D in social distancing. [Chicago Tribune]

Nearly half of the more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in Illinois are linked to nursing homes. Some residents tell WBEZ they’ve largely been left in the dark about outbreaks in their homes. [WBEZ]

And a WBEZ investigation found that many residents in Cook County are avoiding hospitals, a dangerous side effect of the pandemic. [WBEZ]

3. Drug maker announces promising early results of a potential vaccine

Early tests of an experimental drug proved safe and stimulated an immune response against the virus, according to drugmaker Moderna. The drug will now undergo testing led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

The news comes after President Donald Trump announced “Operation Warp Speed” last week. The program aims to fast track a vaccine and have 300 million doses by January. [AP]

Meanwhile, a 14-year-old boy told The New York Times about his fight against a mysterious new syndrome linked to the coronavirus that’s affecting children.

“You could feel it going through your veins and it was almost like someone injected you with straight-up fire,” the boy said. [New York Times]

Across the U.S., more than 1.4 million coronavirus cases and more than 89,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

4. China defends response to COVID-19 pandemic

Chinese President Xi Jinping defended his country’s response to the coronavirus, saying it openly shared information, such as the virus’ genome sequence.

Xi, who spoke via video at today’s World Health Organization conference, also pledged $2 billion over two years to fight the pandemic. Xi also said he’d support an investigation into the origins of the virus. [NPR]

Meanwhile, the diary of a Chinese author who documented her life in Wuhan during the outbreak has been translated to English. [BBC]

Elsewhere in the world, protests erupted in Germany against coronavirus restrictions that are beginning to be lifted. [NPR]

Worldwide, more than 4.7 million cases and more than 316,000 deaths have been reported. [Johns Hopkins]

5. Pompeo says he didn’t know ousted watchdog was investigating him

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he did not know the State Department’s inspector general was investigating him when he asked President Trump to fire the watchdog.

Pompeo told The Washington Post that he asked Trump to fire Steve Linick because his work was “undermining” the department’s mission. Linick had been investigating whether Pompeo had a staffer do personal errands, like walking his dog and handling dry cleaning, according to the Post. [Washington Post]

Linick was also investigating Trump’s efforts to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia without congressional approval, according to Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). [Politico]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said the country’s economy will face a “sharp downturn,” but it will not be another Great Depression. [NPR]
  • The FBI found evidence linking al-Qaida to last year’s deadly shooting at a military base in Pensacola, Florida. [AP]
  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot said churches will be fined if they hold services that violate Illinois’ stay-at-home order. [Chicago Tribune]
  • More than 8 inches of rain fell on the Chicago area in the last four days. [Chicago Tribune]

Oh, and one more thing …

One movie this summer could influence what direction Hollywood will take as the world navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic.

That movie is Tenet, a mysterious action thriller by acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. Warner Bros. is pressing forward with the movie’s July 17 release date, and many industry watchers say that if Tenet can’t get moviegoers back into theaters, nothing will.

“If Tenet doesn’t come out or doesn’t succeed, every other company goes home,” a marketing executive of a competing studio told the Post. “It’s no movies until Christmas.” [Washington Post]

Tell me something good ...

I can’t stop thinking about the Alabama man who camped out at an abandoned Disney World island during the pandemic. He told authorities the island was a “tropical paradise.”

That got me thinking: 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.

For me, I’d totally stay at the abandoned island in the James Bond movie Skyfall. Sure, it’s a real fixer upper, but I’d have my own post-apocalyptic island.

Feel free to email at therundown@wbez.org or tweet to @whuntah.

Have a nice night! If you like what you just read, you can subscribe to the newsletter here and have it delivered to your inbox.