Newsletter: Illinois Restaurants Want To Reopen Soon

But will customers come back? That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Chicago coronavirus
Less traffic is seen in downtown Chicago on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
Chicago coronavirus
Less traffic is seen in downtown Chicago on Sunday, March 22, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: Illinois Restaurants Want To Reopen Soon

But will customers come back? That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Good afternoon! It’s Tuesday, and I had a dream that Tina Turner trusted me to write her official biography — and I worried about meeting the high expectations of my fellow gays. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Restaurateurs want Illinois to tweak reopening plan

State lawmakers return to Springfield tomorrow, and the Illinois Restaurant Association wants the legislature to tweak Gov. JB Pritzker’s five-phase plan for lifting coronavirus restrictions and reopening businesses.

The association’s president, Sam Toia, said he wants restaurants to reopen with some restrictions during Phase 3 of the plan, which Illinois could reach by the end of the month.

But there’s no guarantee that customers will flock back to restaurants.

“Consumers are going to need to have the confidence to venture out and take the first step,” said Carrie Nahabedian, chef and co-owner of Chicago’s Brindille restaurant. “And we don’t know what people are thinking. That is the big unknown.” [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, state officials announced 1,545 new cases were reported after 18,443 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours. That pushes Illinois’ total number of cases to 98,030 since the outbreak began. Officials also announced 146 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,379.

Pritzker today said that Illinois now leads the nation for testing per capita in the past seven days. [WBEZ]

As state legislative leaders take steps to ensure the safety of lawmakers this week in Springfield, downstate Rep. Darren Bailey said he will not wear a face mask. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Trump threatens to permanently end U.S. funding to WHO

President Donald Trump said he will permanently withhold funding from the World Health Organization if it does not “commit to major substantive improvements” within the next 30 days.

The president made the threat in a letter that criticizes the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China. Critics accuse the president of deflecting blame for his own handling of the pandemic. [NPR]

The letter comes after Trump said he is taking a drug that has not been proved to prevent COVID-19. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that’s a bad idea because the drug can be dangerous for people with heart problems and the president is “morbidly obese.” [USA Today]

Nationwide, more than 1.5 million cases and more than 90,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

3. Russia and Brazil see spike in COVID-19 infections

The surge in cases underscores the unshakable reality that the pandemic is far from over. Russia and Brazil, where leaders have been criticized for their response to outbreaks, are now right behind the U.S. in the number of reported infections.

Officials in Russia have been accused of underreporting fatalities related to COVID-19 by listing chronic illnesses as the cause of death. In Brazil, hospital officials say 85% of intensive care beds are occupied in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. [AP]

Meanwhile in Europe, France and Germany propose a $540 billion recovery fund for European Union countries where the pandemic has taken a significant financial toll. [NPR]

In the U.K., jobless claims hit its highest level since the 1990s. [AP]

Worldwide, more than 4.8 million cases and more than 321,000 deaths have been reported. [Johns Hopkins]

4. Navajo Nation has the highest infection rate in the U.S.

CNN reports the Navajo Nation now has a higher per-capita infection rate than New York and New Jersey. The Navajo Nation includes parts of parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

The Native American territory has about 2,304 cases per 100,000 people. New York has a rate of 1,806 cases per 100,000. [CNN]

Just outside of the territory, the rural city of Gallup, New Mexico, faces an outbreak that has overwhelmed a local hospital. Here’s a look at how a number of missteps created a perfect storm that stands as a cautionary tale. [AP]

Meanwhile in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said all regions except those around New York City can begin reopening. [New York Times]

As states across the U.S. begin lifting restrictions, businesses are starting to call back workers. But if you have an underlying health condition or children who can’t go to school or daycare, you could still collect jobless benefits. [NPR]

5. U.S. economy faces “permanent damage” if state shutdowns continue, Mnuchin says

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell appeared today before a Senate committee, where they were grilled over whether their efforts to contain the financial carnage favored big corporations over small businesses and workers.

Powell again called for more big spending packages from Congress to prevent a deepening recession. Mnuchin, however, warned of “permanent damage” to the economy if states extend their shutdowns.

Mnuchin’s comments come as the Trump administration shifts its focus to reopening states instead of providing more federal aid, believing that the economy will bounce back when restrictions are lifted. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • My boss’s boss’s boss has a new boss. [WBEZ]
  • What will cities look like when this is over? [NPR]
  • Walmart has hired 235,000 new workers to keep up with soaring demand during the pandemic. [NPR]
  • You can take tours of buildings around the world without leaving home. [WBEZ]

Oh, and one more thing …

My muscles, why hast thou forsaken me? I used to go to the gym almost every day, and I never thought I would miss the dreaded leg day so much.

This week’s Nerdette talks to personal trainer Sarah Gonsiorowski of The Lunge Ladies about exercises you can do while staying at home and other health tips.

“One is not fitness related at all, and it’s just drinking more water,” she tells Nerdette host Greta Johnsen. “We’re at home and we’re probably filling up on coffee. We’re probably making some really great cocktails. But really folks, you should be drinking a gallon of water a day.”

Cheers to that! [WBEZ]

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.

Jeff Lackman writes:

“If I could shelter anywhere, I think I would shelter inside the Alhambra in Spain, with no crowds. The place must be even more magical, and the view would be spectacular. And it's Spain, so the food would be great.”

Feel free to email at or tweet to @whuntah.

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