Newsletter: Illinois Surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 Cases

The grim news came as Gov. JB Pritzker announced restaurants and bars could begin reopening as soon as the end of the month. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Chicago coronavirus
A child rides her bike as her mother watches at the Petrillo Music Pavilion, the site of many summertime live music events, in Chicago’s Grant Park Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo
Chicago coronavirus
A child rides her bike as her mother watches at the Petrillo Music Pavilion, the site of many summertime live music events, in Chicago’s Grant Park Tuesday, April 28, 2020. Charles Rex Arbogast / AP Photo

Newsletter: Illinois Surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 Cases

The grim news came as Gov. JB Pritzker announced restaurants and bars could begin reopening as soon as the end of the month. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Hey there! It’s Wednesday, and “disappointed” Willis Tower will be my Halloween costume this year — if we have a Halloween. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. Illinois surpasses 100,000 COVID-19 cases

State officials today announced 2,388 new cases of COVID-19, pushing Illinois to more than 100,000 since the outbreak began. The increase comes after 21,029 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Officials also announced 147 deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to 4,525.

Gov. JB Pritzker today announced changes to his five-phase plan to lift coronavirus restrictions. The governor said restaurants and bars can reopen with limited outdoor seating during Phase 3, which the state is on track to enter by May 29. Pritzker also said all state parks can reopen at the end of month. [WBEZ]

The tweaks to Pritzker’s reopening plan came as state lawmakers began meeting today in Springfield. The Democrat-controlled legislature has just three days to address a packed agenda that includes a COVID-19 relief package for renters, homeowners and businesses. Lawmakers are also expected to tackle the state’s budget shortfall, which is estimated to be $2.7 billion for this fiscal year and $10 billion over the next two years. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is crafting a plan to safely reopen the Lakefront. [Chicago Sun-Times]

On the Southeast Side, a Ford assembly plant is again temporarily closed after two workers tested positive for COVID-19. [Chicago Tribune]

And the Chicago Teachers Union is accusing Chicago Public Schools and the federal government of failing to provide sufficient resources and guidance for special education students when classrooms shifted to remote learning. [Chicago Tribune]

2. All 50 states have begun easing coronavirus restrictions

And public health experts warn a new wave of cases will emerge, because many states are not hitting federal benchmarks to reopen safely. Here’s a guide showing how all 50 states have begun lifting restrictions and what’s still closed. [Washington Post]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a more detailed set of reopening guidelines that were initially shelved by the Trump administration. As The Washington Post reports, administration officials had objected to guidance for places of worship, a section that has since been deleted. [Washington Post]

In Maryland, officials reported 1,784 new cases — a new daily record — just four days after the state began reopening its economy. [NPR]

In Florida, a top government data scientist who created an online dashboard that monitors cases said she was fired for refusing to manipulate the numbers. [NPR]

And in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the federal government needs to help states recover from the financial toll of the pandemic. California faces a $54 billion budget shortfall. [NPR]

Across the U.S., more than 1.5 million cases and more than 91,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

3. Trump threatens to hold up federal aid to 2 states

President Donald Trump said today he will tie up coronavirus relief funds for Michigan after he incorrectly said state officials sent millions of absentee ballots to voters. Michigan did not send ballots. It sent applications for absentee ballots.

The president made a similar threat to Nevada, where absentee ballots are being mailed to all registered voters for the state’s June 9 primary.

Trump has criticized voting by mail for allegedly being vulnerable to fraud, though the president requested a mail ballot for Florida’s recent GOP primary. [NPR]

4. Is the coronavirus mutating?

Doctors have discovered patients in northeast China who are reacting differently to the coronavirus, reports Bloomberg News. The patients appear to have the virus for a much longer time and develop symptoms later than one to two weeks, according to one of China’s top doctors.

It’s not clear if the virus is mutating, which could add even more challenges to fighting the pandemic, or if doctors are learning more about how the virus already operates, which underscores once again how little we know about the virus. [Bloomberg]

Elsewhere in the world, Brazil has expanded the use of malaria drugs as the country sees a surge in cases. Those are the same malaria drugs that public health experts say can carry dangerous health risks for some COVID-19 patients. [Reuters]

Worldwide, more than 4.9 million cases and more than 325,000 deaths have been reported. [Johns Hopkins]

5. “Vulture capitalist” is expected to tighten grip on Tribune Publishing

The future of Tribune Publishing looks bleak as hedge fund Alden Global Capital is expected to consolidate its power tomorrow over the company, which publishes such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune, the New York Daily News and The Baltimore Sun.

Journalists, many of whom are reporting on the local impact of the pandemic, are taking unpaid furloughs, and some have taken permanent pay cuts. “I'm a single mom that lives largely paycheck to paycheck,” wrote one reporter in a digital protest on the company’s internal messaging system on Slack.

Alden, which a leading analyst called a “vulture capitalist,” is expected to make even more cuts. [NPR]

Here’s what else is happening

  • About 10,000 people in central Michigan were forced to evacuate when river dams broke, threatening to bring record-setting flooding. [CBS News]
  • Here’s a look at what it’s like to test yourself for COVID-19. [WBEZ]
  • Johnson & Johnson will discontinue selling talc-based baby powder, which had been accused of causing cancer, in the U.S. and Canada. [NBC News]
  • So long, minibars. Hotels across the country are adapting to win back guests. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

Ah, high school. That super-important period of life that prepares you for a future where you actively try not to remember the experience. (Did I really wear that as a teenager?)

Do you have a child or know someone who is graduating high school? WBEZ will send a personalized graduation “card” on Instagram for you. All you have to do is fill out the form on this page and pick one of four designs featuring artwork from graduating Chicago seniors.

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.

Samina Hadi-Tabassum writes:

“I would love to stay in the quarantine hatch from the TV series Lost. How apropos. I would climb down that ladder, listen to those old records, slowly eat away at the pantry food, read the arcane books off the shelves and watch those 8 mm films of the Dharma Project.”

And Alex writes:

“If I could shelter in place anywhere, it would be at my partner’s apartment in Brooklyn. We haven’t seen each other in two months. If we could teleport her apartment just off the beach in Puerto Escondido, where we were right before things went south, that would be even better.”

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

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