Newsletter: Pritzker Endorses Wider Use Of Face Masks

face masks
A shopper and employees of Patel Brothers grocery store, walk around in Chicago, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The public have been asked to self isolate, keeping distant from others to limit the spread of the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
face masks
A shopper and employees of Patel Brothers grocery store, walk around in Chicago, Sunday, March 29, 2020. The public have been asked to self isolate, keeping distant from others to limit the spread of the contagious COVID-19 coronavirus. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: Pritzker Endorses Wider Use Of Face Masks

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Hey there! It’s Friday, and shout out to all the service industry workers, who I dearly miss. Hope you’re hanging in there. Here’s what you need to know today.

1. Pritzker encourages public to wear masks in public

Gov. JB Pritzker today stepped into the debate over whether face masks should be worn in public, saying that new data suggests masks can stem the spread of COVID-19 from people not showing symptoms.

“When you do go outside, or when you must go to the grocery store [or] pharmacy, wearing something to cover your face is a good idea, based upon what the science says,” Pritzker said.

The governor’s comments come as a heated debate has erupted across the country over whether to expand guidelines for face masks. Some public health officials worry that broadening those guidelines could make it harder for hospitals to obtain supplies. President Donald Trump is also expected to sign off on the expanded guidelines for face masks.

Meanwhile, Pritzker held his daily press briefing at McCormick Place, which has been transformed into a 500-bed field hospital for coronavirus patients. There, the governor announced 1,209 new cases today, bringing the total number of known cases to 8,904. The governor also said the state saw 53 more deaths, pushing the death toll to 210. [WBEZ]

McCormick Place’s field hospital comes as public health experts believe Illinois could see a surge in infections in the coming weeks. One way hospitals are preparing is by beefing up the number of workers and volunteers on hand.

Dr. Jay Chauhan, president of the Chicago Medical Society, looks to Italy, where dozens of physicians have died and scores have been infected.

“So what we’re concerned about is if that holds true here, we’re going to have a shortage of manpower,” Chauhan said. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, here’s a look at how McCormick Place is being transformed into a massive field hospital. [Chicago Sun-Times]

2. Pelosi pushes for more direct payments to Americans

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today said the $2 trillion relief package is “not enough” and is pressing the case for more stimulus checks to Americans, more funding for small business loans and an extension of beefed-up unemployment benefits. [CNBC]

The news comes as federal data released today shows the longest stretch of job growth in U.S. history came to an end last month. Economists expect job losses to further grow next month as businesses across the country remain closed in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. [NPR]

Meanwhile, the IRS will send stimulus payments electronically as soon as next week. But paper checks won’t go out until April 24. [Washington Post]

And check out this link if you’d like to know more about the small business loans provided under the $2 trillion relief package. [NPR]

3. Questions raised over White House’s coronavirus forecast

Public health experts and some advisers to President Donald Trump are questioning the accuracy of the White House’s stunning projection that 100,000 to 240,000 people could die from COVID-19, a death toll larger than what the U.S. saw in the Vietnam War.

Columbia University epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman, whose models were mentioned by the White House, said his projections do not go far enough into the future to back up the Trump administration’s fatality forecast.

“We don’t have a sense of what’s going on in the here and now, and we don’t know what people will do in the future,” he told The Washington Post. “We don’t know if the virus is seasonal, as well.” [Washington Post]

And Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called for a shutdown of “wet markets” that are linked to the coronavirus pandemic. [Politico]

4. Some American’s can’t afford to “stay at home”

Many low-income Americans continue to move around while the wealthy are largely staying home, according to an analysis of smartphone data by The New York Times.

The analysis highlights the economic divide of “stay at home” orders issued by governors throughout the nation, and how the wealthy have the luxury and job security to stay home. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced 562 new deaths, the largest daily death toll to face the state. New York has reported a total of 100,000 known cases and 2,935 deaths. [CNBC]

In Indiana, schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic year, but students will continue to be taught via remote learning. [Times of Northwest Indiana]

And Wisconsin is holding its primary election today. [Politico]

If you’re wondering how Chicago compares to other cities when it comes to the pandemic, here are a ton of charts that go into detail about how the coronavirus is spreading in different parts of the country. [New York Times]

Nationwide, more than more than 240,000 cases and more than 6,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

5. Chinese region goes back on lockdown after flare up

An area of central China has been put on lockdown again after seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, a sign that containing the virus may be more difficult than previously believed. [Bloomberg]

In Ecuador, dead bodies are lying in the streets of a port city that has become the epicenter of the country’s outbreak. [NPR]

Governments in Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar are tightening their grips on power as they fight the spread of the coronavirus. [NPR]

Worldwide, there have been more than 1 million cases and more than 58,000 deaths reported. [Johns Hopkins]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Here’s a look at Chicago’s next police superintendent, David Brown, who formerly served as the police chief for Dallas. [WBEZ]
  • The Chicago Transit Authority isn’t doing enough to protect bus drivers and train operators, says transit union. [WTTW]
  • The pandemic presents tough decisions for families and friends who have lost loved ones. Here are tips on how to make a virtual funeral more meaningful. [WBEZ]
  • Amazon will stream movies that would have been featured at the SXSW Film Festival. [NPR]

Oh, and one more thing …

In Illinois, it’s hard to find outdoor entertainment right now. Movie theaters, restaurants and bars are all closed for the foreseeable future. But things are, um, different in Texas.

In rural Sweetwater, officials decided not to cancel the annual rattlesnake festival. The event usually draws 25,000 visitors, but if you want to sit this one out because of the coronavirus — or the venomous snakes — NPR has you covered. You can see photos of past festivals, including many snake handlers’ giant hats (everything’s bigger in Texas) in the link. [NPR]

Tell me something good …

WBEZ canceled its spring pledge drive so we can bring you the latest news, uninterrupted, about the COVID-19 pandemic. The pledge drive helps pay for things like this newsletter, and it would mean a lot to me if you considered becoming a member.

And that makes me wonder: What do you enjoy the most about WBEZ?

Abbey writes:

“Just wanted to send a quick note to say thanks for your Rundown emails. I moved to Richmond, Virginia, a year and a half ago but still listen to/give to WBEZ. Your daily email helps me feel connected to the city that still holds my family and my heart.”

And Kirsten writes:

“I have to admit then when I first started receiving these emails, I was kind of annoyed. But your pithy summaries of the most important NEW information has become my go to for a factual “here’s what’s going on” perspective. Compared with the NYT app, which regularly sucks me down a bottomless rabbit hole of despair, The Rundown is an actual daily briefing on relevant developments that keeps me informed but not distracted. Thanks. WBEZ rulz.”

Thank you to everyone for the very kind words. Y’all are the best!

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