Newsletter: The Coronavirus And Chicago’s Economy

A chain reaction could slow Chicago’s economic recovery even after the stay-at-home order is lifted. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Miguel Gonzales puts up a sign
Miguel Gonzales puts up a sign telling shoppers at Chicago Soccer in Lincoln Square that they will be closing due to the coronavirus on March 16. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ
Miguel Gonzales puts up a sign
Miguel Gonzales puts up a sign telling shoppers at Chicago Soccer in Lincoln Square that they will be closing due to the coronavirus on March 16. Manuel Martinez / WBEZ

Newsletter: The Coronavirus And Chicago’s Economy

A chain reaction could slow Chicago’s economic recovery even after the stay-at-home order is lifted. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Hey there! It’s Monday. And if you need some pep in your step, these police officers have more than enough to spare. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. The coronavirus will impact Chicago’s economy for a long time

A Chicago Sun-Times analysis found the coronavirus will especially hurt small businesses, in part because people have already turned to online shopping. And, more layoffs — which “will not spare the well paid” — could lead to a chain reaction of empty offices and slowed construction. But the city’s biggest economic challenge could be a shock to consumers’ psyche.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Chicago “stands to gain” if companies begin to rethink supply chains that stretch far overseas. [Chicago Sun-Times]

And experts said the pandemic may lead to permanent gains in labor rights for low-wage workers, as companies are adopting sick leave policies and improving worker safety under public pressure and threats of walkouts. [Chicago Tribune]

The analyses come as state officials today reported 74 people have died, bringing Illinois’ death toll to 794. Officials also announced 1,173 new known cases, pushing the total number of known infections to 22,025.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot today announced new support for people facing homelessness in Chicago, including opening more shelters, increasing testing and reaching out to people living in encampments. [WBEZ]

And Gov. JB Pritzker told WBEZ he never thought the state’s well-being would hinge on “Trump time.” [WBEZ]

2. One month after Trump declared a national emergency, his promises are largely unfulfilled

President Donald Trump promised a massive mobilization in the face of the coronavirus, yet little has been accomplished, according to NPR’s Investigations Team, which found a “smattering of small pilot projects and aborted efforts.”

The White House “promised more than they could pull off” when it came to public-private partnerships. NPR found only a few drive-through testing sites have been opened, in-home testing has not been implemented and a promised screening website is still in the pilot phase. [NPR]

And The New York Times reveals Trump was warned repeatedly about the severity of the coronavirus crisis, yet he downplayed the seriousness to the public. [New York Times]

Cases of COVID-19 may peak in the U.S. this week, said Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the Trump administration said it’s still too early to say whether the country could reopen May 1. [Reuters]

In New York, data suggests the spread of coronavirus is slowing, as the state passes 10,000 deaths. [New York Times]

Nationwide, there have been more than 540,000 known cases and more than 21,000 deaths. [John Hopkins]

The largest oil production cut ever negotiated3.

The unprecedented deal, led by President Trump, comes after a month-long price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia.

To stabilize oil prices and global financial markets, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. have entered a deal to slash close to 10% of the world’s oil output. Yet, experts said it’s unclear whether the move will be enough to bolster prices again. [New York Times]

And U.S. stocks slipped 1% as investors considered the news. [New York Times]

Meanwhile, the first coronavirus stimulus payments from the IRS will begin to go out this week. Wondering if you qualify? Here’s an FAQ on eligibility, tracking your paper check and what to spend the money on. [CNET]

4. Spain relaxes its lockdown as death toll slows

With the majority of the population still indoors through at least April 26, some non-essential employees began returning to work Monday in Spain. Some leaders fear the move may cause recent, hard-fought public health gains to be lost.

And China has seen another increase in cases as nationals return home from overseas. [The Guardian]

Japan’s northernmost main island, Hokkaido, has declared a state of emergency after a second wave of coronavirus cases. The declaration comes less than a month after lifting a similar order. [NPR]

Worldwide, there have been 1.9 million known cases reported. [Johns Hopkins]

5. Why does the coronavirus make some people sicker than others?

Even accounting for preexisting health conditions, medical professionals and researchers are baffled by the ways some young, healthy and otherwise “low-risk” patients have reacted to COVID-19.

The answer may be in the receptors the virus uses to bind to our cells, or how the pathogen sometimes triggers an overactive immune system that can damage organs. But there’s still a lot scientists don’t know. This article profiles a group of COVID-19 survivors, all with different symptoms. [Wall Street Journal]

And this Smithsonian collection of diaries written during the 1918 flu could teach us how to record history for ourselves. [Smithsonian Magazine]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Tornadoes killed 30 in southern states. [AP]

  • A wildfire burning near the Chernobyl nuclear plant is releasing radiation. [New York Times]

  • Illinois saw an unprecedented number of guns bought in March. [Chicago Sun Times]

  • What can submarine crews and astronauts teach us about isolation? [The New Yorker]

Oh, and one more thing …

Phone calls are making a comeback, at least temporarily, during the coronavirus pandemic. And the surge in voice calls has significantly surpassed the surge in internet usage, according to telecommunication providers.

While internet usage is up about 20%, Verizon said it has been handling about 800 million voice calls daily — twice that as what it usually sees on Mother’s Day.

“Voice is the new killer app,” said Chris Sambar, AT&T’s vice president of technology. “It’s been a real surprise.” [New York Times]

Tell me something good ...

A friend recently asked me on … um ... a phone call: What’s something that made you smile this week?

For me, it’s one specific goose who has taken over my neighborhood park. He struts through the empty soccer fields like he owns them, and I’ve even seen him cut runners off as he crosses paths.

What’s made you smile this week? Feel free to email or tweet us, and we might share your responses here.

Thanks for reading and 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.