Newsletter: What To Watch As Illinois Moves To Reopen

When will Chicago and the rest of the state reopen? Depends on whose plan you’re looking at. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Village of Schaumburg staffer Erin Baxter prepares masks at Boomers Stadium parking lot in Schaumburg, Ill., Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo
Village of Schaumburg staffer Erin Baxter prepares masks at Boomers Stadium parking lot in Schaumburg, Ill., Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Nam Y. Huh / AP Photo

Newsletter: What To Watch As Illinois Moves To Reopen

When will Chicago and the rest of the state reopen? Depends on whose plan you’re looking at. That story and more are in today’s Rundown.

Hey there! It’s Thursday, and the weather forecast includes scattered thunderstorms and possibly hail the size of Ping-Pong balls. The perfect weather for staying at home. Here’s what you need to know today. (PS: You can have this delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.)

1. The numbers to watch as Illinois and Chicago move toward reopening

Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot released two different plans for lifting restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Lightfoot’s plan for Chicago relies on stricter benchmarks, meaning that city residents may have to stay home while nearby suburbs begin reopening.

Here’s a guide that compares both plans and clearly explains what health-related benchmarks must be met in order for life to inch back to normal. [WBEZ]

Meanwhile, state officials announced 3,239 new cases today, bringing the total to 87,937 since the outbreak began. The state’s death toll climbed to 3,928 as officials reported 138 new fatalities within the last 24 hours. [WBEZ]

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

Illinois’ top children’s hospital says child vaccinations and health check-ups have plunged amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of a mysterious illness affecting kids. [WBEZ]

In Chicago, two students filed a class-action lawsuit against DePaul University, arguing they are entitled to tuition refunds after the school shifted to online classes and closed campuses. [WBEZ]

And don’t be alarmed if you see a man riding a horse in Chicago. [WBEZ]

2. Wisconsin scrambles after stay-at-home order is tossed

Some local leaders moved quickly yesterday to maintain restrictions after Wisconsin's conservative-leaning Supreme Court threw out Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order. Just minutes after the court’s ruling, officials in Dane County — which includes Madison — issued their own order to keep nonessential businesses closed.

But some Wisconsin bars immediately opened. The twitter account for Nick’s Bar in Platteville posted a photo of a packed crowd with apparently no one wearing a face mask. [NPR]

At least 15 states, including Illinois, are reportedly investigating cases of a mysterious illness affecting children. The illness, which is similar to toxic shock, is believed to be linked to COVID-19. [CBS News]

In California, 18 of the state’s 58 counties have received state approval to begin lifting restrictions. [NPR]

And in Ohio, a hacker caused state officials to reconsider a policy that kicks workers off unemployment. [Vice]

Across the nation, more than 1.3 million cases and more than 84,000 deaths have been reported. [NPR]

3. New wave of unemployment claims brings 2-month total to 36.5 million

Nearly 3 million people filed for jobless benefits last week, pushing the total to 36.5 million in just eight weeks. The unemployment numbers, while breathtaking, have been declining since a record high of 6.9 million reported in March.

It remains to be seen how many workers will be rehired as various states have recently begun easing shelter-in-place orders. [NPR]

The meat-packing industry has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with thousands of employees reportedly testing positive. Disruptions at meat processing plants are causing farmers to euthanize millions of pigs. [NPR]

Almost 40% of the poorest households in the U.S were hit with job losses, according to a Federal Reserve report released today. [CNBC]

4. U.S. faces “darkest winter in modern history” unless federal government steps up

That’s according to Dr. Rick Bright, a whistleblower who was ousted as the head of a federal agency tasked with developing a coronavirus vaccine. Bright told a House committee today that time is running out for the federal government to create a master plan to contain the virus.

Bright says he was removed from his post after he objected to the wide distribution of an anti-malarial drug promoted by President Donald Trump as a treatment for COVID-19. [NPR]

Meanwhile, House Democrats are preparing to vote tomorrow on a $3 trillion relief package that would provide aid to states and local governments, send another round of stimulus checks to Americans and extend beefed up jobless benefits through January.

But some lawmakers in both parties are calling for guaranteed income programs. [Chicago Tribune]

5. U.N. warns of mental health crisis

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned health officials to not overlook the mental health costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The COVID-19 virus is not only attacking our physical health; it is also increasing psychological suffering: grief at the loss of loved ones, shock at the loss of jobs, isolation and restrictions on movement, difficult family dynamics, uncertainty and fear for the future," Guterres said in a video message this week. [NPR]

Parents across the U.S. told NPR that their children have suffered from grief, violent outburst and other mental-health issues as schools remain closed to in-person classes. [NPR]

In Chicago, frontline health workers are facing their own mental health risks as they fight the spread of the coronavirus. [WBEZ]

Here’s what else is happening

  • Sen. Richard Burr is stepping down as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee as the FBI investigates stock sales the senator made before the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. [NPR]
  • A retired judge has been appointed to argue against the Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn. [NPR]
  • Chicago officials are proposing a $2.25 million settlement to an unarmed, autistic teenager who was shot by a police sergeant in 2017. [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • The Adler Planetarium laid off 120 employees after the institution celebrated its 90th birthday. [WTTW]

Oh, and one more thing …

What will life be like in a social-distanced world? Just look up my high school yearbook.

Just kidding. This fascinating photo essay shows what train stations, churches, schools and other public places look like in countries that are beginning to relax coronavirus restrictions. [Buzzfeed]

Meanwhile, Walt Disney World is preparing its partial reopening on May 20. Guests will be required to wear face masks and have their temperatures checked. [Hollywood Reporter]

Tell me something good ...

I wanna go on vacation but obviously can’t. So I’d like to know what your favorite vacation spot was before the pandemic.

Jenn Dalton writes:

“One of my favorite vacation spots is Traverse City, Michigan. There's a lot of great restaurants, breweries and vineyards. It's affordable and less than a day's drive from Chicago. The views of Lake Michigan are really wonderful.”

And Elizabeth Webster writes:

“For me, I'm in love with mountains, so it was going to be Yukon or Alaska this year. I guess the mountains will have to wait there for me. It will happen someday.”

Feel free to email at or tweet to @whuntah.

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