The 2,049 new known cases tops the previous high of 1,842 cases, announced Friday. There have now been 35,108 cases since the start of the outbreak. With 98 more fatalities also reported Wednesday, the death toll stands at 1,565, officials said.
Pritzker attributed the record number of new cases in part to the continued increase in the number of tests performed. The state reported more than 9,300 tests on Wednesday, approaching Pritzker’s previously stated goal of 10,000 screenings per day
Pritzker on Wednesday also publicized the opening of two more state-run drive-thru testing facilities to help screen more people for the new coronavirus. The testing is available to anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, with no doctor’s note required.
Here’s what’s happening on Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
7:39 p.m.: Ludeman Center workers in Park Forest pushed for protective equipment, testing and less movement between homes
Leaders of the union that represents frontline workers at Elisabeth Ludeman Developmental Center in Park Forest have for weeks been in talks with center administrators and state officials about improving safety standards and practices at the facility as it works to contain an outbreak of COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, 136 residents and staff members had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and three had died of COVID-19 complications. Read more here. —Zak Koeske
6:55 p.m.: Pritzker not on board with McConnell’s support of states declaring bankruptcy to get out of pension debt
Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday rejected Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for a pause in federal coronavirus relief aid to the states and support for allowing states like Illinois to file bankruptcy to unload heavy public employee pension debt.
Asked about the comments during a daily coronavirus briefing, Pritzker said McConnell is “certainly important to the process of getting things done in Washington, D.C.,” but noted that “there are an awful lot of senators on both sides of the aisle that disagree with him.”
“So, I’m hopeful that as a result of work that they’re doing, those (other) senators that believe that states and local governments deserve and need additional support,” he said.
And seeking bankruptcy protection, Pritzker said, was not an option he has considered. Read more here. —Rick Pearson
6:45 p.m.: State housing alliance regrants $340,000 in coronavirus-related financial aid to agencies helping homeless
Illinois agencies providing assistance for homeless individuals will receive grants from Housing Action Illinois, a coalition that champions lifting the state’s ban on rent control and affordable housing, according to a press release. The coalition will regrant $340,000 in coronavirus-related financial aid it was awarded today.
“Now, more than ever, it is clear that housing is healthcare,” said Bob Palmer, Housing Action Illinois’ Policy Director, in the news release.
The majority of the funding came from Illinois’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which has raised more than $30 million since launching on March 26. The National Low Income Housing Coalition also contributed money from one-time donations from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the JPB Foundation.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Illinois Department of Human Services issued a 5% increase in the budgets of homeless service providers it funds, as well as $8 million for emergency housing and services in March. Read more here. —Cecilia Reyes
5:10 p.m.: Two new state-run testing sites announced: Aurora and Rockford
The other new location will be in Rockford and is expected to open Friday, Pritzker said at his daily news briefing.
The new sites will bring the total number of state-run drive-up testing locations to five. Illinois already operates drive-up testing sites on the West Side of Chicago, in south suburban Markham and in Bloomington in central Illinois.
“Our five drive-thrus can run up to 2,900 tests per day, when the Rockford test site is fully up and running,” Pritzker said.
The governor last week pledged a massive expansion of COVID-19 testing across Illinois, adding that state officials have resolved many of the test kit shortages and supply chain problems that have previously hampered testing for the new virus locally and across the country.
Pritzker last week also expanded state testing guidelines to allow anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested, even without a previously required doctor’s order.
“Certainly every day I’m working very hard to expand testing in the state, and so you’re starting to see some success,” he said Wednesday. —Angie Leventis Lourgos
5:02 p.m.: 10 residents at South Shore nursing home die from COVID-19, 100 more test positive
Ten residents of a South Shore senior center have died from coronavirus-related complications and about 100 more have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the company that runs it and several other facilities, including one in Joliet where more than 80 people have tested positive and more than 20 have died.
The deaths at the South Shore home at 2425 E. 71st St. were announced Wednesday, a day after Symphony Care Network reported only one COVID-19 death there. At least 27 others have been hospitalized, it said, but some residents testing positive have shown no symptoms.
In all, 111 residents of the home — 70% — were found to have the coronavirus as the home worked with University of Chicago Medicine to test every resident and every employee, according to Natalie Bauer Luce, spokeswoman for the Symphony nursing homes. In addition, 11 staff members tested positive for COVID-19. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón, Cecilia Reyes and Dan Hinkel
4:12 p.m.: The Chicago Pride Parade, 3rd largest in the U.S., has been postponed due to the coronavirus
The organizers of the Chicago Pride Parade held out longer than their counterparts in New York and San Francisco, but Wednesday they too announced that the festivities would be postponed due to the coronavirus.
The parade, which draws a million people, was scheduled for June 28, but now coordinator Tim Frye is hoping to hold it in late summer or early fall. Read more here. —Nara Schoenberg
4:11 p.m.: Americans overwhelmingly support coronavirus restrictions, AP poll shows
Despite pockets of attention-grabbing protests, a new survey finds Americans remain overwhelmingly in favor of stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. A majority say it won’t be safe to lift such restrictions anytime soon, even as a handful of governors announce plans to ease within days the public health efforts that have upended daily life and roiled the global economy.
The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that more than a month after schoolyards fell silent, restaurant tables and bar stools emptied, and waves from a safe distance replaced hugs and handshakes, the country largely believes restrictions on social interaction to curb the spread of the virus are appropriate.
Only 12% of Americans say the measures where they live go too far. About twice as many people, 26%, believe the limits don’t go far enough. The majority of Americans — 61% — feel the steps taken by government officials to prevent infections of COVID-19 in their area are about right.
About 8 in 10 Americans say they support measures that include requiring Americans to stay in their homes and limiting gatherings to 10 people or fewer — numbers that have largely held steady over the past few weeks. Read more here. —Associated Press
4:08 p.m.: Argus Brewery shutters in the shadow of coronavirus
Argus Brewery was one of Chicago’s oldest breweries and one of its most confounding.
Since launching in 2009 in a former Schlitz horse stable — a relic of when beer was delivered by hooves — Argus always hovered at the edge of the beer drinking consciousness, a curiosity few Chicagoans ever saw, tasted or even discussed.
While other breweries of its era grew into Chicago icons — Metropolitan, Half Acre, Revolution — Argus sat quietly at the city’s far south end, miles from both its competitors and the city’s best-known beer bars.
Yet somehow it endured — until last month.
On March 28, Argus quietly stopped brewing. News of its demise didn’t emerge until Patch reported the closing this week.
Argus founder Bob Jensen acknowledged that his brewery had long been teetering at the edge of collapse. It was never profitable, and in December, reduced head count from 16 to 11 employees. Jensen considered pulling the plug for months. The COVID-19 pandemic made him pull it. Read more here. —Josh Noel
3:55 p.m.: Pritzker attributes record number of new cases in part to increase in testing
Pritzker attributed the record number of new cases announced Wednesday in part to the continued increase in the number of tests performed. The state reported more than 9,300 tests on Wednesday, approaching Pritzker’s previously stated goal of 10,000 screenings per day —Dan Petrella
3:18 p.m.: Facial coverings would be required in many public settings in Chicago under City Council plan
Anyone over two years old would be required to wear a mask or other face covering when they can’t maintain social distancing in public in Chicago under a proposal an alderman said would help normalize the practice and fight the spread of the coronavirus.
And the measure sets out several rules for owners of businesses that are still open, requiring “social distancing protocols” to be enacted at grocery stores and other places still receiving customers. Fines of $750 per day could be levied against businesses that don’t comply.
The ordinance would require people to wear coverings over their noses and mouths while riding on buses or trains or in cabs or ride share vehicles, and for drivers of those vehicles to cover their faces as well. And it would require customers at essential businesses to cover their faces when inside.
Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, introduced her ordinance Wednesday, and said she’ll push for a quick hearing.
“If we really want to get this behind us, everyone has to wear a mask in public,” Smith said. “The real impediment to that happening is social acceptance, so this ordinance would get everyone on the same page by making it a requirement.” Read more here. —John Byrne
3:17 p.m.: Pritzker dismisses idea that he’s preparing to extend stay-at-home order into June
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that as he reexamines his stay-at-home order, set to expire April 30, he has considered beginning to allow elective surgeries to resume and allowing state parks to reopen.
The governor has said in recent day that he could take a regional approach to easing restrictions.
He dismissed the idea that he’s preparing to extend the order into June, something Mayor Lori Lightfoot suggested as a possibility on Tuesday.
“That’s not something we’re contemplating at the moment,” Pritzker said. “I mean, we’re looking at an extension, but I don’t know — I can’t tell you right now how long that extension should run.” —Dan Petrella
3:15 p.m.: More than 2,500 health care workers have caught COVID-19, officials say
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said state data show that among those who have caught the virus are more than 2,500 health care workers, including “potentially eight deaths.” —Dan Petrella
2:51 p.m.: Chicago’s Pride Fest celebration postponed because of the coronavirus
Chicago Pride Fest, the two-day street festival held a week before the Pride Parade, has been postponed because of concerns about the new coronavirus, according to organizers. Originally scheduled for June 20 and 21, Pride Fest has been tentatively rescheduled for Labor Day weekend, with plans underway to provide virtual programming in June. Read more here. —Nara Schoenberg
2:35 p.m.: Largest number of new coronavirus cases in Illinois in a single day since outbreak began
State officials on Wednesday announced the largest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day since the outbreak began.
The 2,049 new known cases tops the previous high of 1,842 cases, announced Friday. There have now been 35,108 cases since the start of the outbreak. With 98 more fatalities also reported Wednesday, the death toll stands at 1,565, officials said.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday also publicized the opening of two more state-run drive-thru testing facilities to help screen more people for the new coronavirus.
One of the facilities opened Wednesday at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora, and the other is scheduled to open Friday at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford. Once these facilities are up and running, the state’s five drive-thru sites will be able to collect specimens from 2,900 people per day, Pritzker said.
The testing is available to anyone with COVID-19-like symptoms, with no doctor’s note required. —Dan Petrella
2:26 p.m.: Tens of thousands of CPS students still need computers for remote learning
Roughly half of the Chicago Public Schools students who needed computers to use during the coronavirus closure have yet to get them, more than a week into the formal start of remote learning.
CPS estimated that about 115,000 students, or nearly a third of the total student body, needed a laptop or tablet in order to participate in learning from home. As of the end of day Tuesday, about 55,000 devices had been logged as distributed to students at nearly 400 district-run schools, CPS Chief Information Officer Phil DiBartolo said during Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. Read more here. —Hannah Leone
2:13 p.m.: Can pedestrians and runners share crowded sidewalks during the pandemic?
The closure of trail systems and lakefront parks because of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed many runners into Chicago’s neighborhoods and sometimes crowded sidewalks.
But that’s led to problems between runners and pedestrians who worry that it’s unsafe for joggers to pass by closely.
But how likely is it for a pedestrian to be infected by a passing runner? And should those runners be wearing face masks? Read more here. —Elyssa Cherney
1:56 p.m.: Downtown Chicago buildings to light up in support of coronavirus first responders and essential workers
Downtown Chicago streets are eerily quiet amid the new coronavirus, but the city’s skyline is about to light up in recognition of those on the front lines of the pandemic.
Starting Saturday night, at least 19 downtown office properties will light up in support of essential workers and first responders, according to BOMA/Chicago. Participating buildings include Willis Tower and the former John Hancock Center.
From Saturday through May 1, upper portions of downtown buildings will be illuminated blue in support of essential workers. Then, from May 2 through May 5, buildings will light up red in support of first responders. Read more here. —Ryan Ori
1:34 p.m.: Third time won’t be the charm for Hinsdale eighth-grader, as national spelling bee is canceled
Atman Balakrishnan held out hope, until those hopes were dashed in an email from the Scripps National Spelling Bee, informing him that the 2020 competition scheduled for the end of May had been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Atman, an eighth-grader at Hinsdale Middle School, was planning to make his third consecutive trip to the national bee after qualifying by winning the DuPage County competition. He advanced to the finals a year ago before being eliminated and didn’t advance to the finals two year ago as a sixth-grader.
“I knew it was possible that they would be canceling this year, but I was hopeful, I thought they’d figure out a way,” Atman said Wednesday, a day after learning he had competed in his final Scripps national bee. “I woke up yesterday and was very happy until I heard the news.”
Atman said not having another opportunity this year to compete is made even more frustrating because he is an eighth-grader in an event that ends with that grade level.
“If I was in seventh grade, I could have taken the time to study and get ready for next year,” he said. “I can’t really find a silver lining right now.” Read more here. —Chuck Fieldman
12:59 p.m.: Wheaton College apartments will be used to house DuPage County first responders amid coronavirus outbreak
Wheaton College will provide temporary housing for first responders in DuPage County to self-isolate due to the coronavirus, officials announced Wednesday.
The college will open 28 apartments free of charge for use by DuPage police officers, firefighters and medical personnel, a county news release announced. The units will be for those who have been exposed to COVID-19, but do not need hospitalization; have tested positive for the virus and need to be isolated, but do not need hospitalization; and as a precautionary measure for asymptomatic, high-risk individuals. Read more here. —Robert McCoppin
12:55 p.m.: More than 100 seniors at South Shore nursing home — 70% — test positive for COVID-19
More than 100 residents of a South Shore senior center have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the company that runs it and several other facilities, including one in Joliet where more than 80 people have tested positive and more than 20 have died.
At least one of the residents at the South Shore home at 2425 E. 71st St. has died. The health of the others who tested positive was not disclosed by Symphony Care Network, but the company said some were not showing symptoms. It said workers were isolating all of them.
In all, 111 residents of the home — 70% — were found to have the coronavirus as the home worked with University of Chicago Medicine to test every resident and every employee, according to Natalie Bauer Luce, spokeswoman for the Symphony nursing homes.
It wasn’t clear when the first case was documented or if the home or the university have been able to trace how the virus started to spread. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón, Cecilia Reyes and Dan Hinkel
12:52 p.m.: Illinois Republican lawmakers urge Pritzker to open state parks and some businesses
Illinois Republican lawmakers are urging Gov. J.B. Pritzker to make a range of changes to his stay-at-home order, which is widely expected to be extended beyond its current April 30 expiration, that include reopening state parks and allowing some businesses to reopen with social-distancing measures.
“The safe opening, or reopening, of our state economy is the important work that now faces us,” said Rep. Ryan Spain, a Peoria Republican, during a Wednesday online news conference. “And we believe there should be allowances made for businesses to reopen, as long as they can do so safely. So that’s social distancing requirements, use of masks, use of density controls for their particular businesses.”
Pritzker’s stay-at-home order took effect March 21, and has been extended once already. Pritzker has said this week that changes are coming to the order, but he has yet to announce specifics.
Some Republicans are urging a regional approach to reopening the state economy, something Pritzker has signaled he’s considering.
“Businesses like art stores, car dealerships, clothing stores, shoe stores, salons and barbershops — there are a number of things that we can begin to do, and we hope the governor will do, and incorporate into the revisions to his executive orders to allow businesses, as appropriate, to be able to resume activities,” Spain said. “This will be different for different types of businesses, and likely should be different for different parts of our state.” Read more here. —Jaime Munks
12:46 p.m.: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to give virtual commencement address to NU grads
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is bringing her stay-at-home memes to the main stage as Northwestern University’s commencement speaker during a virtual ceremony this summer.
In selecting the Chicago mayor to address the graduates, Northwestern President Morton Schapiro praised her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a news release.
Northwestern also intends to hold an in-person ceremony at a future date when it is safe to gather in crowds. Students learned Wednesday that Lightfoot would be their speaker as the school confirmed that commencement could not proceed on campus.
Lightfoot said she was “honored” to address the graduates during the June 19 ceremony. Read more here. —Elyssa Cherney
12:17 p.m.: Lightfoot’s opponents block COVID-19 measure giving her extraordinary spending powers for Chicago’s pandemic response
Opponents of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s move to codify extraordinary spending powers in response to the coronavirus blocked its passage Wednesday, though their victory in stopping what they see as mayoral overreach may be short-lived.
When five aldermen used a parliamentary procedure to automatically defer Lightfoot’s emergency powers ordinance until the next City Council meeting, the mayor responded by immediately setting a new meeting for 1 p.m. Friday to vote on the measure then.
Though there is considerable dissatisfaction among council members about the ordinance, it passed the council Budget Committee on Tuesday by a 23-10 vote, just three votes shy of a majority of the full 50-member City Council.
It passed that preliminary council test after Lightfoot promised to give regular reports to aldermen on expenditures, which are expected to surpass $150 million by the end of June.
Confusion reigned on the City Council Zoom feed for several minutes Wednesday, as aldermen shouted over each other from their homes and offices trying to maneuver to either proceed with the vote or stop it.
Lightfoot at points grew frustrated with aldermen for not identifying themselves before they started speaking, noting that she couldn’t immediately see who’s talking without a name.
She also admonished aldermen for using foul language minutes after Southwest Side Ald. Raymond Lopez, a Lightfoot critic, said “hell no!” during a roll call vote on whether to end the meeting immediately. Read more here. —John Byrne and Gregory Pratt
11:18 a.m.: Pritzker ‘holds all the cards’ for rent relief, advocates say. But as legislators scramble, May rent is almost due.
The state’s eviction moratorium has not been enough to protect Illinois renters, housing advocates say. Chicago’s 2,000 one-time housing grants — which 83,000 people have applied for — did not quiet the calls for relief.
Lawmakers are rushing to pass legislation that would suspend rent and mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic, while also keeping landlords and lenders afloat. But next month’s rent is due in just over a week, leaving little time to help those who need it.
“If I didn’t pay my rent for a month, that’s $1,500, then next month it’s $3,000,” said Faye Porter, a longtime Hyde Park tenant organizer. “What are people going to do? They’re out of jobs.”
In the interim, tenants say they’re being kicked out of their homes amid record job loss; asked to risk their safety by allowing landlords or prospective tenants to show their still-occupied apartments; or given a choice to either move out by the end of April or face eviction once the stay-at-home order is lifted.
Advocates and a growing number of politicians have urged Gov. J.B. Pritzker to use his emergency powers through his ongoing disaster proclamation to repeal the state’s preemptive ban on rent regulation — action Pritzker has repeatedly said he cannot legally take. They are also pushing for the governor to put a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments for the duration of his stay-at-home order and three months after it is lifted.
They come armed with a legal opinion arguing that such action is within the governor’s powers during a declared disaster, either by issuing a statewide order or leaving it up to municipalities to decide. Read more here. —Ariel Cheung
11:04 a.m.: Illinois midwives face surge of interest in home birth during coronavirus pandemic
In normal times, My Mindful Birth, a home birth midwifery practice in Naperville, received one or two inquiries a day from expectant mothers.
But since news of the COVID-19 pandemic broke, the phone has barely stopped ringing.
“There was a noticeable flood of calls that started once the information about the virus started to be more widespread,” said Shelli Mullins, a midwife assistant at My Mindful Birth. “This was like every five minutes.”
My Mindful Birth is now booked through November—nearly eight months in advance—which owner Isabelle Guillou said has never happened before.
Other home birth midwives across Illinois say they have faced a similar surge in inquiries. Concerned about giving birth in a hospital, many pregnant women are opting to instead give birth at home, assisted by a midwife.
Demand has been so high, it has outstripped the state’s limited number of home birth providers. Read more here. —Antonia Ayres-Brown
10:41 a.m.: Muslims begin holy month of Ramadan during pandemic
As the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins, Muslims will be impacted by restrictions put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Ramadan, which starts April 23, is a month of deep spirituality for Muslims, which includes daily fasting from food and water from sunrise to sunset. At the conclusion, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr, often over a period of three days, by gathering with friends and family for meals and gift-giving.
According to Imam Senad Agić of the Society of American Bosnians and Herzegovinians, this year’s Ramadan will be “very different” for many.
“The oldest members don’t remember this kind of situation in our lifetime,” Agić said. “The month of Ramadan is a very social and communal month, and meant to be anything but to be in isolation from other people. Social distancing is such a strange concept to any religion. Instead of coming together, we are going to stay at home in isolation.”
In a normal year, Agić said he would be going to his mosque, SABAH Islamic and Cultural Center in Franklin Park, every day during Ramadan. He said he would stay there as long as two hours in the afternoon and two hours in the evening, with some members staying as late as midnight.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Agić said SABAH cannot allow more than 10 worshipers to attend at a time, and the mosque has had to cancel late evening dinners and prayer services. Read more here. —Steve Schering and Jennifer Johnson
10:22 a.m.: Federal PPP loans won’t protect all paychecks: Many small-business recipients say they won’t rehire
Some small businesses that obtained a highly coveted Paycheck Protection Program loan say they won’t be able to use it to bring all their laid-off workers back, even though that is exactly what the program was designed to do.
The federal Paycheck Protection Program promises business owners loan forgiveness if they retain or rehire all the workers they had in late February. But owners say the equation isn’t so simple, in part because of current economic conditions and partly due to the terms of the loans.
As a result, the lending may not reduce unemployment as much as the Trump administration and Congress hope. Read more here. —Associated Press
10:21 a.m.: Illinois National Guard setting up coronavirus testing site near Aurora outlet mall
The Illinois National Guard is setting up a supply and testing location in Aurora as part of its statewide effort to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Aurora police spokesman Paris Lewbel said the police department is assisting the Illinois National Guard as they set up the site near the Chicago Premium Outlets mall near Bilter Road off of Interstate 88 in Aurora. The mall temporarily closed on March 19 due to the pandemic.
At this time, he said, there is no public access to the site, which has had an increased presence of National Guard members since Monday. Read more here. —Megan Jones
9:33 a.m.: Still waiting for your federal stimulus check? Here are four possible reasons.
If you’re still holding out on your stimulus check arriving, you are not the only one.
Newsweek estimates that an estimated 60 million to 70 million Americans still haven’t received theirs, even though some reported seeing the money as early as April 10.
9:23 a.m.: Chicago aldermen offer COVID-19 related proposals — including mandated facial coverings
Northwest Side Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, introduced an order on Wednesday calling for Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s budget director to take city money that would have been spent on now-canceled special events such as Gospel Fest and instead put it in COVID-19 housing assistance grant.
And Lincoln Park Ald. Michele Smith, 43rd, introduced an ordinance that would require anyone in Chicago over age 2 to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face covering when out in public.
Both moves are just proposals for now and will not be voted on at Wednesday’s virtual City Council meeting. —John Byrne
9:19 a.m.: Should you buy oil stocks now? Here’s what the experts are saying
A barrel of oil Tuesday cost less than a case of beer, a cheap bottle of wine, a dozen donuts, or a 12 oz. bag of your favorite coffee.
U.S. benchmark crude was trading as low as $6.50 a barrel, the Associated Press reported, more than 80% lower than the start of the year. Americans are now looking to cash in.
8:43 a.m.: DePaul student Nate Odenkirk, son of TV star Bob Odenkirk, talks surviving coronavirus: ‘I was lucky’
DePaul University student Nate Odenkirk didn’t expect to spend his spring break sick as he’s ever been.
“I had a very mild case of coronavirus,” Odenkirk told the Tribune. “I didn’t have to be hospitalized, and it didn’t last as long as it’s lasted for some people. But it still sucked. It still really, really hurt. There were weeks where I couldn’t really get out of bed.”
Odenkirk, a 21-year-old junior, talked to the Tribune about his experience with the coronavirus. His father, “Better Call Saul” star and Chicago-area native Bob Odenkirk, also has been sharing Nate’s story during his late-night talk-show appearances. Read more here. —Tracy Swartz
8:39 a.m.: From prom dresses to face masks: One Chicago woman is using her sewing skills a little differently this year
For the past 30 years, Christel Williams-Hayes has sewn prom dresses for Chicago high school students.
This year, with schools closed and proms canceled, she’s turning her sewing skills to making cloth face masks for essential workers and others who need them.
When she gets a chance, though, the longtime former Chicago Public Schools paraprofessional still intends to finish those prom outfits, just to make those high school seniors feels a little better. Read more here. —Sophie Sherry
7:19 a.m.: First US coronavirus deaths came weeks earlier than thought in California, CDC confirms
Health officials say two people died with the coronavirus in California weeks before the first reported death from the disease.
Santa Clara County officials said Tuesday the people died at home Feb. 6 and Feb. 17. Before this, the first U.S. death from the virus had been reported on Feb. 29 in Kirkland, Washington. The Medical Examiner-Coroner received confirmation Tuesday that tissue samples sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested positive for the virus, officials said. Read more here. —Associated Press
6:15 a.m.: At some Chicago homeless shelters, half of staff and residents tested positive for COVID-19
Advocates say better housing is crucial.Increased coronavirus testing in Chicago homeless shelters has revealed varying levels of infection, with some locations having as many as half of its staff and residents test positive, city health officials say.
Most of the people testing positive showed no symptoms but were checked because there had been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in their shelters, according to Deputy Public Health Commissioner Megan Cunningham. Some locations had no positive cases among staff and residents.
“We were finding those places where spread had already occurred to a greater extent,” Cunningham said. “Now that we’re able to do more widespread testing, we are hopeful that we will see much lower rates out there.” Read more here. —Cecilia Reyes
6:10 a.m.: Chicago City Council to conduct full meeting online today
A week after Chicago aldermen held a short online meeting to approve holding its sessions virtually, the City Council was scheduled to hold its first full online meeting Wednesday and was expected to approve emergency spending and contracting powers for Mayor Lori Lightfoot for the COVID-19 crisis.
Before being given initial approval by the council’s Budget Committee Tuesday, the mayor’s emergency powers ordinance got pushback from aldermen who wanted more say on how the Lightfoot administration spends huge amounts of money to deal with the pandemic.
City Budget Director Susie Park said Tuesday the city already has budgeted $65 million and spent $5.6 million in response to the virus. Park expects the city to spend more than $150 million before July. Much of the money will be reimbursed through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Park said, and the city likely will be able to cover a lot of the rest using money the federal government distributed to Chicago as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Here are five things that happened Tuesday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know: