Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced the state conducted 16,124 tests for the new coronavirus during the previous 24 hours, for the first time surpassing his goal of 10,000 tests in a single day.

“Surpassing 10,000 tests is a very important milestone, not only because it allows us to isolate more of those who are COVID positive so that they don’t spread the infection but also because it moves us in the direction of expanding our surveillance for outbreaks,” Pritzker said.

Officials also announced a daily high number for known cases of COVID-19. The 2,724 new cases announced Friday tops the previous high of 2,049 set just two days earlier and brings the total known case count to 39,658. There also were 108 more deaths announced, bringing the death toll to 1,795, officials said.

Here’s what’s happening on Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

6:15 p.m.: Northwestern testing drug to help treat a ‘storm’ inside the body caused by COVID-19

Some patients with the novel coronavirus suffer a severe immune response that triggers potentially fatal hyperinflammation, studies have shown. The reaction, named for the body’s proteins that attack lung tissue, is known as a “cytokine storm.”

“A storm is a good way to describe it,” Northwestern Medicine’s Dr. Richard Wunderink said. “It can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome, … essentially flooding the lungs.”

In response, researchers like Wunderink are racing to see if they can find a way to prevent such a catastrophic chain of events. Northwestern Medicine in Chicago is testing a drug called sarilumab, which is otherwise used to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

As medical director of the intensive care unit, Wunderink and his colleagues have helped treat more than 100 patients on mechanical ventilation. Early results elsewhere show that many patients do not do well on ventilators, and the drug treatment is an attempt to avoid that last resort.

“We have no therapy for COVID-19, per se,” Wunderink explained. “We are managing these patients using what research has shown is the best management for acute respiratory distress syndrome, so that’s the best we have to offer.” Read more here. —Robert McCoppin

5:40 p.m.: Higher meat prices, fewer choices at supermarkets as slaughterhouses close over COVID-19 cases. For farmers, ‘some tough choices’ ahead.

Chad Leman, a third-generation hog farmer in Eureka, Illinois, thinks he can hold out for two more weeks before he resorts to once-unthinkable measures.

With some of the nation’s largest slaughterhouses closed due to worker outbreaks of COVID-19, he can’t sell most of his market-ready hogs. But freshly weaned piglets continue to arrive, crowding his barns. He’s been shuffling pigs around, but there’s just not enough space.

“We can do this for a couple weeks yet, but then we’re going to have some tough decisions,” Leman said. “We are going to have to euthanize baby pigs because there will be nowhere for them to go.”

Outbreaks of COVID-19 among workers at major meatpacking plants are causing ripple effects across the supply chain, creating a backlog of livestock at farms in central Illinois and threatening to hike meat prices at supermarkets in Chicago. Read more here. —Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

5:05 p.m.: Illinois reopens golf May 1 but with strict regulations — twosomes only, no carts and no practice putting

Golfers like to joke they’ve been social distancing for years: They hit a weak slice that lands in the right rough while their playing partners hit pull hooks or, once in a blue moon, stripe it down the middle of the fairway.

Now as part of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s “strict safety guidelines,” social distancing will become mandatory on Illinois’ 683 golf courses.

Pritzker’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity laid out a dozen ground rules Friday afternoon to course operators, who can welcome golfers at 6 a.m. May 1.

Most restrictions mirror those from other states: Walking only (no carts), tee times spread out to 15 minutes, no touching of the flagstick, foam in the cups for easy ball retrieval, no food service and clubhouses that will remain closed.

Illinois officials, though, have taken things further with this line: “Players shall be grouped in twosomes.”

So no threesomes or foursomes, the most common-sized group. Read more here. —Teddy Greenstein.

2:46 p.m.: Illinois surpasses single-day testing goal for 1st time

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced the state conducted 16,124 tests for the new coronavirus during the previous 24 hours, for the first time surpassing his goal of 10,000 tests in a single day.

“Surpassing 10,000 tests is a very important milestone, not only because it allows us to isolate more of those who are COVID positive so that they don’t spread the infection but also because it moves us in the direction of expanding our surveillance for outbreaks,” Pritzker said.

The announcement came the same day the state opened its fifth drive-thru testing facility, the newest one in Rockford.

Officials also announced a daily high number for known cases of COVID-19. The 2,724 new cases announced Friday tops the previous high of 2,049 set just two days earlier and brings the total known case count to 39,658. Public health officials have attributed the recent spikes in cases in part to increased testing.

There also were 108 more deaths announced Friday, bringing the death toll to 1,795, officials said. There have been fatalities in 96 of Illinois’ 102 counties.

Officials said Thursday that models show Illinois may be reaching a peak in coronavirus cases. —Dan Petrella

2:35 p.m.: Which fabric is best for homemade masks? A new study looked at more than 15 common household materials.

Starting May 1, Illinois will require everyone over age 2 to wear a mask when they can’t maintain a 6-foot social distance in public. N-95 masks, which are in short supply, are best reserved for health care workers, who come into direct contact with COVID-19 patients. So what fabric or combination of fabrics is best for homemade masks?

A new study conducted by University of Chicago professor Supratik Guha and colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont looked at more than 15 common household fabrics to see which were best for protecting against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. More specifically, the study investigated the fabric’s filtration efficiencies against the tiny droplets that are how COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses are spread.

The study found the most effective fabrics to be cotton, natural silk and chiffon; synthetic silk and satin did not provide as much protection. Hybrid combinations, such as high thread cotton, along with silk, chiffon or flannel also supplied broad filtration coverage. Read more here. —Hannah Herrera Greenspan

2:30 p.m.: A Chicago nurse returned to work after recovering from coronavirus. His cough came back. He tested 2 more times and got different results.

Day after day, Daniel Ortiz walks into a hospital and treats patients who are struggling with the coronavirus. He hoped he wouldn’t test positive for the virus. But it was, he felt, inevitable.

That fear came true, not once, but twice.

Ortiz’s ordeal started in March, when he was assigned to the COVID-19 unit at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. Although escaping exposure felt impossible, he took measures to protect his wife, carefully removing contaminated clothing before entering their home and sleeping on the couch.

Still, a coronavirus test in late March came back positive.

“It felt like somebody was constantly hitting me in the head with a hammer,” said Ortiz, who returned to work in early April. At the time, he said, protocol to return to work did not include further testing. Nurses could go back once symptoms subsided after seven days. “I go right to the place that got me sick, that took my power, that took everything.”

Ortiz is one of thousands of people working in Illinois health care systems who have been infected with the virus. Eight have died, according to the state Health Department. He and other nurses who have tested positive for the coronavirus told the Tribune they worry about getting sick again.

Last week, Ortiz’s cough returned. Under new hospital policy, he was tested twice before he could return to work this time.

The first result came back negative. But on Wednesday, two days later, he tested positive. Read more here. —Alison Bowen

2:25 p.m.: Chicago City Council approves Lightfoot’s coronavirus emergency powers order

Aldermen approved Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s coronavirus spending ordinance Friday over the objections of critics who say she’s giving herself too much authority to make big purchases using public money without City Council oversight.

The mayor’s emergency powers ordinance passed the council by a 29-21 vote following contentious debate. Lightfoot had the council meet Friday afternoon to consider the package after opponents used a parliamentary procedure to block it at Wednesday’s meeting.

On Wednesday, the mayor had excoriated the five aldermen who stopped the vote as a small group of selfish obstructionists more interested in “preening in front of the press” than working to help their constituents who are in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But on Friday, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35th, said Lightfoot’s failure to include provisions in the ordinance guaranteeing equitable distribution of coronavirus funds to protect vulnerable Chicagoans made it unacceptable. “With this mayor, we’ve seen that you have to get it in writing,” Ramirez-Rosa said.

The ordinance codifies a set of extraordinary spending powers, many of which Lightfoot already granted herself via a March executive order. It allows her administration to move money within the city budget and sign contracts under $1 million without aldermanic approval if the funds are to be spent in response to the virus.Facing aldermanic pushback last week to her proposal, Lightfoot agreed to have her finance team provide weekly reports to the council Budget Committee detailing such spending. Read more here. —John Byrne and Gregory Pratt

2:01 p.m.: At least $200 million budget gap could hit Cook County government as sales, hotel tax revenue dry up, official says

Cook County government could suffer at least a $200 million budget shortfall this year due to lost tax revenue amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Friday projection.

Starting in May, Cook County’s forecasted net revenue is expected to begin dropping and spark a substantial budget gap for the 2020 fiscal year, according to a projection from chief financial officer Ammar Rizki. Plummeting sales tax revenue from restaurants and other sources could spell long-term damage to the budget as shopping and tourism numbers deflate amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Rizki said his “best-case scenario” projection is if the statewide stay-at-home order ends as scheduled at the end of May, but the projections could fluctuate greatly.“

If we’re not able to control the pandemic and the economy is in some sort of a suspended state through the summer months,” Rizki said, “this is going to get only worse for us.”

Rizki said he fears coronavirus’ clampdown on outside life will not ease once the virus subsides, and warned that “people are not going to go rush out automatically and start living their daily lives that they used to prior to COVID, despite the pent-up demand.” Read more here. —Alice Yin

1:54 p.m.: Chicago police issued more dispersal orders on West Side in early days of stay-at-home order than other parts of the city, including the lakefront

Chicago police broke up far more gatherings of people on the West Side than any other part of the city during the early days of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to official police statistics.

More than half of the 956 reports where Chicago police dealt with “coronavirus loitering” across the city in an 11-day period from late March through early April occurred in just one of the city’s 22 police districts, the Harrison patrol district on the West Side, according to data on coronavirus dispersals obtained by the Tribune through an open records request. Read more here. —Jeremy Gorner

12:39 p.m.: Judge blocks new Illinois workers’ compensation rule that granted benefits to employees who contract COVID-19

A judge has blocked a new Illinois workers’ compensation rule granting benefits to any employee deemed essential who contracts COVID-19, even if working from home.

Sangamon County Circuit Court Judge John M. Madonia issued a temporary restraining order Thursday blocking the rule following a lawsuit filed by the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association this week against emergency amendments adopted by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. More than two dozen business groups supported the lawsuit. Read more here. —Associated Press

11:56 a.m.: Nursing home group criticizes state response to COVID-19

A Illinois nursing home industry group criticized the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and warned that outbreaks in homes are likely worse than has been reported and the numbers will grow more dire.

Speaking on behalf of the Health Care Council of Illinois, Citadel Healthcare CEO Jonathan Aaron said on a video conference call with reporters that the state’s expanded testing efforts at nursing homes were “belated and off to a slow start.” He called for “coordinated widespread testing” and said “a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 in nursing homes is long overdue.”

Aaron, who oversees 11 facilities, also questioned the effectiveness of pre-shift temperature screening for nursing home employees, saying it wouldn’t stop an asymptomatic worker from spreading the virus. In fact, that mirrors the official account of the spread of the disease at a Joliet home where 24 residents and employees have died.

State officials on Sunday started posting information on cases and deaths at homes online after sustaining criticism about holding back the information. Aaron warned that those figures likely undercount cases because of delays in reporting and different reporting practices across the state. He noted that the state is only periodically updating the data it shares publicly, and he said the next update will bring a “surge” in cases and deaths.

Aaron’s conference call came in the wake of complaints from nursing home workers that managers are not providing adequate gear and training while failing to share information on outbreaks. Aaron said his peers in the industry were being blamed unfairly.

“We have done everything we can to secure PPE. We have literally scoured the globe,” he said. “We are paying astronomical amounts of money. We are being price-gouged.”

State officials could not immediately be reached for comment. —Dan Hinkel

11:53 a.m.: Is it crazy to launch a restaurant during the pandemic shutdown? North Shore to-go spot stays on schedule and finds success

How do you host an opening during a mass closing?

That was the question facing Paul Bumbaco, Jeff Hoobler and Kris Walker, the group behind BWB Rocks, a new fast casual restaurant in North Shore, as they had already made plans to open before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down.

The group pressed on, which elicited some surprise on social media. Read more here. —Adam Lukach

11:49 a.m.: Trump signs $484 billion stimulus bill to aid employers and hospitals under stress from the coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump signed a $484 billion bill Friday to aid employers and hospitals under stress from the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 50,000 Americans and devastated broad swaths of the economy.

The bill is the latest effort by the federal government to help keep afloat businesses that have had to close or dramatically alter their operations as states try to slow the spread of the virus. Over the past five weeks, roughly 26 million people have filed for jobless aid, or about 1 in 6 U.S. workers. Read more here. —Associated Press

11:44 a.m.: New executive order by Pritzker waives some graduation requirements for high school seniors, 8th graders

High-school seniors worried about passing final classes needed to graduate may find relief in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s latest executive order.

The Friday order suspends Illinois School Code requirements that 12th graders successfully complete “certain courses” in order to get a high school diploma. It applies specifically to students unable to finish the coursework because of suspension of in-person classes due to COVID-19.

Seniors also won’t be denied credit for apprenticeships, vocational classes or technical education courses that count toward graduation requirements but are also affected by coronavirus measures.

More than 100,000 Illinois students are getting ready to graduate high school, according to the order.

For a similar number of eighth graders, the order suspends the requirement that they show comprehensive knowledge of U.S. history before advancing to high school.

It also suspends school code requirements for physical fitness assessments and some foreign language proficiency exams.

In addition, the order eases requirements including performance assessments for student teachers, internships for principal candidates and educators seeking specific licenses, and full-time supervised experience for prospective school psychologists.

Of more than 15,000 people currently in educator, school support and administrator preparation programs, about half were in the process of completing student teaching or internships, hoping to work in schools starting in the fall, according to the order.

The order states the Illinois State Board of Education will file emergency rules as needed to make it effective.

ISBE and Chicago Public Schools did not immediately respond to questions. —Hannah Leone

11:04 a.m.: Aurora Public Library to consider employee furloughs due to pandemic

As the Aurora Public Library deals with financial issues related to the coronavirus crisis, board members are considering furloughing employees.

Discussion of the possibility took place at a recent Library Board meeting, held remotely online, after board members heard possible scenarios that could decrease revenue for the library in the coming months.

“Nobody wants to talk about it, but I think senior staff has to get together to see if furloughs have to happen,” said Library Board President Andrew Smith. “We need to see that model sooner than later. I know, it’s ugly, unpleasant to discuss.” Read more here. —Steve Lord

10:47 a.m.: After reported BBQs and picnic gatherings, parking lots at ‘too popular’ Cook County Forest Preserves to be closed during weekend, Preckwinkle says

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle shut down further chunks of the forest preserves starting Saturday, citing throngs of visitors who are not listening to social distancing guidelines.

With a month to go before the start of summer, parking lots in six nature preserves will be closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, Preckwinkle announced in a press conference Friday. They are Busse Woods in Elk Grove Village, Maple Lake in Willow Springs, Palos Forest Preserve in Willow Springs, Catherine Chevalier Woods in Chicago, LaBagh Woods in Chicago and Bunker Hill in Niles.

The decision was necessitated by “repeated violations” of the statewide ban on large gatherings during weekends at those Cook County Forest Preserve District sites, Preckwinkle said.

“Unfortunately, we’ve seen that on warm weekend days, these locations are too popular.” Preckwinkle said. “There’s too many visitors who are not following critical public health guidelines to fight COVID-19.”

Those violating the rules include people hauling in barbecue grills and sitting in picnic tables with groups who were “clearly” not part of their household, forest preserves General Superintendent Arnold Randall said. Read more here.—Alice Yin

9:58 a.m.: For Chicago-area Muslims without traditional mosque access, a remote Ramadan isn’t a new concept

Helping prepare the iftar meal. Missing going to the mosque at night. Dealing with technical difficulties during prayers.

Ramadan will look different this year, particularly for men used to centering their lives in mosques during the holy month. But many Muslims who are women, mothers, disabled or older are used to having a remote or distracted holy month.

“I was on a Zoom call with friends and one of the men was saying that usually, he’d break his fast in the evening and then run off to pray at the masjid. And now he’d have to stay home, help clean up, and then pray with the family,” said Sara Sadat, who lives in Lisle and works as a village trustee. “And his wife on the call was laughing and saying, ‘I’ve been doing that forever!’” Read more here. —Nausheen Husain and Javonte Anderson

9:49 a.m.: Cubs Charities donates iPads to keep UIC patients connected to families

As hospital patients battle illness alone — a consequence of visitor restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic — the staff are figuring out how to use technology to connect them to loved ones.

At the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago, more iPads were needed to do so. Cubs Charities answered the call.

The charity arm of the Chicago Cubs has been delivering meals to front line healthcare workers in recent weeks, specifically focusing on hospitals and clinics that are more in need on the South and West sides, including UIC. Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, chief medical officer, said the charity asked him after a meal delivery if the hospital needed anything else.

“That’s always a nice sentence to hear,” he said.

A member of his staff had just told him of a friend who lost her husband to COVID-19, and noted the man died alone, unable to be with his wife, even over Facetime. The staff member asked Vanden Hoek, “What are we doing at UI Health prevent this from happening?’”

“It’s a good question,” he said.

After consulting with IT staff, Vanden Hoek said he let Cubs Charities know the hospital needed iPads for the patients to communicate with their families. Read more here. —Kate Thayer

8:42 a.m.: How to successfully navigate a virtual job search. Step one: Wear pants.

With hiring freezes, furloughs, stay-at-home orders and more than 26 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks, the coronavirus pandemic may not be the best time to find a new job.

But career experts say you can get hired now, and despite enhanced unemployment benefits, those who have been laid off might not want to spend their time watching Netflix until the stay-at-home order is lifted.

There may be opportunities for remote work in distant markets that wouldn’t have been possible before COVID-19. So update your resume, arrange your home office for a good video interview and, experts advise, don’t forget to wear pants. Read more here. —Robert Channick

6:30 a.m.: Mayor Lori Lightfoot to preside over City Council meeting after opponents blocked COVID-19 emergency spending powers

Mayor Lori Lightfoot will take another stab Friday at getting the Chicago City Council to pass extraordinary spending measures to respond to the COVID-19 crisis after opponents used a parliamentary procedure this week to block temporarily a vote on the proposal.

After the vote was put off, the mayor immediately set a new online meeting for 1 p.m. Friday to vote on the measure; Wednesday’s meeting had been set to be the City Council’s first full online meeting in history, after aldermen met last week to approve meeting via the web.

Aldermen opposed to the measure say the mayor is grabbing too much power and failing to take steps to protect economically vulnerable Chicago residents.

The proposal had passed Tuesday at the council Budget Committee by a 23-10 vote, just three votes shy of a majority of the full 50-member City Council. So the fight could be largely symbolic and come to an end Friday afternoon with Lightfoot victorious. —Chicago Tribune staff

5 a.m.: Unexpected ripple effect of COVID-19: Important work to restore parts of Cook County forest preserves put on hold

In the fall, crews started work on a $2.5 million project to restore woodlands in a more than 500-acre Forest Preserves site near Orland Park.

They removed non-native trees and brush throughout the winter to preserve resources for the natural trees and bring sunlight to the forest floor at the ecologically valuable land at Tinley Creek Ravines.

Now, the restoration work in Orland Park and elsewhere across Cook County is halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An unexpected ripple effect of the pandemic, weeds will creep unabated across land maintained by the Cook County Forest Preserve District, meaning the county may need to expend more funds and manpower to get rid of the extra weed growth when life returns to normal.

As a result, some land projects will lose ground as the state’s stay-at-home order that began in March will be extended to the end of May. Read more here. —Madeline Buckley

9 p.m. Thursday: Southern Illinois lawmaker sues Pritzker for stay-at-home order

A southern Illinois state lawmaker filed a lawsuit Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker for extending the state’s stay-at-home order in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Republican State Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia claims in the lawsuit filed in Clay County Circuit Court that Pritzker has exceeded his authority and is violating the civil rights of the state’s residents. Pritzker on Thursday extended his stay-at-home order through May 30 as the highly contagious COVID-19 continued to infect thousands in the state.

“Enough is enough!” Bailey said in a statement. “I filed this lawsuit on behalf of myself and my constituents who are ready to go back to work and resume a normal life.”

In the latest order, Pritzker relaxed the decree to allow for some outdoor activities and many previously barred surgeries and medical treatments. It allows some retailers to reopen to fill online or pickup orders. The governor is requiring face coverings in public for anyone older than 2, both indoors and outside in circumstances in which the recommended 6-foot social distance can’t be maintained.

“We are in possibly the most difficult parts of this journey,” Pritzker said. “I know how badly we all want our normal lives back. Believe me, if I could make that happen right now, I would, but this is the part when we have to dig in.”

Bailey said the power and authority Pritzker wields in the current crisis “calls for an immediate review and reconsideration of legislative intent.” —Associated Press

Here are five things that happened Thursday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Wednesday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Tuesday that you need to know:

Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know:



Source link