Political divisions over Illinois’ stay-at-home order were on full display Monday, as a judge issued a temporary injunction allowing a Republican legislator to disregard the restrictions. Gov. J.B. Pritzker was quick to denounce the decision while forcefully defending his actions to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
The flare-up came as state officials announced 1,980 new known cases of COVID-19 Monday and 50 additional deaths. The statewide total of known cases now stands at 45,883 in 96 counties, and the statewide death toll is 1,983.
Here’s what’s happening on Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
2:05 p.m.: Smartphone location data can tell if people stay home during the pandemic. Experts worry users are sacrificing privacy for safety.
Smartphone location data can tell if people stay home during the pandemic. Experts worry users are sacrificing privacy for safety.
The coronavirus outbreak has sparked a new use for data smartphones collect about users’ locations.
Technology companies are using location data to track how much people are staying at home during the pandemic. Often, the findings are made available to government officials, including in Chicago, to help them determine how well containment efforts are working.
The data, which is compiled using GPS coordinates on phones, is being used to track everything from how far people are straying from home to how those patterns stack up to pre-pandemic travel. Foot traffic at bus stops and parks can be tracked. Some of the data can be broken down to the state or county level, or by city block.
The City of Chicago is using location data to help inform its decision-making during the pandemic, said Peter Ruestow, senior epidemiologist at the Chicago Public Health Department’s Communicable Disease Program.
The city works with a tech company called BlueDot, which aggregates geolocation data to show how many devices stayed at home each week in each of the city’s 77 community areas.
By the time the city gets the data, it’s in the form of trends, and is anonymous, Ruestow said. If the data shows devices tended to move farther from home, that might indicate that people who live there are traveling farther for work or services. Read more here. —Ally Marotti
1:23 p.m.: Pritzker says White House has promised to help get Illinois COVID-19 testing swabs
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he spoke with White House officials Tuesday morning and was promised the federal government would provide 20,000 testing swabs per day in May, a boost that will help the governor determine when it’s safe to begin lifting his statewide stay-at-home order aimed at curbing the COVID-19 outbreak.
During a Tuesday morning appearance on the “Today” show, Pritzker said he was grateful for the help but couldn’t resist perpetuating his ongoing battle with President Donald Trump. Pritzker complained the federal government hasn’t done enough to address the crisis. Trump has maintained that it’s up to the states to meet testing goals.
“We’ve done a good job in Illinois of acquiring our own supplies, but now the White House is getting engaged and they’re promising to deliver to us for the month of May about 20,000 swabs per day, which is very important,” he said during the interview, noting that those will be on top of the 12,000 tests per day already being done statewide.
The governor was asked about the president’s aim to make sure roughly 2% of the population is tested, and Pritzker said “we’re aiming to do much more than that. We’re currently among the top 10 states in terms of how many tests we’re doing on a per-day basis and we want to vault ourselves near the top.”
Ramping up testing is “very important when you think in terms of reopening” the economy,” Pritzker said, but added that a system of contact tracing — mapping out how a person contracted the virus to understand its spread — is needed. —Lisa Donovan; Associated Press contributed to this report
1:05 p.m.: Open the economy or save lives? It’s not that simple. From the experts, 7 ways to talk politics in the COVID-19 era.
You’re scrolling through Facebook when you stumble upon a post from a cousin. He’s touting a COVID-19 conspiracy theory as justification to reopen the economy. You normally ignore his politically charged posts but this one gives you pause. You wonder: Does he really believe COVID-19 is no worse than the flu? Is he social distancing? Is he infecting Grandma?
Partisan politics have divided us as a nation now for years, and if a friend or family member is on the other side of the cultural divide, chances are we’ve learned to shut out their political opinions. But this moment feels different. Coping with the pandemic can’t just be a question of politics. Experts have some tips on how to have a constructive conversation in an era when nearly everyone, regardless of ideology, has thrown their hands up and asked themselves, How do you talk to these people?
No.1: Don’t be reductive. For starters, stop thinking of them as “these people.” Acknowledge that our current moment is complex. “We’ve made this very strange false dichotomy: You either support the economy or you support human life,” says Alexandra Solomon, a psychologist and professor at Northwestern University. “That’s false.” Read more here. —Jen Day
1 p.m.: Chicago to give $5,000 grants to small businesses with four or fewer employees in lower-income neighborhoods
The city of Chicago will give $5,000 grants to small businesses with four or fewer employees as part of a program to help businesses hurt by the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced on Tuesday.
The city will give up to 1,000 businesses $5,000 as part of its Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program, Lightfoot said. Interested businesses can apply through the city’s website until May 4, and the administration plans to make awards May 11.
Lightfoot said the money is meant for businesses in low and moderate-income neighborhoods hurt by COVID-19 who may not be able to get financing through the federal government or other means.
Most of the eligible areas are on the South and West Sides, according to a city map.
In addition to having four or fewer employees, the businesses must have less than $250,000 in annual revenue and have lost 25% of revenue due to COVID-19, the city said.
Money for the grants is coming from the Chicago Community Trust and The One Chicago Fund, and will be distributed via lottery, Lightfoot said. —Gregory Pratt
12:15 p.m.: As domestic violence calls rise, free hotel rooms are being offered to victims
Victims of domestic violence will have free access to hotel rooms through a partnership between the city of Chicago and Airbnb.
The Network, a group of advocates against domestic violence, will coordinate placement for callers to the Illinois Domestic Violence hotline. The Network will pay for the rooms using state funds. Airbnb is making its HotelTonight app availalble to find rooms.
The number of Chicago calls to the state’s domestic violence hotline increased by 6% during March, according to Lisa Morrison Butler, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services. Morrison Butler discussed the changes during a Q&A session with Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady.
“On March 30, we had 104 Chicago calls into the DV hotline, and that was the single highest number of calls in a day in the history of the hotline,” Morrison Butler added.
City officials said the Chicago Police Department has seen a 12% increase in domestic violence-related calls from January to mid-April, compared to the same period in 2019.
The Illinois Domestic Violence hotline is available 24/7 at 877-863-6338 (TTY 877-863-6339).
12:14 p.m.: As Illinois facial covering requirement nears, Lightfoot and opponents put forward dueling plans to distribute masks in Chicago
Mayor Lori Lightfoot laid out a plan to aldermen to distribute disposable masks around the city as businessman Willie Wilson on Tuesday held an event across the street from City Hall to donate masks himself to City Council members to give to residents.
The question of how to make sure Chicagoans have enough masks has become more urgent as Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order is set to take effect Friday requiring people over age 2 to wear a mask while inside stores and other places where they can’t maintain safe social distancing.
Wilson, a former mayoral candidate who had a falling out with Lightfoot after she took office, has been putting forward his own proposals to directly distribute disposable masks through his medical supply company.
Last week, Far South Side Ald. Anthony Beale, 9th, a mayoral critic, asked the Lightfoot administration to let aldermen convert local ward funds usually reserved for infrastructure projects to instead use the money to buy masks from Wilson. The Lightfoot administration hasn’t yet responded to that idea, Beale said. Read more here. —John Byrne
11:20 a.m.: Nearly 200 residents, staff at Cicero nursing home test positive for COVID-19 as at least 5 deaths reported at facility
More than 160 residents at a Cicero nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19 while 31 staff members have also been diagnosed with coronavirus at the facility, which has seen at least five confirmed deaths, according to officials.
On Monday, Cicero officials announced that at least 163 residents at City View Multicare Center, 5825 W. Cermak Road, had tested positive for COVID-19 following mandated testing at the facility by the Illinois Department of Public Health. In addition, 31 workers have also tested positive, though that number could rise as more results come back.
At least five residents have died from coronavirus at the facility as of April 24, according to data from the state health department. The Cook County medical examiner’s office is reporting a sixth death of a person who lived there. Those who have died have ranged in age from 59 to 80; the first confirmed death was April 4 and the latest confirmed death was April 19, according to the medical examiner’ and Tribune analysis of the office’s data. Read more here. –Elvia Malagón
10:30 a.m.: Humboldt Park hospital starts screening and testing for COVID-19
Testing and screening for COVID-19 for Humboldt Park residents will be available by appointment at Norwegian American Hospital starting at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The hospital, on the city’s West Side near California Avenue and Augusta Boulevard, is partnering with Rincon Famly Services and the Puerto Rican Cultural Center to launch the new testing capability, according to a news release.
The hospital also is working with Rincon and the Vida/SIDA program from the cultural center to provide screening for the novel coronavirus at the hospital for those over age 18, starting Tuesday afternoon, according to the release.
Humboldt Park is 92 percent black or Latino, where household income is $10,000 less than city average, according to a statement from the hospital. More than a third of the community’s residents live below the federal poverty level. –Chicago Tribune staff
10:10 a.m.: Hormel furloughs 150 employees at its Fontanini Foods’ Italian sausage plant in McCook
Fontanini Foods, which makes Italian meats and sausages for restaurants, sports arenas and other venues, is furloughing 150 employees at its southwest suburban McCook plant due to a “dramatic decline” in food service business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roughly 30% of the plant’s 500 workers will be off as of Saturday, with affected employees receiving health benefits but not pay during the temporarily furlough.“
There is no timeline for return as that will depend on when restaurants, sports venues and other food service operations restart,” John Kempen, Fontanini’s plant manager, said in an email Tuesday.
Kempen said the decision will affect a “wide variety of positions” from across the company, but did not specify the salary range of the 150 employees on furlough.
About 1 in 6 American workers have lost their jobs during the coronavirus pandemic, with stay-at-home orders closing many businesses. More than 26 million people have filed for unemployment benefits across the U.S. since mid-March, including 737,472 in Illinois. Read more here. – Robert Channick
9:45 a.m.: Kerry Washington and ‘Scandal’ colleagues sponsor meals for workers at Roseland Community Hospital
When a kitchen employee at Roseland Community Hospital on Chicago’s South Side started experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, the food service operation had to be shut down.
“When they reopened, they were only opening back up to make meals for patients,” said Maya-Camille Broussard, the chef and owner of the bakery Justice of the Pies. “A doctor who works at the hospital is a family friend and she mentioned that she saw some of the doctors having to leave to get lunch and they were just so dejected because they didn’t want to leave, but they couldn’t get anything from the cafeteria. And you’re talking about 111th St., so it’s not as if there’s a bevy of options.”
On Monday evening, Broussard cooked and delivered food for 100 medical personnel working at the hospital. The meals were paid for by actor Kerry Washington and some of her “Scandal” colleagues, including Bellamy Young and Highland Park native Jeff Perry, through a national grassroots organization called Frontline Foods. The group raises money that is funneled to restaurants and caterers, who then use those funds to prepare meals for people working on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here. –Nina Metz
6 a.m.: Expect changes if college campuses reopen in the fall: ‘All of this is in uncharted waters’
While some Illinois colleges say they hope to make a determination in June or July about whether to reopen in the fall, the outcome will largely hinge on how public health experts evaluate the threat of the coronavirus. The decision will also depend on when Gov. J.B. Pritzker lifts the state’s stay-at-home order. On Thursday, he extended the order for a second time, so it won’t expire until at least the end of May.
“All of this is in uncharted waters, and so we’re doing our best to try to plan for an uncertain fall semester,” said Larry Dietz, president of Illinois State University. “For fall, we’re looking at several scenarios. … I think all of us know that (campus) is probably not going to be as open as it was in the fall of 2019, before we even knew the term coronavirus.”
Social distancing measures are also being floated for residence halls, where about 6,000 students typically live during the school year, Dietz said. To reduce potential crowding, the school is considering capping the number of students approved for the dorms, which make up the bulk of its housing stock, and trying to place more in apartments, some of which are university owned.
Colleges and universities nationwide are grappling with how to approach the fall semester, while also worrying that fewer students will want to attend and pay for tuition if classes need to remain online. Read more here. — Elyssa Cherney
6 a.m.: Donors come to rescue of Illinois school district struggling with digital divide
Since the March shutdown of schools across Illinois, teachers at one rural southwestern district have been stuffing 800 envelopes with learning packets and mailing them to students’ homes because many families in the area don’t have computers or high-speed internet.
Trico District 176’s remote learning challenges were highlighted in a Tribune-ProPublica Illinois story last month that exposed a digital divide across Illinois as schools shifted to remote learning because of the COVID-19 pandemic. State agencies later released a map touting publicly accessible Wi-Fi hot spots at about 250 locations; none are in the 250 square miles that make up the Trico district.
That’s about to change. A local internet provider is installing Wi-Fi service to connect families to the district network. An anonymous donor pledged to donate a dozen hot spots. And a school district in Chicago’s suburbs said it would ship about 250 used Chromebooks to Trico when the computers are replaced after this school year. Read more here. — Jodi S. Cohen, ProPublica, Jennifer Smith Richards, Chicago Tribune
6 a.m.: You can learn math and English online, but how about baking or pottery? Hands-on education challenged after COVID-19 closes schools.
As students and teachers across Illinois continue to adjust to the long-distance education prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the learning curve has been steepest for those in hands-on courses, like baking or drivers ed, where classroom conditions are impossible to simulate via email or video chats.
That has forced educators and learners alike to become more resourceful and innovative, though in some cases, there is no substitute for what was left behind when their schools closed.
“They can read about it, but to be in a kitchen with a professional chef showing them what can go wrong, other ways to make their pastry or desserts, that part of it is missing,” said College of Lake County baking and pastry instructor Teresa Novinska. “More of them are making more mistakes that I probably could have caught.” Read more here. — John Keilman
Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know: