Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker will extend his stay-at-home order through the end of April as part of the state’s effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, the governor said on Tuesday. The new order means that public and private schools across the state will remain closed for another month.
The news comes as state officials announced 937 additional coronavirus cases and 26 more deaths. There have been 5,994 known cases of COVID-19, including 99 deaths, in 54 of the state’s 102 counties since the outbreak began in Illinois in late January.
Here are the latest updates Tuesday on the new coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois:
3:15 p.m.: Staffer at LaRabida Children’s Hospital tests positive, 6 patients isolated as precaution
A staff member at LaRabida Children’s Hospital on Chicago’s South Side has tested positive for coronavirus, and six patients have been isolated as a precaution, the hospital said Tuesday.
The staffer was last in the hospital last Thursday, according to hospital spokeswoman Michele Wysoglad. The person began experiencing symptoms Friday and tested positive for the virus over the weekend.
On the last day at work, the staffer had interacted with six patients and they have been placed in special respiratory isolation, Wysoglad said.
Wysoglad said the staff member was wearing proper PPE at work, limiting the possibility of patients being exposed to the virus. “We feel like we mitigated this person exposing anybody else,” she said “We are pretty confident the risk is minimal.”
As of Tuesday, no patients have contracted the virus, she said.
Wysoglad said the hospital has been cleaning and disinfecting on an ongoing basis. The hospital has also implemented additional safety protocols, ensuring all staff have washed their hands and are wearing protective equipment before they enter a room with a patient. —Sophie Sherry
3:07 p.m.: Coronavirus forcing the state’s marijuana industry to adapt
Employees at Illinois marijuana dispensaries worked tirelessly during the first weeks of recreational weed sales, attempting to meet insatiable demand for the newly legal product.
Three weeks ago, everything changed.
As the new coronavirus pandemic spread and Illinoisans were ordered to stay home, dispensaries — which are deemed essential by the state and allowed to stay open — suddenly had to figure out how to enforce social distancing in their stores. Protecting medical marijuana patients, many of whom have compromised immune systems, became a pressing concern. And plans to open new dispensaries were put on the back burner as city approvals for new sites ground to a halt. Read more here. —Ally Marotti
2:44 p.m.: Officials announce 937 new known cases, 26 more deaths as Pritzker says he will extend stay-at-home order
State officials on Tuesday announced 937 additional cases of the new coronavirus and 26 more deaths as Gov. J.B. Pritzker extends his statewide stay-at-home order through April. That brings the statewide totals to 5,994 known infections and 99 deaths since the start of the outbreak.
The deaths announced Tuesday include 17 people in Cook County: two men in their 50s, one man and two women in their 60s, five men and two women in their 70s, three men and one woman in their 80s, and one man in his 90s.
The other dead are two DuPage County women in their 70s, a Kane County man in his 80s, a Lake County woman in her 60s, a McLean County man in his 70s, a Morgan County man in his 80s, a St. Clair County woman in her 30s, and a Will County man and woman in their 80s.
After the death of an inmate at Stateville Correctional Center near Joliet was announced Monday, Pritzker also outlined the steps the Department of Corrections is taking to combat the virus.
The department has been reviewing the case files of low-level offenders and releasing those who pose a low risk, including about 300 released Tuesday afternoon, Pritzker said.
2:30 p.m.: Preckwinkle says coronavirus likely to have ‘profound impact’ on Cook County’s hospital system
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expects “a profound impact” on the county hospital’s system’s budget as doctors stop performing profitable elective procedures in order to make more room for coronavirus sufferers.
The number of people without health insurance who need expensive intensive care is also expected to go way up in coming weeks, further hurting the bottom line for the Chicago area’s safety net health system, Preckwinkle said Tuesday.
“For our health and hospital system, we receive the most compensation for the elective surgeries that we do,” Preckwinkle said. Those are being halted because beds at Stroger Hospital and elsewhere are going to be needed as the number of patients with COVID-19 spikes.
How much it will hit the budget is unclear, Preckwinkle said. “I can’t tell you how much of a financial impact it will have, because we don’t know how long the pandemic will prohibit us from doing elective surgeries,” she said.
Meanwhile, Preckwinkle said the county medical staff remains concerned about the number of virus cases at the Cook County Jail, where a field hospital has been set up in an area where boot camp sentences used to be carried out.
“The jail’s a petri dish,” Preckwinkle said, adding that she continues to work with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Chief Judge Tim Evans to lower the head count in the jail so fewer people inside are exposed to the disease. There are about 5,000 inmates now, Preckwinkle said, and there could be about a thousand more non-violent offenders eligible for release soon. —John Byrne
12:58 p.m.: Pritzker expected to extend stay-at-home order through April 30, source says
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to extend his stay-at-home order through the end of April as part of the state’s effort to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, a source said.
The new order would run through April 30 and bring Illinois in line with the latest recommendations from the federal government.
The governor’s order also means that public and private schools across the state will remain closed for another month. On Tuesday, districts were required to begin offering remote learning for their students.
Pritzker’s initial order went into effect March 21 and requires people to stay home except to go to work at “essential” jobs and to run errands like trips to the grocery store or pharmacy, was set to expire after April 7.
Pritzker has said projections suggest that the number of known COVID-19 cases — which topped 5,000 on Monday — will peak sometime in April.More to come. –Dan Petrella
12:33 p.m.: Muslim-American charity donates much needed gloves to Franciscan Health, South Side hospitals
The Bridgeview-based Zakat Foundation last week donated thousands of pairs of much needed medical gloves to Franciscan Health Hospital in Olympia Fields and hospitals on the South Side.
“We have a shortage of (personal protective equipment, just like every other hospital,” said Yvonne McCauley, internal medicine program coordinator for Franciscan Health. Read more here. —Frank Viasvilas
12:30 p.m.: City to put first responders up in downtown hotel rooms
The city will provide 274 hotel rooms for Chicago’s paramedics, firefighters and police officers as a respite for those who may have been exposed to people with the coronavirus, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday.
The rooms will be provided by the Hotel Essex, at 800 S. Michigan Ave., the mayor said, speaking at graduation for new Chicago Fire Department paramedics.
“These rooms aren’t for first responders who are themselves sick,” Lightfoot said. “We have hospitals for that. However, the reality is that they are coming in contact with the virus everyday and working long, hard hours. And some of them may prefer to stay downtown rather than going home to their spouse, kids or friends.”
Jim Tracy, president of Local 2 of the Chicago Fire Fighters Union, said the new accommodations were a relief.
“Everybody’s got a different situation that they live with, whether they’ve got young children, whether they have somebody with an autoimmune deficiency, whether we have senior citizens or parents that we’re taking care of, grandparents,” Tracy said.
Lightfoot spoke at a ceremony honoring 34 newly-minted paramedics, which was held at the Fire Department’s headquarters and not in its normal place in the ballroom of Navy Pier.
The families and friends of graduates could not attend due to restrictions put in place as part of the city and state’s response to the coronavirus. Graduates sat several feet from one another to adhere to social distancing restrictions.
And when it was time for them to cross the podium after their names were called, graduates traded forearm bumps with Lightfoot and Fire Commissioner Richard Ford II, instead of traditional handshakes. Read more here. —Jeremy Gorner
12:16 p.m.: Criminal court hearings schedules changed due to coronavirus
Hearing schedules at the Leighton Criminal Court Building will change significantly beginning Wednesday as the court extends its massive shutdown through mid-May to try to slow the virus’ spread.
On weekdays, bond hearings in murder and sex-crime cases will be heard at 11 a.m. daily instead of noon. Central Bond Court – where most other felony bond hearings are conducted – will begin two hours early, at 11:30.
The building is closed to the public, so defendants’ loved ones can check the results of bond hearings on a list that will be posted in the courthouse’s entryway every afternoon. In addition, the Public Defender’s office will post bond information on their website.
Anyone seeking information about the results of a bond hearing also can call the sheriff’s office at 773-674-7833 and 773-674-5200; or the circuit clerk’s office at 773-674-5882.
The new schedule is expected to be in effect for the duration of an emergency order signed by Chief Judge Timothy Evans that mandated the postponement of non-essential court operations. On Monday, that slowdown was extended until at least May 18. —Megan Crepeau
11:26 a.m.: No plans for city worker layoffs, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says
Mayor Lori Lightfoot doesn’t expect the city to have to lay off any workers due to the coronavirus’s impact on the budget, she said Tuesday.
Asked if the city is expecting to do layoffs, Lightfoot said no.
“Our economy in this region is incredibly diverse, and if you look at how we have fared in other economic downturns, whether it’s 9/11 the Great Recession of 2008 or 2009, we’ve had some impact of course, but (we’ve) rebounded back very very strong and well,” Lightfoot said. “For our city revenues, no one revenue stream is more than 13% and what we call the economically sensitive revenue streams, none of them in the aggregate add up to more than 25%.”
The budget anticipated an economic downturn, Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot also said she doesn’t anticipate a large naval vessel on Lake Michigan, similar to what’s happening in New York, and that’s partly why officials are working to transform McCormick Place into a coronavirus hospital. —Gregory Pratt
11:22 a.m.: Elmhurst Hospital caregivers get gift of meals from local catering company
Market Table Catering & Events of Elmhurst is helping the fight against coronavirus by donating meals to Elmhurst Hospital to feed caregivers and other staff as they work to care for those affected by the pandemic.
Market Table, 130 N. York St., has pledged to provide 1,700 individually prepared meals twice a week for the foreseeable future. The business, which describes itself as an event venue and catering business, began deliveries last week. Providing sandwiches, chips, fruit and cookies that hospital food service staff are arranging on platters for delivery to staff working in units all over the hospital.
The donations benefit anybody and everybody working in the hospital, according to Keith Hartenberger, system director, public relations for Elmhurst Hospital parent Edward-Elmhurst Health. Read more here. —Greydon Megan
11:20 a.m.: Newest crime stats show continued drop in Chicago during COVID-19 emergency
Chicago continued to see significant decreases in major crimes during the first full week of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s statewide stay-at-home order amid the coronavirus pandemic.
From March 23 through Sunday, the city saw a 23% single-week dip in its seven major crime categories, including homicides, burglaries and major thefts, compared to the same stretch in 2019, official city data shows.
Last week’s major crime numbers were also down by about 7% from the previous week, March 16 through March 22. During that week, Pritzker closed schools across Illinois, bars and restaurants were shuttered and his stay-at-home directive went into effect March 21.
It has only been a few weeks since the spread of COVID-19 led many Chicagoans to adhere to social distancing restrictions and avoid large gatherings — all the more reason for crime experts to caution against reading too much into the lowered crime numbers over such a short time frame.
Violence continued to persist last week, though just slightly lower than the same week in 2019. Only three homicides were reported in Chicago from March 23 through Sunday, 10 fewer than the same week last year, the data shows. There were, however, 41 total shootings, just one below the same week in 2019. Read more here. —Jeremy Gorner
10:49 a.m.: United Center to serve as a storage facility for the Greater Chicago Food Depository
The United Center has been transformed into a satellite storage facility for the Greater Chicago Food Depository as the home of the Bulls and Blackhawks begins to play its role in the emergency relief efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Lines of boxes sat atop the ice at the arena, which initially was scheduled to host the Blackhawks home finale on Tuesday night. Instead, the venue began being put to use following last week’s announcement that it would be transformed into a logistics hub to assist with aid.
“By alleviating space in the food bank’s warehouse, the Food Depository can bring additional volunteers into their facility to build more family food boxes in an environment that adheres to social distancing protocols,” a United Center statement said. “These boxes will continue to be distributed to those in need by the Food Depository’s partner network throughout Chicago and Cook County.” Read more here. —Jamal Collier
10:04 a.m.: Lake County, Ind., sees first fatality jump from COVID-19 with 4 more dead, officials say
Lake County, Indiana, saw four new reported deaths from coronavirus overnight, officials said Tuesday.
Locally, it was the first major fatality spike since cases hit Indiana March 6. In total, Lake County now has five deaths from COVID-19. The State Department of Health earlier reported a death in Jasper County.
Both Lake and Porter counties continued to see new coronavirus cases Tuesday. With Indiana’s second-highest number of infected persons, Lake County cases grew by 49 to 146. Porter County now has 24 cases, up from 19 the prior day. LaPorte County reported eight cases. Read more here. —Meredith Colias-Pete
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Fire Commissioner Richard C. Ford II were scheduled to hold a Fire Department graduation ceremony and congratulate new paramedics Tuesday morning, then join union leaders to announce new supports for emergency workers, according to the mayor’s office. City fire and police graduations are usually massive affairs, held often at Navy Pier’s historic Grand Ballroom, at the east end of the pier. Tuesday’s event looked to be a scaled-down version of the ceremonies, to be held at the city’s Public Safety Headquarters on the South Side. —Chicago Tribune staff
Missy Lee’s nerves are shot.
She’s had bronchitis for about a month and is feeling increasingly helpless as the coronavirus outbreak grows wider and wider. Unlike a lot of people, she can’t isolate herself at home. She doesn’t have one.
She lives with about 40 other women in a shelter in Chicago. Their beds are about 2 feet apart, even after many residents, including Lee’s partner, were moved to comply with the 6-foot social distancing guidelines.
Lee has trouble sleeping.
“There’s so many women that are coughing,” she said. “We don’t know if any of them have the coronavirus because nobody’s been tested. One breathes, we feel it.”
The Tribune interviewed Lee and a dozen other homeless people in the Chicago area who are struggling through a health crisis that threatens the services they rely on to survive. Read more here. —Cecilia Reyes
Officials knew two weeks ago just what kind of crisis loomed outside the front doors of the sprawling Cook County Jail.
COVID-19 had just been declared a pandemic. More than 5,500 detainees were housed in close quarters inside the Southwest Side facility, with new arrivals coming daily from all corners of the county. Conditions were ideal for the new disease’s unchecked spread.
A potential disaster, as Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli put it. A huge problem, Sheriff Tom Dart added, noting, “there is no playbook here.”
In the Illinois Department of Corrections, too, alarms were sounding. Advocates, attorneys and loved ones of the system’s 40,000 inmates watched anxiously, wondering what could be done to protect a population with nowhere to shelter.
And so authorities were quickly confronted with the challenge to strike a balance. Which would better protect public safety: keeping people behind bars, or letting them out to join the public in isolation efforts to try and slow the escalating coronavirus emergency?
Some expedited releases have begun, but advocates say neither the state nor the county has pivoted fast enough in the face of the growing public health crisis. Instead, COVID-19 has highlighted flaws they have been complaining about for years — mass incarceration, massive bureaucracy, and poor health care and conditions behind bars. Read more here. —Annie Sweeney and Megan Crepeau
Much of Chicago is shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a North Side company with a long history of pollution problems is still shredding flattened cars, twisted rebar and used appliances every day.
They have been complaining for years about metallic odors from General Iron Industries, a scrap yard sandwiched between the densely populated Bucktown and Lincoln Park neighborhoods. With Chicagoans under orders to stay home until at least April 7, many are worried their exposure to air pollution could make people more susceptible to a dangerous coronavirus that attacks the lungs and upper-respiratory tract. Read more here. —Michael Hawthorne
Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Monday:
Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Sunday:
Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Saturday: