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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Monday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Monday, March 16, 2020
Chicago Tribune

All bars and restaurants in Illinois will be closed to the public, beginning at close of business Monday through March 30 following an announcement Sunday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker. They will remain open for delivery, drive-through and curbside pick-up orders, the governor said.

Illinois Department of Public Health is now reporting 93 cases of COVID-19 in 13 counties in Illinois, an almost 50 percent rise in a day, as testing in the state continues to expand after delays in rolling out the availability of the test. Cases have occurred in all age ranges and the number of cases that do not have a clear connection to travel or a known COVID-19 case is increasing.


Officials also responded Sunday to the screening chaos at O’Hare that left some 3,000 people stuck in crowds Saturday, violating recommended “social distancing” procedures from the CDC. Pritzker said Sunday the federal government would be doubling staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection at O’Hare and will continue to monitor the situation.

As the effects of the virus spread in Illinois and health officials warn Illinois residents to act as if anyone you come in contact with has the new coronavirus, the Tribune is keeping a running list of Chicago-area closings and cancellations and asking experts to answer your questions about COVID-19.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois:


United Airlines will slash 50% of its flying capacity in April and May and warns the cuts could extend into the peak summer travel season as the new coronavirus gives airlines a grim outlook.


Bookings are plummeting and cancellations soaring as the virus continues to spread and claim more lives. United said Sunday night it expects planes to be only 20% to 30% full at best, down from nearly 90% before the virus hit.United’s management is talking to pilot and flight attendant unions about taking cuts in pay or hours.

7 a.m.: Aurora Advocate Health implementing no visitor policy 'with a few exceptions’

Saying it wants to protect patients and slow the spread of COVID-19, Aurora Advocate Health on Monday will implement a “no visitor policy, with a few exceptions.”

“No visitors, with a few exceptions, will be allowed in any inpatient areas until further notice," the hospital said in a statement. “All visitors who meet exclusion criteria must pass a health screening, which will be administered at a central hospital checkpoint.”

Exceptions include the partner and doula or midwife for a woman in labor, parents of children who are hospitalized, and visitors to patients in end-of-life situations. -- Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

6:30 a.m. Monday: City officials to tour CPS coronavirus command center as schools prepare for COVID-19 closure

Mayor Lori Lightfoot planned to join Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson early Monday afternoon to tour what CPS is calling a command center set up to respond to the mandated closure of Illinois schools, which begins Tuesday. The center, where “a team of CPS employees will be answering calls for CPS families with questions about meals, District services or other concerns,” is at CPS headquarters, according to the mayor’s office.

Chicago Tribune staff

11:20 p.m.: Chicago charter school staff member tests positive for coronavirus, school officials say

A staff member at Mansueto High School has tested positive for coronavirus, prompting school officials to close all Noble Charter Schools Monday.

The staff member was in the school’s building from March 4 and March 13, according to a statement from Noble Charter Schools. Anyone who was also at the school during that time period should avoid public places for two weeks.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered all Illinois schools closed by Tuesday. The order will be in effect until at least March 30.

Mansueto will undergo “recommended levels of professional cleaning with medical-grade decontamination spray,” the statement said.


Those who need to pick up essential materials at school are asked to reach out to the school’s principal, the statement said.

Food service will be available for students from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday at Pritzker College Prep, Noble Street College Prep, Hansberry College Prep, DRW College Prep, Comer Middle School and Bulter College Prep. Officials said they hope to reinstate meal service at all campuses soon. — Paige Fry

10:30 p.m. Chicago Public Schools announces second confirmed case of coronavirus

Another person at Chicago Public Schools has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the school to close a day earlier than other schools in the district.

The school district sent an email to CPS families about the case, starting that the Chicago Department of Public Health alerted the district to a confirmed case “involving a member at Sheridan Math and Science Academy.”

CPS did not immediately clarify how the “member” is involved with the school.

The Bridgeport school will be closed starting Monday and will reopen with all other CPS schools on March 31, according to CPS. The school has about 550 students from kindergarten to eighth grade according to district website.

It’s unclear if the person infected by the coronavirus is a student or staff member.Anyone who was in the school on March 9, which was the last day the infected person was at the school, should stay home until March 23, the statement said.

Staff will be placed on a paid leave of absence and student absences will be excused, according to CPS.

The first confirmed CPS case of coronavirus was a special education classroom assistant at Vaughn Occupational High School in Portage Park. That case was announced on March 6 at a press conference with Gov. JB Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot. — Paige Fry

9:49 p.m.: Department of Justice postpones hearings for 4 weeks, as groups call for immigration court to be closed

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grows, attorneys and judges spent the weekend pushing for the U.S. Department of Justice to close immigration courts across the country to contain the virus.

On Sunday night, the Department of Justice postponed hearings across the country for immigrants who aren’t in custody for the next four weeks starting Monday.


Groups representing private immigration attorneys, immigration judges and federal prosecutors banded together on Sunday to call for the government to take emergency measures and close the courts for two to four weeks until the number of coronavirus cases levels off.

Last week, the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration court system, closed the Seattle Immigration Court until April 10 because of COVID-19, according to the department. The cases of immigrants who aren’t in custody and have cases heard in courts in Boston, Los Angeles, Newark, New York City, Sacramento and San Francisco, were postponed until April 10.

Kathleen Vannucci, a Chicago-based attorney and member of the the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said she was surprised Chicago wasn’t mentioned in last week’s announcement given the number of growing cases locally.

For now, immigration attorneys in Chicago are filing motions to postpone court hearings. But if the motion isn’t approved in time, it could still mean that immigrants and attorneys will still be showing up to court, she said. Someone with a pending case who doesn’t show up to court risks receiving an order of deportation.

“You can file a motion to continue for each individual case, but everything is business as usual,” Vannucci said by phone Sunday night. “It’s jammed packed with people so there is not really a way to practice social distancing within the Chicago Immigration Court.” — Elvia Malagon

9:35 p.m.: Coronavirus hits third downtown building

For the third time in less than a week, the owner of a large office property in downtown Chicago has disclosed that a worker has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

New York-based 601W Cos., the owner of the 40-story office tower at 1 S. Wacker Drive on Sunday night said an employee of an undisclosed company in the building has tested positive for COVID-19. An employee felt ill and was tested Wednesday, according to a statement from the building’s owner. The positive result was confirmed late Friday, and all of the company’s workers have vacated the office, the statement said.

It’s not clear when the company’s office closed or when it will re-open.

"One South Wacker will remain open for business, but we are encouraging tenant leadership teams to discuss the logistics of work-from-home programs,” the statement said.

On Wednesday, real estate developer CA Ventures confirmed one of its employees had been diagnosed, causing its office in the two-tower Prudential Plaza office complex to temporarily close for cleaning. Then on Friday, BMO Harris Bank said one of its workers in the bank’s three-building complex in the Loop had been diagnosed a day earlier.

Other tenants in the BMO and Prudential Plaza buildings were informed of the positive tests, and the building owners said they were taking safety steps such as ramping up cleaning of common areas. In both of those cases, the diagnosed employees and others who work near them were in self-quarantine. The 1 S. Wacker statement did not indicate if workers were in self-quarantine. — Ryan Ori

9:23 p.m.: CPS sends educators school closure guidelines

CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade sent educators more guidelines on what’s expected of them until classes resume March 31.

“We are asking educators to follow this guidance, along with that of your school principal, to prepare for schools to be closed these next two weeks and begin long-term planning should the state mandate that schools stay closed past March 30,” the leaders said.

Personal items should be brought home Monday, as staff and students won’t be allowed in schools during the closure.

Staff members who stay home Monday should use a benefit day, but all full-time and regularly scheduled employees will be paid during the closure, including bus aides, parent workers, lunchroom staff and part-time teachers, according to CPS.

For the duration of the closure, principals can direct teachers and counselors to provide students with e-learning activities, classroom and project-based work to submit electronically or after schools reopen, and digital support for students and parents, such as answering questions about assignments.

Teachers may be expected to read emails from administrators, prepare lesson plans, review individualized education plans for students with special needs, collaborate electronically with colleagues, attend Google Hangout meetings, and communicate with parents through newsletters and web updates.

“This current challenge we face is unprecedented,” wrote Jackson and McDade. “Please continue to work collaboratively with your school leadership to support continued learning during this challenging time.” — Hannah Leone

7:30 p.m.: CDC recommends no gatherings of 50 or more for 8 weeks

The CDC is recommending that gatherings of 50 people or more in the U.S. be canceled or postponed over next eight weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here. — Associated Press

7:23 p.m.: Chicago breaks World War II-era record for vote-by-mail applications; sets new high for primary early voting

Voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary may be low if voters are reluctant to stand in line due to concerns about the new coronavirus, and Chicago election officials on Sunday continued to encourage people to vote early.

Board of Election Commissioners Chair Marisel Hernandez said that promoting early voting has paid off so far, with totals outpacing the past three presidential primaries.

Chicago broke a World War II-era record for vote-by-mail applications, with 118,000 voters requesting ballots, she said. Those votes will count if envelopes are postmarked by Tuesday.

On Sunday evening, city election officials announced Chicago had broken the record for early voting in a primary election. Through Sunday, 145,905 people had voted early at one of the city’s more than 50 early voting locations, officials said. The previous record was the 140,000 or early votes in the March 2016 primary, which featured a top-of-the-ticket tussle on the Democratic side between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Read more here. — Hannah Leone

5:56 p.m.: 93 cases in 13 counties

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said there are now 93 confirmed cases in 13 counties statewide.

“The number of positive test results we get each day is increasing exponentially, and the number of counties across Illinois is also expanding,” she said. “People should assume that this novel coronavirus is in their communities. And we all need to take steps to protect ourselves and reduce the spread.”


She said there’s evidence that transmission of the virus occurs when symptoms first start, “so it’s important to limit close contact with people as much as possible, even if you don’t feel that sick.”

Cases range from very mild illness - including some who reported no symptoms - to severe, including illness resulting in death in other states, she said.

Information so far suggests most COVID-19 cases are mild, she said, but older individuals and those of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease and liver problems seem to be at higher risk of developing serious illness.

This is why there are visitor restrictions at long-term care facilities, as well as a 10-person limit on gatherings with seniors, she said.

“However, even as a healthy person you can get the virus,” she said. “This virus does not discriminate. It is an equal-opportunity virus that can effect anyone of any age, of any race, from any zip code. It is important that we reduce the amount of virus circulating in the community, and this happens by reducing the number of people who come in contact with the virus.” — Angie Leventis Lourgos

5:50 p.m.: CPD canceling all beat meetings and community engagements

All scheduled Chicago police beat meetings and organized community engagements have been postponed, according to a CPD spokesman’s tweet.

5:41 p.m.: Fire Department helping with airport screenings

Chicago Fire Department EMS personnel have been sent to O’Hare and Midway Airports to help out with screenings of travelers returning to the country, said Larry Langford, a CFD spokesman, in a prepared statement.

Firefighters and paramedics responding to emergency calls have been given personal protective equipment designed specifically for respiratory isolation, he said.

The department, he said, has also put in place training protocols for how to respond to 911 calls where there’s a higher risk for disease transmission, said Langford, adding that training videos have also been made available.

Emergency dispatchers have been flagging calls related to respiratory issues for EMS personnel so that paramedics can make an assessment of what precautions to take while treating and transporting those patients, he said.

“CFD has not seen a significant increase in employee sick calls, but in accordance with (the Chicago Department of Public Health’s) recommendations, any employee who does not feel well is told to remain at home,” said Langford.

Jeremy Gorner

5:31 p.m.: Lightfoot: Working ‘to flatten the curve’

“We are also doing everything we can to flatten the curve and mitigate the transmission of this virus,” Mayor Lightfoot said at a news press conference alongside Pritzker on Sunday afternoon. “Our efforts, both at the city, county and state level are rooted in science and data.”

“Obviously we know the decisions we are making are placing a burden on people,” she said. “I want to ensure members of the hospitality industry that I personally as well as members my team have been in constant conversation with your leadership. We want to mitigate the long-term effects these public health closures have on you and your workers.”

She said these decisions are being made for the long-term health and broader public good.

“We have to do everything we can to contain the spread of COVID-19,” she said. “If we were to delay the inevitable, we would be putting more people’s health in jeopardy.”

“Our restaurants and bars need to comply with this guidance, because we will enforce this at the city level,” she said.

She specifically rebuked the crowds of St. Patrick’s Day revelers who emerged at bars and in crowds along sidewalks over the weekend.

“I am very well-aware of the storied traditions of this city on that day,” she said. “I came to this great city for the first time on St. Patrick’s Day as a college freshman. So I get it. But this year, this time, is different. It must be different to save lives. I do not want to see hoards of people out in the streets. The bars will be shut, so please stay home and be safe.” — Angie Leventis Lourgos

5:04 p.m.: CPD making ‘special attention’ patrols to grocery stores

Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Sunday there’s been no reports of any confirmed cases of the coronavirus for CPD employees.

At 2 p.m., officers were making “special attention” patrols to grocery stores in their assigned areas due to the likely “increased demand” that would occur because of the restaurant closures, said Guglielmi.

Officers will also be making special attention patrols to stores that are restocking goods during the overnight hours, he said. — Jeremy Gorner

4:38 p.m.: Pritzker urges blood donations

Pritzker encouraged those who are healthy and eligible to donate blood or platelets, adding that the American Red Cross has a protocol to ensure social distancing measures are in place.

“A blood shortage could impact patients who need surgery, victims of car accidents and other emergencies, or patients suffering from cancer,” he said. “One of the most important things you can do to ensure we don’t have another health care crisis on top of the coronavirus is to give blood.” — Angie Leventis Lourgos

4:30 p.m.: No need to hoard food, governor says

Pritzker said state officials have also been monitoring the food supply chain - from grocers to food availability in rural communities - in light of photos of barren store shelves circulating recently on social media. He said the food supply statewide remains strong but implored the public to not “hoard food.”

“Buy what you need, but please be reasonable,” he said. "Think of your friends and your neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people to not be selfish.”Statewide, schoolchildren who qualify for free and reduced lunch will be provided two meals a day starting Tuesday, he said.

In Chicago, all school buildings will be available for “grab and go” pickup for breakfast and lunch for any child under 18 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., he said.

“You don’t have to go to your own school,” he said. “And you don’t have to be qualified for free and reduced lunch. CPS is giving food to any child who needs it, no questions asked.” — Angie Leventis Lourgos

4:17 p.m. ‘The time for action is here’

“There are no easy decisions left to make as we address this unprecedented crisis," said Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a news conference Sunday afternoon. “Every choice now is hard, and it comes with real consequences for our residents. But as your governor I cannot let the gravity of these choices prevent us from taking the actions that the science and the experts say will keep people safe.”

He added that the state is working with bars and restaurants across the state to see whether they can keep their kitchens safe enough to continue food delivery to people at their homes; curbside and drive-through pickup will also be permitted to continue.“

Rey Guzman hangs a sign at the Emporium bar in the West Loop on March 15, 2020, soon after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced all bars and restaurants would be closed to dine-in customers beginning Monday.
Rey Guzman hangs a sign at the Emporium bar in the West Loop on March 15, 2020, soon after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced all bars and restaurants would be closed to dine-in customers beginning Monday.(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

I know how difficult this will be on small businesses around the state,” he said. “This is another hard step. But we must do everything we can to safeguard the health and safety of the citizens of the state of Illinois, and that requires urgent action.”


He appeared to at one point to chastise the throngs of St. Patrick’s Day revelers seen drinking and partying in Chicago bars and crowds along streets over the weekend.

“I tried earlier this week to appeal to everyone’s good judgment, to stay home from bars, not to congregate in crowds,” he said. "It’s unfortunate that many people didn’t take that seriously. The time for persuasion and public appeals is over. The time for action is here. This is not a joke. No one is immune to this. And you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people of this state.” – Angie Leventis Lourgos

3:23 p.m.: Infectious disease expert worries about O’Hare passengers

The situation at the airport was “dangerous” for the passengers and people working at the airport, said Northwestern University infectious disease expert Robert Murphy.

“When someone gets off a plane, if they’re coming from…a high-risk country, you don’t throw those people in with everybody else,” Murphy said.

It’s safer to flag potentially high-risk passengers as they leave the plane and take them to a separate area, away from other travelers, for additional screening, he said.

“This is exactly what you’re not supposed to do when there’s an epidemic going on,” he said.

More travelers are on the way. About 5,300 passengers on 25 flights subject to additional screening are expected to arrive at O’Hare on Sunday, aviation department spokesman Matt McGrath said in an email.

Some passengers wear masks while checking in for international flights on March 15, 2020, at Terminal 5 of O'Hare International Airport amid coronavirus concerns.
Some passengers wear masks while checking in for international flights on March 15, 2020, at Terminal 5 of O'Hare International Airport amid coronavirus concerns.(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

In a statement, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman said the agency recognizes that wait times at some airports yesterday were “unacceptable” but did not say whether additional staff had been assigned to assist with screening at O’Hare.

“With this national emergency, there will unfortunately be times of disruption and increased processing times for travelers. CBP is working around the clock to minimize these inconveniences,” the agency said.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines referred questions about the wait times at airports to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. United Airlines declined to comment. – Lauren Zumbach

3:20 p.m.: Grocery stores shorten hours to clean, restock

Jewel-Osco, Walmart and Trader Joe’s are among the chains cutting hours at some stores to clean and restock as shoppers flock to grocery retailers to fill their pantries amid coronavirus concerns.

Jewel-Osco, the largest grocery chain in the Chicago area, said it is temporarily adjusting hours at some of its 24-hour stores, effective immediately. Customers should reach out to their individual stores to find out their new hours, said spokeswoman Mary Frances Trucco. Pharmacy hours will remain the same.

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is trimming hours at its 24-hour stores, which as of Sunday have hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Some other stores also will have reduced hours.

Shoppers wait in line at Costco in Lincoln Park as they stock up on supplies over concerns about the coronavirus on March 13, 2020.
Shoppers wait in line at Costco in Lincoln Park as they stock up on supplies over concerns about the coronavirus on March 13, 2020. (Steven Rosenberg / Chicago Tribune)

Trader Joe’s will open an hour later and close two hours earlier than usual, starting Monday. Its new hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to stores associates reached at several Chicago stores.Other chains, including Walgreens, Target and Mariano’s, say they are not changing their hours.

Even as people avoid crowds, grocery stores have been busy with shoppers who have been wiping shelves clean of hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, toilet paper and, at least at one Mariano’s, frozen vegetables.

Chains are taking numerous precautions.Mariano’s and Jewel, for example, say they are more frequently sanitizing bathrooms, self checkouts, food service counters and other commonly used areas more often, plus wiping down shopping charts and baskets. Employees have been asked to stay home if they or someone in their household are sick and the companies said they will financially support employees who may be affected.

Target has ceased food sampling at its stores and is adding payroll hours to accommodate the extra cleaning. Touchscreens and checkout lanes are being cleaned every 30 minutes. Walmart and Target also say employees who contract COVID-19 or are required to quarantine will get up to 14 days of pay.

Some retailers also are limiting the number of high-demand items, like sanitation supplies and cold medicine, that customers can buy. – Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

2:54 p.m.: Lake County sheriff’s office suspends some services

The Lake County sheriff’s office announced Sunday it would be suspending some services including evictions, ride-alongs, fingerprinting, the explorer program, the internship program and jail/department tours. The office also said nonessential, nonsworn personnel will begin working from home. Sworn deputies assigned to nonessential duties are being temporarily reassigned to the Patrol Division. The office had previously announced they canceled all upcoming community events.

– Jessica Villagomez

2:50 p.m.: Wrigleyville bars quiet a day after St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

Several Wrigleyville bars on Sunday received a directive from the Department of Public Health ordering them to limit occupancy to 50 percent of its legal capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak. The directive from Allison Arwady, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, said the decision was made after state and federal health data indicated “large gatherings of people in close proximity to each other contribute significantly to the spread of COVID-19.

”The directive covers any establishment within the city limits that sells or serves alcohol. The directive also prohibits “lines and other gatherings” outside such establishments.

Wrigleyville was relatively quiet Sunday morning after scenes of crowded bars and lines were posted on various social media outlets Saturday during the early St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. — Paul Sullivan

2:39 p.m.: Pence tells Pritzker that staffing will increase at O’Hare’s international terminal

A spokeswoman for Gov. J.B. Pritzker said after his attempts to reach the White House about the congestion in O’Hare International Airport’s international terminal, he was told Sunday staffing levels will increase at the airport.

Pritzker received calls Sunday from Vice President Mike Pence and the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email.

When thousands of travelers became stuck in a line for Customs and Border Patrol checks upon arrival in O’Hare, Pritzker and Sen. Dick Durbin first tried asking for help. Later, Pritzker Tweeted at Trump, suggesting Twitter was “the only communication medium you pay attention to.”


Pritzker said on “Meet the Press” that he received a call at 11 p.m. Saturday, responding to his criticisms on Twitter, “from a White House staffer who yelled at me about the tweet. That is what I got.”

Abudayyeh said Pritzker was contacted Sunday with the promise of increased staff. It wasn’t clear at what time he received the calls, but it seems to have been after his appearance on the show, since he was asked about the federal response and did not mention the calls. Pritzker later posted a portion of his interview saying he was told staffing would increase today. He called it, “welcome news.”

“After the Governor’s tweet and the resulting angry phone call from the White House, this morning the Vice President and the Secretary of Homeland Security each called the Governor to inform him that the Customs and Border Control is increasing staff at O’Hare today. The Governor continues to work closely with Sen. Dick Durbin to communicate our concerns to the federal government,” Abudayyeh wrote.

She also said that Pritzker first was made aware of the issue on Twitter, because he was not briefed “about possible challenges at our airports,” in advance of what Mayor Lori Lightfoot called an “unacceptable” situation.“

The Governor has no interest in playing politics as we grapple with this crisis, and he will be monitoring the situation at O’Hare throughout the day,” Abudayyeh said. – Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

2 p.m.: Weekend bond court moves ahead on schedule

Weekend bond court was going according to schedule Sunday, two days after the county announced the majority of its court operations would be postponed for nearly a month beginning Tuesday.

The vast majority of Cook County court operations, both criminal and civil, will be postponed as a precaution against coronavirus, the chief judge’s office confirmed Friday.

Courthouses across the county will remain open “though there will be fewer cases,” according to a statement from the office. Regular operations are expected to resume April 15 at the earliest, according to a statement from Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office.

Weekend bond court began after a slight delay. Supporters were allowed inside the two county courtrooms. In Judge John F. Luke’s courtroom, spectators packed the wooden benches as court cases were heard without incident. At least two spectators wore blue surgical masks and at least one deputy wore gloves.

No civil or criminal jury trials will begin within the 30-day window, though grand jury proceedings will continue, according to Evans’ office. Grand juries may move from their designated rooms to larger courtrooms, to allow for more distance between jurors.

Judges will not sign orders for eviction or foreclosure during the 30-day period, and March 16 is the last day that judges will perform marriage ceremonies.

In adult criminal cases, bond hearings and arraignments will continue. Defendants may also enter into plea agreements. Juveniles charged with crimes will only undergo detention hearings and cases in which they have formally demanded trial.Certain petitions for orders of protection will still be heard during the 30-day period. Civil lawsuits can still be filed electronically or in person. – William Lee

1:50: Chicago breaks World War II-era record for vote-by-mail applications

Voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary may be low if voters are reluctant to stand in line due to concerns about the new coronavirus, and Chicago election officials on Sunday continued to encourage people to vote early.

Board chair Marisel Hernandez said that promoting early voting has paid off so far, with totals outpacing the past three presidential primaries.

Chicago broke a World War II-era record for vote-by-mail applications, with 118,000 voters requesting ballots, she said. Those votes will count if envelopes are postmarked by Tuesday.

As of Saturday, 125,000 Chicagoans had voted at one of the city’s more than 50 early voting locations, officials said. – Hannah Leone

1:48 p.m. Sparse crowds at bars on the South Side

On the South Side of the city, streets that would usually be packed with paradegoers were empty early Sunday morning.

After the cancellation of the South Side St. Patrick’s Day parade, local bars faced small to no crowds decked out in green shamrocks. Many didn’t open until later in the afternoon.

Maddy King, a bartender at Dinger’s Sports Bar, said crowds have been slimmer over the past week, but she hoped to see more patrons come out in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, parade or not.

A quiet morning along the South Side Irish Parade route on Western Avenue on March 15, 2020, after coronavirus concerns cancelled the event.
A quiet morning along the South Side Irish Parade route on Western Avenue on March 15, 2020, after coronavirus concerns cancelled the event.(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

“Tips are totally down, especially with sports off too,” King said. “Yesterday was supposed to be March Madness. We had like 10 people all day.”

Dinger’s, located central to the parade route near Western Avenue and 106th street, is usually accustomed to a bigger crowd, she said. By early morning only handfuls of patrons entered the largely empty bar.

“I was pissed when the parade was canceled,” King said. “I was banking on today. I need the money.”

King added that she believes fears of coronavirus are overexaggerated and is trying to live her life as normally as possible. “If you’re going out to a bar you don’t have an immune disorder,” she said. – Jessica Villagomez

1:45 p.m.: 360 Chicago Observation deck to close Sunday

360 Chicago Observation Deck, 875 N. Michigan Ave., formerly known as the John Hancock Building, will close at 4 p.m. March 15. Reopening date was not announced. All events and classes planned for the space are also canceled.

1:12 p.m.: Indiana reports 4 new cases, bringing total to 19

State officials on Sunday announced four new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number statewide to 19.

The new COVID-19 cases involved residents of Hamilton and Marion counties, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. State officials said 11 Indiana counties now have cases.

12:18 p.m.: Lightfoot at O’Hare chides federal government for ‘fail’ in coronavirus screening

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Aviation addressed the wait times for international travelers returning to O’Hare International Airport during a news conference Sunday.

“Today’s going to be another tough day,” Lightfoot said during a news conference from O’Hare’s Terminal 5, the international terminal of the busiest airport in the world. Lightfoot blasted the federal government for what she said was a lack of preparedness.“

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at O'Hare International Airport after coronavirus screening caused major delays for arriving passengers Saturday.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at O'Hare International Airport after coronavirus screening caused major delays for arriving passengers Saturday.(Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune)

That fail is directly the cause of last night’s unacceptable conditions at O’Hare international airport” and other locations, Lightfoot said.


Saying some 3,000 people were stuck in crowds Saturday, pictures of which circulated on social media, clearly violating CDC-recommended “social distancing” procedures.

Travelers and Chicagoans had their safety “seriously compromised’ and people were forced into conditions that are “completely unacceptable,” Lightfoot said.

Directing her comments to Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading a federal task force on the coronavirus, Lightfoot said officials need to coordinate with governors and mayors to ensure safety. When they don’t listen to local officials, Lightfoot warned, “You risk causing serious illness and death."

She also said the federal government must increase its staffing for customs and border patrol. Rather than sending ICE agents into the streets, she said, the federal government should be sending more screeners into the airports.

Lightfoot also said she’s asked the FAA to keep people on the planes until they’re able to process people through the screening. – Gregory Pratt

11:37 a.m.: Chicago limits bar, liquor establishments’ capacity because of danger of St. Patrick’s Day crowds spreading coronavirus

Chicago officials announced Sunday morning that because of concerns about St. Patrick’s Day festivities spreading COVID-19, the city is limiting any establishments that serve liquor to 100 people or half their regular capacity, according to a news release from the city.

So any liquor-serving business that has a capacity of more than 200 will be limited to 100, a city spokesman said.

“As part of these measures to limit large gatherings, the City is also requiring business owners to discontinue lining patrons up who are waiting for entry outside of establishments and on the public way,” according to the news release.

The moves come after Gov. J.B, Pritzker and others expressed dismay at the number of people who lined up outside and packed Chicago bars Saturday, defying health officials and experts’ advice to limit contact with other people to avoid spreading coronavirus.

A doorman wears a mask while accepting money from patrons celebrating an early St. Patrick's Day on Clark St. in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood on March 14, 2020.
A doorman wears a mask while accepting money from patrons celebrating an early St. Patrick's Day on Clark St. in Chicago's Wrigleyville neighborhood on March 14, 2020.(Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune)

Pritzker said Sunday morning on Meet the Press that after Saturday’s crowds, he was considering shutting down bars and restaurants.

The city last week joined the state in mandating events of more than 1,000 people be canceled, and recommending events with more than 250 people be canceled or postponed. City consumer affairs officials and Chicago police will be enforcing the limits. – Chicago Tribune staff

10:50 a.m.: Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge sees first coronavirus case

Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge sent an email to employees Saturday night telling them a patient admitted to the hospital has tested positive for coronavirus.

Based on the patient’s condition, the email said, hospital officials determined that treatment in the hospital was the best course of action. – Bob Chiarito, Pioneer Press

10:48 a.m.: DuPage County declares disaster after Willowbrook nursing home resident tests positive for coronavirus

DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin is signing a disaster declaration after a resident of a long-term care facility tested positive for the coronavirus.

The woman, who is in her 60s, is a resident of the Chateau Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, officals announced during a Sunday morning press conference. – Naperville Sun

10:18 a.m.: Navy Pier to shut down on Monday

Navy Pier joins a growing list of local attractions that have closed as a result of COVID-19, announcing Sunday the attraction will shut down Monday.

“After careful thought and consideration, and out of an abundance of precaution, Navy Pier will close to the public, beginning Monday, March 16 through Thursday, April 2,” a statement from Navy Pier said.

If all goes as planned, it is expected to re-open on April 3.“We recognize that these are challenging and unprecedented times,” it said – Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

Your coronavirus questions

What are your thoughts, questions or concerns about how the coronavirus affects you? Are there any questions we can help answer? Send your questions here.

Saturday, March 14

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Saturday:

Friday, March 13

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Friday:

Thursday, March 12

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Thursday:

Wednesday, March 11

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Wednesday:

Tuesday, March 10

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Tuesday:

Monday, March 9

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Monday:




2020 Politics | Stay Current on Primary and


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