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

Thursday, July 30, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Wednesday that Illinois could be headed for a “reversal” in its reopening as the state continues to see a resurgence in coronavirus case numbers, and he called on residents to “defend our progress.”

Illinois announced 1,393 new known cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, the 7th straight day with more than 1,000 new cases. The state also announced 18 newly confirmed deaths and the results of 38,187 tests.


Pritzker also announced that youth sports and adult recreational leagues in Illinois will be further limited under stricter state rules in an effort to slow the spread of the virus after outbreaks of the illness have been tied to organized sports. And the Illinois High School Association put the football season on ice due to continuing concerns surrounding the pandemic.

Here’s what’s happening Thursday regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

8:10 a.m.: US economy shrank 33% in April-June period, the worst

quarterly plunge ever

The U.S. economy shrank at a dizzying 33% annual rate in the April-June quarter — by far the worst quarterly plunge ever — when the viral outbreak shut down businesses, throwing tens of millions out of work and sending unemployment surging to 14.7%, the government said Thursday.

The Commerce Department’s estimate of the second-quarter decline in the gross domestic product, the total output of goods and services, marked the sharpest such drop on records dating to 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction, a 10% drop, occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration.

Last quarter’s drop followed a 5% fall in the January-March quarter, during which the economy officially entered a recession triggered by the virus, ending an 11-year economic expansion, the longest on record in the United States. Read more here. — The Associated Press

8 a.m.: What’s different at Halas Hall this year? Bears Infection Control Officer Andre Tucker details the changes made because of COVID-19.

Chicago Bears Infection Control Officer Andre Tucker spoke with reporters on a Zoom call Wednesday morning to detail the team’s plans to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within Halas Hall this year.

Tucker, who is also the Bears head athletic trainer, is the team’s first point of contact when a player or staff member tests positive for COVID-19. He oversees club screening protocols and its disinfection program and has helped with coronavirus education for team employees.

He also aided the development of a plan that general manager Ryan Pace said goes “above and beyond” to help make the players feel safe. Read more here. — Collen Kane

6 a.m.: Uptick in COVID-19 cases makes it difficult to bring back jobs. ‘Some people may be put out of the job market for a long time.’

Laura Yepez, owner of the Wicker Park Inn, thought the worst would be over by now.

Even as she laid off her small staff in March and steeled herself for the pandemic’s blow to tourism, she figured that by summer — when events like Lollapalooza usually pack Chicago’s hotels — business would perk up and she could make up for lost time.

“That’s certainly not turning out to be the case,” said Yepez, 49, who has owned the bed-and-breakfast since 2004.

With events canceled, the virus resurgent and people wary of traveling, few guests are staying at the inn and Yepez remains reluctant bring back her three employees. She is juggling housekeeping, bookkeeping and other tasks herself.

As the economy struggles to climb out of the crisis caused by COVID-19, jobs are coming back slowly and unevenly, and worries persist that a resurgence of cases will blunt a more robust recovery. Read more here. — Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

6 a.m.: A dozen students at Bradley University test positive for COVID-19, including some at orientation, after social gathering

Twelve students at Bradley University in Peoria have tested positive for the coronavirus — including some who helped lead orientation programs for incoming freshmen last week.

Spokeswoman Renee Charles said Bradley learned of the new COVID-19 cases on July 23, marking the first infections directly linked to campus. Charles said additional testing and contact tracing determined the outbreak appeared to stem from an off-campus social gathering that lacked masks and social distancing.

Bradley, which has about 5,000 students, began offering in-person orientations in early July, and classes are set to begin next month. Some of the infected students participated in orientations held July 20 and July 21 that included both indoor and outdoor activities, Charles said.

Attendees on those dates were notified about the cases but are not considered to be at high risk of transmission because the programs included precautions, such as requiring masks and social distancing, Charles said. Those who had more than 15 minutes of close contact with an infected person received a phone call or text alert with instructions for further action, according to a university message. Read more here. — Elyssa Cherney

6 a.m.: Park District workers call for more communication and safety protocols when parks are closed because of COVID-19

As the pandemic barrels ahead with no end in sight, and some parks have closed due to coronavirus cases, workers are calling for greater transparency and protection from the Chicago Park District while they helm the parks’ front lines.

Recently closed parks include Columbus Park and Haas Park, according to SEIU Local 73, which represents about 2,500 Park District workers. At least 40 Park District workers have had to quarantine after possible exposure, according to the union, and one Park District worker at Columbus Park recently died from complications of the virus.

Jeffrey Howard, Service Employees International Union Local 73 executive vice president, said “we just want to make sure that our workers are protected.”

Information on closures has been “disjointed” and unclear, he said, and that’s part of the problem. When asked how workers have been notified of closures, Howard said for weeks it was “word-of-mouth.”

“We want to be public citizens. We want to be servants of the community because we know the community needs our parks,” Howard said. “But at the same time, there are things the parks can do to make sure that their workers are safe. "

Seven positive cases have affected programming at six parks this month, according to the Park District. Four locations are still closed. Read more here. —Morgan Greene

Here are five things that happened Wednesday related to COVID-19:

  • The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus hits 150,000 as misinformation on COVID-19 is proving highly contagious.
  • The Illinois High School Association on Wednesday put the football season — at least in the traditional sense — on ice unti the spring because of continuing concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Local Catholic school students face a tough choice: a full return to in-person instruction or remote learning, possibly by an outside vendor.
  • ‘Health and safety strikes’ are on the table if schools reopen without adequate COVID-19 protections, two Illinois statewide teachers union announced.
  • Wendella Sightseeing Co. said it won’t run its Chicago Water Taxi service for the rest of the year.

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