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Coronavirus live blog, April 4, 2020: 2 die from coronavirus in Carol Stream nursing home
Here are the headlines from April 4, 2020, about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 and its ripple effects in Chicago and Illinois.

Saturday, April 04, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois passes 10,000 positive coronavirus cases. Deaths have increased to 243, including two nursing home residents in Carol Stream and two Evergreen Park Walmart employees.

President Donald Trump expects the toughest weeks are ahead of us, but still wants the major sports leagues to begin as soon as possible. Here’s what else happened as the city and state continued the fight against the coronavirus.

News

8:28 p.m. 2 Carol Stream nursing home residents die of COVID-19

Two nursing home residents in west suburban Carol Stream have died of a COVID-19 infection, DuPage County health officials announced Saturday.

A woman who was over 100 years old and a man in his 70s were the county’s two latest deaths, health officials said. Both lived at a long-term care facility in Carol Stream and both had underlying conditions.

Read more from reporter Sam Kelly.

5:45 p.m. Coronavirus claims 2 Walmart employees who worked at Evergreen Park store

Two employees at an Evergreen Park Walmart store who contracted COVID-19 have died, store officials confirmed Saturday.

The workers were assigned to the store at 2500 W. 95th St. in Evergreen Park, just southwest of Chicago, which remained open Saturday.

”We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store, and we are mourning along with their families,” a Walmart spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

The company noted that neither associate had been at the store in more than a week. The statement did not say when the employees died.

Read the full story by Jacob Wittich.

5:23 p.m. Coronavirus keeps spreading, Trump says ‘toughest’ weeks coming

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Saturday returned to the idea of opening up the country’s economy as as soon as possible, even as he said the United States was heading into what could be its “toughest” weeks as coronavirus cases swell nationwide.

“There will be a lot of death, unfortunately. There will be death,” Trump said in a somber start to his daily briefing on the pandemic.

Joining Trump were Vice President Mike Pence, virus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government’s foremost infection disease expert. Each stood far apart from one another on the small stage.

The president initially had suggested the country could reopen by Easter but pulled back seeing projections of a staggering death toll even if restrictive measures remain in place. But just days after extending tough national guidelines through the end of April, staring down historic levels of unemployment and economic standstill, he was talking with leaders of professional sports leagues about filling arenas again.

Read the full story.

2:43 p.m. Illinois surpasses 10,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 243 deaths

Thirty-three more people have died of the coronavirus in Illinois, health officials announced Saturday, raising the state’s death toll to 243.

The 33 deaths were among the 1,453 new cases of COVID-19 that Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reported in their Saturday coronavirus update.

Since the pandemic first hit Illinois in late January, 10,357 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed throughout the state.

“The number is sobering and reminds us it’s critical we all do our part,” Ezike said. “The more cases means the more hospitalizations, which means more deaths, so every gesture that we forgo can help decrease our deaths.”

The latest numbers came as Pritzker announced the steps Illinois is taking to protect its state agency workers, who offer essential services needed to continue running throughout the pandemic.

Read the full story by Jacob Wittich.

1:45 p.m. Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’

In a state where the government usually operates on the basis of buy now, pay later (often much, much later), the emergency of the coronavirus pandemic has required a decidedly different approach.

About two weeks ago, Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them.

One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced.

Read Mark Brown’s full column about Illinois’ supply chain for PPE equipment here.

12:58 p.m. A mounting casualty of coronavirus crisis: Health care jobs

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Tens of thousands of medical workers across the United States are suddenly out of work as operating rooms and doctor’s offices go dark, casualties of urgent calls to prioritize coronavirus patients at overwhelmed hospitals and of the economic waves the crisis is churning.

Even as hospitals scrounge for professionals from the industry to treat the burgeoning numbers of people with COVID-19, others are on the sidelines as elective procedures, diagnostics and appointments are canceled or postponed.

For instance, many nurse anesthetists in Pennsylvania have been laid off, even though they are particularly critical to the coronavirus response because they can help intubate patients and manage them on ventilators.

“I certainly never thought there would be a day as a nurse that I would be filing for unemployment, so it’s quite surreal for all of us,” said Jess Poole, a nurse anesthetist who, until a couple weeks ago, worked for an anesthesia practice in the Pittsburgh area.

Big-city physician and specialist groups, tiny independent hospitals from Oregon to Connecticut, and big multistate hospital systems such as Steward Health Care are seeing big dropoffs in revenue and laying off or furloughing hundreds of workers.

Read the full report here.

12:09 p.m. China sending 1,000 ventilators to New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said

NEW YORK — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday that China is facilitating the shipment of 1,000 ventilators to his state, as he continues to shop for more of the lifesaving devices ahead of a growing number of coronavirus patients who are expected to need them.

The number of people infected in the U.S. has exceeded a quarter-million, with the death toll climbing past 7,000; more than 3,500 of those deaths are in New York state. Cuomo said the ventilators from China were expected to arrive Saturday.

“This is a big deal and it’s going to make a significant difference for us,” Cuomo said, adding that the state of Oregon volunteered to send 140 ventilators to New York. Cuomo has also is also looking for ventilators closer to home, and has issued an order that forces even private hospitals in the state to redistribute ventilators to the hospitals most in need.

Governors across the U.S. have been desperately pleading for more supplies — particularly ventilators — and shopping global markets as they try to keep their states safe, as the Trump administration has limited access to a federal stockpile that’s dwindling fast. Cuomo had said that his state’s stockpile of ventilators would be exhausted in six days if the number of critically ill coronavirus patients kept growing at the current rate.

As of Saturday, more than 15,000 coronavirus patients were hospitalized in New York, and more than 4,100 were in intensive care. Cuomo said Saturday that New York at one point made purchase orders for 17,000 of the breathing machines, but only 2,500 came through.

“I want this all to be over,” Cuomo said. “It’s only gone on for 30 days since our first case. It feels like an entire lifetime.”

Read the full report here.

11:02 a.m. Fact check: Trump, ‘wartime’ pandemic leader or ‘backup’?

WASHINGTON — Is he a wartime president or a backup point man? President Donald Trump seems to go back and forth on that, or both ways at once, in responding to the coronavirus pandemic that takes more lives by the hour.

In his recent rhetoric, the president who declared “It’s a war” and invoked wartime powers enabling him to direct the production and shipment of critical medical supplies sought to avoid responsibility for persistent shortages. “The federal government,” he told New York’s governor, “is merely a back-up for state governments.” Meantime the government changed its online description of the national stockpile to put state responsibility more front and center.

And after public-health authorities warned that infection and death are spreading at a needlessly fast rate because Americans are not respecting social-distancing guidelines as they should, Trump incongruously asserted we should all be “thrilled” with how that’s going. Separately, he bragged inaccurately about his Facebook followers.

Take a look at how some statements over the past week compare with the facts.

10:30 a.m. Tips for indoor gardening to bring some green to your space while you’re stuck inside

Spring is here — time to get out your gardening gear and... ooops.

If you are among the millions confined to home due to coronavirus, you may not have a spacious outdoor garden to putter around in.

Maybe you have a small deck or a patio or a rooftop plot, but regardless you can bring in the green by cultivating an indoor garden, sometimes called a container garden.

Container gardens look fabulous and are perfect for those limited to a balcony, windowsill or a small yard. Depending on the size of the container, you can plant armfuls of colorful flowers or grow veggies and herbs in these pots.

Go here for some tips for indoor or urban gardeners provided by these experts.

10 a.m. Billionaire Griffin sets up shop in shuttered Florida hotel

Ken Griffin and his firm Citadel Securities have opened a temporary trading floor at a Palm Beach hotel that had been closed to the public, Bloomberg reported this week, citing a company memo.

Griffin flew two dozen traders from Chicago and New York to set up shop at the Four Seasons hotel as Citadel Securities moved its operations there, Bloomberg reported.

Griffin is one of the richest people in the country and a big financial backer of Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who on Wednesday issued a statewide stay-at-home order. The governor’s order included hotels and resorts such as the Four Seasons.

— Sun-Times Staff

9:30 a.m. Some states receive masks with dry rot, broken ventilators

Some states and cities that have been shipped masks, gloves, ventilators and other essential equipment from the nation’s medical stockpile to fight the coronavirus have gotten an unwelcome surprise: the material is unusable.

Nearly 6,000 medical masks sent to Alabama had dry rot and a 2010 expiration date. More than 150 ventilators sent to Los Angeles were broken and had to be repaired. In Oregon, it was masks with faulty elastic that could cause the straps to snap, exposing medical workers to the disease.

”Several of the shipments we have received from the strategic national stockpile contained (personal protective equipment) well past expiration dates and, while we are being told much of the expired equipment is capable of being used for COVID-19 response, they would not be suitable for use in surgical settings,” Charles Boyle, a spokesman for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, said in an email.

He said some of the equipment had been purchased during the H1N1 outbreak more than a decade ago and that the masks with the fragile elastic had been among products previously recalled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The state did not distribute them to medical workers.

Read the full report on how the shortage of supplies has imperiled doctors in their fight to treat coronavirus patients.

9:04 a.m. Chicagoans to collectively show gratitude to front-line workers Saturday night

Chicagoans are being encouraged to make some noise in support of those on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 8 p.m. Saturday, quarantined Chicagoans are asked to go outside on their balconies or open windows and make noise by cheering, clapping or banging on pots and pans.

“As a salute to those fighting COVID-19 on the front lines, let’s get loud as a community and celebrate their bravery!” a flier circulating social media read.

The event mirrors other movements, like in Italy and New York, that went viral last month.

8:30 a.m. Fire goalie Connor Sparrow, a registered nurse, asks for healthcare workers to be supported

Like most people, Fire goalkeeper Connor Sparrow admires everybody working in healthcare against COVID-19. He’s seeing the suffering of those infected, how wearing an N95 mask takes a toll on the front-line employees, and wants us as a society to support them in any way possible as they try to combat the pandemic.

“It’s not going to be gone in a few days. It’s not going to be gone over the weekend,” Sparrow said. “It’s going to be here for a good amount of time and we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support the people that constitute our healthcare system to make sure it’s running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.”

But unlike most people, Sparrow is a registered nurse (in Tennessee and Utah). His sister Zoey is a nurse working at a hospital in St. Louis, and he has cousins who are also nurses working directly against the pandemic.

For Sparrow, he said it’s not really feasible for him to work as a nurse right now. He wouldn’t want to put his teammates at risk when they do eventually reunite, and he also said he talked with Zoey and they made a pact she’d be the one taking part.

But, as Connor Sparrow pointed out, in some ways everybody is taking part in the fight against the coronavirus.

Read the full story from Brian Sandalow here.

8 a.m. Assessor trying to ensure Cook County property values adjusted to reflect ‘coronavirus effect’

Knowing many residents are facing economic uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic, Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi said Friday that all homes, businesses and other real estate parcels could see their property values adjusted due to COVID-19’s effect on the market.

The first-term assessor said analysts in his office are looking for data from natural disasters and other economic crises to understand what could happen to property values in Cook County, but even with those comparisons the challenge coronavirus presents is unmatched.

“This is different because, for all of us to be safe and to get ahead of [coronavirus], we’ve had to shut down so many different sectors of the economy and economic activity,” Kaegi said.

“We’re trying to be mindful of all of that and try to reflect as best we can with the data that we have how the crisis is affecting different people’s lives,” Kaegi said.

All property owners will get a notification from the assessor’s office. Owners of west and south suburban properties already scheduled to be reassessed this year will receive a reassessment notice, while property owners in the northern suburbs and Chicago will receive a notice letting them know that the coronavirus may have affected their property values and what their new, adjusted value could be.

Read the full report from Rachel Hinton here.

7:25 a.m. McCormick Place ready for potential patient surge as Illinois tops 8,900 coronavirus cases

Health officials on Friday announced 53 more deaths across Illinois have been attributed to the coronavirus, another record daily high that raises the statewide death toll to 210 since the pandemic first hit.

The state’s case tally now stands at 8,904, with another 1,209 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The latest numbers were announced as Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled the first phase of a massive field hospital being set up with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers at McCormick Place East.

Our Frank Main broke down how the McCormick Place is being transformed into a massive field hospital for COVID-19 patients.

“Five short days ago, this was an empty convention hall. There was truly nothing here,” Pritzker said. “I’m genuinely blown away by what’s happened here.

“When I walked into this building and saw how it was transformed in just five days, I was truly flooded with an overwhelming sense of pride and patriotism.”

Three exhibition halls at the convention center are being converted into medical wings, one of which had 500 beds ready to use by Friday, officials said. Another 2,500 beds will be installed in stages to meet what officials say could be a peak in coronavirus diagnoses in Chicago around mid-April.

Catch up on Friday’s news conference with Tina Sfondeles and Mitch Armentrout’s report.

New Cases

Analysis & Commentary

12:30 p.m. What we must do to beat COVID-19 now and forever, with a big boost from technology

Technology was critical in controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in China and South Korea. Singapore has introduced a mobile phone app to aid in contact tracing, for centuries the cornerstone of stopping epidemics, and says it will make the code available at no charge.

European nations have announced multiple initiatives to develop their own virus-fighting apps and other technology, some of them based on the Singapore model.

In the United States, though, we’re doing little to harness technology to defeat the pandemic, and we don’t seem to have a plan for controlling the virus other than keeping people home, doing more testing, and eventually coming up with a vaccine. What gives?

Read Ed Zotti’s full column here.

10:00 a.m. Searching for Joe Biden

The question comes via my emails, my social media channels, on the tube. Where have you gone, Joe Biden?

Lately, they say, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is living up to his Trumpian nickname, “Sleepy Joe.”

Last Wednesday, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway ridiculed Biden for working out of his home in Delaware.

“Why doesn’t Vice President Biden call the White House today and offer some support?” she asked. “He’s in his bunker in Wilmington, and I have to tell you, we’re not talking about politics here at the White House at all. We’re talking about ventilators and vaccines, not Biden and Bernie.”

Biden, like the rest of us, is obeying stay-at-home orders, delivering his media and digital appearances from a professional studio in his basement.

He has all but vanquished U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders in the primary contests, and now he has a few precious months left to banish President Donald J. Trump. He can’t wait on a virus whose vagaries no one can completely understand or control.

Campaigning in the time of COVID-19 is tough and treacherous, for sure. The obstacles are physical and psychic. Rallies, fundraising dinners and door-knocking are verboten.

Can Joe Biden overcome that?

Read Laura Washington’s full column here.

7:15 a.m. Finding much to be grateful for, even during a pandemic

While we’re going through this unusual time, I find it helpful to focus on what I have, not what I am missing. I’ve made a list of everything I’m grateful for. There are more than 300 things on it, and I keep adding.

They are things from my past as well as the present. They include people, objects, services, living conditions and experiences. Every day, I try to spend three minutes thinking about one or more items on the list. It has helped me to not take my blessings for granted.

On my list are the big things — family, friends and fairly good health — as well as the less important stuff, such as parks, washing machines and paper towels.

One item on my list is to always remember how much better my life is, even in these challenging times, than it was for my recently deceased 96-year-old mother or my great-grandparents.

I ask myself whether I’d rather be alive in 2020, 1920, 1820 or earlier. The answer is easy.

Read Saturday’s Letters to the Editor post here.



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