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Coronavirus In Illinois: State Surpasses 100K Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
Thursday, May 21, 2020 WBEZ News
Illinois officials reported 100,418 cases of COVID-19, including 4,525 deaths, as of Wednesday afternoon. Worldwide, there were 5 million cases and more than 328,000 deaths as of Thursday, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Read below for details on latest developments: Community groups seek to help those without water; State case count surpasses 100,000; fatal crashes increase during coronavirus; Chicago Teachers Union sues over special ed during pandemic; self testing on the rise.
9:37 a.m. Community groups have plans to provide water to some Chicago residents during the pandemic
Some community organizations and water rights activists have called on city officials to restore water to residents who don’t currently have service. They’ve argued for reconnecting service as a matter of public health. Running water is a necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic, they say.
The city has not disconnected water service to any households since Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a moratorium on water shutoffs last year. But the city has not created a plan to restore water services to the estimated thousands of households that had their water shut off before the moratorium.
City officials told activists that they can’t identify which customers are currently without water.
And now the community organizations say they can’t wait any longer for the city to reconnect water services to these families.
Illinois public health officials announced today that the state has surpassed the 100,000 mark of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The Illinois Public Health Department’s data show the state has identified 100,418 cases since the start of the pandemic. That includes 4,525 deaths, 147 of which were announced today. But, health officials said the state still appears to be heading in the right direction, as hospitalization, ICU bed and ventilator use for patients with COVID-19 continue to decline.
Gov. JB Pritzker also announced today that he’s easing some restrictions on things like golf, outdoor activities and restaurants as the state prepares to head into the next phase of his reopening plan. In Phase 3 of the plan, Pritzker said restaurants will be allowed to serve customers outdoors, in addition to continuing deliveries and curb-side pickup. Illinois is currently in Phase 2 of the plan, but the Democratic governor expressed optimism that the state could advance to the next step in nine days.
— Alex Keefe
12:22 p.m. Road deaths in Illinois, U.S. spiked despite virus restrictions
The rate of fatal vehicle crashes in Illinois and the rest of the country jumped dramatically in March, even though the number of miles driven plunged due to coronavirus stay-at-home orders. The National Safety Council says today that based on preliminary figures from states, the number of fatal crashes per 100 million miles driven rose an “alarming” 14% compared with March of 2019.
Deaths varied widely by states, but Illinois was among those with double-digit increases. NSC estimates the number of deaths rose 11% in Illinois through the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period last year.
Why the increase? NSC points to anecdotal reports from states of an increase in reckless driving and speeding due to nearly traffic-free highways during shutdowns that were in effect in March, the latest month for which statistics are available.
“Per mile traveled, our roads are less safe than they were prior to COVID-19,” says Ken Kolosh, the safety council’s manager of statistics.
— Associated Press
12:05 p.m. CTU sues DeVos, CPS over special ed during pandemic
The Chicago Teachers Union says it’s suing U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Chicago Public Schools, saying its policies interfere with the education of students with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic. DeVos and CPS have failed “to provide resources and guidance for special education students” during the public health crisis, the union said in a news release announcing the federal lawsuit.
A spokeswoman for DeVos characterized the lawsuit as a political stunt designed to cover for the union’s own failures. The district suggested the lawsuit, rather than the policies that prompted it, is detrimental to the education of special needs students.
“Make no mistake: this lawsuit against the district is not about helping students — it’s about avoiding the necessary steps to ensure our most vulnerable students are supported during this unprecedented crisis,” CPS said in a statement.
The lawsuit contends that between the education department’s failure to provide adequate resources and guidance for special education, and the “ill-conceived CPS remote learning policies for special education” during the pandemic, the education of thousands of special needs students has been undermined.
The lawsuit seeks an emergency injunction to prevent the U.S. Department of Education “from enforcing regulations that place impossible administrative burdens on students, parents and educators,” according to the news release.
— Associated Press
10:45 a.m. COVID-19 self testing is on the rise
As COVID-19 testing becomes more available — crucial to reopening society — many sites in Illinois are starting to offer tests where patients collect the sample themselves. Recently, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced six new sites in the city where patients will administer an oral swab sample themselves.
It’s a method that may become more common as federal guidelines expand to eventually allow at-home tests. But it’s raising questions for people who worry about whether they did they tests correctly and if the rush to expand testing has pushed through methods that might not be entirely sound.
2:51 p.m. Illinois tallies 146 more deaths and 1,545 more COVID-19 cases
Illinois public health officials today reported that another 146 people have died from COVID-19, with 1,545 additional cases identified in the state. That brings the state to a total of 4,379 fatalities since the pandemic began, with 98,030 total cases identified.
The state has conducted more than nearly 622,000 tests, according to the public health department. And the number of cases that continue to be reported are a reflection of the state’s daily large number of tests, which on Monday was more than 18,000, said Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
Pritzker also said all four regions of the state are still on track to move into the next phase of his reopening plan by the end of the month, which would allow more businesses and other aspects of the economy to open.
— Angela Rozas O’Toole
Correction, May 19, 2020: Documents from the governor’s office now indicate Illinois is third in per capita testing in the past seven days, behind Rhode Island and New Mexico. It’s first among the most populous states.
11:11 a.m. Virus outbreak sacks Ditka’s Chicago restaurant
The coronavirus pandemic has contributed to the closing of Mike Ditka’s namesake restaurant on the Gold Coast. Ditka’s Restaurant Group says it will permanently close the location because of the economic downturn and the impending end of the eatery’s lease.
The memorabilia-filled eatery, which opened in 1997, was frequently visited by Da Coach and other celebrities. The company says Ditka’s locations in suburban Oakbrook Terrace and Pittsburgh (Ditka played at Pitt) will remain open.
— Associated Press
8:04 a.m. Restaurant owners want relief at General Assembly session
As Illinois lawmakers head to Springfield this week to discuss, among other things, the state’s reopening plan, restaurateurs want their voices heard.
Many were caught off guard earlier this month when Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Gov. JB Pritzker released five-stage plans that either leave restaurant opening dates unclear or delay them to the end of June — well behind businesses like nail and hair salons.
Lobby groups like the Illinois Restaurant Association have been calling up lawmakers before the General Assembly reconvenes this week. They want some protection for an industry that brings in about $20 billion and employs half a million workers across the state.