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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Online Taste of Chicago starts today with food trucks, list of restaurants to order from

Wednesday, July 08, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Illinois announced 37 new confirmed deaths from COVID-19 on Tuesday, more than the daily totals from over the long holiday weekend but still well below the number of daily deaths during May and June. The state also announced 587 new known cases of the coronavirus and the results of 26,994 tests.

Meanwhile, a new saliva-based COVID-19 test, developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, debuted Tuesday as UIUC students and faculty were invited to experience it for themselves. School leaders have set a goal of offering 10,000 tests per day by Aug. 24, when in-person classes start up again. But questions about the tests linger.

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

7:41 a.m.: For the 1st time since March, fans took in a live sporting event in Chicagoland with the Chicago Dogs home opener: ‘We just wanted to get on with our lives a little bit’

Wearing a hot dog designed calf-length poncho Tuesday night, Danny Schwartz and his family walked into Rosemont’s Impact Field, eager to see live sports for what Schwartz said felt like an eternity.

“I’ve missed it immensely,” said Schwartz, who with Haley Damm brought their 4-year-old son Jackson. “When the opportunity arose to come out here, we jumped at it.”

The family from Barlett was in the crowd of 1,400 fans that watched the first professional sports event in Chicagoland since the Chicago Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks at the United Center on March 11. Since then, arenas and stadiums across the nation shuttered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As other sports — like the NBA, WNBA, MLS, NWSL and MLB — plot to play again, the Dogs’ season is underway.

Read more here. —Shannon Ryan

6:45 a.m.: Online Taste of Chicago starts today

A coronavirus-era Taste of Chicago kicks off this morning with a parade of food trucks from Buckingham Fountain, online food demonstrations and a list of restaurants to order food from or sample via their food trucks.

This year’s Taste will largely be either online or symbolic, with the city designating a list of restaurants participating in the festival, usually held in Grant Park, but which this year will have takeout food trucks available with special Taste menus.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot was scheduled to kick off the fest Wednesday morning at Buckingham Fountain, followed by a parade of food trucks from participating restaurants.

There will be daily food demonstrations online and other programming. For details check this Tribune story and the Taste’s online home,

Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Chicago students earning stipends through online summer program

This summer, incoming Lane Tech senior Jasmin Aquino is sewing a fanny pack. Enamored with fashion design since childhood, Jasmin finally learned to sew clothing through an After School Matters program in 2017. She’s since made jumpsuits, a floor-length gown, shirts, backpacks, and recently, masks for friends and family to wear during the coronavirus pandemic.

Knowing how serious the virus is and how cautious people need to be, Jasmin said shifting the summer program online offers students like her a chance to earn a bit of money and do something they love from home.

More than 10,000 Chicago teens could earn stipends this summer for participating in After School Matters programs, now in their 30th year. Close to 17,000 applied for a spot in one of more than 500 programs, which began Monday. Summer students earn participation stipends ranging from $336 to $850, depending on the program’s complexity, time commitment and level, such as apprenticeship and internship, said Chief Program Officer Melissa Mister.

Programs are also offered during the school year. Funding for the nonprofit comes from the city and state, the private sector and individual donors. In fiscal year 2019, more than half its revenue came from government grants, according to the organization.

Read more here. —Hannah Leone

6 a.m.: Demand escalates for pet food pantries during COVID-19 crisis: ‘We didn’t know how we were going to manage’

Chicago animal shelters and pet food pantries have scrambled to provide enough resources for pet owners as demand has escalated as people have lost their jobs and suffered financial strain during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many pet food pantries in the region have shut down, while others looked to new ways of doing things to stay afloat.

Pantries have had to abandon their reliance on volunteers, many of whom have been told to stay at home to adhere to social distancing guidelines and minimize exposure to COVID-19. As a result, fewer workers are picking up more work.

Read more here. —Kelli Smith

Here are five things that happened Tuesday related to COVID-19.

A lender halted funding for a planned Helmut Jahn-designed skyscraper on Michigan Avenue because of economic concerns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, putting the project in doubt.

Free saliva-based COVID-19 tests began at the University of Illinois, but the school won’t say if students are required to take them.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday launched an all-out effort to reopen schools this fall.

The Historic Sandwich Fair, the oldest in Illinois since 1888, was canceled due to pandemic.

BrightFarms is boosting capacity at its Chicago-area greenhouse as the pandemic-driven rise in cooking at home fuels demand for locally grown greens.

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