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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 1,645 new known COVID-19 cases reported as state releases $46 million from federal relief act to 2,655 small businesses

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Chicago Tribune

The state of Illinois on Wednesday released $46 million in grant funding to a range of small businesses across the state that have seen their operations interrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants, which range from $10,000 to $20,000 are headed to 2,655 small businesses, the first round of funding from the Business Interruption Grant program, funded by federal CARES Act dollars.

Recipients are able to use the grants for payroll costs, rent, utilities, equipment and other pandemic-related needs, such as personal protective equipment, training and new technology.

Also Wednesday, Illinois public health officials announced 1,645 new confirmed case of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths. The state has now reported 198,593 cases overall and 7,672 confirmed deaths.

On Tuesday, the city of Chicago removed three states — Kansas, Iowa and Utah — from its travel quarantine list and indicated that Wisconsin may come off the list next week if its coronavirus case numbers continue to stay low.

Meanwhile, a panel of state lawmakers Tuesday let stand his emergency rule that would fine businesses up to $2,500 for not enforcing mandatory face mask rules.

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

2:55 p.m.: DePaul University shifts ‘vast majority’ of classes online, closes residence halls to most students

DePaul University will move the “vast majority” of its fall classes online and limit its residential halls only to students with exceptional circumstances in response to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic, the university announced Wednesday.

“We do not believe that currently there is a reasonable way to open the campus to the full extent we originally had planned and continue to effectively manage the potential health risks to the university and local community,” DePaul administrators wrote in emails to students, faculty and staff. The university hopes to welcome more students back to campus winter term if health conditions allow, the emails said.

The change is a marked retreat from the university’s reopening plan to “deliver as many classes as possible safely on campus this fall” that was announced mid-May. Classes will now be delivered via remote formats with “few exceptions for pedagogical reasons.” Students enrolled for on-campus classes will receive information “soon” about whether their courses will remain in-person, the email to students said.

Read more here. —Claire Hao

2:49 p.m.: State releases $46 million from federal relief act to more than 2,600 small businesses hit by pandemic

From taco shops to CrossFit gyms, day spas to pest control providers, the state of Illinois on Wednesday released $46 million in grant funding to a range of small businesses across the state that have seen their operations interrupted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The grants, which range from $10,000 to $20,000 are headed to 2,655 small businesses, the first round of funding from the Business Interruption Grant program, funded by federal CARES Act dollars.

Recipients are able to use the grants for payroll costs, rent, utilities, equipment and other pandemic-related needs, such as personal protective equipment, training and new technology. The first round of funding is aimed at businesses that were forced to close fully during the spring, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued a statewide stay-at-home order, a sweeping measure aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Small businesses that continue to suffer economic hardship due to the pandemic and areas that have experienced property damage and closures as a result of recent civil unrest, are also included.

Read more here. —Jamie Munks

1:27 p.m.: Second stimulus check updates: Can Mark Meadows, a longtime deal breaker, now be the coronavirus deal maker?

Mark Meadows dropped to a knee in then-Speaker John Boehner’s office, the still-new congressman apologizing for joining those trying to oust the Republican leader.

Two years later, Meadows did it anyway, leading the House Freedom Caucus’ push for Boehner’s departure in 2015.

Now as President Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Meadows is an unorthodox pick for the White House role, trying to negotiate a coronavirus relief package on Capitol Hill. He is seen more as a deal breaker than deal maker, a newcomer who arrived in Congress with the tea party, led a government shutdown and made a name for himself slashing budgets rather than building them.

On a private call, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York told senators this week it was Meadows, not the other key White House negotiator, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who threw up roadblocks up as talks collapsed.

It’s clear Meadows “is in charge,” was the message from Democratic leadership, according to a person who was not authorized to discuss publicly the conversation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Read more here. —Associated Press

12:08 p.m.: 1,645 new known COVID-19 cases, 16 additional deaths

Illinois public health officials Wednesday announced 1,645 new confirmed case of COVID-19 and 16 additional deaths. The state has now reported 198,593 cases overall and 7,672 confirmed deaths.

—Chicago Tribune staff

11:22 a.m.: CPS gets gift from Citadel’s Ken Griffin to expand digital math tutoring during remote learning

Six hundred additional Chicago Public Schools students across five schools will gain access to personalized math tutoring through the support of public and private funding.

With the new support, the nonprofit Saga Education will provide digital math tutoring to a total of 2,120 CPS students from 20 schools in the 2020-21 school year.

Expansion of the program is the latest gift to CPS from Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, Illinois’ wealthiest resident who was also the lead donor to the Chicago Connected initiative to provide high-speed internet to approximately 100,000 students. These efforts to bridge technological gaps and enhance remote education supports come as CPS plans to start the school year all-remote.

Griffin’s donation is a joint $6 million initiative with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to employ around 180 tutors a year in support of under-resourced schools in Chicago and New York City. Funding from the Gates Foundation will support 1,000 students per year across six schools in NYC over two years.

“I am proud to support (Saga Education’s) work to empower students with the tools and confidence they need to learn, grow and make their aspirations a reality,” Griffin said a news release.

—Claire Hao

10:25 a.m.: Having an eating disorder during coronavirus is like being ‘in a maze blindfolded’

A study in the International Journal of Eating Disorders looked at the early impact of coronavirus. The study of 1,000 people from the United States and the Netherlands found that those with anorexia were restricting themselves more and feared being able to find foods consistent with their meal plan, while those with bulimia and binge eating disorder reported increases in their binge eating episodes and urges to binge.

Ellen Astrachan-Fletcher, a certified eating disorder specialist and regional clinical director of Eating Recovery Center in Illinois, says the study’s findings are similar to what she’s seen in patients during the pandemic.

“Absolutely, this is very consistent to what we are seeing, and I think that to a great degree,” she says. “The hardest component that’s been going on is isolation. They need connection for recovery. Connection is a huge component of mental well-being, if we don’t have connection we don’t do well.”

Janicki agrees and says it’s very easy to isolate from other people.

Read more here. —Hannah Herrera Greenspan

9:36 a.m.: ‘Everything is a risk vs. benefit equation these days and it is exhausting’ — What 29 Chicago-area parents have to say about going back to school

The Tribune surveyed parents on how they look at going back to school virtually or in-person in the fall and the answers, like the quotes above, cover a complete range of approaches, reactions and emotions.

More than 75 people from across the area responded and shared their thoughts, worries and plans about returning to school. There was anger, understanding, patience and frustration.

The answers illustrate that deciding how to handle the risks of a pandemic, the needs of a family, the responsibilities of parenting is not easy and not uniform. Here are some of the answers from the survey.

Read more here. —Jonathon Berlin

8:49 a.m.: Small businesses are quietly dying by the thousands during the coronavirus pandemic

Big companies are going bankrupt at a record pace, but that’s only part of the carnage. By some accounts, small businesses are disappearing by the thousands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the drag on the economy from these failures could be huge.

This wave of silent failures goes uncounted in part because real-time data on small business is notoriously scarce, and because owners of small firms often have no debt, and thus no need for bankruptcy court.

"Probably all you need to do is call the utilities and tell them to turn them off and close your door," said William Dunkelberg, who runs a monthly survey as chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business. Nevertheless, closures "are going to be well above normal because we're in a disastrous economic situation," Dunkelberg said.

Yelp Inc., the online reviewer, has data showing more than 80,000 businesses permanently shuttered from March 1 to July 25. About 60,000 were local businesses, or firms with fewer than five locations. About 800 small businesses filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy from mid-February to July 31, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute, and the trade group expects the 2020 total could be up 36% from last year.

Read more here.Bloomberg News

6 a.m.: As universities reopen, no one has more uncertainty than this year’s freshman class

There’s the adventure of going off to college for the first time, that big, nerve-wracking step toward adulthood that some students have been preparing for their entire high school careers. And then there’s going off to college for the first time in 2020.

That is, if this year’s freshman class of students are even going off somewhere at all.

As universities in the Chicago area and around the country scramble to resume classes during the COVID-19 pandemic — be that with online coursework, students in class or a hybrid of both — they acknowledge they must plan in particular for this year’s freshman class, and figure out how to welcome new students with orientations that in past years would have included weeklong receptions, dorm move-in shindigs and get-to-know-you social events with fellow students.

A number of universities have not yet announced their plans for resuming. Recently, about 24% of American universities said they would have classes fully or primarily in person, 30% online and 15% a hybrid — with 27% still undecided, according to a study of 3,000 institutions published by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

What’s more, all this first-year uncertainty affects the same kids who saw the end of their high school senior years upended and graduation ceremonies canceled.

“I just think, like, with the virus, the transition was already going to be hard,” said Isabel Kochanek, a recent graduate of Lyons Township High School in La Grange. She’s planning to head to Purdue University Northwest soon for her freshman year, where she’ll study biology and health science and play soccer. “Now it’s going to be even harder.”

Read more here. —Doug George

5 a.m.: After coronavirus delay, Chicago getting expanded electric scooter pilot program

Electric scooters from Lime, Spin and Bird are being deployed Wednesday in Chicago, kicking off the city’s second pilot program for the scooters, running from mid-August to mid-December.

This year’s pilot, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, allows each company to distribute 3,333 scooters each in Chicago, four times as many scooters as in last year’s program. Riders can use the scooters from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day at speeds up to 15 mph.

The scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks. Companies will provide locking mechanisms to secure the scooters to fixed objects, such as bike racks or street signs, at the end of rides. The scooters are not allowed to be operated on the lakefront, Central Business District and The 606 trail.

The city requires Bird, Lime and Spin to put at least half of their scooters in areas “where residents face systemic disadvantages,” according to a news release. City officials said they will check for compliance twice a day. Read more here. —Sydney Czyzon

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


Recent Headlines

Thousands of suburban students going back to school after starting fully remote
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

State groups bemoan stop-and-go decisions affecting the census deadline
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Coronavirus live blog, Sept. 28, 2020: Will CPS kids go back to schools this fall? Lightfoot says ‘we’re not there yet’
Monday, September 28, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois’ coronavirus-related death toll surpasses 8,600
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Column: Cook County assessment report verifies what many already knew: Our property tax system is unfair
Sunday, September 27, 2020
Daily Southtown

Letter from the Cook County Health Interim CEO
Friday, September 25, 2020
Special to

They’re not otters, but endangered mussels in Illinois play a crucial role as environmental sentinels. ‘They all have a story to tell.’
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County spends $292,000 to assess feasibility of repairing Port of Chicago
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Will your mailed-in ballot be counted? We did a test-mailing to see.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

After ethics spat, Cook County code on its way to a revamp
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

County Board to renew Preckwinkle emergency powers, lay ground rules to pick new IG
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Daily Line

Officials Urge Residents to Get Flu Shot as State Reports 2,257 New Cases of COVID-19
Thursday, September 24, 2020

3 ethics board exits later, Cook County commissioners unveil first draft of ethics code reforms
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Cook County plans to give out grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses hit hard by pandemic
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Groups call for big changes in an office stuck in the carbon paper era
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Crain's Chicago Business

Next Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Must Improve Public Access, Accountability, Legal Groups Say
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Illinois secretary of state’s office letter to voters causes confusion for some mail-in ballot applicants
Monday, September 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Confusion delivered in mail-in voting letters from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White
Monday, September 21, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

HACC Wait Listing Opening
Monday, September 21, 2020
Special to

A national group studied commercial property tax assessments in Cook County under the last assessor, Joe Berrios. The results were not pretty.
Monday, September 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

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