Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Wednesday – Chicago Tribune

May 7, 2020

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that Latino Illinoisans are testing positive for the new coronavirus at a higher rate than any other demographic group. About 60% of those screened for the virus who’ve identified as Hispanic have tested positive, nearly three times the statewide average, Pritzker said.

“Decades of institutional inequities and obstacles for members of our Latinx communities are now amplified in this pandemic,” the governor said.

Officials also announced 2,270 new known cases of COVID-19 and 136 more fatalities, bringing the total case count to 68,232 and the statewide death toll to 2,974 since the pandemic began. After dipping to a two-week low on Monday, the number of daily deaths has topped 100 for the past two day, including a record high of 176 reported Tuesday.

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

8:10 p.m.: Chicago can’t reopen without decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, Lightfoot says

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city can’t reopen without a decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, “which we have not seen yet at all.”

Though the city has seen progress in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases, Lightfoot said, challenges remain.

Lightfoot was asked about the city’s plans to reopen during a Wednesday news conference about spiking COVID-19 cases among Latinos. Lightfoot said she’s going to be proposing guidelines for the city that are separate from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s, but added that she understands people’s anxiety and businesses’ concern.

“I worry a lot, particularly about our micro-businesses and the workers that are affected and employed by those businesses,” Lightfoot said. “If there’s not a solution soon, they’re never coming back. They’ve already been devastated.”

Lightfoot said she wants to open the city, “But we have to do it safely, and we have to do it at a time when we see there is actually a decline in cases.”

“It’s ironic that we’re having this conversation in this moment when we’re talking about a surge in cases in the Latinx community,” Lightfoot added. “We are not where we need to be yet. We hope that we’re getting there.” Read more here. —Gregory Pratt

6:40 p.m.: Family members among group calling for stricter nursing home regulations

A Cook County commissioner on Wednesday called for additional related protections for nursing home residents across Illinois to help during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Brandon Johnson, a Chicago Democrat, outlined a “Save our Seniors” crisis plan, which, among other things, would free up additional federal money for nursing homes and require more certified workers at such facilities throughout the state.

“The regulatory practices that this state is governed by are just not strong enough,” Johnson said. “… We need the governor to think beyond the limitations of our own imaginations.”

Statewide, long-term care facilities have become a tinderbox for the coronavirus to spread. As of Friday, 1,082 of Illinois’ 2,457 COVID-19-related deaths were linked to nursing homes, assisted living centers and other long-term care facilities, according to Illinois Department of Public Health data. At least 7,500 residents at 348 facilities across the state have tested positive.

Johnson spoke at a news conference on Wednesday held outside the Westchester Health and Rehabilitation Center, which had 47 COVID-19 cases reported there, including 12 people who died from the virus, according to IDPH data.

Carrie Claybon was a resident at the facility who died from the coronavirus, her daughter said.

Claybon was known as “Mom” to all her neighbors in west suburban Berkeley, and though the 83-year-old had seven children, those familiar with her warm personality also saw her as a matriarch figure, her daughter Glenda Harris said. She wasn’t with her loved ones in the final two months of her life before she died on March 30.

“Now, my mom is deceased,” Harris said Wednesday. “So now all I got is a memory.” —Alice Yin

6:19 p.m.: Businessman Willie Wilson moves 5-million face mask giveaway to Chicago churches

Former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson will donate up to five million disposable face masks at three South and West side churches on Saturday after the United Center backed out of the giveaway event, he said.

Wilson reached out to Mayor Lori Lightfoot via text on Tuesday to see if she wanted to appear at a Wednesday news conference to promote the event, he said. The mayor responded with questions about whether he had adequate security, he said.

On Wednesday morning, Wilson said United Center representatives called him and said they no longer wanted to hold the mask giveaway.

Lightfoot on Wednesday was asked whether she told the United Center to kibosh Wilson’s plan, and said she merely raised some questions about it with Wilson.

“I received some notification yesterday from Dr. Wilson about something he planned in the future,” Lightfoot said. “I asked a series of questions, which you would expect me to ask, which was ‘Do you have a permit? What’s the security plan?’ And when you talk about five million masks, that’s a lot of people coming together, and probably, my concern was, violating the state stay-at-home order.”

“God bless Willie Wilson for his generous heart,” Lightfoot added. She said anybody making contributions has to do it “in a way that puts public health and public safety first and foremost.”

The timing of the cancellation struck Wilson as peculiar. “We were ready to go, and then suddenly they canceled after I reached out to the mayor,” he said.

United Center spokespeople could not be reached for comment.

Instead, Wilson said the Saturday mask giveaways will take place at the House of Hope and Apostolic Church of God churches on the South Side and the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church on the West Side. —John Byrne

5:51 p.m.: United backs off plan to cut 15,000 workers’ hours to part-time after union files lawsuit

United Airlines backtracked on a plan to reduce 15,000 employees’ hours to part-time after the union representing the workers filed a lawsuit asking a judge to halt the cuts.

In the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, the union alleged the move violated the terms of United’s agreement giving the airline $5 billion in federal financial assistance to keep workers on the payroll.

United said the lawsuit was “meritless” and that plans to reduce full-time workers’ hours from 40 per week to 30 later this month complied with its obligations linked to the financial assistance and its collective bargaining agreement with the union.

But on Wednesday, the airline said it would ask the workers, including baggage handlers, customer service agents and reservations agents, to volunteer for reductions in hours. Full-time workers would go from 40 hours per week to 30 and part-time workers would go from 20 hours per week to 10, said Greg Hart, executive vice president and chief operations officer, in a memo to affected employees. Read more here. —Lauren Zumbach

5:50 p.m.: Here’s what Chicago offices might look like after the shutdown

Masked workers walk through an entrance-only door into the office high-rise, where their temperatures are taken while passing through security.

Lines form in lobbies as elevators bring small groups of workers — each facing a different wall — to their floors.

Touchless doors open into corporate offices, which have been reconfigured to limit close, face-to-face encounters.

Building extras like restaurants, if they’re open, only offer carry-out. Fitness centers and lounges are closed.

The offices that people will return to post-pandemic are a sharp contrast from the collaborative work spaces and amenity filled workplaces they walked out of in mid-March to begin working from home.

Indeed, Chicago’s return to the office is expected to usher in the most dramatic changes in big commercial buildings in nearly two decades. Read more here. —Ryan Ori

5:32 p.m.: Pritzker’s plan to reopen Illinois leaves convention industry in limbo. ‘We’re in no man’s land right now.’

Before Illinoisans were working from home, before restaurants had shut down, and before the stay-at-home order was in place, the coronavirus pandemic was already ravaging the state’s convention business.

Now, it appears the industry that sustained the pandemic’s first economic blows might be one of the last to recover.

Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-phase plan to reopen the state, conventions cannot be held until the final phase of recovery. To reach that phase, a vaccine must be developed, a treatment option must be readily available, or no new cases must arise over a sustained period.

There’s no telling how long it might take to reach the fifth phase, and increases in cases or hospitalizations could hamper progress. As a result, organizations are unsure whether they should cancel events later this year that would bring tens of thousands of people to the Chicago area, staying in hotels, taking cabs and ride-share vehicles and using their expense accounts to dine in the best restaurants. Read more here. —Ally Marotti, Lori Rackl and Mary Wisniewski

4:10 p.m.: Can Illinois moviegoing survive Pritzker’s COVID-19 reopening strategy?

Nobody knows when. But when Illinois arrives at Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s five-step reopening of the COVID-19 pandemic economy, will the majority of the state’s movie theaters survive long enough to see Phase 5?

The prognosis is wary at best among several Chicago area theater owners and operators.

Responding to the governor’s May 5 unveiling of what some call an inconsistent set of reopening criteria, exhibitors whose venues have been dark for nearly two months now wonder if there’s room for negotiation regarding the proposed seating capacity guidelines.

Pritzker’s “revitalization” phase, which could arrive this summer but could arrive later than that, allows for a movie theater seating capacity of 50.

“This hard-and-fast number 50 is the wrong way to go,” argues Ryan Oestreich, manager of the Music Box Theatre. For one thing, he says, “we need clarity: “Is that 50 per building or 50 per (individual) auditorium?”

At the Music Box, the larger of the two venues seats nearly 1,000. A venue’s square footage should be taken into account when determining customer capacity, says Oestreich. In its larger venue, he argues, the Music Box can social-distance the daylights out of a movie screening while safely accommodating 200 or more patrons.

“A very tough pill to swallow”: That’s how Downers Grove-based Classic Cinemas CEO Chris Johnson characterizes the 50-seat limit. He’s especially daunted by Pritzker’s Phase 5, a more or less full reopening of the economy. The final phase, regulations subject to change, can come only when there’s a vaccine or a comparable, easily available treatment for COVID-19. Read more here. —Michael Phillips

3:56 p.m.: Illinois heath director’s suggestion for Mother’s Day? Virtual hugs.

With Mother’s Day coming Sunday, the state’s top health official said virtual hugs remain “the order of the day.”

While many might be looking forward to real human contact after nearly two months of staying at home, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said widening quarantine circles to include extended family only increase the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Expanding your circle will increase your risk of infection. It’s that simple,” Ezike said. “The more people you’re around, the higher the risk of contracting the virus from someone in this new expanded circle.

“So, again, we are trying to minimize the risk for everyone. That’s why staying at home with that nuclear, established cell that you’ve had is the best way forward.” —Dan Petrella

3:40 p.m.: Unprecedented! Sham-demic! Coronavirus cliches are spreading and there’s no flattening the curve

Talking to my three-year-old daughter about the pandemic, I find that words fail me. I try explaining that this is an unprecedented moment, in an uncertain time, and we are all in this together, attempting to flatten the curve. When Gov. J.B. Pritzker describes the pandemic as “an unprecedented public health challenge,” he comes across like every other email I seem to be receiving from businesses these days, all of them explaining that, “despite these unprecedented times,” our world will endure. “Unprecedented” always makes an appearance, then washes past my eyes.

“Unprecedented” never sings, it always feels lazy. It’s not that unlike those protest signs in the Loop recently, the ones angrily insisting that the state reopen immediately. The pandemic became a “SHAM-demic,” the governor himself was not “ESSENTIAL.” Peter Sokolowski, editor-in-chief of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, said that the word we haven’t found yet is the one word or phrase to encapsulate the moment. “It’s like we’re looking for a word to capture what is scientifically defined yet vague, something that gets across ‘Do I have toilet paper?‘ and ‘What happens if I touch that doorknob?'” Read more here. —Christopher Borrelli

3:05 p.m.: Pritzker says Latino Illinoisans test positive at higher rate than any other demographic group

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that Latino Illinoisans are testing positive for the new coronavirus at a higher rate than any other demographic group.

About 60% of those screened for the virus who’ve identified as Hispanic have tested positive, nearly three times the statewide average, Pritzker said.

“Decades of institutional inequities and obstacles for members of our Latinx communities are now amplified in this pandemic,” the governor said.

Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike highlighted resources available to help members of the Latino community, including free testing available at participating federally qualified health centers, regardless of insurance coverage or citizenship status.

Officials announced 2,270 new known cases of COVID-19 and 136 more fatalities, bringing the total case count to 68,232 and the statewide death toll to 2,974 since the pandemic began.

After dipping to a two-week low on Monday, the number of daily deaths has topped 100 for the past two day, including a record high of 176 reported Tuesday.

Nearly 15,000 tests were conducted in the previous 24 hours, meaning the statewide rate for positive tests was about 15%. Under the reopening plan Pritzker released Tuesday, the positivity rate in any of the plan’s four regions must be at or under 20% and increase no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, among other criteria, in order to move to the next phase. —Dan Petrella

2:40 p.m.: Illinois death toll nears 3,000

Officials on Wednesday reported 2,270 new known cases of COVID-19 and an additional 136 deaths. That brings the statewide total to 68,232 known cases, as well as a death toll totaling 2,974 since the outbreak began.

2:36 p.m.: Lightfoot sends teams to address ‘breathtaking’ number of coronavirus cases in Chicago’s Latino community

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will create teams to address a “breathtaking” spike in coronavirus cases among the city’s Latino population, she said in a Wednesday news conference.

Lightfoot unveiled several measures to address COVID-19 in Latino communities, including a plan to host virtual town halls to raise awareness, expanding the city’s so-called Rapid Response Racial Equity Team to further target areas with high case rates, and working with unions to reach Latino workers in hard-hit industries.

Recent data on coronavirus-related deaths is opening a window into how hard the pandemic is hitting Latino communities. Across Illinois, Latino-majority areas have the highest number of confirmed cases, and on average, tests in those areas come back positive 41% of the time.

As of Tuesday, a ZIP code in South Lawndale, which includes Little Village, had the highest number of cases in the state, 1,596, the Tribune previously reported.

Lightfoot and public health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Latinos in the city accounted for 14% of COVID-19 cases and 19% of deaths four weeks ago. Today, 37% of cases and 25% of deaths are Latinos.

“We have reached another critical moment for our city, confronting the impact of COVID-19 on Chicago’s Latinx community,” Lightfoot said, using a gender-neutral term for Latino. “With increasing testing, improved reporting and the continued spread of this terrible virus, we are seeing a surge in cases among our Latinx cases. This demands we dig down deeper and work harder to confront this reality.”

It’s hard to count the number of Latinos who have died of the new coronavirus because the medical examiner hasn’t until recently been labeling cases with that identifier. But by Tuesday, ZIP codes that include Little Village, with 50 deaths, and Belmont Cragin, with 40, in Latino majority-areas, were among the city neighborhoods with the greatest number of fatalities. Read more here. —Gregory Pratt and Elvia Malagon

2:32 p.m.: Skokie synagogue dedicated to deaf people may have to close its doors. ‘Right now is not a good time to be asking people for money’

Since its creation in 1972, Bene Shalom has been a Reform Jewish congregation committed to providing an inclusive environment to experience God and understand Jewish heritage. It is the only full-service synagogue in the nation devoted to the deaf community. Unfortunately the synagogue is on the cusp of closure, according to temple President Laura Schwartz. Over the years, she said, the temple has lost funding sources as church members have died.

Schwartz said the synagogue’s rabbis have already taken pay cuts, the temple put a donation button on the top right of its website and a Gofundme campaign is in place. According to Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, the annual budget is $300,000, and they still need $150,000 to remain open until January 2021.

“We’re struggling, but right now is not a good time to be asking people for money,” Schwartz said. “We’re hoping once this coronavirus situation dies down, hopefully in the fall, we’ll renew our fundraising efforts.”

Goldhamer said that if Bene Shalom shutters, its food pantry will close and the synagogue’s help for families in the community will end for deaf members as well as those who are not hard of hearing.

“We need to share money with people who need food, who need clothes,” Goldhamer, 75, said. “I do believe strongly God has inspired me to do this work because I was sharing with the people a new way of seeing God through the American Sign Language — translating the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic characters through American Sign Language. … Imagine going to your church and seeing prayers signed — it’s as if the prayers are dancing before you.” Read more here. —Darcel Rockett

1:20 p.m.: Indiana Dunes closing Porter Beach due to crowds, park officials say

The Indiana Dunes National Park is temporarily closing Porter Beach due to crowds until at least the end of May, officials said Wednesday.

“This closure includes both the national park beach and associated parking lots due​ to unsafe health conditions related to overcrowding, unsafe sanitation practices and lack of social distancing pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic,” National Park Service spokesman Bruce Rowe said in a release.

Park rangers will be patrolling and anyone on the beach could later face criminal charges, he said. A picture on social media Saturday appeared to show long lines at the entrance to the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton.

All other trails and most other beaches at the Indiana Dunes National Park are still open, Rowe said. While the Dunes is being heavily used right now, he asked visitors to use another area of the park if a parking lot is full. Read more here. —Meredith Colias-Pete

1 p.m.: Child abuse cases spike in Kane County during COVID-19 stay-at-home order

While misdemeanor and felony cases in Kane County have decreased during the coronavirus pandemic, abuse and neglect cases against children have gone up, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.

“It is alarming on a number of different levels,” McMahon said. “Families are more isolated, so there are a lot of contributing factors that kind of go into the home environment.”

The number of felony cases in Kane County dropped 15% in March and April of this year compared with the same two months in 2019, and misdemeanor cases were down 34% over the same time frame, McMahon said during his monthly media briefing this week.

However, cases involving abuse or neglect of children are up. The majority of the cases are referred to the Department of Child and Family Services by teachers, counselors, social workers and daycare providers. Despite educators and other service providers not seeing children in-person because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, the number of cases involving children has increased, McMahon said. Read more here. –Megan Jones

12:40 p.m.: New community college program will train people to be contagious disease contact tracers

Oakton Community College has unveiled a new training program for contact tracing, a workforce Illinois will need to expand in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus as distancing measures are relaxed.

Oakton will begin offering online classes to an initial group of 60 students starting May 26, according to Jesse Ivory, dean of the Skokie campus and adult and continuing education.

The classes can be completed remotely in four weeks, will train students on how to track down people recently diagnosed with COVID-19 and inform others about potential exposure. During a virtual news conference Wednesday morning, Ivory said the program can help people who might have lost employment during the pandemic find another opportunity to serve the community.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has identified the need for a robust contact tracing program as the state begins to lift restrictions. In his five-phase plan released Tuesday, he said that contact tracing should be done for more than 90% of newly diagnosed cases within 24 hours in order for states to move into the “revitalization” phase, when schools and restaurants can reopen.

Previously, Pritzker estimated that rolling out a contact tracing program will cost about $80 million, and his health officials said the state will need up to 3,800 tracers. –Elyssa Cherney

12:30 p.m.: ‘This plan does not work’: House Republicans pan Pritzker’s reopening plan

Republican lawmakers in the Illinois House on Wednesday gave scathing reviews to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s regional five-phase plan to reopen the state’s economy.

“This plan does not work,” House GOP leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said on a video conference.

“This plan presumes that the governor shall rule the state for the upcoming months — and possibly much longer — if the vaccination is not available,” Durkin said. “I took an oath of office to faithfully discharge my duties in the co-equal branch of government called the legislature. I did not abdicate nor relinquish my elected responsibilities to the executive branch.”

Durkin said he appreciated Pritzker incorporating some suggestions from him and other members of his caucus in the modified stay-at-home order that went into effect Friday. But he said the General Assembly needs to have a greater role in determining how and when businesses are allowed to reopen.

Pritzker on Tuesday laid out a road map for reopening businesses, schools and other facilities based on metrics such as the rate of new infections and available hospital capacity in each of four regions. He said the plan was based, in part, on input from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Read more here. –Dan Petrella

As a way to help the village’s restaurants and still abide by social distancing rules, Hinsdale plans to close a block of First Street in its downtown and allow the restaurants there to set out tables for outdoor dining on the street.

“If we can think of creative ways to save our businesses that fall within what’s allowed by the state, let’s go for it,” Village President Thomas Cauley, Jr., said.

The Hinsdale village trustees, meeting remotely Tuesday, unanimously supported the idea.

“We have businesses in Hinsdale that are closed and I’m very concerned that those businesses will not reopen, unless we get back to normal soon,” Cauley said.

Restaurants on First Street, including il Poggiolo and Fuller House, already set tables on the sidewalk for al fresco dining during the summer, but this will allow them to serve more customers outdoors.Currently, Illinois restaurants cannot seat and serve people indoors. Read more here. –Kimberly Fornek

Particle physics and medical device manufacturing may have little in common, but in the middle of a global health emergency scientists at Fermilab found they had a lot to offer the effort to meet demand for ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients.

Working with colleagues in Italy and Canada, as well as scientists in France, Spain and few other places, the group has designed a portable, low-cost ventilator that still is capable of the most precise functions that bulkier, costlier machines provide, said Stephen Brice, a particle physicist who heads Fermilab’s Neutrino Division.

The machine won fast-tracked approval on May 1 from the Food and Drug Administration for use in the United States. It will be made by an Italian manufacturer, Elemaster. Read more here. –David Heinzmann

10:45 a.m.: Cars.com lays off 170 employees to cut costs during COVID-19 pandemic

Cars.com, the Chicago-based car shopping website, has laid off 170 employees to cut costs during COVID-19 pandemic.

The layoffs, which took effect May 1, reduced the size of the Cars.com workforce by about 10%, and were part of “significant” measures the company has taken since COVID-related business restrictions imposed in mid-March curtailed revenue for the auto industry broadly.

“We proactively worked with our customers to help them manage through the crisis, while also taking immediate measures within the company, including a 250-person furlough of our workforce, and from that furlough a permanent reduction of 170 people,” Alex Vetter, CEO and president of Cars.com, said in a news release Wednesday.

Vetter said the company also reduced compensation for remaining employees. The furloughs were implemented on April 1. Read more here. –Robert Channick

10:15 a.m.: Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago canceled due to coronavirus

The Pitchfork Music Festival, scheduled for July 17-19 in Union Park, has been canceled because of the novel coronavirus, organizers announced Wednesday.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Run the Jewels and the National were slated to headline the 15th anniversary celebration. Forty-two acts were set to play across three stages.

Organizers said ticket holders will be contacted via email with refund information. Full refunds are being offered. Some 18,000 music fans typically attend Pitchfork for each of its three days.

“It can be pretty daunting to think about the future of live music right now, but know that we are fully committed to bringing Pitchfork Music Festival back in 2021 if the public health situation allows for it,” organizers said in a statement. Read more here. –Tracy Swartz

10:10 a.m.: Former CPS head Barbara Byrd-Bennett, convicted of corruption, moved from prison to Ohio halfway house as part of COVID-19 program

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the former head of Chicago Public Schools convicted of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in kickbacks, has been moved from federal prison to an Ohio halfway house, records show.

Byrd-Bennett, 70, was transferred Tuesday to a home managed by RRM Cincinnati. She had been jailed at Alderson Federal Prison Camp, a minimum-security facility in West Virginia nicknamed “Camp Cupcake” where Martha Stewart served time for lying to the FBI about alleged insider trading in 2005.

Byrd-Bennett has a little more than a year left on her 4½-year sentence. She is expected to remain in federal custody until June 2021, according to Emery Nelson, a spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons.Byrd-Bennett was freed as part of an initiative announced last month by Attorney General William Barr to release inmates who are near the end of their sentences and, due to age or medical issues, were at elevated risk for contracting the coronavirus. Read more here. –Jason Meisner & Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

Cardinal Blase Cupich, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Chicago, was scheduled to be the Chicago Public Library’s featured guest reader for an online story hour Wednesday morning, according to the library system.

Cupich will read the children’s book “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown, on Facebook Live at 10 a.m. Wednesday as part of the library system’s “Live from the Library” daily story hour, according to a news release.

The library system, whose buildings are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is having librarians and prominent Chicagoans read for the daily story hour.

The library system, whose buildings are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is having librarians and prominent Chicagoans read for the daily story hour. For more information on the story hour, check the libraries’ Facebook page. — Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Coronavirus pandemic could cause $560 million in Illinois gas tax revenue losses this year, possibly delaying some road and rail plans: report

Illinois could lose close to $560 million in gas tax revenue this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which may delay some big state road and rail projects, according to a new report.

Last year, the Illinois legislature passed a six-year, $45 billion infrastructure package that provided $33 billion in funding for transportation, including road repairs around the state, train line extensions, new locomotives and other equipment. The legislation came after a 10-year drought in funding for transportation projects.

The bill included money for Amtrak service to Rockford, Metra service to Kendall County, an expansion of a busy portion of Interstate 80 and repairs to the CTA Green Line’s Cottage Grove station. The transportation projects are being paid for primarily through a doubling of the state’s 19-cent-per gallon motor fuel tax, which started last July.

But the report from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank, found that with road travel down by almost half, the state could lose $296 million to $559 million this year alone, depending on different scenarios. Read more here. — Mary Wisniewski

6 a.m.: ‘Mommy’s not coming back.’ Another Chicago-area nurse dies of COVID-19.

Five months ago, Krist Angielen Guzman gave birth to her third child.

She named the boy Leandro after her maternal grandfather and an uncle, a renowned pediatric surgeon in the Philippines whom she idolized. He had fueled her passion for medicine at a young age and inspired Guzman to fulfill it by becoming a nurse.

In a cruel coincidence, one month and thousands of miles apart, Guzman and her uncle both died after contracting COVID-19 while working on the pandemic’s medical front lines.

Guzman, 35, died May 2 after a short battle with the disease. She is one of at least 25 medical professionals across Illinois who have died of complications related to the virus. Nearly 5,000 have tested positive, said state public health officials, who acknowledge the exact figure is unknown and likely higher. Read more here. — Christy Gutowski

6 a.m.: Latino communities in Illinois see uptick in COVID-19 confirmed cases: ‘Physical distancing is a privilege’

Data on cases and coronavirus-related deaths is opening a window into how hard the pandemic is hitting Latino communities. Across Illinois, Latino-majority areas have the highest number of confirmed cases, and on average, tests in those areas come back positive 41% of the time. As of Tuesday, a ZIP code in South Lawndale, which includes Little Village, had the highest number of cases in the state, 1,596.

It’s harder to count the number of Latinos who have died of the new coronavirus because the medical examiner hasn’t until recently been labeling cases with that identifier. But by Tuesday, ZIP codes that include Little Village, with 50 deaths, and Belmont Cragin, with 40, Latino majority-areas, were among the city neighborhoods with the greatest number of fatalities.

Two-thirds of the patients in the COVID-19 unit at Mount Sinai Hospital, on the city’s West Side, are Latinos, said Dr. Sunita Mohapatra, the infectious disease chief at the hospital. A lack of private insurance along with the likelihood of having preexisting conditions could be factoring into the high numbers, she said.

“They’re coming into the hospital when they are already a lot more sick,” she said. “A lot of people are still working, and they are working these jobs that are putting them at risk.” Read more here. — Elvia Malagón, Hal Dardick, Cecilia Reyes and Jessica Villagomez

6 a.m.: For National Nurses Week, we asked Chicago-area nurses what their new norm looks like. Here’s what they had to say.

Poignant, heart-wrenching stories from the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic have flooded our inbox over the past few days, as the Tribune asked Chicago-area nurses one question: “How are you living through this new norm?”

For National Nurses Week, May 6-12, more than 60 of them told us how they make it through each day, and about the hardest challenges they’re facing. Some brought smiles to our faces. Others offered words of caution and hopes for the future. Read more here. — Ariel Cheung

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