Illinois public health officials Thursday announced 6,363 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, a new daily high for the state. There were also 56 additional fatalities. That brings the statewide total to 395,458 confirmed cases and 9,675 deaths.
The previous high was 6,161 last Saturday and it was the second straight day with more than 6,000 cases reported. There were 83,056 tests in the previous 24 hours, only the sixth time that the state has had more than 80,000 tests reported in a single day. The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 6.9%.
Meanwhile, the 18-county west-central region of the state that includes Springfield and Quincy reached a positivity rate at or above 8% for the third consecutive day, one of the ways a region can trigger a rollback in its reopening under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s plan. The region will be the ninth of 11 regions in the state to come under state rules that call for temporarily suspending indoor dining and bar service and lowering gathering caps to 25 people, from 50.
Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
7:35 p.m.: CPS says high school basketball, wrestling postponed indefinitely
The boys and girls basketball seasons have been postponed indefinitely in Chicago’s storied Public League.
Chicago Public Schools made the announcement late Thursday, also sidelining wrestling and elementary school basketball. The district said the “high-risk” winter sports will be postponed or moved to next spring or summer, with a tentative wrestling season set for April 19 to June 26.
The decision comes despite the Illinois High School Association announcing that it plans to move forward with the winter basketball season, even though Gov. J.B. Pritzker has contradicted that and said it will be postponed until spring.
6:35 p.m.: Libertyville mayor says village won’t enforce indoor dining restrictions
Local officials in central Lake County have been announcing their intentions to not enforce the governor’s indoor dining restrictions, which were put on due to the recent increase of coronavirus cases in the area.
Meanwhile, other economic officials and restaurants in the area have written letters to the governor’s office, deriding the new restrictions, which were announced Wednesday, as unfair and uneven.
In Libertyville, Mayor Terry Weppler posted on Facebook an announcement that the village will not be taking any enforcement action on restaurants that choose to remain open for indoor service.
Weppler said in the post that the decision came after a conference call with the village’s restaurants and consulting with village trustees.
“I know the COVID virus is dangerous and I am as concerned as many of you that we protect people’s health,” his post read. “However, there have been no issues of Libertyville restaurants causing the spreading of COVID.”
5:55 p.m.: IHSA executive director says ‘we plan on going forward’ despite Pritzker’s comments to the contrary
Hours after Gov. J.B. Pritzker said basketball would be delayed to the spring, the Illinois High School Association’s executive director said Thursday “we plan on going forward” with the seasons as scheduled.
Another day, another twist in the winter sports saga between the IHSA and Pritzker.
5:25 p.m.: Even while hospitalized, here’s how Illinois patients can vote
Many have been anticipating this election. But what happens if you are hospitalized just before you planned to vote?
In this situation, voters have an option. In Illinois, patients hospitalized within the 14 days before an election can arrange to have a ballot delivered to the hospital.
At Advocate Health Care, hospitals have developed a process to facilitate this absentee voting. For the first time, staffers created an organized program to help patients know they can vote, including signs in hospitals and directly telling patients about this option.
“Because of COVID and this pandemic, it’s causing unexpected hospitalizations, and it’s intersected with this election,” said Tiffany Gardley, manager of volunteer services, communications and transport at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove.
Under Illinois law, qualified voters who have been admitted to a hospital, nursing home or rehabilitation center can request personal delivery of a vote-by-mail ballot.
To get a ballot, they must complete an application stating why they were admitted and that they do not expect to be released before the election, or, if released, expect to be housebound. Along with this application, a doctor, advanced practice registered nurse or physician assistant must state that the patient was admitted and not expected to be released or, if released, not able to travel.
At Advocate, patients are offered a packet with the application to request to vote this way, and a phone number to a 24/7 staffed volunteer line. Volunteers guide them through a process that can be complicated.
Once voters complete the application, a legal relative or a person registered to vote in their same precinct must present this application to an election authority. In Cook County, the application must be delivered to the County Clerk’s Office at 69 W. Washington St.
In a signed affidavit, the ballot-delivery person attests to being a registered voter authorized to get the ballot and deliver it, and states the nature of the relationship with the hospitalized voter.
After it’s verified that the hospitalized person is registered to vote, the ballot-delivery person can take a vote-by-mail ballot to the hospital, where the patient can fill it out and the same ballot-delivery person can return it to be counted.
5 p.m.: McHenry County restaurants, bars file lawsuit challenging COVID-19 closure of their establishments
Thirty-seven restaurants and bars in McHenry County filed suit Thursday against Gov. J.B. Pritzker and health officials, trying to prevent enforcement of an order to shut down indoor service, which is meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
A hearing was set in the matter for Friday, one day before the shutdown was scheduled to take place in Lake and McHenry counties. A similar order has been imposed in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee and Will counties, and other parts of Illinois.
The suit is the latest in a spate of legal actions against the governor’s executive orders aimed at limiting the pandemic. A similar suit in Kane County this week led to a court order allowing FoxFire restaurant in Geneva to keep operating despite the order, which the state is appealing. In addition, numerous restaurants statewide are simply defying the shutdown.
3:55 p.m.: Gaming board pushes back new casino license approvals six months due to COVID-19
The Illinois Gaming Board pushed back approval for the state’s new casino licenses by at least six months due primarily to COVID-19 delays.
The decision, announced at a special gaming board meeting Thursday, set an April 28 target for issuing preliminary approval for casino applicants in Rockford and Williamson County. The process may take longer for casinos in Waukegan and the south suburbs, where multiple applicants are competing for licenses. Earlier this year, an application for the Danville casino license was withdrawn.
“Like all government agencies and private businesses, the board’s work has been impacted by COVID-19,” Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter said Thursday. “This is not an excuse or a crutch. It is simply a recognition of the realities that work and life are different in a global pandemic.”
Preliminary approval for five of the six licenses created by last year’s gambling expansion bill was supposed to be issued by Oct. 28 — 12 months after the application deadline.
Once approved, casino operators will be allowed to open in temporary facilities for two years while building permanent locations.
3:50 p.m.: 4 employees, 4 residents at Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have test positive for COVID-19
Four employees and four residents at the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement Thursday by the Office of the Chief Judge.
In addition, three employees of the Adult Probation Department, including one who works at the Juvenile Courthouse, have tested positive. The others work at the Bridgeview Courthouse and at the Criminal Court Administration Building.
JTDC is conducting testing on all staff and contractors who are working on site this week, according to the statement. The JTDC also tested residents.
The most recent positive tests bring the total number of positive cases at the JTDC to 54 staff members and 40 residents.
3:20 p.m.: Chicago restaurants spent as much as $130,000 on air filtration and other safety measures for indoor dining — only to be left out in the cold
Anybody interested in buying a like-new air-purifying system? How about some custom-made, acrylic table dividers? Barely used.
It might not actually be for sale (yet), but pandemic-weary restaurateurs say they’re not far off.
In addition to the loss of revenue and likely layoffs for large numbers of dining industry workers, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s new ban on indoor dining (which goes into effect Friday in Chicago and is either already in effect or will be Saturday for the collar counties) is dealing another financial blow to restaurants that have invested heavily in safety equipment for their dining rooms ahead of winter.
It’s money that, until the indoor dining ban is lifted, is going to waste at businesses already struggling with drastically lower customer counts and notoriously thin profit margins — even in pre-pandemic times.
“We’re all trying really, really hard,” said Michael Roper, owner of Hopleaf in Andersonville. “Some of us are going to the absolute limit of our personal finances. People are putting second mortgages on their homes; people are liquidating their retirement accounts in order to save their place. That’s how serious it is.”
Restaurant owners expressed an overarching sense of fear and hopelessness in the wake of Pritzker’s series of announcements over the past week. Just as many were readying their dining rooms for a cold-weather influx, they found themselves back in a hauntingly similar situation: facing layoffs, dropping sales and a precarious future.
“No way to lie about it; I’m scared,” said Michael Lachowicz, chef and owner of Aboyer, Silencieux and George Trois restaurants in Winnetka. “I was in the fetal position for six hours yesterday.”
1:45 p.m.: All jury trials at Dirksen US Courthouse canceled until further notice due to pandemic
Chicago’s chief federal judge announced Thursday that all jury trials at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse were being canceled until further notice due the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The order by U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer comes after a rash of recent COVID-19 positive tests from courthouse employees and visitors over the past several weeks, coinciding with a resurgence of cases across the state.
The order marked the second time trials have been shut down at the courthouse due to the virus. After an initial suspension this past spring, jury trials had resumed in a limited fashion beginning in July, with face coverings and social distancing measures in place to try to curtail the virus’ spread.
Recently, however, Pallemeyer had warned those who work at the courthouse about a series of COVID-19 positive tests among visitors, employees and litigants. The most recent letter went out Monday, when Pallmeyer reported two employees and a courthouse visitor had tested positive within the past 24 hours.
“Three positive tests in our courthouse in a single day suggests a trend in the wrong direction,” Pallmeyer wrote.
Pallmeyer said that while the courthouse and clerk’s office at 219 S. Dearborn St. will remain open to the public, all criminal jury trials were suspended immediately and all civil jury trials were canceled as of Nov. 9. It would be up to the judge presiding over each case to make appropriate findings about a defendant’s Constitutional rights to a speedy trial, she said.
“The court finds that the delay outweighs the interests of the parties and the public in a speedy trial given the need to protect the health and safety of defendants, defense counsel, prosecutors, court staff, and the public by reducing the number of in-person hearings to the greatest extent possible,” Pallmeyer wrote in the order.
The provisions in the order would be revisited no later than Jan. 26, Pallmeyer said.
1:35 p.m.: Secondhand shopping comes to Michigan Avenue, even in the middle of a pandemic
When The RealReal announced plans in February to open a store selling secondhand Gucci and Louis Vuitton steps away from those brands’ Magnificent Mile boutiques, it was yet another sign resale shopping, once stigmatized, had gone mainstream.
Less than a month later, the coronavirus pandemic brought dramatic changes to ways consumers live and shop. Retailers selling anything besides toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials were hit hard, and resale shops weren’t immune.
But while many say sales are down, some of the industry’s biggest players are betting the health crisis hasn’t shaken consumers’ enthusiasm for resale.
Resale website ThredUp announced it confidentially filed for an initial public offering earlier this month after adding Walmart to the list of retailers who sell its goods in May. Meanwhile, The RealReal opened its Michigan Avenue store last week after seeing customers gradually return to its four stores in other cities.
“We’re still seeing a lot of people want to shop in person when it’s engaging,” said Dan Ocampo, The RealReal’s head of retail operations.
1:10 p.m.: Illinois sees another record daily high, another region gets hit with tighter restrictions
Illinois set another daily record high Thursday for newly confirmed cases of COVID-19, and another region was set to be put under tougher rules for restaurants, bars and gatherings under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s reopening plan.
The state reported 6,363 newly diagnosed cases and 56 additional deaths of people with COVID-19. That raises the statewide totals to 395,458 known cases and 9,675 deaths throughout the course of the pandemic, according to state data.
The previous daily high for new cases was 6,161 last Saturday.
The new cases reported Thursday come from a batch of 83,056 tests conducted during a 24-hour period.
Hospitalizations of people with COVID-19 are also rising, as of Wednesday night 3,030 people in the state were in the hospital, with 643 in intensive care units and 269 patients on ventilators.
Central Illinois has largely been spared from firmer state-imposed restrictions on businesses and gathering sizes.
But the 18-county west-central region of the state that includes Springfield and Quincy reached a positivity rate at or above 8% for the third consecutive day, one of the ways a region can trigger a rollback in its reopening under Pritzker’s plan.
The region will be the ninth of 11 regions in the state to come under state rules that call for temporarily suspending indoor dining and bar service and lowering gathering caps to 25 people, from 50.
12:58 p.m.: Park Ridge restaurants file suit against governor’s indoor dining ban; some plan to defy order
Five Park Ridge restaurant owners filed a lawsuit this week against Gov. J.B. Pritzker, objecting to the governor’s latest order shutting down indoor dining at bars and restaurants.
The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court late Wednesday, claims Pritzker lacks the authority to issue the executive order because the emergency powers he used to issue it expired in April.
The lawsuit’s argument is similar to that in other legal challenges filed against Pritzker’s executive orders across the state.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include the owners of Shakou, Pazzi Di Pizza, Hay Caramba, Holt’s, and the Harp and Fiddle, all located in Uptown Park Ridge. Also named as a plaintiff is Neoteca Pizza and Wine Bar in Barrington.
12:38 p.m.: Indiana sets new single-day record with 3,649 COVID-19 cases
Indiana set a daily high of newly reported cases of COVID-19 Thursday as the number of hospitalizations and new infections across the state continued to spike.
The 3,649 new infections reported by the Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday marked the first time Indiana has recorded more than 3,000 positive cases of the virus in one day.
Marion County, which has been the state leader in cases since March, reported 361 new positive tests, bringing the county total to almost 27,000. Trailing only Marion County is Lake County, which reported 270 new cases and now tops 15,000 cases, according to the state dashboard. According to the state, Porter County has had more than 3,700 cases. The Porter County Department of Health shows 55 deaths.
12:35 p.m.: Lightfoot to extend hours for liquor sales at Chicago bars and restaurants
Under pressure from bars and restaurants hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot will reverse a curfew she imposed on liquor sales and allow those businesses to sell alcohol until 11 p.m.
Lightfoot was quick to criticize Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decision to ban indoor service at bars and restaurants due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, but she’d also been criticized by bars and restaurants over her own restrictions, which in some ways had been tougher than the governor’s.
While the state rules dictate bar and restaurant service must end at 11 p.m., the mayor had ordered liquor sales to end at 9 p.m. and for the establishments to close at 10 p.m.
11:53 a.m.: With COVID-19 on the rise, some parents nix trick-or-treating: ‘It doesn’t seem worth the risk’
Halloween is already happening at Angie Grover’s house. The pumpkins are carved. The porch is decorated. The costumes are getting multiple trial runs, with Grover’s younger son, age 7, even taking a scooter ride in full T. rex mode.
But when the big day comes, one thing will be missing: trick-or-treating.
“We’re just not prepared to expose our family to the uncertainty of COVID,” said Grover, 50, of River Forest.
In the lead-up to a beloved children’s holiday, a sizable number of Americans are quietly opting out of trick-or-treating, handing out candy or both, due to COVID-19. Just 12% of U.S. households will trick-or-treat this year, down from 24% last year, according to a recent survey from NORC at the University of Chicago. The survey found that 25% of families plan to give out candy, down from 38% in 2019.
In Naperville alone, more than 350 “No Trick-or-Treaters” signs have been picked up by residents, according to city spokeswoman Linda LaCloche.
The reasons for opting out range from an illness in the family to a more general concern about the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Illinois, where the seven-day statewide positivity rate for those tested is 6.4%. In interviews and Facebook posts, those who are not participating expressed sadness at missing out, but also confidence in their decisions.
“Health and safety has to come first,” said Siân Stevens, of Forest Park, the mother of 5-year-old twins.
11:30 a.m.: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scolds White House over no response in virus relief talks
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a scolding assessment of COVID-19 relief talks on Thursday, blaming Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for failing to produce answers to her demands for Democratic priorities as part of an almost $2 trillion aid package.
Pelosi lobbed her latest public relations volley with a letter to Mnuchin that blames Republicans for the failed talks, which ground on for three months only to crater in the final days before the election. Where the talks go after the election is wholly uncertain.
Pelosi says remaining obstacles to an agreement include more than half a dozen big-ticket items, including a testing plan, aid to state and local governments, funding for schools, jobless benefits and a GOP-sought shield against coronavirus-related lawsuits.
Republicans, who say Pelosi has been unyielding in the talks, will control the White House and the Senate until January regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, and have pressed for a more targeted aid package that ignores key Pelosi demands.
They say items like refundable tax credits for the working poor and families with children aren’t directly related to fighting COVID-19 and charge that Pelosi has slow-walked the negotiations to deny President Donald Trump a victory in the run-up to Election Day.
Pelosi’s letter to Mnuchin comes as markets are reeling from a coronavirus surge across the country and Washington’s failure to agree on another virus relief package.
10:23 a.m.: United Center to serve as polling place on Election Day
The Chicago Board of Elections plans to utilize the United Center on the Near West Side as a voting super site on Tuesday, giving all city voters another polling site option where they can cast their ballot in person.
Its opening as a polling place on Election Day will mark the first time the indoor arena, home to the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Blackhawks, has been utilized as a voting super site. The expansion was meant to provide more “safe and accessible voting options,” according to a Chicago Board of Elections news release.
Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls chairman, and Rocky Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks chairman, said in a joint statement they are proud the 950,000-square feet United Center will be used as a voting location for the first time in its 26-year history.”
Together, the Blackhawks, Bulls and United Center are happy to play our part and offer our arena to further civic engagement in our communities and expand voting opportunities for Chicago residents,” Reinsdorf and Wirtz said in the news release.
8 a.m.: Iowa doctors warn coronavirus spread risks overwhelming hospitals if it continues
Iowa’s number of coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continued to surge higher Wednesday as medical professionals have begun to express concern that hospitals could be overwhelmed with patients if no action is taken to slow the virus spread.
Iowa hospitals had 596 coronavirus patients Wednesday, by far the highest number so far in Iowa. The 113 patients admitted in the past 24 hours also was the highest seen since the virus surfaced in Iowa in March. The number of patients needing intensive care unit services has also trended upward in the past month.
Iowa doctors and hospital officials are preparing for a system overrun by COVID patients by talking about how to transfer patients between hospitals and enacting surge plans that could turn non-hospital facilities into spots to handle any overflow.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was scheduled Thursday morning to tour an Austin neighborhood business Thursday morning before announcing where the state stands on distributing the second round of small business grants, according to the governor’s office.
Pritzker was scheduled to tour L May Creations, 5936 W. Chicago Ave., an event space run by the owner of a small business that according to the Austin Weekly News makes custom jewelry and party decorations.
The second round of Business Interruption Grants has included $220 million for businesses including movie theaters, performing arts venues and concert venues, officials have said. — Chicago Tribune staff
6 a.m.: Mental health among Black Chicagoans a concern as suicide numbers rise
Sleeping a lot. Binge eating. Feeling alone.
Casey, 32, knew these were signs in the spring that she was depressed. The Chicago resident didn’t want to be identified by her full name while speaking about mental health challenges.
She’s an extrovert, and when Illinois shut down, she said, it was hard not to be able to see friends. With an underlying health condition, she felt a lot of fear when COVID-19 arrived in Chicago. Her job isn’t one she can do remotely, but she needed to be home with her children, ages 7 and 8, and help with remote learning, creating extra stress. And after all of this, she felt more pain watching the George Floyd protests and seeing, she said, how Black people like her were treated.
“That created a lot of depression and a lot of anxiety,” she said. “I would definitely have those crying spells like, hey, I just need somebody to hug me. Because of COVID, there was nobody available.”
Casey is not alone. Many are feeling extra and unusual stressors during this time, and people of color shoulder additional burdens.
This year, many Americans have reported feeling anxious and depressed. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly half of Americans reported at least one mental or behavioral health condition, including a trauma- and stressor-related disorder or substance use.
In Illinois, health officials are monitoring the number of suicides. Overall, the number in Illinois actually fell slightly, from 678 suicides from January to June last year to 649 in the same time period this year.
But among Black Chicagoans, suicides have risen.
Last year, from January to June, Cook County saw 31 suicides among Black residents, which was actually down from 38 in the same time period the year before. But this year, from January to June, 51 Black residents in Cook County died by suicide, according to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics. Earlier this year, the Sun-Times reported that the majority of Black suicides in Cook County occurred in Chicago, often in the South and West side neighborhoods.
6 a.m.: Thursday’s the deadline for sending in your mail-in ballot application. If you miss it, here are some options.
Thursday is the deadline for your local election authority to receive your application for a mail-in ballot, although for weeks officials have been encouraging voters to send them in sooner.
Don’t expect to get yours in on time? Don’t fret. You still have options.
If you’d like to vote by mail, you have a couple of choices.
First, if your local election jurisdiction accepts online applications, you can submit one before 5 p.m. Thursday. But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive your ballot in time to fill it out and have it postmarked, place it in a secure drop box or hand-deliver it to your local election authority’s office by Election Day.
Your other option is to go to your local county clerk’s office or election authority to request a mail-in ballot in person. The deadline to do that is Monday. Just be sure to complete your ballot and place it in the mail or a designated drop box or return it to your local election office by Tuesday.
Ballots returned by mail and postmarked by Election Day should be counted as long as they’re received by Nov. 17.
Still, given that election officials encouraged voters to submit vote-by-mail applications by Oct. 15 to make sure they could be mailed out in time, your best bet may be to make other plans for casting your ballot.
With COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in Illinois, Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed this latest surge, the president’s name-calling and a vaccine timeline during a virtual Chicago talk Wednesday evening.
He spoke during an event hosted by Chicago Ideas and presented by Horizon Therapeutics called “The Man Behind the Medicine.” Fauci’s remarks came the same day that Illinois reported 6,110 new cases of COVID-19, with a rolling positivity rate of 6.7% up from 4.6% two weeks earlier.
Here are five stories from Wednesday related to COVID-19: