Latest coronavirus news for April 28, 2020: Live updates -Times

Health officials on Tuesday said another 144 people in Illinois have died from COVID-19, marking the highest number of deaths in a day as the pandemic’s toll surpassed 2,000 fatalities.

Here’s what happen in Chicago and around the state as the coronavirus pandemic continued.


8:57 p.m. Post-pandemic recovery depends on ‘a whole new class of jobs’ to help people feel safe in public again, Lightfoot says

Temperature checks, like this one being conducted outside a courts complex in Greece this week, could be required to enter City Hall and other buildings once shelter-in-place orders are lifted, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.

Temperature checks, like this one being conducted outside a courts complex in Greece this week, could be required to enter City Hall and other buildings once shelter-in-place orders are lifted, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday she expects a “whole new class of jobs that didn’t exist before” to be created by the need to reassure people it’s safe begin congregating in public again.

From mandatory temperature checks to contact tracing, Lightfoot said Chicagoans who have lost jobs during the coronavirus pandemic could find new ones when the twice-extended stay-at-home order is finally lifted.

“There are going to be a whole new class of jobs that didn’t exist before that are gonna be coming out of our thoughts about what recovery and opening up the city looks like,” the mayor said.

“There’s gonna be a whole category of new people that are gonna be working for businesses and buildings. Their job … is gonna be making sure that people that enter those premises are well. … We’re gonna be able to ultimately employ more people because it’s going to be necessary for us to feel secure coming into congregate settings again.”

Read the full story by Fran Spielman.

8:21 p.m. U. of C. gets $500K to bolster South Side coronavirus testing, while Humboldt Park opens site

University of Chicago Medicine received a $500,000 donation that will help bolster coronavirus testing efforts at clinics and community hospitals in South Side communities that have been hit hard by the disease.

The financial support will enable U. of C. and its partners to expand testing to 1,000 people a day, according to a statement Tuesday. Uninsured patients will be tested for free, while those with health insurance will simply have their provider billed and won’t be subjected to co-pays.

The grant funding comes from the nonprofit United Health Foundation, which was established by the UnitedHealth Group, a publicly traded health care firm based in Minneapolis. The donation is part of the company’s initial $70 million commitment to fight COVID-19 and support areas that have been disproportionately affected by the virus.

Read the full story from reporter Tom Schuba here.

7:54 p.m. Oscars revamp rules; streaming films now eligible but for 1 year only

LOS ANGELES — Movies that debuted on a streaming service without a theatrical run will be eligible for the Oscars, but only this year.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences on Tuesday announced the change for the 93rd Academy Awards as a response to how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted the film industry.

The film academy also said it will condense the two sound categories into one and prohibit DVD screeners for 2022’s 94th Oscars in an effort to become more carbon neutral.

Read the full report here.

7:04 p.m. Edison Park mainstays’ 7-decade love story ends with coronavirus deaths 36 hours apart

Irvin Kaage Jr. and his wife Muriel were known as the couple behind the Kaage’s Corner newsstand on Northwest Highway that’s been a mainstay in Edison Park for 77 years.

To family members, though, they will always be remembered for the enduring love story that spanned seven decades before the coronavirus brought it to an end this week.

Irv Jr., 92, died Sunday at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and Muriel, 90, followed barely 36 hours later. Both had tested positive for COVID-19.

Just before Irv’s death, the hospital moved their beds together so they could hold hands, said their son, Irv III.

It was a fitting end to the story the Kaages always delighted in telling — and retelling.

Read Mark Brown’s full column here.

5:30 p.m. 10 die from COVID-19 at Cicero nursing home, including employee

More than 200 residents and staff of a Cicero nursing home have tested positive for COVID-19, while 10 of them — including one staff member — have died from the disease, city officials announced Tuesday.

At least 163 residents and 41 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 at City View Multicare Center, 5825 W. Cermak Rd., according to the results released Tuesday afternoon by city spokesman Ray Hanania.

The deaths at the nearly 500-bed facility include nine residents and one employee who died in the last two days, Hanania said. The test results come after state health officials mandated last week that the City View test every resident and member of the facility. Test results are still pending for 39 staff members.

Cicero officials have complained about City View’s health safety record, and hope the facility improves works to improve the safety of its residents.

Read the full story here.

4 p.m. Trump to sign order keeping meat processing plants open

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Tuesday meant to stave off a shortage of chicken, pork and other meat on American supermarket shelves because of the coronavirus.

The order will use the Defense Production Act to classify meat processing as critical infrastructure to keep production plants open.

The order comes after industry leaders warned that consumers could see meat shortages in a matter of days after workers at major facilities tested positive for the virus.

A senior White House official said the administration was working to prevent a situation in which a majority of processing plants shut down for a period of time, which could lead to an 80% drop in the availability of meat in supermarkets. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order before its release.

Read the full story here.

2:40 p.m. CDC now recommends social distancing for pets

Latest coronavirus news for April 28, 2020: Live updates -Times 1

Tina Sfondeles/Sun-Times

While you’re keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and other owners at the dog park, be sure to give your pet equal distance from other animals: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends pet owners isolate their dogs, cats and hamsters from close contact with other animals after two domestic cats in New York tested positive for the virus.

From a New York Times report last week:

The cats, from different parts of the state, are showing only mild symptoms and are expected to be fine.

The owners brought both cats to veterinarians because they showed symptoms of a respiratory infection. One owner had tested positive for the virus. No human in the other cat’s household tested positive.

The CDC says in the advisory that “based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low. A small number of pets have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after contact with people with COVID-19.”

“At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19,” the agency asserts. But if you or someone in your household has been diagnosed with COVID-19, it recommends limiting contact. If your pet displays symptoms of a possible respiratory infection, you should contact your veterinarian.

For more information, visit the CDC’s guide to “COVID-19 and Animals.”

2:30 p.m. Record-high 144 people die in Illinois from COVID-19 as state toll surpasses 2,000

Health officials on Tuesday said another 144 people in Illinois have died from COVID-19, marking the highest number of deaths in a day as the pandemic’s toll surpassed 2,000 fatalities.

Officials also reported 2,219 newly confirmed cases, raising the state’s total to 48,102, officials said. Those were the latest numbers as the state received 14,561 test results Monday.

In all, 2,125 people have died of the coronavirus in the state.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration last week acknowledged the state was experiencing a peak period regarding COVID-19 fatalities that could stretch into the first week of May. Pritzker’s team projections show a range of between 50 and 150 deaths on those days.

The state previously saw two days in which 125 people died. But Tuesday’s fatality count set a new high.

Pritzker’s office on Tuesday said there were 4,738 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals as of midnight Monday, which was 66 patients more compared to Sunday. There were also an additional 15 COVID-19 patients on ventilators in that same time period.

Read the latest from today’s news conference here.

2:12 p.m. Mayor Lightfoot announces grant program for microbusinesses

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a program Tuesday backed by private donations to provide $5,000 grants to microbusinesses affected by the coronavirus.

Plans call for the $5 million Microbusiness Recovery Grant Program to swiftly award up to 1,000 grants to enterprises in low- to moderate-income areas. The city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will administer the program with help from five community organizations.

Applications will be open until May 4. City officials promised the grants will be awarded just a week later, by May 11, under a lottery.

To qualify, businesses within the targeted neighborhoods must have four or fewer employees, less than $250,000 in annual revenue and experienced a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. All recipients must have been in business for at least a year.

Read the full story here.

1 p.m. Founder of South Side nonprofit doles out COVID-19 supplies to hard hit black community

Diane Latiker has never been one to wait for others to solve problems.

After all, she started her nonprofit Kids Off the Block 16 years ago by opening up her own living room to at-risk youth to curb gang violence, quickly gaining national recognition that included being honored as a CNN hero and one of L’Oreal Paris’ Women of Worth.

Before the spotlight was turned on the disproportionate COVID-19 deaths among African Americans — and social determinants fueling them — Latiker knew the disadvantaged population she served in Roseland would be hard hit.

After the Chicago Public Schools closed March 17, Latiker and her husband set up a donated tent at 115th Street & Michigan Avenue, offering burgers, chips and juice to hungry youth.

“I was sitting in my bedroom watching all the devastating coronavirus news and feeling afraid, even with my faith as strong as it is. So I prayed, and it came to me,” said the 63-year-old mother of eight and grandmother of 15.

Read the full story here.

11:12 a.m. White House vows to send Illinois 20K swabs per day in May to expand testing: Pritzker

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday said the White House has vowed to send Illinois 20,000 swabs a day for the month of May in order to ramp up testing capacity.

The Democratic governor has said the state needs to obtain more swabs, reagents and VTMs [viral transport medium] — all needed to process COVID-19 tests.

“We’ve done a pretty good job in Illinois of acquiring our own supplies, but now the White House is getting engaged and they’re promising to deliver to us for the month of May about 20,000 swabs per day, which is very important” Pritzker said on NBC’s “Today Show” on Tuesday. “We’re currently doing around 12,000 [tests] per day so having 20,000 additional swabs will help us.”

Pritzker said Illinois is already in the top 10 among states for volume of daily COVID-19 testing.

Illinois has seen five consecutive days of more than 10,000 test results, which was the original benchmark set by Pritzker. Still, some experts say that testing rate is far from the daily total needed before states can consider lifting guidelines that encourage social distancing. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer has said that half the country should get tested each week, amounting to 23 million tests a day.

Last week, President Trump said both Illinois and Maryland “didn’t understand” their testing capacities. Pritzker in turn said Trump didn’t understand the difference between testing capacity and getting testing results.

The governor last week said Illinois had the machines, but not all supplies needed to run the tests.

“You need everything from swabs to VTM – viral transport medium – to RNA extractor reagent. And if you don’t have those…then you can’t run a test,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker also addressed the recent ruling by a downstate judge that challenged his stay-at-home order extension in his appearance on the talk show Tuesday. Watch the full segment here.

Tina Sfondeles

9:59 a.m. What reopening looks like in states lifting lockdowns

In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp is pushing one of the most aggressive reopening plans in the United States. Barbershops, gyms and nail salons were allowed to reopen Friday, and dine-in restaurant service and movie screenings were freed to resume Monday — despite warnings that, without sufficient testing, the state could see a surge in infections.

Even there, though, life was far from normal Monday. Patrons went to restaurants with X’s on some tables, chatted across the room to one another and gave orders to servers whose faces were covered by masks.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan envisions a phased reopening — something the federal government also advocates. First small shops could open, and some outdoor recreation could resume, then perhaps restaurants and bars. Phase three, which the administration cautions it has no realistic time frame for reaching, would allow larger social gatherings and high-capacity bars, restaurants and entertainment venues could reopen.

Even with strict rules in place, it’s a delicate dance, as Dennis McKinley learned this weekend. He had planned to open two of the three branches of his restaurant, The Original Hot Dog Factory, for dine-in service in the Atlanta area. He reversed himself Monday after getting about 40 calls from politicians, community leaders and customers urging him to keep diners out.

Read the full story here.

8:42 a.m. Mask safety tips: Sizing questions, washing instructions and more

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s new executive order takes effect Friday, masks will be required in all public places where people can’t maintain a 6-foot social distance. With shortages of personal protective equipment continuing across the country, many Illinoisans will need to buy or make homemade face coverings to meet Pritzker’s guidelines.

We asked experts to answer some frequently asked questions about mask safety.

How should it fit?

A medical or cloth mask covers the face from the bridge of the nose, over the mouth and under the chin. It’s held in place by loops around the ears. Never drop one side to talk, as that defeats the purpose of the mask.

Unlike an N95 mask, which fits tightly around the nose and mouth, a medical or cloth mask will have gaps near the ears. Still, either type offers better protection than a bandana, which tends to gap right under the mouth, says Jill Crittenden, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who’s on the N95 consortium.

How should I clean a cloth mask?

Cloth masks should be washed daily in soapy water and run through a dryer on low heat or hung to dry.

Disposable medical masks should sit for a week before being used again. Crittenden says she has seven medical masks labeled “Monday,” “Tuesday,” “Wednesday” and so forth, which she rotates from week to week.

Read the full story from Stephanie Zimmerman here.

7:02 a.m. ‘There may be people who contract coronavirus’ as a result of state rep.’s suit over stay-at-home extension: Pritzker

A downstate judge on Monday agreed with a Republican legislator that Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker lacks the legal authority to force him to stay home past 30 days during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a decision that only applies to the Southern Illinois lawmaker – state Rep. Darren Bailey – but the governor said it will endanger all Illinoisans and open the door for others to file suit.

Pritzker was made aware of Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney’s ruling Monday afternoon during his live COVID-19 briefing.

“Rep. Darren Bailey’s decision to take to the courts to try and dismantle public health directives designed to keep people safe is an insult to all Illinoisans that have been lost during this COVID-19 crisis, and it’s a danger to millions of people who may get ill because of his recklessness,” Pritzker said. “At best, no one is better off because of this ruling, and at worst, people’s health and safety will suffer tremendously in Illinois.”

The filing, which sought a temporary restraining order against the stay-at-home order, said Pritzker’s decision limited “Bailey’s constitutionally protected freedoms in that it ordered him to stay at home, or at his place of residence, as well as limited his ability to travel within the state.”

Read the full report from Tina Sfondeles here.

6:51 a.m. El Milagro closes tortilla factory for two weeks after employee dies from coronavirus

Midwest tortilla giant El Milagro has shut down one of its factories in Chicago for two weeks after a worker died from the coronavirus earlier this month.

In a letter to employees sent over the weekend and obtained by the Sun-Times, the company said it was “deeply saddened to learn about the death of one of our longtime sanitation employees due to complications from COVID-19.”

El Milagro said the deceased worker — who was not named in the letter — had not been at the plant at 2919 S. Western Ave. since April 9 and that two additional employees have since tested positive for the virus while four others are showing symptoms.

The company said it is closing the plant for two weeks so that an outside cleaning company can sanitize the facility. All employees scheduled to work at the facility “will be paid (40 hours per week) during this time off,” El Milagro said.

Reporter Carlos Ballesteros has the full story.

6:19 a.m. Lakers return $4.6 million from coronavirus stimulus loan program

The Los Angeles Lakers have repaid a loan of roughly $4.6 million from coronavirus business relief funds after learning the program had been depleted.

The Lakers applied for the loan under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, a part of the federal government’s $2.2 trillion stimulus package. The Lakers’ request was granted in the first round of distribution, but after the fund ran out of money in less than two weeks, the team returned its loan, as did several wealthier business including Shake Shack and AutoNation.

The Lakers issued a statement Monday confirming what happened.

“The Lakers qualified for and received a loan under the Payroll Protection Program,” the statement read. “However, once we found out the funds from the program had been depleted, we repaid the loan so that financial support would be directed to those most in need. The Lakers remain completely committed to supporting both our employees and our community.”

Read the full report here.

New cases

Analysis & Commentary

6.39 p.m. A foolish lawsuit threatens your hard work to fight COVID-19

A Downstate judge has ruled that Gov. J.B. Pritzker no longer has the authority to order folks to stay indoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a matter of law and the Illinois Constitution, that’s debatable. We’ll just have to wait for reviews by higher courts as to whether Clay County Circuit Court Judge Michael McHaney got his legal thinking right.

But as a matter of good public policy to keep people safe, there’s no debate at all. Pritzker’s initial stay-at-home order on March 20 and his recent 30-day extension have been crucial to slowing the spread of the virus and undoubtedly have saved thousands of lives.

We can only urge our fellow Illinois residents to continue to follow the governor’s executive order, even in highly conservative Clay County, where as of Tuesday morning there were only two reported cases of COVID-19 and no deaths.

Read the full editorial from the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board.

6:17 a.m. In fight against COVID-19, house party is a slap in the face

There’s no point in trying to shame the young people that took part in a crowded throw-down over the weekend.

It wouldn’t do much good.

But this incident shows how disconnected this demographic is from the rest of the city.

The house party, which allegedly took place in the Galewood community on the West Side, was captured on video and posted on the TMZ website.

But the blatant disregard of the state’s stay-at-home order is more than an embarrassing moment. It is a slap in the face of a black mayor who is desperately trying to enforce social distancing without criminalizing normal behavior.

Read more on columnist Mary Mitchell’s perspective here.

6:08 a.m. Let prisoners go during COVID-19 pandemic

Across the United States and across the world, prisoners are among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Overcrowded facilities, shortages of food and medicine, and totally inadequate testing expose prisoners who are disproportionately poor and afflicted with prior conditions that render them vulnerable to the disease.

Prisoners increasingly are protesting their conditions, objecting to being sentenced to die in prison.

The United States locks up more people than any other country in the world, largely because of harsh and wrong-headed policies. Fifty-five thousand are detained in jail awaiting trials, too poor to pay for their freedom under the current cash bail system that is prevalent in many states.

Read more from Rev. Jesse Jackson here.

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