Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.
Illinois' top doctor says if you're planning to attend a group Thanksgiving, it's not too late to change your mind, pleading with residents to not have "super spreader" events throughout the state and the country.
Meanwhile, according to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, nearly all Illinois regions have seen a drop in positivity rates.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Nov. 24):
Illinois Reports 9,469 New Coronavirus Cases, 125 Additional Deaths Tuesday
Illinois health officials reported 9,469 confirmed and probable coronavirus cases Tuesday, along with 125 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the new case total brings the state to 674,089 cases of the virus since the pandemic began in March. The 125 deaths reported Tuesday bring the state to 11,677 amid the ongoing pandemic.
The state continues frequent testing, with 97,323 new tests performed over the last 24 hours. The state is drawing closer to a significant milestone of 10 million coronavirus tests performed, currently sitting at 9,990,304 as of Tuesday.
The seven-day positivity rate dropped again Tuesday, dipping to 10.4%. After a rapid rise in that number over the month of October and the beginning of October, the positivity rate has now fallen six of the last seven days.
The state continues to see large numbers of hospitalizations related to the virus, a trend that will likely continue even if case numbers begin to decline slightly. In all, 6,134 patients are currently hospitalized for the virus in Illinois, with 1,203 of those patients in intensive care unit beds and 668 on ventilators.
City Council to Vote on Lightfoot's Budget Plan, Including Property and Gas Tax Hikes
Chicago City Council is expected to vote Tuesday on Mayor Lori Lightfoot's budget plan that includes property and gas tax increases among other revenue-generating and cost-cutting measures to tackle the city's estimated $1.2 billion shortfall.
Lightfoot said in announcing her proposal that the $12.8 billion budget closes the $1.2 billion gap, 65% of which she tied to the coronavirus pandemic that has cratered revenues like sales tax and more as shutdowns to prevent the spread of the deadly virus have caused widespread economic devastation.
The property tax increase in the budget plan is twofold: a one-time increase generating $43 million as well as a plan to raise property taxes each year with inflation, tying it to the consumer price index.
The total $93.9 million property tax hike will have an estimated impact of roughly $56 a year on a median home valued at $250,000, Lightfoot said in October.
Lightfoot's plan also includes an increase on the city's gas tax by $0.03, from $0.05 to $0.08 cents per gallon, as well as an increase to the personal property lease tax applied to computer leases of cloud software and cloud infrastructure.
The budget also generates revenue by lowering the threshold to issue $35 speeding tickets to drivers caught on camera going as little as 6 to 9 mph over the limit. Currently, only drivers going 10 mph above the speed limit receive the $35 tickets, with $100 tickets issued to drivers traveling 11 mph or more above the limit.
Lightfoot's plan also refinances and restructures $501 million in existing debt, the latter a practice utilized by previous mayors that opponents say involves a form of "scoop and toss" that could prove unsustainable and costly in years to come.
Her plan as introduced in October also originally included roughly 350 layoffs of city workers which she later announced would be avoided after working with the Chicago Federation of Labor.
Personnel changes in the budget still include the elimination of roughly 1,900 vacant positions from all city departments, include hundreds in police and fire, as well as five furlough days for some non-union employees. Those personnel changes account for roughly $106 million in savings.
Her proposal also includes $76 million in TIF surplus funding and taking $30 million from the city's Rainy Day Fund.
More Crowds Form at O'Hare as Officials Continue to Warn Against Holiday Travel
Large crowds and lines again formed at O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday as travelers prepared to depart Chicago ahead of Thanksgiving despite warnings from state, local and federal health officials against gathering for the holiday.
Photos showed people lined up in terminals and checking in for flights on Tuesday morning, one day after the Transportation Security Administration reported the highest number of passengers boarding flights nationwide over the weekend since March.
On Sunday, 1,047,934 people were screened at U.S. airports, the highest number of passengers boarding flights in a single day since March 16, according to the TSA. In all, over three million people were screened over the weekend. While that's far lower than during the same time last year, Friday also marked only the second time since mid-March that daily airport screenings topped 1 million.
According to O'Hare's website, face coverings are required inside the airport and, "when possible, travelers should maintain 6 feet or 2 meters distance between individuals."
Large crowds and long lines could be seen at O'Hare beginning on Friday. The Chicago Department of Aviation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how many travelers passed through the city's two airports over the weekend.
"The safety, security, and well-being of the traveling public is our highest priority, and CDA works closely with our airport and public health partners to ensure the safest possible environment," the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement Friday. "This means, among other things, masks are required to be worn at the airport, social distancing is encouraged via floor decals and other signage, and the most up-to-date public health guidance is communicated regularly through a variety of channels."
In addition, the department said it worked with TSA and airlines operating out of the airport to "ensure consistency throughout the terminals." There are also volunteer "ambassadors" moving through terminals, distributing masks and encouraging social distancing, officials said.
"We will continue these efforts, but we would also like to remind travelers of their responsibility to follow public health guidance, including wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate social distance," CDA's statement read. "We all have a role to play."
It's Not Too Late to Change Your Thanksgiving Plans, Illinois' Top Doctor Says
Thanksgiving's not here just yet. And if you're planning to take part in a large gathering, it's not too late to change your mind.
That's the message Illinois' Department of Public Health Director, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, shared Monday as she and Gov. J.B. Pritzker voiced concerns about the possibility of an uptick in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations stemming from large gatherings this Thanksgiving.
"We don’t have to have 'super spreader' events at homes throughout our state and throughout the country and bring it back," Ezike said. "Please reconsider your plans and be part of the solution to decrease infections, instead of part of the plan to increase them."
Illinois continues to see large numbers of hospitalizations related to the virus, a trend that will likely continue even if case numbers begin to decline slightly.
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Pritzker said state leaders are doing "everything we can to limit the spread with mitigations" and working with hospitals to determine whatever they need in the event of an uptick in cases.
In line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people are advised to celebrate virtually or only with members of their own household. For those who want to visit with other family members or friends, it's recommended you quarantine for 14 days prior to a gathering.
“Let's lessen the burden on all of our hospital teams, and we can do this by not spreading infection over this Thanksgiving holiday by wearing our mask, by watching our distance, by washing our hands and by getting our flu shots,” Ezike said.
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