coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: COVID-19 Surcharge, Opening the Lakefront, Summer Surge

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today

(NOTE: Daily press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the player above. Check back for updates.)

Illinois businesses are already preparing for their new normal as the state nears its third phase of reopening, but will it come at a cost to customers?

With many businesses struggling to make ends meet and costs rising for in-demand products, changes are likely in store for many consumers.

And with reopening on the horizon, some officials fear warmer weather and loosening restrictions could lead to a "summer surge."

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 19):

Illinois Hits Significant Coronavirus Testing Milestone

Thanks to increased testing efforts, the state of Illinois hit a significant milestone on Tuesday, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

That milestone came as Illinois overtook New York in the number of average coronavirus tests completed per capita. Among the 10 most populous states in the United States, Illinois is now testing more residents per capita than any other, with 1,813 tests per one million people over the last seven days.

Chicago Doctor Whose Speech Went Viral Delivers Another Message to Illinois

Dr. Emily Landon, the chief infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Chicago Medicine, went viral for her blunt speech to Illinois at the start of the statewide stay-at-home order in March.

Now, nearly two months later, as the state prepares to enter the next phase of reopening and as many residents and businesses push for an end to the restrictions, she shared another powerful message.

Read her full remarks and watch her speech here.

As Illinois Nears End of Stay-at-Home Order, Here's a Look at Where Each Region Stands

All four of Illinois' health regions are trending in the right direction as the state inches closer to its next phase of reopening, data shows.

As of Tuesday, 11 days remained in the statewide stay-at-home order, but regions can begin entering phase three of reopening in as early as 10 days - if they meet the required metrics.

Illinois' four reopening regions — Northeast, North Central, Central and Southern — are based on the state's 11 hospital regions, which Gov. Pritzker said have been "on the books for decades."

Here's a look at where they stand.

1,545 New Coronavirus Cases, 146 Additional Deaths Reported in Illinois

Illinois health officials reported 1,545 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday, with 146 additional deaths related to the virus.

That lifts the state's total number of confirmed infections so far to 98,030. The state's death toll is now at 4,379, according to data released by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Over the last 24 hours, 18,443 test results have been returned, with 8.4 percent of tests coming back positive. The total number of tests conducted since the pandemic began now sits at 621,684 as of Tuesday.

Lightfoot Says Lakefront Could Open Soon - But With Changes

While it remains unclear when exactly Chicago will enter phase three of its reopening plan, many residents are questioning when they will once again be allowed along the city's beloved lakefront.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a one-on-one interview with NBC 5 Tuesday that she does plan on reopening "at some point this summer."

"I think sooner rather than later," she said. "However, when I look at the work that we did prior to the closure to talk about social distancing, talk about the dangers of congregating - why it was important to move on and not just stay on the lakefront- all of it was for naught. Now, it's a different moment than where we were weeks ago when we closed the lakefront."

Last week, Lightfoot said she didn't see the lakefront reopening in phase three. But on Tuesday, she noted that she could see it reopening - with some changes.

"I think there are ways in which we could open the lakefront safely, but there are going to be limits," Lightfoot said. "There are going to be limits on the kind of activity, there are going to be limits on the amount of people."

She noted the city is working on guidance for residents.

"When the time is right from a public health standpoint we will communicate what that guidance should be, put the infrastructure in place to make sure that that guidance is actually maintained and then we'll open up the lakefront," she said.

Illinois Bar Sent Cease and Desist After Opening in Defiance of Stay-at-Home Order

A central Illinois bar owner has closed his doors - for now - after receiving a cease and desist order for opening up in defiance of Gov. J.B. Pritzker's statewide stay-at-home order.

JB's Hideout in Blue Mound, located just outside of Decatur and near Springfield, opened up on Friday for what owner Jason Bliesner called an "anti-corona party."

JB's Hideout remained open through weekend, with customers traveling from across the state for drinks, Bliesner said. Video showed dozens of people gathered in the bar, many without facial coverings.

But come Monday, Bliesner got the notice he had been waiting for - a cease and desist order from the Illinois Liquor Control Commission.

The order states the bar is "unlawfully operating amidst a declared limitation on service that is necessary and proper to prevent further spreading of the COVID-19 pathogen." It ordered him to stop all "unlawful operations" immediately and says further service defying the order could result in the revocation of the bar's liquor license or "other civil or criminal violations."

Pritzker's administration recently implemented a new rule that would allow for businesses to face Class A misdemeanor charges if they open in violation of the state’s ongoing stay-at-home order.

Under the new rule, put into place by executive action on Friday, businesses could face misdemeanor charges if they do not comply with orders to remain closed. If convicted on the charges, businesses would face fines between $75 and $2,500.

Bliesner said he anticipated the cease and desist would come and chose not to open Monday. He's planning to file suit in response.

25th Employee Contracts COVID-19 at Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office

Another employee at the Cook County Circuit Court clerk’s office has tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the overall total to 25.

The latest employee to test positive was assigned to the accounting department, located in the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., Room 1005, and last reported for work on May 14th, according to a statement from the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The person has been hospitalized.

6 More COVID-19 Cases Reported in Chicago Police Department

Chicago police announced Monday six more cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number in the department to 520.

Of the confirmed cases, 495 are officers and 25 are civilian employees, police said.

A total of 523 employees have reported positive tests, but the department’s medical section has yet to confirm three of those cases.

Pritzker Expresses Concern About Potential Summer Surge in COVID-19 Cases if Residents Flout Restrictions

As more state residents grow restless of having to abide by Illinois’ stay-at-home order, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is urging patience to help prevent a surge of new cases.

During his Monday press briefing, Pritzker said that he is concerned about better weather encouraging people to go outside and to congregate, which could help spark a new wave of the virus.

“If people don’t follow the plan, or if people don’t wear face coverings when they’re out in public as directed, more people are going to get coronavirus,” he said. “We have beautiful days that are coming up throughout the summer and people want to be outside wherever they are in the state. They want to be together gathering, and we just want them to do everything they can to keep themselves safe.”

While the state is still on pace to move to its next phase of reopening by the end of this month, Pritzker has warned that any significant surge in cases and hospitalizations could cause the state to re-institute restrictions in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

The governor is also concerned about a potential surge in cases in the fall, echoing the concerns of scientists and epidemiologists who have suggested that a surge in COVID-19 cases, along with the yearly rise in flu cases, could overwhelm health systems.

Coronavirus Illinois: Scenes From the Pandemic

Chicago Restaurant Adds Coronavirus Surcharge, Prompting Backlash

Restaurants across the country, including in the Chicago area, have implemented coronavirus surcharges to combat rising food prices — a move that has prompted a backlash on social media and scrutiny from customers.

The Harold's Chicken Shack location in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood added a surcharge Saturday, and on Monday, the restaurant received calls "all day, nonstop," manager Jaquelyn Santana said.

The restaurant initially added a 26% surcharge to make up for a 26% increase in supply costs, but after the first day decreased the surcharge to 15% as a result of backlash from customers.

In a statement, Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said it was investigating the situation.

Similarly, diners across the country should be prepared for the possibility of seeing a surcharge on their receipt, Gregory Frank, a partner at Frank LLP Class Action Litigators, told TODAY.

Restaurants across the country including in the Chicago area have implemented coronavirus surcharges to combat rising food prices — a move that has prompted a backlash on social media and scrutiny from customers. NBC 5's Lexi Sutter has more on a Chicago eatery contending with that very issue.

According to the New York City-based attorney, these charges are legal.

Restaurants typically handle cost fluctuations by altering menu prices, but the cost of reprinting menus can pose an additional burden to already struggling restaurants.

Meanwhile, Santana, the manager of Harold's Chicken in Lakeview, said Monday night that the restaurant would immediately be raising prices in order to make ends meet.

"We weren’t trying to hide anything or have hidden fees," she said. "This is a real power struggle for us to stay into business."

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