coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Deadliest Day, County Defying Order, Six Flags Reservations

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.)

With Illinois restaurants still unable to open for dine-in, Chicago is taking a new stance on food delivery services.

Plus, some suburbs surrounding the city say they want to open up sooner than the state's and city's plan will allow.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 13):

Lightfoot Details What Can Reopen in Phase 3, But the Lakefront Isn't Included

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday gave new details on what will be allowed to reopen in the next phase of the city's plan, but the lakefront didn't make the cut.

"Unfortunately at this point, we will not be ready to reopen our lakefront," Lightfoot said during a virtual address to the Economic Club of Chicago.

During her speech, Lightfoot detailed which industries will be included as the city prepares for phase three of reopening. It's the first time many residents are learning the new information as the mayor's initial plan offered few specifics.

Among those that are expected to or "on track" to reopen in the next phase, with safety guidelines in place, are childcare, manufacturing, construction and elective surgeries. That's in addition to essential businesses that have already been opened in the city, Lightfoot said.

In addition, the city is working to find "creative solutions to partially reopen" businesses in retail, recreation, personal services like salons and barbershops, arts and restaurants.

"We believe we have can find  creative ways in which we can bring some of this activity back online safely sooner rather than later," Lightfoot said.

The city is also working to find safe solutions to resume banks, technology, professional services and corporate environments, Lightfoot said.

Read more here.

Pritzker Sends Strong Message to Residents Who Want to Reopen Faster

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday had a strong message for residents "who believe we need to reopen faster."

Addressing calls from residents and state leaders to allow some regions to move through the reopening phases earlier than dictated, Pritzker said "there are no easy decisions."

"Folks, I know this is hard. I know people are hurting. This virus has
taken lives and destroyed livelihoods. It has turned our world upside
down and stolen our sense of normalcy and stability," he said. "I know how badly you want this to be over. I want that too. If I could take away the pain and the loss you are feeling right now I would do so in a heartbeat. But this virus is still here. This pandemic is not over. And to pretend otherwise in a misguided attempt to reclaim what we have lost, will only make this last longer."

May 13 briefing: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had a strong message for residents “who believe we need to reopen faster.”

Illinois Records Its Deadliest Day of Coronavirus Pandemic So Far

Illinois officials reported nearly 200 deaths in 24 hours Wednesday, marking the deadliest day on record for the state since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The state recorded 192 additional deaths since Tuesday's data was announced. That lifts the statewide death toll for the pandemic to 3,792.

"This is the largest one-day increase that we have reported thus far," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.

Illinois also confirmed 1,677 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections for the pandemic so far to 84,698.

May 13 briefing: Dr. Ngozi Ezike reveals the latest coronavirus numbers for Illinois.

Morton Arboretum Announces Plans to Reopen

The popular Morton Arboretum has announced plans to reopen- with some changes for visitors.

The facility is set to reopen from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning June 1.

The first two weeks will be available for members only, though those dates are subject to change.

Members wishing to visit will need an online reservation, which will open to public on May 29.

"As everyone anticipates the beauty and respite of the Arboretum this summer, the health and safety of visitors and employees will remain of utmost importance," a message on their website reads. "To ensure your wellbeing, entering and visiting the Arboretum will be different from usual."

Advance, date-specific, timed-entry online member passes will be required for all visitors, including children, according to the arboretum. All buildings and indoor restrooms will remain closed and special measures will be in place to ensure social distancing for all visitors, the arboretum said.

Aurora Cancels All Major Summer Events Due to Coronavirus

The city of Aurora on Wednesday canceled all major events scheduled to take place over the summer as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The western suburb canceled its events slated to take place on Memorial Day and 4th of July weekends, Mayor Richard Irvin announced in a news conference. A pride parade and Puerto Rican heritage event had already been previously canceled.

Irvin said pools in Aurora, the second-largest city in Illinois, would not open for the summer season either. He added that city officials were in the process of rescheduling any concerts that were going to be held this summer with the artists returning to Aurora venues in 2021.

Madison County Allowing Businesses to Reopen in Defiance of Pritzker's Order

A downstate Illinois county has voted to allow businesses and places of worship to reopen in defiance of the statewide stay-at-home order.

Madison County's Board of Health voted 26-2 to approve a four-phased reopening plan that begins Wednesday.

“This bi-partisan resolution expresses the confidence the Board of Health has in businesses to open in a safe and reasonable manner,” Chairman Kurt Prenzler said in a statement.

Under the resolution, many businesses currently deemed non-essential in Illinois would be allowed to reopen with occupancy limits or by appointment only. Residents will still be urged to wear face coverings and practice social distancing measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however.

The top headlines you need to know as you start your day on May 13, 2020.

After two weeks, the area's health department will assess COVID-19 cases and hospitalization rates to determine if the area can move into a second phase of reopening, which will allow gatherings of up to 50 people and increase occupancy limits for many businesses. (Read the full plan here)

The resolution by the county notes that its guidelines may not supersede Illinois' stay-at-home order and five-phased reopening plan, leaving the fate of businesses that choose to do so in question. Under the plan set forth by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, such businesses would not be eligible for reopening until at lesat late-May and early-June.

"These recommendations establish what we believe is a responsible path forward for our county to begin reopening. It does not guarantee the state wide legality of any reopening outside of the parameters of the emergency orders issued by the state of Illinois. Doing so may cause a business owner to lose its state or federal licensing and/or liability insurance coverage," the board wrote.

Six Flags to Require Reservations as Parks Prepare to Reopen at Limited Capacity

Six Flags parks across the country and in Illinois will soon require guests to make reservations in order to enter.

The move is in preparation for occupancy limits as states begin reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

"While specific caps on attendance have not been established or announced, the safety and well-being of our guests and team members is our top priority and we want to provide adequate space to maintain a safe distance from other guests," the amusement park chain wrote on its website. "To that end, we will be limiting the capacity of our parks to meet national, regional, and health officials’ recommended social distancing guidelines."

Under the new reservation system, anyone wishing to visit the parks will have to reserve not only a date, but also a time.

"On the day of their visit, they will be allowed to enter only during the time period they initially selected," the website reads.

Six Flags said the system will keep parks from having to turn guests away once capacity is reached and will limit crowding at park entrances.

Illinois General Assembly to Convene May 20 in Springfield

The Illinois House will convene in Springfield for three days next week to take up a spring-session workload long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

A letter from Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan to the House minority leader on Wednesday sets the session for May 20-22 with extraordinary measures to prevent the spread of the highly contagious and potentially lethal coronavirus. They include pre-session testing of all legislators for COVID-19.

Eschewing the traditional Capitol setting, lawmakers will watch the gavel drop six blocks away at the Bank of Springfield Center in downtown Springfield, presumably to take advantage of the spacious convention center floor for social distancing.

May 12 briefing: Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls on the legislature to convene and “begin to put our financial and economic house back in order.”

Some Suburban Leaders Push to Reopen Sooner Than Chicago Under Coronavirus Plan

Some suburban leaders have intensified their push to reopen their communities on a different timeline from Chicago and Cook County under Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan to reopen the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Downtown Kankakee, like so many other communities in the far suburbs, sits quiet, and businesses are hoping that they can have a different timeline to reopen.

Kankakee County, which is part of the Northeast region in Pritzker’s phased reopening plan for the state, may not be able to move into phase three of that plan on May 29, while the other three regions in the state may be able to do so.

Chicago Morgue Coping With Surge in Deaths During Coronavirus Pandemic

The Chicago area’s chief medical examiner starts her day with a numbers problem: how to manage three times the number of deaths as before the coronavirus pandemic with the same number of pathologists.

On a recent morning when The Associated Press got exclusive access to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office for the day, Dr. Ponni Arunkumar scanned a list of 62 new death cases. The average last year was 20 a day.

“We’ve never gone through anything like this,” she said of the workloads.

Medical examiners worldwide face similar challenges, and some are buckling under the emotional strain. But there was no sign of that at the Cook County facility, where employees seemed to be coping well with the historic surge in deaths.

Northwestern Furloughs 250 Workers Amid Coronavirus Budget Shortfall

Northwestern University has furloughed 250 workers and suspended contributions to employee retirement funds as it reports a $90 million budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Monday.

The university also announced top officials will be taking a 10% to 20% cut in pay and it will draw on its endowment.

University president Morton Schapiro said in a statement that even if activities are resumed in the fall on its Evanston and Chicago campuses, the university will have a significant budget shortfall in the 2021 fiscal year.

Chicago Will Now Require Food Delivery Apps to Disclose Itemized Cost Breakdown

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago officials announced on Tuesday new rules for third-party food delivery apps, requiring them to disclose to customers an itemized cost breakdown of each transaction.

The new rules come as criticism mounts over the percentage of profits that third-party services take as commission, during a time in which Illinois restaurants are relying almost entirely on delivery and takeout orders due to the statewide stay-at-home order over the coronavirus pandemic.

Beginning May 22, third-party delivery companies will be required to disclose to customers an itemized breakdown of each transaction including: the menu price of the food, any sales or other tax, delivery charge and tip, as well as any commission or service fee paid by the restaurant to the third-party delivery company, Lightfoot said in a statement.

The cost information must be disclosed both before a customer places an order, as well as via receipt after the purchase. This requirement will apply to all websites, phone apps and other internet services that offer the sale of food or beverages by a dining establishment.

Violations of these rules - which will be permanent - can result in a daily fine ranging from $500 to $10,000.

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