(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 coronavirus cases and deaths are still on the rise despite the statewide curve beginning to "flatten," according to health officials.
New numbers have led to questions surrounding the response at Chicago-area nursing homes.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (April 21):
111 of 158 Patients at South Shore Assisted-Living Facility Test Positive for COVID-19
Symphony has announced that 111 of the 158 patients at a South Shore assisted-living facility have tested positive for coronavirus.
The company made the announcement on Tuesday evening. Officials say the patients are being "aggressively treated" for the virus, but did not offer specifics on how many were hospitalized due to the illness.
Symphony also runs the Joliet facility where 81 patients have tested positive for the virus. A total of 21 residents there have passed away after contracting the illness.
Pritzker Says Changes to Illinois’ Stay-at-Home Order are Coming as April 30 Deadline Approaches
With the April 30 end date of the current “stay-at-home” order in the state of Illinois looming, Governor J.B. Pritzker says that officials are looking to make changes to that order as the peak of the virus continues to drift further into the future.
New modelling released this week indicates that Illinois may not hit its peak level of coronavirus spread until mid-May, and with that in mind, Pritzker’s administration is looking into changes it can make to current executive orders that have been put in place because of the pandemic.
“We will be making some changes to the stay-at-home order,” Pritzker said. “It is true that (the order) is working.”
The governor says he has been in consultation with scientists and business leaders about how to proceed if the state's coronavirus peak doesn't come until May.
Illinois' Stay-at-Home Order Could Be Extended Into June, Chicago's Mayor Says
Illinois' stay-at-home order could be extended well into May and possibly even June, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday.
"April 30 is no longer, I think, a viable date," Lightfoot said on a conference call with reporters. "I would expect an extension of the stay-at-home order and the other orders that were put in place as a result of the response to COVID-19 to go through sometime in May. It certainly could go into June."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker declined to give a definitive answers on if the order will be extended and for how long, but noted Tuesday that changes are expected.
"We will be making changes, but it is true that [the order] is working," Pritzker said. "It seems to me to remove it entirely is to open everything back up to infection."
‘We Should be Concerned:’ Possibility of Wave of COVID-19 in Fall Could Cause Serious Issues
With state officials still trying to figure out when Illinois will hit its peak of coronavirus cases this spring, there is also concern that another wave of the disease in the fall could once again tax healthcare systems and workers.
On Tuesday, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said that she is concerned that another wave of coronavirus cases, coupled with the annual surge in influenza cases in the fall, could cause some serious problems for healthcare workers and hospitals.
“I think we should be concerned obviously,” she said. “We know fall is traditionally an established time for flu outbreaks, and if there was supposed to be any resurgence of COVID-19, we can see why it would be at that time.”
‘COVID Toes’: Mysterious Skin Condition Could be Linked to Coronavirus, Derms Say
Cases of a mysterious skin condition that causes purple, blue or red discoloration in toes and occasionally fingers are popping up around the country, according to Northwestern doctors, leading some dermatologists to wonder if it may be connected to coronavirus.
Dr. Amy Paller, a dermatologist for Northwestern Medicine, said she has seen images of roughly 30 cases of the condition, dubbed by dermatologists as "COVID toes."
Though Paller said testing is still needed to determine what exactly is causing the condition, the timing is hard to ignore.
“We don’t know for sure if it’s related to COVID-19, but when it’s so common right now during a pandemic and is occurring in otherwise asymptomatic or mildly affected patients, it seems too much of a coincidence not to be a manifestation of the virus for patients in their teens and 20s,” Paller, the chair of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatric dermatologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, said in a statement. “I think it’s much more rampant than we even realize."
Paller said a small portion of patients with the condition have tested negative for coronavirus "but we still suspect a relationship."
Read more on the condition and advice from dermatologists here.
Illinois Reports 1,551 New Cases of Coronavirus, 119 Additional Deaths
Illinois' coronavirus count continues to climb as new cases and deaths are reported with state officials saying a peak still has not been reached.
Tuesday's data showed an increase of 1,551 cases, lifting the statewide total to 33,059. There were 119 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing the total toll of the virus to 1,468.
Models Predict Illinois Will Now Peak in Mid-May, Pritzker Says
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Tuesday that models predict coronavirus cases in Illinois may peak sometime in mid-May, a date later than initially forecast thanks to social distancing and the state's stay-at-home order.
"We have not peaked," Pritzker said in an interview with the Washington Post that was broadcast on the newspaper's Facebook page.
"We were the second state in the United States to put forward our stay-at-home rule and people have really been abiding by it for the most part," he continued. "And so the result of that has been the pushing out of what had been anticipated to be a peaking in the middle or near the end of April. So it's been pushed out now, according to the models, to maybe mid-May, but at a lower level, and so we're moving, inching toward that date."
3 More Chicago Suburbs Now Require Masks in Public, Bringing Total to at Least 11
Officials in at least three more Chicago suburbs - Deerfield, Evanston and Oak Lawn - issued on Monday a requirement in some form that everyone wear masks in certain public spaces during the coronavirus pandemic.
Those three municipalities joined at least eight others with similar requirements: Wilmette, Highland Park, Northbrook, Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie, Cicero and Glenview.
Chicago Blues, Gospel and House Music Festivals Canceled Due to Coronavirus
The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events has announced the cancellation of multiple festivals that were scheduled to be held in the coming weeks.
The cancellations include:
- Chicago In Tune, including the 4th Annual Chicago House Music Conference & Festival (scheduled for May 21–24)
- The 35th Chicago Gospel Music Festival (scheduled for May 27–30)
- The 37th Annual Chicago Blues Festival (scheduled for June 5–7)
20th 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 20.
The latest employee to test positive worked in the Probate Division, which is located on the 12th floor of the Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St.; however, they primarily worked in a courtroom and last reported for work on March 27, according to a statement from the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The employee is self-quarantining at home.
Cook County Jail Guard, 2 Inmates Die of Coronavirus
A correctional officer at the Cook County Jail has died of the coronavirus.
Sheila Rivera, 47, is possibly the first correctional officer at the jail to die of the disease, according to a statement from the Cook County sheriff’s office.
Rivera died Sunday evening at Resurrection Medical Center, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Two more inmates at Cook County Jail who tested positive for COVID-19 have also died, the sheriff’s office announced.
A 53-year-old man died Monday, and a 42-year-old died Sunday night, both at Stroger Hospital, the Cook County sheriff’s office said.
As of Monday evening, 215 detainees were positive for coronavirus, the sheriff’s office said. Another 183 inmates who had previously tested positive are recovering at a facility in the jail.
Union, Resident’s Family Member Question Nursing Home Transparency
Newly-released information from the state of Illinois shows coronavirus is hitting nursing homes hard. Yet family members of residents and a union representing nursing home workers told NBC 5 the facilities are slow to provide information.
A union representing nursing home workers in Illinois said its members are quitting their jobs over a lack of coronavirus information from the facilities.
“They need to know who has it so they can take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and the other residents, but also that they can protect their families,” said SEIU Healthcare director of nursing homes, Shaba Andrich.
The federal government is also pushing for nursing homes to be more transparent. In addition to requiring nursing homes to provide COVID-19 related information to state and local governments, the facilities are now required to report their case information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Highest One-Week Coronavirus Death Toll Reported in Illinois
NBC 5 Investigates found that the latest data from Monday shows the highest one-week death toll for Illinois, as well as for the Chicago area’s largest counties. But amidst all that tragedy, there may be a few small positive signs.
In Illinois, 555 peopled died as a result of the coronavirus over the past seven days – fueled in part by two days that tied our highest one-day death toll so far.
Those 555 fatalities surpass the total from a week ago — last Monday — when Illinois saw 487 people succumb to this virus over the previous week.