coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Travel Order Updated, Warning on Crowded Beaches

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today

Note: Press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the video player above.

While beaches in Chicago remain closed, beaches in other parts of the state are dealing with an influx of people - making social distancing difficult in some areas, officials are warning.

Meanwhile, Chicago's emergency order requiring anyone returning to or entering the city from several U.S. states to quarantine for two days is set to be updated Tuesday.

And if you're behind on paying your rent or mortgage due to a loss of income in the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois officials announced a new program with emergency funding under which you may be eligible to apply for assistance.

Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the state today, Aug. 11:

Court: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Won't Have to Appear in Downstate Court

Gov. J.B. Pritzker won't have to appear in a downstate courtroom this week after the Illinois Supreme Court issued an order Tuesday pausing proceedings in a Clay County case challenging the Democrat's coronavirus-related executive orders.

The state's highest court didn't immediately decide whether to take up the case questioning if Pritzker acted within the scope of his authority in issuing numerous orders designed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Pritzker’s orders have faced several legal challenges, which courts have mostly upheld. But in Clay County, Republican Rep. Darren Bailey of Xenia sued over the restrictions, claiming Pritzker exceeded his authority under state statutes. Judge Michael McHaney ruled in his favor last month.

Illinois Reports 1,549 New Cases of Coronavirus, 20 Deaths Tuesday

The state of Illinois has reported 1,549 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, along with 20 additional deaths attributed to the virus, a jump from the single death reported on Monday.

According to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now recorded a total of 196,948 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 7,657 fatalities reported.

Over the last 24 hours, the state has reported 41,362 new tests, an increase from a day earlier. That brings the total number of tests performed in the state to 3,147,703.

Those new test results keep the state's seven-day positivity rate steady at 4.1%.

In terms of hospitalizations, Illinois saw numbers in all metrics slightly decrease from Monday, with 127 patients currently on ventilators. A total of 336 patients are currently in intensive care units with 1,459 hospitalized with coronavirus in the state.

Chicago Travel Order: 3 States Removed From Quarantine List, Others Near Threshold

Chicago's travel order was updated once again Tuesday with three states being dropped from the list of places of the city requires a quarantine from.

Iowa, Kansas and Utah all fell off the quarantine list after multiple weeks of case numbers below the city's threshold. Wisconsin and Nebraska were also noted for having numbers below the threshold, but will need to continue that streak for another week before they will be officially off the city's order.

The city's travel order is evaluated every Tuesday, with any additions taking effect the following Friday.

States are added to the list if they have "a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average." If they fall below that threshold, they could be removed as well.

Chicago's travel order first began on July 6.

Crowds at Illinois Beaches Make it Hard to Social Distance, Officials Say

Social distancing is becoming a problem at Illinois beaches as large crowds flock there during the pandemic, officials said.

Visitation guidelines have been changed at some Lake County beaches to accommodate visitors, some of whom are from Chicago, where beaches remain closed.

Bob Feffer, who has been a site manager at Illinois Beach State Park for 32 years, said he has not seen crowds like the ones during the weekends in July. The state park had about 15,000 visitors on July 25 and 26, the Lake County News-Sun reported.

“There were just too many people for social distancing to take place,” Feffer said. “Most of the people came from Chicago. Their beaches aren’t open, so they came here.”

The beach is no longer open on the weekends but only during the weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

David Motley, Waukegan’s director of marketing and public relations, said larger crowds were expected because people have been staying mostly indoors since March.

“There was a lot of pent-up demand for people looking to get out and do something in the area,” Motley said. “We already knew we could accommodate a large number.”

The beach was usually open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., but hours are now 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Waukegan residents can access the beach for free, but visitors must buy a car pass for $10 a day. Mayor Sam Cunningham said between 600 and 700 day passes were being sold on the weekends, noting it's been the beach's "busiest year."

Sally Swarthout, director of parks, recreation and forestry in Lake Forest, said in an email that crowds have been larger than usual this summer. The beach is free to residents, but visitors must purchase a $25 day pass or a $910 season pass, according to the city website.

Illinois Reports 1,319 New Cases of Coronavirus, Single Death

The state of Illinois has reported 1,319 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with a single additional death attributed to the virus.

According to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now recorded a total of 195,399 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 7,637 fatalities reported.

Over the last 24 hours, the state has reported 32,353 new tests, with a total of 3,106,341 performed during the pandemic. The daily testing number is nearly 10,000 below the number reported one day earlier.

Over the last 24 hours, the state has reported 32,353 new tests, with a total of 3,106,341 performed during the pandemic. The daily testing number is nearly 10,000 below the number reported one day earlier.

Those new test results keep the state's seven-day positivity rate at 4.1%.

In terms of hospitalizations, Illinois saw numbers in all metrics slightly increase from Sunday, with 138 patients currently on ventilators. A total of 352 patients are currently in intensive care units with 1,481 hospitalized with coronavirus in the state.

The news comes as several areas of the state see spikes in positivity rates and in case numbers, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker looking to implement more requirements for face coverings and threatening to potentially impose more restrictions on areas where cases are on the rise.

Illinois Announces New Program to Pay $5,000 in Rent for Impacted Tenants

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that applications are now open for rental assistance to those who may have lost a job or income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Illinois Housing Development Authority will allocate $150 million to help eligible renters pay their rent through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Pritzker's office said in a statement.

After the application period for rental assistance, the IHDA will then open applications for the Emergency Mortgage Assistance program to provide $150 million to homeowners impacted by the pandemic.

Pritzker's office said the programs are the "largest emergency housing assistance programs in the nation and will help approximately 40,000 households" by the end of the year.

“We are in a moment that requires a historic effort to mitigate this virus’s devastating effects on the health and livelihoods of the residents of this state – one that centers on rebounding with a stronger, more inclusive economy on the other side,” Pritzker said in a statement.

"Keeping people in their homes isn’t just a moral obligation, it’s an economic one, and I’m incredibly proud that even in tough financial times for the state, we used our federal resources to build the largest pandemic housing stability program of any state in the nation," he continued.

Under the rental assistance program, tenants will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 paid directly to their landlords to cover any missed rent payments beginning in March and extending through December or until the $5,000 is exhausted, whichever comes first, officials said. Tenants will not have to repay that funding.

Applications are open from Monday through Aug. 21, though the window may close early due to anticipated high volume, the governor's office said. The IHDA will use a third-party entity to select applications to be reviewed for eligibility, with about 30,000 tenants expected to receive funding.

Tenants are eligible to apply if they meet three criteria: their household income before March 1 was at or below 80% of the area's median income, an adult member of the household has lost income due to the pandemic, and the household has an unpaid rent balance.

More information, including how to apply, can be found here.

Pritzker Defends New Rules for Enforcement of Mask Mandate, Regulations

As lawmakers prepare to evaluate new rules filed by the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that the “modest” changes to the way the state’s coronavirus regulations are enforced are more fair than measures currently on the books in the state.

Those rules, designed to give local health departments and law enforcement agencies “more leeway” in enforcing the state’s mask mandate and social gathering restrictions, will require approval of the bipartisan Joint Committee on Administrative Rules.

Under provisions of the new rules, businesses, schools and child care facilities could face fines of up to $2,500 for refusing to comply with state mandates. Even with that high dollar amount for violations, Pritzker says that the rules are actually much more fair and even-handed than other enforcement options that could have been used.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that the Illinois Department of Public Health will file emergency rules aimed at helping local health and police agencies enforce the state’s mask mandate and social gathering restrictions.

“The rule allows a modest level of enforcement similar to what many other states already have,” he said. “It prioritizes education and support for businesses over shaming and punishment. It stands in vast contrast to the arcane rules written long ago and without this pandemic in mind. These hard-and-fast rules can cripple businesses.”

Pritzker says the new rules will allow enforcement agencies and health departments to issue warnings rather than citations, and that the new rules are designed more for education purposes than punitive ones.

“Today I’m amplifying and providing enforcement mechanisms for something the experts are saying with near unanimity: mandating masks and capacity limits are two of the most important things we can do to stay healthy and safe during this pandemic,” he said.

The governor says that the new rules on enforcement actions are designed not to punish violators, but to encourage them to adhere to rules that many businesses and individuals are following across the state.

“We’re doing this for the businesses that are following the rules while their competitors flout them,” he said. “We’re doing this for the people who have to work in the stores where their bosses won’t enforce public health rules, thereby putting their lives and health at risk.”

Fencing Erected at Montrose Beach After Lightfoot Blasts Large Gathering

While Chicago's beaches remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, dozens of people gathered in an area near the city's Montrose Beach Saturday, prompting criticism from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Lightfoot posted a social media showing several individuals, many of them who appeared to not be abiding by social distancing guidelines, in a grassy area near boat docks.

"It's called a pandemic, people," the mayor tweeted. "This reckless behavior on Montrose Beach is what will cause us to shut down the parks and lakefront. Don't make us take steps backwards."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a stern warning to Chicagoans after hundreds of people flocked to a lakefront park on the North Side over the weekend. NBC 5's Kate Chappell reports.
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