(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.)
Chicagoans are getting a glimpse at what their restrictions will look like in the next phase of reopening as they watch the rest of the state begin to enter phase three this week.
Meanwhile, data appears to show Illinois may have reached its peak.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 27):
Illinois Coronavirus Deaths Top 5,000 as State Nears Phase 3 of Reopening
As much of Illinois prepares to enter the next phase of reopening, the state reached a grim milestone Wednesday.
Coronavirus-related fatalities topped 5,000 as the state reported an additional 160 deaths in the last 24 hours. The statewide total number of lives lost sat at 5,083 Wednesday.
The Illinois Department of Public Health also confirmed 1,111 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 114,306, many of which have already recovered, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
As of Wednesday, 3,826 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,031 were in intensive care units and 592 were on ventilators.
Still, the numbers come as state officials said they believe Illinois may be coming off a peak and starting a downward trend.
Over the last 24 hours, Illinois officials say that 17,179 new tests were conducted by state labs, bringing the statewide total to 803,973 tests. That brings the seven-day positivity rate to 8.6%, according to IDPH.
Cook County ME Could Review Deaths as Far Back as September if More COVID Cases Found
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office could review deaths from as far back as September if it finds additional COVID-19 fatalities during its current analysis.
Currently, the medical examiner is conducting a review of deaths dating back to November of last year to see if any previously recorded deaths may have been related to the coronavirus before health officials publicly identified widespread community transmission.
County officials say the review will specifically look at people who died of pneumonia to see if the case was viral, and heart attacks to check for signs of thrombosis, or blood clots - both of which have been found in people with COVID-19.
The office is also looking at cases that had flu-like symptoms at the time of death.
The review has found at least 30 such cases so far and is working to determine if any of them could be related to COVID-19.
"If we see some cases from November, we could go further backward, maybe September," said Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar.
Coronavirus ‘Injures’ Placenta in Infected Pregnant Women, Study Finds
The small study followed 16 women who tested positive for COVID-19 and gave birth between late March and early May at Northwestern's Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Looking at the placenta, it found that these mothers "were significantly more likely" to develop abnormal or injured blood vessels, according to the research published in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology.
That said, all of the full-term babies in the study tested negative for the coronavirus and were doing well when they left the hospital.
Legislator Seeking Pritzker Recall Due to Unemployment Woes
An Illinois Republican state representative announced plans to seek the recall of Gov. J.B. Pritzker because of woes in the state’s unemployment office.
An influx of jobless claims prompted by the closing of nonessential businesses because of the spread of the coronavirus has overwhelmed the Illinois Department of Employment Security.
Rep. Allen Skillicorn of East Dundee says the Democratic governor has had ample time to the agency’s website.
Spike in Fraud Involving Unemployment Benefits Amid Pandemic
More and more people across the country say scammers are using their personal information to file fraudulent unemployment claims, denying them desperately needed payments.
Experts say the bogus claims are clogging systems and slowing payments for everyone. How widespread is it? No one knows for sure. What Michele Evermore, an employment policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project does know:
“It’s a huge problem because it's going to slow benefit delivery to people when the systems are already under duress,” Evermore said. “This is the most despicable thing I can imagine doing right now. People are legitimately out of work, or legitimately in need of money.”
The scam is impacting hundreds, including like Meka Hughes, a recently laid off recruiting coordinator and suburban single mom, who needs benefits to make ends meet.
“It's frustrating and it's frightening,” Hughes said.
Illinois isn’t the only state having issues. A recent spike in questionable claims in Washington state forced a temporary suspension of payments. The federal investigation that followed revealed an overseas network of thieves is likely behind the scheme, stealing hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for the unemployed in several states.
10 More Chicago Police Department Employees Test Positive for COVID-19
Chicago police announced 10 more cases of COVID-19 within the department, bringing the total number of cases to 548.
Of the confirmed cases, 519 are officers and 29 are civilian employees, police said. One officer who tested positive for the coronavirus is awaiting confirmation through the department’s medical section.
The department announced the death of a third officer from complications of the coronavirus on April 17.
Woman Home After Nearly 2-Month Battle With Coronavirus
After nearly two months, an area woman finally came home Tuesday from the hospital where she nearly lost her life to the coronavirus.
Karla Taylor Bauman left Chicago’s Kindred Hospital on Tuesday, and she was able to see her family for an emotional, but socially distanced, homecoming party.
“Doctors pronounced me dead. My heart stopped,” she said. “My kidneys failed. My whole body just shut down, and yet here I am. To me, it’s a miracle.”
How Illinois Summer Camps Plan to Operate Under New Guidelines
The sights of summer camp will look different in Illinois in the coming weeks as the state continues taking steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Still, even with traditional activities like swimming and group sporting events on hold, demand for camps is high as parents going back to the office under phase three of Illinois' reopening process search for activities to keep their children occupied.
Phase 3 of Illinois’ reopening process allows camps to operate with a maximum occupancy of 50%, 10 campers per group, social distancing and enough available indoor space where groups can be separated.
Still, some suburban camps are already making preparations to welcome kids.
These Are Chicago’s Guidelines for Businesses to Reopen in Phase 3
Chicago won't be transitioning into phase three of its reopening plan along with the rest of Illinois, but the city on Tuesday released detailed guidelines for businesses as the city prepares to ease restrictions in early June.
The industry-specific guidelines include plans to help childcare centers, non-lakefront parks, libraries, offices, hotels, outdoor attractions, retailers and more open their doors when the city does enter its next stage.
“Our transition to Phase Three of our reopening framework represents a major step for Chicago and our journey to a safe and successful recovery from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
The city provided additional information for each specific group of businesses that are expected to be able to reopen in Phase Three, and we have a breakdown of some of the key guidelines for each industry.
Illinois May Be Coming Down From a Peak, Pritzker Says
As much of Illinois prepares for its next stage of reopening, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says numbers show the state may be coming down from a peak.
"We seem to have come off the peak," Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus press briefing Tuesday.
The state of Illinois is set to move forward into phase three of the “Restore Illinois” plan Friday, and Pritzker says that despite reopening more portions of the state’s economy earlier this month, coronavirus case numbers and hospitalizations are continuing to trend in the right direction.
The comments echo ones made by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who reported the first week-over-week decline in COVID-19 deaths for Illinois so far this pandemic. Ezike said she hoped the decline marks the start of a "downward trend," but noted "until we have a definitive cure and vaccine, we must prevent further spread."
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