(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.)
What will Illinois look like as it begins reopening?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave the first look at the state's five-phase reopening plan Tuesday.
The governor said the state is currently in its second phase of reopening, which began on May 1 with a modified stay-at-home order, but changes could begin in the coming weeks.
As the state prepares to move forward, it also reported its deadliest day of the pandemic so far.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 5):
Pritzker Warns Major Events, Conventions Won’t Resume Until Improved Coronavirus Treatments Emerge
While statistics show that Illinois is beginning to move in the right direction in its fight against the coronavirus, Gov. J.B. Pritzker says that residents should prepare for the continued cancellation of major events and conventions.
Pritzker unveiled a five-phase plan to reopen the state on Tuesday, with phase five marking the time when large events, festivals, conventions and carnivals can be held. The time when that final phase can be reached is still far away, according to the governor.
“It brings me no joy to say this, but based on what the experts tell us and everything we know about this virus and how easily it spreads in a crowd: large conventions, festivals and other major events will be on hold until we reach phase five,” Pritzker said.
Pritzker Reveals Five-Phased Plan to Reopen Illinois
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has now revealed details on a five-phased plan to reopen Illinois as the state remains under a stay-at-home order through May 30.
"We have to figure out how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished – and to do so in a way that best supports our residents’ health and our healthcare systems, and saves the most lives," Pritzker said Tuesday.
The plan, dubbed "Restore Illinois" will operate on a "region-by-region basis" and can be updated as the situation across the state develops, Pritzker said.
"Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19," he said. "This is also a data-driven plan that operates on a region-by-region basis, a recognition that reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state."
According to Pritzker, Illinois began phase two of its reopening plan on May 1, when a modified order took effect allowing some businesses to reopen. The earliest any location can begin entering phase three will be May 29.
Illinois Reports Highest 24-Hour Death Toll Since Coronavirus Pandemic Began
Illinois reported more than 170 additional coronavirus deaths Tuesday, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic began in the state.
The state reported a total of 176 fatalities since Monday, lifting the death toll statewide to 2,838.
There were a total of 2,122 new infections among the 13,139 people tested in the last 24 hours. The statewide total for confirmed cases now sits at 65,962, with 346,286 tests administered since the pandemic began.
Metra Temporarily Limits Weekend Service
Temporarily, most Metra lines will either limit or fully suspend weekend service effective Saturday due to extremely low ridership, the company announced in a statement.
All Metra lines, except for the Metra Electric Line, will temporarily change to a Sunday operating schedule for both Saturday and Sunday service.
Saturday service on Metra's SouthWest Service Line will be suspended until further notice.
Chicago-Based United Airlines to Cut More Than 3,400 Jobs
United Airlines plans to eliminate thousands of management and administrative positions in October as the travel industry continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chicago-based airline will eliminate at least 30% of its management and administrative positions by Oct. 1, "with some work groups impacted more significantly than others," United’s executive vice president of human resources and labor relations Kate Gebo said in a memo to employees on Monday. Impacted employees will be notified in mid-to-late July, she said.
That cut will amount to more than 3,400 of the company's roughly 11,500 management and administrative staff.
Obama to Deliver Commencement Speech for 2020 Class During All-Star Event
Former President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he is joining an all-star lineup of celebrities honoring the high school class of 2020, which has had its graduation season upended by the coronavirus pandemic.
Obama will deliver the commencement address for America's three million seniors during a televised event hosted by The LeBron James Family Foundation, XQ Institute and The Entertainment Industry Foundation.
The one-hour special, “Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020,” will air simultaneously on NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox on May 16 at 8 p.m. EDT. The event will pay tribute to high schoolers graduating this year and will include appearances by James, Pharrell Williams, Malala Yousafzai, the Jonas Brothers, Bad Bunny, Yara Shahidi, Ben Platt, Lena Waithe and H.E.R.
Hearing Set for Cicero Nursing Home Facing Lawsuit as More Than 200 Residents Diagnosed With Coronavirus
A hearing is set for Tuesday as a suburban nursing home faces litigation, with the facility's operators accused of negligence amid a coronavirus outbreak.
The City View Multi Care Center in suburban Cicero is at the center of the controversy, with more than 200 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Officials say that nine people have died, and now the facility is facing a lawsuit that accuses them of not taking proper precautions and not instituting protocols that could have saved lives.
The town of Cicero has filed a lawsuit against the facility, accusing City View officials of failing to prevent the outbreak. The suit alleges that staff at the home are not wearing proper personal protective equipment, and aren’t properly social distancing.
“The numbers of individuals diagnosed with coronavirus skyrocketed,” Cicero spokesperson Ray Hanania said. “This is almost a quarter of all of our infections at one location, at one property. That’s huge.”
Cicero officials have issued multiple citations against the facility, but have not received a response. City View officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Company Says Red Light Treatment Could be Used to Fight Coronavirus
What if light therapy could stop the spread of the coronavirus by eliminating the viral load in your nose? One Canadian company with offices in Chicago says it has the technology to make that happen.
“This is a very simple intervention. It takes a couple minutes. It's inexpensive. It's portable,” said Dr. Nicolas Loebel, Chief Technology Officer at Ondine Biomedical, the company that developed the Steriwave Nasal Decolonization Technology. “In our case, we don't see any adverse effects, (or) any significant adverse effects, over a decade in 60,000 patients."
Approved in Canada for use before surgery to help prevent infections including MRSA, Ondine Biomedical says photodisinfection therapy (PDT) can also fight this pandemic.
Studies have shown the coronavirus tends to colonize in the nose, so the process involves swabbing the nose with a blue-colored chemical compound. Then a technician inserts fiber optic probes into the nose and turns on a red light, the kind of light found at the safe end of the spectrum.
Ondine Biomedical says studies are underway in Canada and they are in discussions with the United States Food and Drug Administration to launch trials in the U.S.
Restaurants and the Road to Recovery in Illinois
While plans to reopen Chicago-area eateries are still on hold, there are a few states that gave the green light to get back to business. Some restaurants won’t survive the pandemic, but the ones that do will have to reinvent their business model to exist.
What will that look like? What are other states doing to prepare, and will it work here?
From your favorite corner diner to well-known chains, there is no question that the restaurant industry – crippled by mandatory closures – is eager to get back to business.
Sam Toia, of the Illinois Restaurant Association, recognizes it may be a bumpy road back.
“It's not going to be just flip on the switch and 100% again,” Toia said.
Toia’s eyes are focused on the states a few steps ahead of Illinois and their lessons learned.
“We want to keep an eye on states like Georgia, Alaska, Tennessee and Texas and see what they do right, and what they do wrong,” Toia said.
So what might await diners when opening day arrives? Time limits on tables, one-way traffic patterns, single-use menus, distanced seating at the bar, no salad bars, buffets or self-service food, seniors-only dining hours and wait staff in masks and gloves.
Read more here.
22 Additional Chicago Police Department Employees Test Positive for Coronavirus
Chicago police announced 22 more cases of COVID-19, bringing the number of cases in the department to 463.
Of the confirmed cases, 442 are officers and 21 are civilian employees, police said.
A total of 466 employees have reported positive test results but the department’s medical section has yet to confirm three of those cases, police said.
Fewer Drivers And Passengers Mean New Realities For Chicago Transportation Agencies
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to decimate Chicago’s transportation industries.
Business shutdowns and Illinois' stay-at-home orders have resulted in a massive shrinkage in the need for anyone to actually transport themselves to a downtown workplace. Not only have thousands been shut out of their jobs, but many others are now working from home, a new phenomenon which many employers may prefer as society moves out of the pandemic.
The resulting financial impacts display astonishing numbers, both in the losses faced by transit and transportation agencies, and the financial bailouts being offered to keep them relatively whole.
Fewer cars mean fewer dollars plugged into toll plazas or electronically deducted from I-PASS accounts. Last month the Illinois Tollway estimated passenger traffic was down 55%, and commercial traffic (such as semi-trailer trucks) was down 9%.
And the Illinois Tollway may be the healthiest traffic story out there. Metra commuter rail is at 3% of its normal ridership. During an April board meeting, Chief Financial Officer Tom Farmer warned the news is not going to get better any time soon.
And the news is no better at the CTA.
“CTA ridership is down about 80% from its normal levels,” said the agency’s Brian Steele. “We’re actually seeing a bigger ridership drop on the rail side from the bus side.”