coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago Public Schools' Plan Coming Soon, Pritzker Says Progress ‘Cooled'

Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that "progress has cooled" across much of Illinois after "promising declines" were reported in nearly all of the state's healthcare regions.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a decision is coming "relatively soon" on Chicago Public Schools' learning plan for the second quarter.

Here are the latest updates from across Illinois on the coronavirus pandemic today (Oct. 8):

Illinois Reports More Than 3K New Coronavirus Cases, 32 Deaths as Positivity Rate Rises

Illinois health officials on Thursday reported 3,059 new coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths over the last 24 hours, marking the highest one-day case total since mid-May.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Thursday's figures bring the state’s total to 310,700 cases and 8,910 deaths since the pandemic began. Wednesday's 42 deaths marked the deadliest day in the state since June 24.

Illinois health officials said 72,491 new tests were returned to state laboratories over the last 24 hours, just shy of a single-day record. Those tests increase the state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate to 3.7%, up from 3.5% a day earlier.

Hospitalizations in the state also ticked up slightly Thursday, with 1,755 patients currently hospitalized statewide. Of those patients, 392 were in intensive care units, and 163 were on ventilators.

Winners of Chicago's Winter Dining Challenge Announced

The winners of Chicago's "Winter Dining Challenge" were announced Thursday as city officials prepare to launch a pilot program featuring the various ideas for dining outside during the colder months in the city.

Winners include "cabins" that will fit in a parking space, heated blocks that can be joined together or separated to create seating outside and a modified Japanese Kotatsu, or heated table.

The winners - Amy Young, Neil Reindel and Ellie Henderson- were selected from more than 600 submissions.

"As we approach the winter months and adapt our COVID-19 response accordingly, we owe it to our restaurants to make sure they have what they need to continue keeping their doors open and serving their communities," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement. "Thanks to IRA and the outstanding creativity of our Winter Dining Challenge winners, we will be able to not only make this a reality, but do so in a way that is safe and showcases our city's innovative spirit. I extend a huge congratulations to each of our Winter Dining Challenge winners."

The city launched the challenge in August, asking residents to propose solutions for outdoor dining during the colder months.

"From architects to designers, restaurateurs, servers and dining enthusiasts, the city has received 643 innovative and exciting ideas for cold-weather outdoor dining in the first-ever Chicago Winter Design Challenge," the mayor's office said in a release last month.

Among the ideas were dining tents with sliding walls, inflatable igloos and even closing a multi-level parking garage to transform it into a food hall for several restaurants. Some suggested greenhouses or pneumatic pods or an outdoor event with rotating restaurants for those that don't already have outdoor space available.

The winners were selected by a panel of local restauranteurs, servers, designers, architects and chefs based on the following categories:

  • Outdoor, standalone structures
  • Indoor-adjacent spaces
  • Cultural shifts making winter dining more appealing

Each winner will receive $5,000 and opportunities to start their idea at restaurants and bars around the city, the office said.

“We are excited to have had the chance to reimagine our public spaces and provide Chicagoans an opportunity to experience the city in a fun and unique way. Chicago has always been a resilient city when faced with difficult times," Reindel, whose submission included a "block party" that he described as "adaptable and easy to implement for many different sites and street configurations," said in a statement. “With Block Party we wanted to provide a warm place for people to reconnect as we move forward through the winter and into 2021.” 

 “We are honored that our concept was chosen for the Chicago Winter Dining Challenge. Our Cozy Cabins idea focused on creating a warm, welcoming experience to encourage Chicago residents to safely dine in rather than take out,” Amy Young, who submitted the idea for "small modular, adjoining cabins that can fit into a standard parking space," said in a statement. “We wanted to create an outdoor destination centered around new experiences, neighborhood connections, and a sense of community—elements lost while dining at home. We hope this idea helps support small businesses and safely bring people together during this difficult year.”

“I want to thank the City of Chicago, IDEO and the Illinois Restaurant Association for choosing my winter dining idea,” Ellie Henderson, who submitted the idea for heated tables and blankets, said in a statement. “My hope is that my proposal for using heated tables will help restaurants adapt, providing a novel open-air dining experience for their patrons that is safe and comfortably warm through colder months in 2020 and beyond.”

Earlier this month, the city of Chicago eased some of its coronavirus restrictions, allowing indoor bar service again and raising capacity limits on businesses, including restaurants, among other major changes.

Restaurants that had been limited to 25% indoor capacity were able to increase their maximum indoor capacity to 40%. The limit of 50 total customers within one room or space at restaurants, venues and other establishments will remain in place, as will the limit of no more than six people per table.

Chicago officials also recently released fall and winter dining guidelines for area restaurants, revealing establishments with sidewalk cafe permits or outdoor patio licenses can use tents, domes or other temporary structures that allow "adequate ventilation" for circulation. Some heating devices will also be allowed, but they have to meet a required set of safety regulations.

For places using domes or other enclosed spaces, placards must be posted "advising about increased risk of transmission within an enclosed space."

Restaurants will need to submit their fall and winter plans in writing.

According to the city, the pilot program for the winning designs will need to adhere to the guidelines.

As of last month, more than 50 restaurants in the Chicago area had permanently closed their doors because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition to the winning designs, the city also announced Thursday that DoorDash plans to announce a financial support program for Chicago restaurants to "help cover the costs of winterizing their outdoor dining areas." The program will give $500,000 in grants to help local eateries with the costs of heating equipment, safety materials for indoor dining, air filtration system upgrades, blankets and more.

Applications open on Oct. 16 and funds will be distributed through the end of November, the city said. Restaurants must be located in Chicago and have no more than three locations operating currently with 50 employees or fewer and no more than $3 million in revenue from 2019 to apply.

US Senate Candidate Willie Wilson, Campaign Spokesman Test Positive for Coronavirus

U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Willie Wilson and his campaign spokesman have tested positive for coronavirus, his campaign confirmed Thursday.

Wilson and spokesman Scott Winslow both tested positive and the rest of his campaign is now being tested, Winslow said Thursday morning.

In a statement, Wilson said he was experiencing mild symptoms but is "confident that we will beat COVID-19."

"Like so many fellow Americans, I am not immune from COVID-19," Wilson said in a statement. "This is a disease that does not discriminate."

He added that he has started a 10-day quarantine and "will bounce back from this stronger than before."

"I am suspending all in person campaigning for the United States Senate the next 10 days while I quarantine," he said. "I thank God for great doctors and first responders that care for all of us."

Wilson is running under the "Willie Wilson Party" against incumbent U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and four other candidates.

He previously ran for Chicago mayor in 2015, president in 2016 and then Chicago mayor again in 2019. Wilson is a millionaire businessman who owned several McDonald’s franchises and founded a medical supply company, in recent years using his personal wealth to fund his political campaigns.

Wilson has previously handed out masks in Chicago and surrounding suburbs and donated them to first responders. Earlier in the pandemic, he criticized stay-at-home orders that prevented religious gatherings in churches, even offering to pay fines for churches found in violation of Illinois' stay-at-home order in May.

“I have asked the federal government to step in and prevent religious intimidation tactics being deployed by Mayor Lightfoot and Governor Pritzker,” Wilson said at the time. “Clearly they have used the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 to shred the constitution and treat churches as non-essential, while treating liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries and big box stores as essential.”

Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases in Wisconsin, Lightfoot Blasts Lawmakers Who ‘Politicized' Response

With Wisconsin’s case numbers and positivity rates on the rise, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot blasted Republicans who sought to roll back the state’s coronavirus mitigation measures.

Speaking at a press conference after Wednesday’s virtual City Council meeting, Lightfoot criticized the Wisconsin GOP for “politicizing” health and for putting party politics over the safety of the public.

“Wisconsin is what happens when you politicize public health. It’s chaos,” she said. “The governor put a lot of measures in place to keep people safe, and a highly-politicized group took the case to a stacked state Supreme Court that struck down everything the governor was trying to do to keep the state safe, and what have we seen? Chaos.”

Lightfoot’s comments come as Wisconsin announced that it is opening a field hospital because of an increase in the number of coronavirus cases statewide. Last week, Wisconsin reported the third-most new coronavirus cases in the country, trailing just Texas and California in that category. The state is also reporting one of the nation’s highest rates of cases per 100,000 residents, and the country’s fifth-highest positivity rate.

“The fact a state is having to open a field hospital because of the explosion of cases requiring hospitalizations is a disgrace, and it is solely tied back to the actions of a partisan state legislature and a partisan Supreme Court,” she said. “Public health should never be politicized. Those partisans put their party over public health. It’s shameful, and voters in Wisconsin should take note of that.”

Lightfoot Says Announcement on CPS' Plan for 2nd Quarter Coming 'Relatively Soon'

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday said a decision regarding Chicago Public Schools' learning plan for the second quarter would be coming "relatively soon," but declined to comment on the direction the district might lean in November.

"I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever that children learn best, particularly our youngest children with in person instruction," Lightfoot said. "Again, I will defer to CPS, but we've never stopped looking towards the future and what the possibilities would be, and we continue to follow the public health guidance. And I believe the CPS will have an announcement on that issue relatively soon."

When asked about whether the decision could come this week, Lightfoot declined to specify and again reiterated "relatively soon."

Late last month, Lightfoot acknowledged that while remote learning is a "real challenge for everyone involved," she said "we're not there yet" when it comes to resuming in-person learning at Chicago Public Schools.

CPS began its new school year with remote instruction Sept. 8 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In early August, Lightfoot said the decision to start the school year remotely was "rooted in public health," but at the time said the district sought to establish a hybrid learning model in the second quarter.

The second quarter is set to start Nov. 9.

The mayor said she knows "there's a lot of anxiety on the part of the parent," but it's important for the city to consider the health of principals, teachers and staff members.

Pritzker Says Illinois' Coronavirus 'Progress Has Cooled'

After "promising declines" were reported in nearly all of Illinois' healthcare regions last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday that "progress has cooled" across much of the state.

"We are seeing changes in positivity averages around the state level off, with three regions that were decreasing last week now sitting at a stable level," he said during an update Wednesday, which was delivered virtually as the governor continues to isolate following a staffer's positive test last week.

Oct. 7: Gov. J.B. Pritzker delivers coronavirus update for Illinois virtually as he isolates following a staffer's positive test.

Pritzker said Region 5 and Region 9, which is home to Lake and McHenry counties near the Wisconsin border, have flipped from decreasing positivity rates to increasing.

Still, Region 3, which contains Springfield and Quincy, was the only area to switch from increasing to decreasing, Pritzker said.

Currently, two Illinois regions are above the state's 8 percent positivity threshold, both requiring heightened mitigations.

Region 4, known as the Metro East region, has been under stricter guidelines since late August, and Region 1, which holds Rockford, Dixon and Galena, increased restrictions Saturday.

"After falling from a peak 7 day average positivity of over 10 percent, Metro East then leveled off between an average of 7 and 8 percent positivity for several weeks, and has recently dropped to a new low of 6.3 percent as of this morning – that’s enormous progress, and if the region sustains an average below the 6.5 percent threshold, Region 4 could see a return to the looser mitigations enacted in most of the state as soon as this Friday," Pritzker said.

Illinois Reports 2,630 New Coronavirus Cases, 42 Deaths as State Reaches 6M Tests

Illinois health officials on Wednesday reported 2,630 new coronavirus cases and 42 additional deaths over the last 24 hours.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Wednesday's figures bring the state’s total to 307,641 cases and 8,878 deaths since the pandemic began.

Illinois health officials said 58,820 new tests were returned to state laboratories over the last 24 hours, lifting the total number of tests across the state to 6,033,289. Those tests increase the state’s rolling seven-day positivity rate to 3.5%, level with the day before.

Hospitalizations in the state ticked up slightly again on Wednesday, with 1,679 patients currently hospitalized statewide. Of those patients, 372 were in intensive care units, and 165 were on ventilators.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike delivers update on Illinois' latest coronavirus numbers on Oct. 7.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that while many of the state's healthcare regions were seeing "promising declines," "that progress has cooled."

"We are seeing changes in positivity averages around the state level off, with three regions that were decreasing last week now sitting at a stable level," he said during an update Wednesday, which was delivered virtually as the governor continues to isolate following a staffer's positive test last week.

Chicago Removes 2 States and Adds 1 to Coronavirus Travel Order, Issues Warning for Indiana

The city of Chicago on Tuesday removed two states, added one and placed Indiana on a warning list for the city's emergency travel order requiring a 14-day quarantine.

Chicago health officials removed Georgia and Texas from the list and added Alaska, the city said in a statement.

The travel order now covers 22 states and territories: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Travelers entering or returning to Chicago from "states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases" will need to quarantine "for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state" under the order, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady says. Essential workers could be exempt from the quarantine requirement, however, as long as their employer certifies their work in writing.

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.

The city also issued a warning that Indiana has surpassed the threshold for inclusion and will be added to the list next week if the state cannot bring down its daily average number of cases. It was not added this week to "allow residents enough time to plan travel to this border state," the city said.

Indiana is now reporting an average of 16.2 new cases every day per 100,000 citizens, and NBC 5 Investigates analysis shows. In the northwest region, that figure is now 16.4 per 100,000 people.

Both the region of northwest Indiana and the state as a whole reported record-breaking average caseloads Monday as positivity rates continued to rise sharply.

The state is averaging more than 1,100 cases daily, which is 65% higher than the level Indiana reached when the virus saw its first peak in early May, an NBC 5 Investigates analysis found.

Northwest Indiana, which encompasses Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties and is directly east of Chicago, was reporting an average of 136 new daily cases as of Monday. That figure is one-and-a-half times higher than what the five-county area was seeing when the pandemic reached its first peak in April and May.

Both Northwest Indiana and the state have recorded a record-high number of weekly cases: 6,417 statewide and 949 in the northwest region respectively, according to the analysis.

On top of that, positivity rates for both the state overall and the region have also risen sharply.

The statewide rate, which was 7.5% on Friday, jumped a full percentage point to 8.5% as of Monday. And the rate for the northwest region, which was 7.4% on Friday, jumped to 8.6%.

Chicago's travel order, which began on July 6, is evaluated every Tuesday, with any additions taking effect the following Friday.

Last week, Chicago health officials added four states to the list: Kentucky, Wyoming, Texas, and Nevada. Wisconsin was one of several locations added to the order two weeks ago, along with Montana, Idaho, Minnesota and Puerto Rico.

Arwady said before adding Wisconsin that the state was "currently in very poor control when it comes to COVID," adding that the state had more than double the 15 average daily cases per 100,000 residents that is the threshold to be named on Chicago's travel order.

That number has continued to climb, as has the positivity rate, sitting at 17.3% as of Monday.

Under the Chicago travel order guidelines, those traveling to or from Wisconsin for work and those traveling through the state for travel will not need to quarantine, Arwady said. Those traveling to the state for leisure, however, even for less than 24 hours, will need to quarantine, she said.

The order is set to remain in effect until further notice.

Illinois Coronavirus Cases Steadily Rising as Neighboring States Set COVID-19 Records

Illinois appears to be "holding its own" in the fight against the coronavirus while neighboring states such as Indiana and Wisconsin have set records following a sharp increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in recent days, an NBC 5 Investigates analysis found.

In Illinois, cases have risen fairly steadily to the point where last week, the state's daily average new caseload topped the 2,000 mark once again.

But in Indiana and Wisconsin, where cases appear to be out of control, average daily coronavirus rates are far higher than they ever were when the pandemic first hit its peak in early May.

In Illinois and Chicago, cases never reached those original peak levels, but in the state as a whole, cases are beginning to inch closer to the May peak. Back then, when cases were raging across the state, Illinois reached a record average high of 2,565 cases per day.

By mid-June, however, Illinois accomplished a major feat as new cases fell all the way down to 596 average daily cases on June 18, according to the analysis.

Chicago has fared better than the state as a whole, and much, much better than neighboring states. Lately, the city’s trendline of daily cases has been rising slightly.

As of Monday, the city reported an average of 325 new coronavirus cases per day – which is less than a third the level of average cases the city saw when the pandemic peaked in Chicago on May 4.

There is reason for concern when it comes to Illinois' daily coronavirus-related deaths, which are averaging 27 fatalities a day.

That trendline has been slowly rising since mid-August, when the city reported an average of 13 deaths per day – so – if this trend continues – the average daily death rate in Illinois has now doubled from its low point seven weeks ago.

Midwestern Coronavirus Positivity Rates Over the Past 2 Weeks

How States Compare on Where Coronavirus Is Most Easily Spread

Contact Us