Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 8 more deaths and 488 new COVID-19 cases, raising state death toll to 34 and total known cases to 3,026

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Officials on Friday announced eight more deaths in Illinois related to the new coronavirus and 488 more cases statewide, raising the death toll to 34 and the number of known cases to 3,026 since the start of the outbreak in January.

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Meanwhile, a running count kept by Johns Hopkins University showed the United States now had the most confirmed active cases of any country, as troubling new outbreaks bubbled up in cities around the U.S.

Staying in tonight? Good. Severe thunderstorms could hit parts of the Chicago area Friday night and into early Saturday.

Here are the latest updates Friday on the coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois:

5:28 p.m.: Elgin to allow sale of alcohol in curbside pickup, delivery services of local establishments

Elgin restaurants and bars with liquor licenses can now sell sealed alcohol as part of their curbside pickup and delivery services, city officials said.

The change was announced during a virtual town hall meeting Thursday afternoon aimed at establishments and nonprofits reeling from the statewide coronavirus mandates. The change went into effect Thursday evening, city officials said. Read more here. —Rafael Guerrero

5:28 p.m.: Resident of Oak Forest group home for adults with developmental disabilities dies of complications from COVID-19

A 61-year-old resident of an Oak Forest group home for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities died Friday of complications from COVID-19, officials said.

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Nowak’s death is the at least the 12th confirmed COVID-19-related death in the south and southwest suburbs.

As of Friday, at least 10 people in South Cook County and two in Will County had died of complications related to COVID-19 since March 19, according to data from the Cook County medical examiner’s office and Will County public health officials. Read more here. —Zak Koeske

5:27 p.m.: Apple partners with feds on COVID-19 app and website to guide people on symptoms, testing

Apple Inc. on Friday released a COVID-19 app and website that guides users through a series of questions about their health and exposure. The online tool was designed in partnership with several federal agencies, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The online tool provides users guidance on social distancing and how to monitor symptoms, as well as recommendations on testing and when to contact a medical provider, according to a CDC news release. 

“This launch is a direct response to President Trump’s call for an all-of-America approach and will help Americans heed CDC guidelines and self-isolate to limit COVID-19 transmission,” the news release said.

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Users can download the free app from Apple’s app store or on Google Play, or access the tool online at www.apple.com/covid19.

The announcement of the app came about an hour after Gov. J.B. Pritzker again decried Trump’s response to the pandemic, which has caused 34 confirmed deaths in Illinois so far.

At a news conference Friday, Pritzker called testing for the new virus inadequate, laying much of the blame on the Trump administration for failing to follow through on repeated pledges to coordinate mass testing.

“The truth is, even now, that’s not true,” he said.

The governor described major shortages of test kits, supplies, materials and lab technicians as well as protective gear for health care workers.

“The truth is there isn’t much testing going on around the country,” he said. —Angie Leventis, Joe Mahr

5:18 p.m.: 10 more Chicago police officers test positive for COVID-19

Ten more Chicago police officers have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the number of city cops infected with the coronavirus to 20, officials said Friday.

Of the ten officers newly disclosed to be infected with the disease, one was hospitalized, “but is doing well despite symptoms,” Anthony Guglielmi, police spokesman, said in a tweet Friday afternoon.

“Wishing all a full recovery as we work to implement best available infection control practices across the Chicago Police Department,” Guglielmi wrote. —Jeremy Gorner

4:56 p.m.: Aurora mayor, police chief diagnosed with coronavirus

Aurora’s mayor and police chief have tested positive for COVID-19, city officials said in a news release Friday, making them among the first city leaders in the west suburbs publicly known to have the virus.

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The Kane County Health Department confirmed positive test results for Mayor Richard Irvin and Police Chief Kristen Ziman on Friday. Both were tested Saturday, March 21, after an Aurora police supervisor tested positive for COVID-19 on March 20, city officials said.

Ziman and her command staff began self-quarantining March 21, officials said. She has continued to lead the police department remotely and begun to experience some mild symptoms. On Thursday evening, Ziman was notified that she tested positive for coronavirus.

In a statement, Irvin said he is thankful for the health experts who recommended that he and Ziman receive testing. Read more here. —Megan Jones and Sarah Freishtat

4:29 p.m.: 12 nurses at UIC Hospital test positive for coronavirus, union says

A dozen registered nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago have tested positive for the new coronavirus, according to the union that represents nurses at the hospital. 

The report highlights the vulnerability of health care workers caring for patients infected with the virus. Officials with the Illinois Nurses Association said they believe a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, contributed to the infections.

“They do not know day to day if they will have masks, gowns, gloves or goggles for that shift,” said Alice Johnson, executive director for the union. “One nurse said their unit manager scolded them for wearing a mask in a room where a COVID-19 positive patient was being intubated.”

U of I Hospitals CEO Michael Zenn confirmed the number of infected nurses and lauded the “heroic efforts” of the hospital’s staff but challenged the notion that administrators had discouraged the use of appropriate PPE.

“Our policy for COVID-19 is that all providers who care for patients confirmed to have COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19 should wear PPE,” Zenn said. “There are no circumstances in which we would ask our care providers to forgo PPE when caring for COVID-19 patients.” 

According to internal U of I Hospital reports obtained by the Tribune, a total of 19 hospital workers were infected with the new coronavirus as of Thursday. That number had grown from 11 on the previous day, according to the Medical Staff Daily Status Report. It is unclear what kind of workers other than nurses had tested positive.

The same report stated that 52 doctors and nurses were off work but did not specify whether COVID-19 symptoms or exposure were the cause.

Across the country, medical professionals have been expressing growing concern about the dwindling supplies of N95 masks and other PPE to shield them from sick people transferring the disease. The U of I daily status report listed supply levels for some items; N95 masks were said to be at a “critical-stable” level, with a “2 week supply as of 3/18/2020.” —David Heinzmann

4:20 p.m.: Niles-based businesses donate stock of face masks to hospitals, first responders

With face masks in high demand — and short supply — during the COVID-19 pandemic, American Science and Surplus, a retailer, and Rich Foods, a food supplier, have donated substantial quantities of them to hospitals and first responders.

American Science and Surplus owner Patrick Meyer said his business, headquartered in Niles, has distributed about 1,000 N95 masks, which have gone to police, firefighters and hospital workers in recent days. He took the unusual step of giving them away rather than advertising them for sale.

“Usually when we carry them, people like to use them around the house, for painting and other projects,” Meyer said. “We usually don’t sell them for medical purposes.” Read more here.

4:05 p.m.: Lake County reports two coronavirus-related deaths, its first of the pandemic

Two Lake County residents have died from complications related to COVID-19, one of whom was a resident at a Lake Zurich nursing home that has reported multiple cases of the virus, Lake County Health Department officials said Friday afternoon.

The news came as the Lake County Health Department reported that five nursing homes in the county have had residents, staff or both test positive for the coronavirus at the root of a global pandemic.

Countywide, the number of confirmed cases hit 222 Friday afternoon, including 20 involving the long-term care facilities, according to the health department. That’s up from 184 Thursday afternoon.

The Lake Zurich nursing home has had two staff members and nine residents, including the resident who later died at an area hospital, test positive, said Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Christopher Covelli, who was speaking on behalf of the health department. That’s up from three residents and no staff members Wednesday.

The other nursing home that the health department announced Wednesday has seen its cases rise to four staff members, up from three, according to Covelli. No cases had been confirmed among its residents as of Friday.Three other long-term care facilities also have confirmed cases now: two residents at a Zion facility, one staff member and one resident at a Wauconda center, and one resident at a Gurnee facility, Covelli said.

The Lake County Health Department is not naming any of the facilities. Read more here. —Emily Coleman

3:56 p.m.: Denied pews and Friday prayers by coronavirus, Chicago-area believers gather for online services, Bible study

It all felt so familiar: the cross wrapped in purple drapes hanging on the wall, the choir singing in sync with the organ and the pastor in his usual place preaching from the pulpit.

Sure, the wooden pews were empty. But on this day, her couch was the pew as she streamed the service from her iPad.

“It felt real,” said Marcia Gruschow, 69, who is a member of First St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Old Town. “It felt like I was there.”

From Christians to Jews to Muslims, people in the Chicago area and across the world have been forced to find ways to remain spiritually engaged and socially connected, as the threat of COVID-19 persists and widespread government stay-at-home orders are in effect.

Many of them are turning to online services. Read more here. —Javonte Anderson

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3:43 p.m.: Patel Brothers grocery chain temporarily closing all stores Monday

All Patel Brothers grocery stores will temporarily close Monday due to concerns about the growing spread of the new coronavirus.

“We don’t want to close, but it’s the sensible thing to do to try to flatten the curve,” said Swetal Patel, vice president of Patel Brothers, citing concerns about customers’ and employees’ health.

The grocery chain, which has five Illinois stores and 54 locations nationwide, said it hopes to reopen within 10 days.

The company initially considered closing its roughly 15 stores in the New York and New Jersey area, where the virus is more widespread, then decided closing all 54 locations was “the most sensible thing to do,” Patel said.

Some stores have already begun restricting the number of customers in shops at a time and the company plans to have security guards to help limit crowds during the final two days of shopping this weekend.

“We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but want you to remember that we made this decision in order to protect your families,” the company said in a letter to customers. —Lauren Zumbach

3:41 p.m.: Coronavirus-related deaths in DuPage County rise from 1 to 6. Officials stop releasing updated numbers related to Willowbrook nursing home.

Five more victims of coronavirus have died in DuPage County, bringing the total there to six, officials announced Friday.

The five new deaths out of 8 statewide show a concentration of new fatal cases in the county, where a nursing home has been the center of an outbreak.

Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center had an outbreak of 49 cases as of Thursday, afflicting 33 residents and 16 staff members, the DuPage County Health Department reported. There were 182 cases county-wide.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported six deaths in the county Friday, but county health officials would not immediately confirm whether any of the new deaths involved nursing home residents. Read more here. —Robert McCoppin

3:23 p.m.: As COVID-19 roils workplaces, here’s how to navigate employee and employer rights

2:40 p.m.: Eight more deaths and 488 additional cases of COVID-19

State officials on Friday announced eight more deaths related to the new coronavirus and 488 more cases statewide, raising the death toll to 34 and the number of known cases to 3,026 since the start of the outbreak in January.

They did not provide any additional information about those who died.

COVID-19 has now been detected in 40 of Illinois’ 102 counties, public health officials said.

About 86% of those who have died were 60 or older, officials said.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said more than 500 former health care workers have applied to rejoin the industry following his request for extra hands to combat COVID-19. — Dan Petrella

2:25 p.m.: Illinois’ stay at home order likely to extend ‘deep into April,’ Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot says

The stay at home order issued by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker realistically will extend “deep into April,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters on Friday.

Asked whether she’s talked with Pritzker about extending his stay at home order, which he issued a week ago for the entire state through at least April 7, Lightfoot said she doesn’t want to get ahead of the governor but said it’s realistic that it would “stretch deep into April.”

“You’ve seen what we’ve done here in Chicago with the schools, with the order we issued yesterday which is unending until further notice. I think realistically, we’re looking at something that’s going to stretch deep into April again, subject to change in modeling and so forth,” Lightfoot said. “The governor’s team are very able, they’re looking at very similar data to what we are, and I’m sure that’s a conversation that’s probably under active discussion.”

Lightfoot ordered the lakefront, The 606 trail and adjacent parks and trails closed indefinitely, and has also extended the Chicago Public Schools closure through April 20.

In a separate interview with the Tribune, Lightfoot said the coronavirus could peak in April.

“Duration, I don’t think anybody really knows,” she said. “We have some projections on when we think we will hit our peak. It’s not a secret that most of them put them sometime in April, but what precise date, what date range, varies depending upon the model and the assumptions.” Read more here. — Gregory Pratt

2:24 p.m.: Illinois’ House delegation strongly supported the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill

Illinois’ House delegation strongly supported the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that passed in a voice-vote Friday and will provide assistance to unemployed workers, a beleaguered medical community and a fiscally troubled state forced to use scarce resources to fight the pandemic.

But several members warned that additional legislation will be needed as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to expand and potentially vulnerable populations need assistance. Read more here.

1:45 p.m.: Cinespace donates Little Village studio space to Greater Chicago Food Depository

The space, 20,000 square feet, will be used for storage of food boxes for families affected by the coronavirus pandemic, a GCFD statement said.

Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, which has its main studio on 15th Place in the city’s Douglas Park neighborhood, plans on donating the space from their West 31st Street location in the Little Village neighborhood in an effort to address food security for those struggling due to the economic impact of the virus on businesses, and school closures.

The economic impact is expected to disproportionately affect Cook County’s lower income families and hourly workers, the statement said.

“As we face this unprecedented public health and economic crisis, our community must join together to ensure none of our neighbors go hungry,” said Kate Maehr, GCFD spokeswoman in the statement. “We are incredibly grateful for Cinespace’s donation, which allows us to more efficiently use our resources to respond to the growing need.”

The donation frees up more room at the depository and allows workers and volunteers to focus on building more boxes in the coming weeks, the release said.

The Greater Chicago Food Depository will use the donated space this week.

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“This may be a global health issue, but it’s really about the people and the businesses in your neighborhood. When a neighbor calls and asks for help, you do it!” said Alex Pissios, spokesman for Cinespace. The Food Depository is thankful to all of its supporters who have stepped up to help our most vulnerable neighbors during this time.

1:12 p.m.: Chicago joins New York, Los Angeles with dip in crime

Like other major U.S. cities, Chicago has seen a dip in crime with the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting virtually every aspect of the country’s way of life.

Despite beginning 2020 with crime spikes, particularly related to gun violence, Chicago saw a sudden single-week drop of nearly 20% in major crimes in mid-March, records show. That was just as much activity in Chicago was slowing.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker closed schools across Illinois, Chicago bars and restaurants shuttered, and a statewide stay-at-home directive went into effect Saturday.

Since March 18, Chicago has only had two homicides, a fatal shooting on the South Side and another on the West Side.

From March 16 through March 22, the latest compiled period available, Chicago police saw a 17% overall drop from the prior seven days in its seven major crime categories, among them robberies, burglaries and aggravated batteries. That same period also was down from the same stretch in 2019, official city data shows — a 19% decrease. The current drop comes at a time when Chicago had seen jumps in violence through much of the first three months of 2020. Read more here. —Jeremy Gorner

1:06 p.m.: Chicago will give $1,000 grants to help some residents with mortgage payments

The city of Chicago will give one-time $1,000 grants to help residents who have suffered financially due to the coronavirus outbreak with rent and mortgage payments, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.

Lightfoot announced the COVID-19 Housing Assistance Grant program on Friday, which she said will go toward Chicagoans “who have lost their jobs or otherwise been impacted by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The city will spend $2 million from its Affordable Housing Opportunity Fund for the payments.

“This program represents a critical resource not only to our communities but our entire city as we navigate this evolving challenge and ensure every Chicagoan remains safe, healthy and secure,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Half the grants will be awarded through a lottery system, the mayor’s office said, and the other half will go through non-profit community organizations that will distribute them. Residents can apply online at the city’s coronavirus webpage.

To qualify, residents must show an unemployment insurance claim, proof of an employment status change, and proof that they make 60% of the area median income.

The grants will be awarded between early and mid-April, the city said. —Gregory Pratt

1:04 p.m.: Staffer at city homeless shelter tests positive

A staffer at a city-funded homeless shelter has tested positive for coronavirus, according to Family & Support Services Commissioner Lisa Morrison Butler.

A resident from a separate homeless shelter is in the hospital awaiting results. After consulting with the Department of Public Health, city officials said the staffer was not in regular contact with residents of the shelter, and the facility remains open.

“In both cases, CDPH has been notified and the proper steps have been taken around that individual,” Morrison Butler said.

This week, mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that three YMCA locations would provide space for 400 beds to help city shelters abide by social distancing guidelines. Further steps are being taken to find additional space should isolation and quarantine needs arise, Morrison Butler said, and DFSS is in contact with homeless service providers weekly to provide updates.

No city-funded shelters have been closed as of March 27. —Cecilia Reyes

1:01 p.m.: South suburban school districts stop ‘grab and go’ meals after positive tests

Two south suburban school districts have suspended one or more of their “grab and go” meals sites for students after district workers tested positive for COVID-19, officials said.

Matteson Elementary School District 159 and Thornton Township High School District 205 both announced the meal suspensions this week and said their buildings would be cleaned and sanitized as a precaution. Read more here.

12:52 p.m.: Leaders at Glenview church say dozens showing COVID-19 symptoms in days following worship service

Forty-three people who attended a March 15 service at The Life Church of Glenview are now displaying symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, the pastor’s wife wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.

Layna LoCasio said in the social media post that not everyone has been tested, but “whoever gets a test done ends up being positive, and we all have the same symptoms.”

LoCascio is the wife of the church’s pastor, Anthony LoCascio. He is said to be ill, as well.She mentioned in the post three people who tested positive for COVID-19 and have been hospitalized. Read more here. —Anna Kim

12:50 p.m.: Hinsdale High School District 86 will skip spring break, end a week early

Since all but essential travel is prohibited and recreational venues are closed for the near future, Hinsdale High School District 86 will skip its spring break, and end the school year May 21, a week earlier than planned.

Students will continue to do schoolwork remotely next week, March 30 to April 3, which was going to be spring break.

“A number of individuals have told us that e-learning is providing our students with a strong feeling of connectedness and sense of normalcy in the face of the COVID-19 crisis,” Hinsdale District 86 Superintendent Tammy Prentiss stated in a letter emailed to the community.

“We believe the structure, routine and (that connection) will be more beneficial for our students than a week of at home confinement with very few outlets for managing stress and anxiety,” Prentiss stated. Read more here.

12:43 p.m.: DuPage County Health Department staff will help deliver food to homeless

DuPage County Health Department workers will help deliver food once a week to homeless people to help out during the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced Friday.

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DuPagePads, which normally lets homeless people sleep on pads in a different church each night, shut down its church shelters Saturday due to fears of spreading COVID-19.

Instead, the most at-risk homeless people, such as the elderly or those with chronic health problems, are being housed overnight at hotels and motels. To help fund that program, county officials said they were looking to contribute $50,000 to DuPagePads and $35,000 to Catholic Charities.

Starting immediately, county health workers staff will help deliver food each Friday from the DuPagePads Client Service Center to these individuals who are now in emergency housing and in need of meals. This delivery will be conducted in partnership with the Northern Illinois Food Bank.

“The DuPage County Health Department is proud to join DuPagePads to make sure all of our DuPage County residents get food and other critical supplies they may need during this difficult time,” said Karen Ayala, the health department’s executive director. —Bob McCoppin

12:41 p.m.: Southern Illinois University reports student on campus has COVID-19

A student at the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale has tested positive for COVID-19, officials said Friday.

The student is a male in his late teens who is living on west campus. He’s following isolation orders and is “doing fair,” SIU Carbondale said on its website. Authorities believe he contracted the illness on a recent trip to the Chicago area.

The Jackson County Health Department notified SIU Carbondale on Thursday that a campus resident had tested positive for the coronavirus

“This individual is not allowed to leave home until they are well and can no longer transmit the disease,” SIU Carbondale said on its website.

It’s not clear how many students are currently living on campus as in-person classes have been canceled because of the pandemic.

A post on the SIU website states that during the shutdown, “Students who are living on campus must stay on campus, and students who are not on campus may not return to campus.” —Elyssa Cherney

12:40 p.m.: 33 Chicago conventions have now been canceled. Those losses could cost the city $747 million.

33 Chicago conventions have now been canceled because of the coronavirus. Those losses could cost Chicago $747 million, according to an estimate from a McCormick Place spokeswoman.

The impact includes lost spending from event attendees at hotels, restaurants, transportation and entertainment venues.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, has prompted governors across the country to issue shelter-at-home orders to reduce the spread of the virus. On Thursday, there were more than 82,000 confirmed cases in the U.S., the most of any country.

Conference organizers are canceling events well into the summer, and hotels in the city are temporarily closing as the virus continues to hinder the hospitality industry.

This week, the Sweets & Snacks Expo, the National Restaurant Association, the American Library Association and the American Society of Clinical Oncology nixed their summer shows, bringing the total number of event cancellations at McCormick Place and Wintrust Arena to 33 as of Thursday, McCormick Place spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty said in an emailed statement.

Altogether, the 33 shows would have brought about 484,000 people to Chicago, McCafferty said. The conferences also accounted for about 533,000 hotel room nights. Read more here. —Abdel Jimenez

12:22 p.m.: Chicago craft breweries scramble amid coronavirus downturn

Dovetail Brewery spent a day this week doing something it had never envisioned: transferring beer, by hand, from 50 kegs to more than 5,000 16-ounce cans. It took 13 hours.

In a city where every bar and restaurant is closed — and so is Dovetail’s taproom — the kegs were useless. Dovetail hopes instead to sell the beer in 4-packs directly to socially-distancing customers at its makeshift, walk-up sales kiosk at the brewery’s front door, where a bottle of hand sanitizer sits beside each day’s beer offerings.

Draft beer, a cornerstone of the industry, is dead. Taprooms, which are among the most reliable sources of profit, are closed. Beer drinkers, along with everyone else, are told to stay home. Across the city and suburbs, brewery owners are reevaluating the beer they make and how to sell it. Read more here. —Josh Noel

11:33 a.m.: Pope to issue blessing Friday usually reserved for solemn feasts

Catholics around the world were expected to join Pope Francis for a prayer that will be live-streamed starting at noon, according to the Archdiocese of Chicago.

During the prayer, the Pope plans to issue a certain type of blessing usually reserved for Christmas and Easter, the Urbi et Orbi blessing. The livestream was scheduled to begin at noon and can be watched here.

Those who participate can receive what’s known as a plenary indulgence, according to the church.“

A plenary indulgence is a remission of the total temporal punishment that is still due to sin after absolution,” according to a news release from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

This week, the church live-streamed Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and bishops reciting the Lord’s Prayer as part of a call from Pope Francis for Christians to unite in prayer.

Earlier this month, the Archdiocese of Chicago was among those who suspended religious services in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since then, religious leaders have turned to the internet to spread their religious message. —Elvia Malagón

10:57 a.m.: Cycling studio renting out bikes for at-home use, live-streamed classes

A cycling studio in Burr Ridge, closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, is helping its members stay fit by renting its bikes for home use.

CycleBar was live-streaming rides and music via a mobile app, but recognized that some people do not have a bike to exercise on at home.

So this week the bikes were offered for rent to members for $249 a month, a price the owner considered affordable for members and that would help cover some of the studio’s basic expenses, manager Jill DeNardo said. Read more here.

10:30 a.m.: More cases reported in Oak Park, including a baby; brings total to 9

Five additional residents, including a child less than one-year-old, have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, bringing the village’s total number of confirmed cases to nine, officials announced Thursday evening.

9:02 a.m.: White House COVID-19 task force concerned about ‘rapid increase’ in cases in Cook County

The coordinator of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force says her team is concerned about the Chicago and Detroit areas which are seeing a surge in diagnosed coronavirus cases.

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“We are concerned about certain counties that look like they’re having a more rapid increase, if we look at Wayne County in Michigan and you look at Cook County in Chicago,” Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator for the White House task force, said Thursday at a daily briefing led by President Trump.

Detroit is the county seat of Wayne County.Her comments came the same day Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office announced the state had identified 673 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily spike since tracking began in earnest in recent weeks. The latest statistics show 26 deaths in Illinois and 2,538 cases.

“All of the counties that I’ve mentioned — the hotspots are in urban areas or in the communities that serve that urban area, and I think that’s something very important to remember as we move forward,” Birx said as health officials keep an eye on the New York City area, including parts of New Jersey, which account for more than half of the diagnosed cases in the country.

She explained that the task force is not just keeping an eye on day-to-day numbers but trends so the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is leading the disaster response, “to where we think the next potential hotspot is.” —Lisa Donovan

7:01 a.m.: Chicago cracking down on nonessential businesses, companies that force sick employees to work

Chicago officials are asking anyone who sees what’s considered a nonessential business still operating in violation of the state’s stay-at-home order to call 311 to report the business.

The city is starting to crack down on businesses that force employees to keep working at businesses that don’t meet the criteria for essential under the state order, according to a news release from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office. City inspectors are responding to complaints, and enforcing the order, including issuing citations that can cost businesses up to $10,000 per violation.

The city also is checking to make sure businesses don’t force employees to come to work while they’re sick. Businesses that don’t grant paid sick leave to their employees can be fined up to $1,000 per violation, according to the release. —Chicago Tribune staff

6:30 a.m.: Navy employee at Naval Station Great Lakes tests positive for new coronavirus

A U.S. Navy employee at Naval Station Great Lakes tested positive for the novel coronavirus Wednesday, the Navy said in an announcement detailing 17 additional confirmed cases across its facilities and ships.

The person who tested positive is a civilian who works at the base, according to a news release.

Naval Station Great Lakes is home to the Navy’s largest training facility and its only boot camp, through which nearly 40,000 recruits are trained annually. The Navy had already suspended its graduation ceremonies in an effort to slow the virus’s spread. Read more here. —Emily K. Coleman

6:01 a.m. Naperville residents adjust to stay-at-home rules, but not everyone complying

Warm temperatures and sunshine this week lured Naperville children and adults outdoors in search of a brief respite from their home isolation.

Four days after the governor issued a stay-at-home order, most Naperville residents seen outside Wednesday were using city sidewalks, forest preserve trails and Naperville Park District’s 136 parks, all of which remain open to those willing to socially distance themselves from other users.

Sameera Luthman, the park district’s director of marketing and communications, said 125 signs are in the process of being installed in district parks and staff has locked park amenities, including sports courts and synthetic turf fields.

Just as in Chicago, that did not deter one group of soccer players, who ignored the locked gate and “Closed until further notice” sign at Commissioners Park, or the skateboarders who did the same at Frontier Park. Read more here. —Suzanne Baker

This story was corrected to reflect the correct number of those who have died of COVID-19 in Italy. It is about 8,200, as of Friday morning in Chicago.

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