Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened March 4-5 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Chicago News USA

With 899 new people confirmed with coronavirus across the state, Illinois has now 11,256 known cases of COVID-19, the state’s public health director said Sunday. This is down from the 1,453 cases, including 33 deaths, announced Saturday.

Illinois saw 31 deaths more deaths, Dr. Ngozi Ezike said on Sunday. There now have been 274 deaths attributed to the new coronavirus, she said.

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

7:23 p.m.: DuPage reports three more deaths related to coronavirus

Three more people infected with the coronavirus have died in DuPage County, including a woman who was at a Naperville long-term care facility, officials said Sunday.

The county’s death toll rose to 22 on Sunday. With 41 new cases. that brings the county’s total number of cases to 647, according to a news release from the DuPage County Health Department.

The three deaths included a woman in her 80s with underlying conditions, and two women in their 70s, one of whom was a resident of a long-term care facility in Naperville and had underlying conditions.

On Saturday, officials said two more people infected with COVID-19 who died in DuPage County were residents of long-term care facilities in Carol Stream.

Of the county’s total deaths, 14 are associated with outbreaks at long-term care facilities.

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Half of the fatalities at care facilities are associated with Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, where a total of 51 residents and staff have been infected, according to the health department. — Morgan Greene

4:52 p.m.: Stateville inmate convicted of Oak Forest murder, Calumet City rape dies of coronavirus

A Stateville Correctional Center inmate who was convicted of murdering and sexually assaulting a boy from Oak Forest in 1980 and later sexually assaulting a boy from Calumet City has died from COVID-19, according to a statement from the Grundy County Coroner’s Office on Sunday.

Ronald Rice, 66, who died at the Morris Hospital, had been an inmate since 1984 and wasn’t eligible for parole until 2048, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections. Read more here. — Frank Vaisvilas

4:45 p.m.: Brookfield Zoo furloughs nearly a third of employees after coronavirus-related financial pressures

Two hours after receiving an initial alert about impending furloughs at Brookfield Zoo, Keriann Ballanco received an official notice that her nearly two-year stint working with orangutans, gibbons, otters and pangolins was over until further notice.

Nearly a third of Brookfield Zoo employees were placed on furlough, effective April 4, according to the zoo, and Ballanco, a primate keeper, says she was one of them. Every department was affected.

“I’m mostly upset that I didn’t get to say goodbye to the animals that I work with,” said Ballanco, who was off the day she received the notice. “I have such a relationship and a bond with them. It’s so sudden.”

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Brookfield Zoo closed March 19 because of COVID-19 and has had practically no earned revenue since, according to a news release from the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages the zoo. Brookfield Zoo is keeping on “essential staff,” like people who maintain the health and welfare of the animals, people who take care of the buildings and grounds, and “other critical support functions.”

“This is a very challenging and difficult situation and the Society hopes it will be resolved soon,” according to a news release. “However, CZS had to respond quickly to the tremendous unanticipated financial pressures it is facing in order to ensure the zoo’s future sustainability.”

To assist with its financial difficulties, the zoological society applied for loans through the federal stimulus bill and moved its largest fundraising event of the year, The Whirl, to a virtual format. The zoo is also asking current zoo members to renew now and asking those considering a membership to join as soon as possible. Read more here. —Grace Wong

4:14 p.m.: Lake County reports 2nd straight day with no new deaths

The health department in Lake County, Illinois, on Sunday reported no new deaths from coronavirus, the second-straight day there have been no new fatalities within the previous 24 hours. The health department did report 67 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of cases in the county to 756. A total of 14 people in Lake County have died from COVID-19.

The health department urged residents to wear cloth face coverings when going out to public places like grocery stores and pharmacies.

The statistic updates cover the 24-hour period ending at 1 p.m. Sunday. — Patrick M. O’Connell

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3:59 p.m.: Governor ‘deeply concerned’ about disproportionate coronavirus rate among African Americans

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Sunday he is “deeply concerned” by health statistics that show the coronavirus disproportionately affecting African Americans in the state. Illinois health officials report that 30% of positive coronavirus cases in Illinois are African Americans.

According to census figures, 14.6% of the Illinois population is African American.

“I’m deeply concerned about this,” Pritzker said in the state’s daily briefing on COVID-19. “I’ve seen these stats, not just for Illinois, but also for Michigan and for a couple of other states where it’s also true.”

The governor said that opening previously shuttered hospitals during this pandemic is one way to help serve communities of color.

“But it is a much broader problem than over the course or three or four or five weeks here where we’ve been dealing with this pandemic,” Pritzker said. “…(It’s) hard to make up for decades, frankly, maybe centuries, of inequality of application of health care to people of color.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state’s public health director, said health officials are working to address the disparities.

“We know all too well that there are general disparities in health outcomes that play (out) along these racial lines,” Ezike said. “And the same may be true for this virus. We have worked hard to ensure that all of our communities can access the health care they need as COVID-19 spreads. And we will make sure that resources are directed where they are needed most.” — Patrick M. O’Connell

3:36 p.m.: Certain Easter obligations can be skipped, Cupich decrees

Catholics will be allowed to forego in-person Easter obligations this year due to the coronavirus, according to a Palm Sunday decree from Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

During the Easter season, from Easter Sunday to the feast of the Ascension of the Lord, Catholics are supposed to receive Holy Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession. But partially due to public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the obligation to receive Holy Communion has been removed. The Chicago Archdiocese says the faithful should offer an “Act of Spiritual Communion” and a “perfect Act of Contrition.”

The Archdiocese of Chicago suspended all religious services and gave a general dispensation from Sunday Mass. On Thursday, it was announced that Easter Sunday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week services would not be celebrated publicly. — Morgan Greene

2:55 p.m.: 899 new cases, 31 deaths announced in state

State officials announced just under 900 new known cases of the new coronavirus Sunday, including 31 deaths, down from 1,453 cases, including 33 deaths, announced Saturday.

There were 899 new known cases throughout the state, including 19 deaths in Cook County, four in DuPage County and three in Kane County.

New counties reporting cases were Boone, Calhoun and Gallatin counties. So far, the state has a total of 11,256 known cases, including 274 deaths, in 71 counties. The age of those with known cases ranges from younger than one to more than 100 years old.

2:50: Target employees at 2 Chicago stores positive for coronavirus

Two Chicago Target store locations recently were deep cleaned and sanitized after one employee at each store tested positive for COVID-19.

One employee who tested positive works at the South Loop store, 1154 S. Clark St., and the other words at the Near North store, 2656 N. Elston Ave., Target spokesman Eddie Baeb said in an email Sunday.

“We’re working in close partnership with local health departments,” a company statement said. “Our top priority is the health and safety of our team members and guests, and we’re taking a number of steps to move forward.”

That includes speaking directly with the employees and advising them to quarantine and follow all health department guidelines, as well as following the recommendation to deep clean and sanitize the stores.“We have notified the store teams and are providing them with the appropriate CDC guidance. We’ll continue to first and foremost take care of our team and guests,” the statement said.

It was not immediately clear when each employee last was physically present at his or her store, Baeb said. He did not know when the company was made aware of each employee’s case.Baeb said the employees will be paid during their leave. –Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

2:35 p.m.: Lurie Children’s Hospital loans 10 ventilators to Northwestern Memorial for coronavirus patients

Lurie Children’s Hospital on Friday loaned 10 ventilators to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in an effort to help fight the coronavirus crisis in the city.

With COVID-19 hitting older populations more than children, officials at Lurie said the move was a way to help coronavirus patients without sacrificing care at their facility. The machines are much needed at Northwestern, where supply was running low.“

It’s a ‘Thank God’ moment,” said J.R. Pifer, the clinical manager of respiratory care at Northwestern Memorial. “We actually have a little bit of backup right now. It’s been really emotional. … This is pretty much a game-changer for us.”

Pifer said the loaned ventilators will help save lives because the machines were becoming “pretty scarce” at Northwestern.“This will allow us to care for patients we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” he said. Read more here. –Patrick M. O’Connell

Illinois needs thousands more ventilators than the federal government plans to give them, said Gov. J.B. Pritzker during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union show hosted Sunday morning by Jake Tapper.

Pritzker requested 4,000 ventilators from the federal government last Tuesday, and Vice President Mike Pence responded, saying Illinois only needed 1,400, according to the interview. On the show, Pritzker said Pence was looking at a model from the University of Washington that, while good, was not intended for resource allocation. He said Pence pulled from a central data point that didn’t account for worst-case scenarios, which actually indicated a need for “5- or 6- or 7,000 more” than what the federal government has given Illinois.

“We’re looking at all of the numbers and everybody is taking an educated guess because we really don’t know — this virus is unpredictable,” Pritzker said in the interview.

The state is looking “everywhere and anywhere across the world to get ventilators,” Pritzker said, expressing frustration about President Donald Trump’s deferred deployment of the Defense Protection Act, a point Pritzker has made numerous times. One of the companies deployed, General Motors, won’t have ventilators ready until May or June, which may be too late if the virus peaks in April in Illinois as predicted by some models the state is using.

“In the latter half of April when we think we might be peaking, there are no ventilators available,” he said. “New York does not look like it will be coming off its peak by the time we’re hitting peak so the idea of moving ventilators from New York to other places, I pray to God that’s true, but right now it doesn’t look like that will be true.” Read more here.

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Grace Wong

Positive tests for new coronavirus have increased by 21 to 335 cases in Lake County, according to the Indiana Department of Health’s daily report Sunday.

Porter County is now showing 59 cases, according to the state.

Eight deaths have been reported in Lake County and none in Porter County.

The state report Sunday morning also shows that Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, has the most cases with 1,760 and 37 deaths. To the north of Marion County, Hamilton County has 300 cases and five deaths, the report said. Read more here. — Post-Tribune staff

Saturday, April 4

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Saturday:

A man and woman were found dead inside a home in Will County in an apparent murder-suicide, police said Saturday.

According to the Will County Sheriff’s office, deputies discovered the bodies of 54-year-old Patrick Jesernik and 59-year-old Cheryl Schriefer inside a residence in the 400 block of Spruce Road in Lockport Township after responding to a welfare check Thursday evening.

Police said they were contacted by Jesernik’s parents, who requested the check because they had not heard from him.

According to family members, Jesernik had been scared that he and Schriefer had contracted COVID-19 and that Schriefer reportedly was having a hard time breathing, police said. Read more here. — Frank Vaisvilas

Thousands of poll workers have said they won’t work. Hundreds of voting locations have been consolidated. Tens of thousands of requests for mail-in absentee ballots are backlogged.

Wisconsin’s voting system is teetering under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic, but Tuesday’s election is still scheduled to go on as planned after Republican state legislative leaders on Saturday rejected the Democratic governor’s 11th hour call to postpone voting and a federal judge ruled against rescheduling it.Ballots will be cast even as Gov. Tony Evers has issued a “safer at home” order directing Wisconsinites only to venture outside for essential tasks such as seeking medical treatment, buying food and, apparently, voting.

“We are in an unprecedented moment, and the statutes and laws weren’t written with a situation like this in mind,” said Charles Franklin, a political science scholar and director of polling at the Marquette University Law School. “We have had a gigantic surge in request of absentee ballots — more than 1 million — and we have no idea at this moment how many of those will get sent out in time or how many people will show up in person on Tuesday to vote. This is uncharted water.”

For the last decade, Wisconsin’s state government has been dominated by a bitter partisan divide, but for weeks Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the Republicans in the state legislature had agreed on one thing – voters should head to the polls Tuesday.

That changed late Friday when Evers reversed course, saying he now opposed in-person voting on Tuesday and calling state lawmakers to Madison for an emergency legislative session late Saturday afternoon. The governor asked legislators to vote to shutter polling places, mail every voter in the state a ballot by May 19 and extend the deadline for local clerks to receive those ballots until May 26.

Evers’ proposal effectively would have delayed the election by more than a month.Republicans showed up on Saturday, gaveled the legislature into session and promptly refused to take up the governor’s proposal. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, slammed Evers for “flip-flopping” on the election, painting him as a “feckless” leader who “caves under political pressures from national liberal special interest groups.”

“Hundreds of thousands of workers are going to their jobs every day, serving in essential roles in our society,” the Republican leaders said in a statement. “There’s no question that an election is just as important as getting take-out food.”

One of the only recourses now left for Evers to block voters from crowding into a limited number of election sites on Tuesday would be to issue an emergency public health order to close all of Wisconsin’s polling places.

Barring any last minute changes, Wisconsin will soldier on at a time when 15 other states have either delayed their elections or switched them entirely to vote-by-mail with later deadlines. Read more here. — Bill Ruthhart

As Illinois surpasses 10,000 coronavirus cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago health commissioner urge residents to wear face masks outside their homes

Illinois now has recorded over 10,000 new coronavirus cases, a milestone in the pandemic that Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Saturday while estimating the spread of the disease will peak later this month.

The governor and Chicago’s health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, also called for people heading out of their homes to wear face masks as officials focus on slowing the virus.

“If you’ve been to the grocery store lately at any time other than three in the morning, you’re running into a fair number of people,” Pritzker said at his daily briefing on the outbreak. “There’s no need to take any risks. And by wearing a mask when you go to the grocery store, for example, you’re really protecting all the other people that are there, as much as you’re protecting yourself. In fact, more so.”

During her daily online Q-and-A session, Arwady said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation that people cover their faces while out in public is “just one additional piece” to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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“With or without a mask, I do not want you out,” Arwady said.

Arwady reminded residents that the CDC has asked people to use “cloth face coverings,” such as a scarf.

With more than 1,400 new confirmations across the state, Illinois has now surpassed 10,000 known cases of COVID-19, the state’s public health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Saturday. Illinois reported 1,453 new cases and 33 deaths on Saturday, Ezike said Saturday.

The new additions bring the total number of known coronavirus cases to 10,357 in 68 of Illinois’ 102 counties, Ezike said. There now have been 243 deaths attributed to the coronavirus, Ezike said.

There were 23 deaths in Cook County, three in Kane, two each in DuPage and Will and one each in Jackson, Kankakee and Lake Counties, the state health department reported. The age of those who died ranged from a Cook County man in his 20s to a DuPage County woman who was more than 100 years old, the department said.

“The number is sobering and reminds us that it’s critical that we all do our part,” Ezike said. “The more cases means the more hospitalizations. The more hospitalizations means more deaths.” — John Byrne, Madeline Buckley and Cecilia Reyes

DuPage County cases surpass 600 with 19 deaths, including 2 more residents of nursing homes

Two more people with the novel coronavirus have died in DuPage County, both residents of long-term care facilities in Carol Stream, officials said Saturday.

That brings the county’s total death toll to 19, 13 of which are associated with outbreaks at care facilities.

Of the two new deaths, one was a woman who was more than 100 years old, according to a press release from the DuPage County Health Department. The other was a man in his 70s. Both had underlying conditions.

DuPage County on Saturday reported 111 new cases of the viral infection since the day before, bringing the county’s total to 606, according to a press release from the DuPage County Health Department.

More than 10% of DuPage County’s total diagnosed COVID-19 cases are associated with outbreaks at at least eight long-term care facilities.

A total of 51 residents and staff have been sickened at the Chateau Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Willowbrook, according to the health department. Another 25 cases are attributed to outbreaks at seven other long-term care facilities, the department said. — Madeline Buckley

Illinois surpasses 10,000 known coronavirus cases: state public health director

With more than 1,400 new confirmations across the state, Illinois has now surpassed 10,000 known cases of COVID-19, the state’s public health director said Saturday.

Illinois saw 1,453 new cases and 33 deaths, Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Saturday. There now have been 243 deaths attributed to the new coronavirus, Ezike said.

“The number is sobering and reminds us that it’s critical that we all do our part,” Ezike said. “The more cases means the more hospitalizations. The more hospitalizations means more deaths.”

Chicago health chief says pets don’t seem to transmit virus, but be careful anyway

Chicago’s health chief on Saturday said pets don’t seem to be significant carriers and spreaders of the coronavirus, but urged people to keep their hands clean when touching animals or their toys or food.

In her daily online Q-and-A, Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said there have been isolated cases of pets that tested positive for COVID-19, in a few dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium. But by and large, “among all the other kinds of animals they’ve tested, they’ve not really seen it, and again, not thought to be a significant source of spread.”

So recommendations for dealing with household pets are much like the recommendations for living life during the pandemic, according to Arwady. “If you’re healthy, you can interact with your animals in the way you normally would,” she said. “But please, lots of hand washing. Hand washing before and after, hand washing what your pets are eating. Everybody needs to be paying more attention to hygiene, broadly.”

Still, as scientists try to learn more about the disease that’s sweeping the globe, Arwady said sick people should probably try not to be all up in their pets’ faces.

“If someone is sick, if possible, abundance of caution, to try to be not getting up close and personal with your pet at that time,” she said. “If someone else is able — not be kissing and up close, if someone else is available to feed it in that time. Again, it’s more just to be cautious as we learn more about the virus.” —John Byrne

Chicago public health commissioner says cloth face coverings ‘a good idea’

Chicago Public Health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the CDC’s recommendation that people cover their face while out in public is “just one additional piece” to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“With or without a mask, I do not want you out,” Arwady said, speaking to Chicagoans Saturday morning during her daily question and answer sessions through Facebook Live.

Arwady reminded residents that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has asked people to use “cloth face coverings,” such as a scarf.

Surgical masks and N95 respirators that are considered “critical supplies” should still be reserved for health care workers, she said. But other face coverings are OK, she said.

“I think its a good idea frankly, but I recognize not everyone has it yet,” she said, of using scarves or homemade cloth masks.

Arwady also said Chicago is starting to see the impact of the statewide stay at home order, but cautioned that the area has not yet reached its peak.

“We’re seeing the beginnings of some flattening,” she said. “We’re not as flat as we need to be yet.” — Madeline Buckley

2 employees at Walmart in Evergreen Park die after falling ill to the coronavirus

Two employees of a Walmart in Evergreen Park who were last in the store more than a week ago have died after contracting COVID-19, a Walmart representative confirmed Friday.

The store at 2500 W. 95th St., near Western Avenue, remains open to customers but will continue to undergo a deep cleaning, according to Walmart spokesman Payton McCormick.

“We are heartbroken to learn of the passing of two associates at our Evergreen Park store and we are mourning along with their families,” McCormick said in a statement. “While neither associate had been at the store in more than a week, we took action to reinforce our cleaning and sanitizing measures, which include a thorough deep cleaning of a key area of the store.”

He stated the Evergreen Park store had passed a third-party safety and environmental compliance assessment, and a health department inspection within the past week.

The company also is bringing in an outside company to further clean and sanitize the store, McCormick stated.

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“We will continue to assess the situation and take additional steps as needed,” he said. —Frank Vaisvilas

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Friday, April 3

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Friday:

Thursday, April 2

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Thursday:

Wednesday, April 1

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Wednesday:

Tuesday, March 31

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Monday, March 30

Here’s a recap of coronavirus updates in the Chicago area and Illinois from Monday:

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