Coronavirus in Illinois updates: COVID-19 death toll passes 7,000 as Chicago’s Fourth of July kicks off without firework shows, parades, open beaches

Chicago News USA

As the nation set a single-day record for new coronavirus cases, Chicago is celebrating the Fourth of July weekend without firework shows and parades. Beaches and pools are closed. And while parks are open, the city says social distance guidelines will be enforced.

The police department’s bike and marine units, along with the fire department’s air-sea rescue unit, are patrolling the lakefront through the long weekend, “with boats in the water and the dive teams and helicopters ready to respond to any waterway emergency,” the city said in a pre-holiday release.

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Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park, the Chicago Riverwalk, the Lakefront Trail and the 606 Trail are open, along with most neighborhood parks “in accordance with Chicago Department of Public Health guidance for the safety of residents and visitors alike.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a sharp warning for bars and restaurants that do not follow the guidelines. “If you squander this opportunity, we will shut you down and you will not reopen anytime soon,” the mayor told holders of liquor licenses during a conference call this week.

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On Saturday, Illinois officials reported 868 new known cases of COVID-19 and 10 additional confirmed deaths were reported, bringing the total number of known cases to 146,612 and the confirmed death toll to 7,014.

Here’s what’s happening this weekend regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

4:29 p.m.: 10 additional deaths from COVID-19, lowest daily total of deaths since the end of March

Illinois announced 10 new deaths from COVID-19 Saturday, the lowest daily total of deaths since March 30.

Comparing March 30 with July 4 shows the outbreak at two distinct moments. On March 30, the state announced 461 new confirmed coronavirus cases. Saturday, Illinois announced 862.

True, that is nearly twice as many cases, but on March 30 the state only announced the results of 2,684 tests. That means on March 30, 17.2% of those tests came back positive. On Saturday, the state announced 33,836 test results — a positivity rate of 2.6. If you applied the March 30 positivity rate to the number of tests released Saturday that would mean more than 5,800 new cases.

—Chicago Tribune staff

4:26 p.m.: Evanston Independence Day celebration one of many to go online

After 98 years of top-ranked July Fourth traditions, the city of Evanston celebrated this year in an entirely new, virtual manner because of COVID-19.

Themed “Community United Cannot Be Divided,” the day’s celebration featured a 20-minute online behind-the-scenes look at the work that normally goes into the city’s Independence Day, a 45-minute virtual parade showing old videos of various organizations and a pre-recorded concert and fireworks show to conclude festivities at night.

Evanston’s usual Independence Day sights, including about 15,000 people gathered to watch the city’s parade on the streets, were replaced with about 120 online spectators watching pre-recorded visuals of past celebrations from home.

”Since our organization has been active now for 99 years, we’re very good at doing a traditional celebration,” said Bruce Baumberger, Trustee Emeritus of Evanston’s Fourth of July Association. “… The virtual celebration was something new to us.”

Evanston’s budget was down about $20 million due to COVID-19, which led the association to look into other cost-efficient ways of hosting a celebration, Baumberger said. What normally took hundreds of volunteers to plan needed only “a few people mastering the technology” with the group’s updated plans this year.

”It’s been a great opportunity to build on and maximize this really great opportunity out of adversity,” Baumberger said.

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Viewers from across America interacted with each other in the comments section and remarked on the various groups featured in Evanston’s virtual parade. “Born in the USA,” “I’m Proud to be an American” and other patriotic songs were synchronized with the show, which at one point showed a virtual rendition of the “National Emblem March,” a standard for military marching bands that salutes the American Flag.

”Love seeing this. Usually [I travel to] Evanston for the Fourth of July,” one Facebook commenter wrote during the morning livestream. “I am missing this for so many reasons!”

—Kelli Smith

4:06 p.m.: Farrkhan delivers online speech regarding coronavirus

Minister Louis Farrakhan deliver a speech Saturday to address the current state of America, mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest people of color are dealing with after the killing of George Floyd captured on video.

Farrakhan, the leader of the Chicago-based Nation of Islam, started the speech, titled the Criterion, by mentioning the death of one of the Nation of Islam’s student ministers, Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, who died from COVID-19 in April at age 53.

”He was a martyr like all who have lost their lives in this nation, Black and White and the colors in between,” Farrakhan said.

Later in the speech, he said the privileged in our country are being faced with a reckoning for their wrongdoing.

He also warned the Black community to stand clear of those oppressing them, so they won’t be touched by God’s wrath.

He encouraged everyone to remain decent during these times. At one point he told those listening to wear their masks and look into other therapies to treat the disease. He also called upon the world’s scientist and doctors to work together to solve COVID-19.

In closing he thanked the Rev. Michael Pfleger, who he called his brother, and prayed to God for his protection as he continues to fight injustice in the Black community. He prayed for peace for all Americans and the world suffering from COVID-19.

—Deanese Williams-Harris

12:46 p.m.: Chosen Few DJs move annual House music fest online because of coronavirus

You can’t stop the House continues to be true in 2020 after the Chosen Few DJs moved their annual musical celebration online to bring the disco to Chicago on July Fourth.

The Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic has remained a family event over the years, and when COVID-19 struck, its organizers decided to continue the peaceful tradition, which draws hundreds of thousands to Jackson Park, to a virtual celebration.

At noon, the celebration was scheduled to kick off with guest DJ Deon Cole, an actor and comedian who’s a South Side native. The annual House music festival’s virtual party will continue until 9 p.m. and include the Chosen Few DJs, and guest singer and song writer Carla Prather and Byron Stingley of Ten City, officials said.

On the turntables throughout the day will be the Chosen Few DJs, Wayne Williams, Jesse Sanders, Tony Hatchett, Alan King, Terry Hunter and Mike Dunn.

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—Deanese Williams-Harris

8:45 a.m.: Illinois opening more centers to support small businesses hit by coronavirus pandemic

Seven new state-run centers will open this summer to support Illinois small businesses.

The Small Business Development Centers set to launch in July or already opened are in Chicago, Elgin and Joliet. The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development said the $11.5 million effort brings the total of centers statewide to 42.

“With many Illinois businesses currently facing unprecedented burdens as a result of COVID-19 and recent civil unrest, our SBDC community partners can be a lifeline for businesses working to reopen safely,” said Michael Negron, acting director of the department.

Business owners can get one-on-one confidential advice and assistance at the centers on many topics including education, training and business planning.

The centers also have helped small businesses seek financial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic, which forced many to close or dramatically change day-to-day operations. — Associated Press

More than 700 nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet went on strike Saturday morning, after the nurses union and hospital failed to reach a contract agreement.

The nurses at Amita Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet have been working without a contract since May 9 and have been in negotiations since February.

The nurses’ union, the Illinois Nurses Association, has not said how long the strike would last. The union said in a news release Saturday nurses would picket outside the hospital at 333 Madison St., in Joliet.

Amita Health, which has 19 hospitals in Illinois, has contracted with an agency to provide temporary nurses, according to spokesman Tim Nelson. Read the full story here. — Lisa Schencker

Casinos that fail to follow guidelines aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus could be disciplined, including loss of their license, Illinois regulators warned this week.

Illinois allowed video gaming businesses and casinos to begin reopening on Wednesday. Marcus Fruchter, administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board, reminded operators in a message released Thursday that they must follow state protocols for operating during the pandemic.

Requirements include face coverings in gaming establishments and casinos and social distancing along with regular hand washing, Fruchter said.

Failing to comply could result in discipline, including revoked licenses, he said.

“More importantly, disregard of such preventative measures and requirements could contribute to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Illinois and another potential suspension of gaming operations,” he said. “That is a result nobody wants. We urge you not to let it happen.” — Associated Press

3:08 p.m.: Chicago will rely largely on signs along highways and at airports as it orders self-quarantine for people who visit states where COVID-19 is surging

Chicago health officials said Friday they have no plan for enforcing the city’s abrupt quarantine order for people arriving from states where coronavirus cases are surging, but will rely largely on signs posted along highways and at the two airports.

“We do not have a plan to, for example, look for out-of-state license plates and pull people over,” the city’s public health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady, said at a news conference. “We do not have a plan to create a list of individuals who are traveling and try to track them down.”

Arwady said the city’s main goal with the order is to emphasize travel risks during the pandemic. She said the city is also working with airlines to notify people booking Chicago destinations. “We want people to be thinking twice about whether now is a good time to travel,” she said.

2:45 p.m.: 868 new known COVID-19 cases, 18 additional deaths

The state announced 18 new deaths Friday from COVID-19, bringing the total toll of the virus to 7,005. Also announced were 868 new confirmed cases and the results of 34,318 tests.

In passing the 7,000 mark, Illinois has the fourth most deaths for any state behind New York with 31,836, New Jersey with 15,164 and Massachusetts with 8,132, according to New York Times data.

In Illinois, 2,628 of those deaths, a little over a third, were in Chicago, with 1,990 more in suburban Cook County. Among the collar counties, DuPage and Lake have the most coronavirus deaths with 474 and 421, respectively. Will is lower with 320, as are Kane with 274 and McHenry with 97. There have been coronavirus deaths in 59 of the state’s 102 counties.

—Chicago Tribune staff

1:43 p.m.: Day after judge declares his executive orders void, Gov. J.B. Pritzker urges restaurants, bars to keep following safety guidelines

A day after a southern Illinois judge ruled that Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s executive orders aimed at slowing the spread of the new coronavirus are void, the Democratic governor and the state’s top health official are urging restaurants and bars and their customers to continue following safety guidelines heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

“The virus is not taking the holiday weekend off, and neither can we. Letting our guard down now would fly in the face of the progress we’ve made over many months,” Pritzker said in a statement Friday. “We have seen that mitigation measures have worked in our state and we’ve seen too many other states rapidly lose ground in the fight against the virus.”

Those measures include wearing masks in public, maintaining proper social distancing and abiding by capacity limits in restaurants, bars and other businesses.

1:20 p.m.: In a Chicago first, the Shedd Aquarium reopens to visitors. What’s different with COVID-19 practices in place?

The Shedd Aquarium officially reopened to the public Friday morning, admitting paying visitors for the first time since March after two days of members-only previews, the first of Chicago’s major museums to do so. Elsewhere on the Museum Campus, the Adler Planetarium and Field Museum have not announced reopening dates.

Inside its marble interior, the glass of the Shedd’s Caribbean Reef tank gleamed, signs and staff members directed foot traffic and the many varied species of fish and aquatic life swam, wide eyed and utterly aloof to visitors, as they always seem to do. Returning museum-goers will notice a one big if unsurprising difference from before — the lack of crowds and noise. For many Chicagoans and suburbanites with families, the metaphor of choice for sweaty overcrowding isn’t a train car, it’s summer at the Shedd.

8 a.m.: Zanies comedy clubs are reopening in Chicago, Rosemont

Call this a COVID-19 era first for comedy in Chicago. The two remaining Chicago-area Zanies comedy clubs have announced they will reopen in July — the downtown Zanies (1548 N. Wells St.; 312-337-4027) and Zanies in Rosemont (5437 Park Place at Parkway Bank Park; 847-813-0484).

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Zanies in Chicago opens July 10 with headliner Vince Carone, who released the comedy album “Vincectomy” in March. Plus Ben Noble and host Jayson Cross. 9 p.m. July 10; 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. July 11; $30 plus a 2 item minimum. The following weekend will be Adam Burke with Sonal Aggarwahl July 17-18.

Zanies in Rosemont opens July 17 with headliner and Zanies favorite Pat McGann, who will debut a comedy special July 28 presented by Sebastian Maniscalso. (“When’s Mom Gonna Be Home?” will be via Comedy Dynamics.) McGann is performing July 17 at 9p.m., July 18 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $35 plus a 2 item minimum.

Tickets must be purchased in advance at www.zanies.com (no tickets at the door). Only 50 tickets will be sold for each show.

In addition, there will be six feet of separation between tables and the club will be disinfected between performances. The clubs are going paperless and cashless, with extra cleaning of barware health screenings for staff. Masks are required for entry and while patrons are not at their seats. More information about upcoming schedules and additional precautions at www.zanies.com.

—Doug George

7:45 a.m.: Bars and restaurants find themselves at coronavirus crossroads for July Fourth: ‘It’s going to be a tough weekend’

Ahead of a summer holiday weekend that, in normal times, would mean packed patios and crowded bars, restaurant and bar owners are facing fines of up to $10,000 if COVID-19 restrictions are flouted.

It’s a tough line to toe for businesses just barely scraping by after nearly three months of being closed due to the pandemic. In Pilsen, La Vaca Margarita Bar has been open for outdoor dining for a few weeks, converting its parking lot into a patio with tables spaced 6 feet apart.

Read more here. —Josh Noel, Louisa Chu, Adam Lukach, Gregory Pratt and Grace Wong

7:30 a.m.: South Side hospital failed to properly triage a pregnant woman who later died, Illinois regulators find

A pregnant woman died after Roseland Community Hospital failed to triage her upon arrival and conduct a medical screening exam, the state health department found in a recent investigation.

The woman, who was 30 weeks pregnant, died at the South Side hospital in May after complaining of abdominal pain, dehydration and general malaise after she arrived at the hospital by ambulance. Her triage note was marked 2:54 p.m. — more than three hours after she arrived.

The Illinois Department of Public Health found Roseland to be out of compliance on the requirement that hospitals meet the emergency needs of patients “in accordance with acceptable standards of practice.”

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