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The Spin: Nation, Illinois, Cook County reach grim coronavirus death milestones |

Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Today was a day of grim milestones.

We’re just five months into 2020 and already the Cook County medical examiner’s office has surpassed its 2019 caseload, officials announced. The state of Illinois topped 5,000 coronavirus deaths, and the nation eclipsed 100,000 fatalities from the disease.

Meanwhile, most of the state is on track to advance to the next stage of reopening later this week. Chicago won’t reach its next stage until some time in early June, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration has released details about what the city’s next phase will look like.

And, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was in downstate East St. Louis today and weighed in on recent racially charged incidents, including the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis by a white police officer.

Welcome to The Spin.

Enrique Barrios paints a planter box at Bar Takito in Chicago on May 27, 2020. Plants will be added Friday morning as the bar gets ready for outdoor dining when the City of Chicago loosens restrictions.
Enrique Barrios paints a planter box at Bar Takito in Chicago on May 27, 2020. Plants will be added Friday morning as the bar gets ready for outdoor dining when the City of Chicago loosens restrictions.(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

From the Tribune’s John Byrne and Dan Petrella, Mayor Lori Lightfoot “announced industry-specific rules for the reopening of restaurants, child care facilities and some industries as part of phase three of Chicago’s reemergence from the coronavirus stay-at-home order.”

In a separate story, Byrne noted: “With desperate Chicago restaurants set to be allowed to host outdoor diners within weeks under the next phase of (the mayor’s) coronavirus reopening plan, city officials are still trying to come up with a process so many of them can legally do so.”

Though Lightfoot has said she expects Chicago to enter the next step of reopening in early June, she has not yet announced a date. "Her guidelines follow Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s release of statewide guidelines as the rest of the state outside Chicago is on pace to advance to phase three on Friday. Lightfoot has the authority to set stricter rules for Chicago than Pritzker’s statewide framework, but she can’t enact looser ones.

“Not included in the plan Lightfoot’s administration released late Tuesday are guidelines for reopening sporting events, bars, religious services, outdoor performances, summer programs and youth activities, the lakefront and museums. Those standards ‘will be available later in phase three when those entities are predicted to begin reopening,’ according to the release,” Byrne and Petrella note.

Meanwhile, Lightfoot’s administration is planning to create several blocks of shared streets on the North and Northwest sides to give people more room to walk and bike while social distancing, according to published reports.

The stretches of roadway identified are Cortland Avenue from Ridgeway Avenue to Rockwell Avenue in the Logan Square neighborhood; Glenwood Avenue from Carmen Avenue to Devon Avenue, which runs through Edgewater and Uptown; Leland Avenue from Lincoln Avenue to Sheridan Road in Lincoln Square and Uptown; Palmer Street from Long Avenue to Kedzie Boulevard, in Hanson Park and Logan Square; Roscoe Street between Narragansett Avenue and Long Avenue, at the border of Portage Park and Belmont Cragin; and Wood Street from Cortland Street to North Avenue, in Bucktown.

The city’s plan was first reported by the transit website Streetsblog Chicago. It was reported second by Block Club. Read the Tribune’s story here.

This storefront in Britt, Iowa, shown on April 10, 2018, is the listed address for Hobo K-9 Rescue in public records, but a sign on the door identifies it only as the for-profit J.A.K.'S Puppies. An employee told reporters no dogs are kept in the office.
This storefront in Britt, Iowa, shown on April 10, 2018, is the listed address for Hobo K-9 Rescue in public records, but a sign on the door identifies it only as the for-profit J.A.K.'S Puppies. An employee told reporters no dogs are kept in the office.(John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)

"A Chicago alderman is trying to close a loophole in the city’s anti-puppy mill ordinance that has allowed some pet shops to sell pricey designer dogs from sham rescues tied to commercial dealers, a furtive practice exposed by a Tribune investigation.

"Under a revamped ordinance introduced earlier this month by North Side Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, stores only would be permitted to sell shelter dogs at a nominal fee. The price restrictions would make it harder for brokers and breeders to exploit the law, as some have done in recent years.

“'I do have to give them credit for creativity,' Hopkins told the Tribune. ‘In hindsight, of course, there’s so much profit to be made and there’s so many people involved in this shady industry, they were not going to go away quietly.’

"Chicago was among the first major cities in the country to pass a law that permitted pet shops to sell dogs only if they were obtained from government pounds, humane societies or rescue shelters.

“The law went into effect in 2015 with the aim to prevent businesses from sourcing dogs from so-called puppy mills, large-scale breeding facilities often criticized for poor conditions and mistreatment of the mother dogs. Another goal of the city law was to reduce the number of euthanized shelter dogs.” Read the rest of the story from Christy Gutowski and Stacy St. Clair here.

People gather and pray around a makeshift memorial on May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis, near the site where George Floyd was taken into police custody on Monday and later died.
People gather and pray around a makeshift memorial on May 27, 2020, in Minneapolis, near the site where George Floyd was taken into police custody on Monday and later died.(Jim Mone/AP)

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday weighed in on the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck, and a racially charged incident in New York City’s Central Park where a white woman called the police on a black man after he asked her to leash her dog.

“Events that echo what we have seen happen to too many people, too many times in too many places, and yet we as people have not yet found the humanity to stop these vile, horrid acts from happening, to truly contend with the racism that permeates our society, and then to root it out,” Pritzker said at his daily news briefing on Wednesday, in East St. Louis. “As a white elected official, I feel a special responsibility to speak out today and to own the obligation that I have to shape public policy in a more equitable direction. Being black in America cannot be a death sentence, but it is. In some ways, it is. And it’s dangerous to pretend otherwise. We must actually do something to change that reality, to make it so men like George Floyd are not killed on a street corner, gasping for air in broad daylight.”

Pritzker said the investigation into Floyd’s death “requires all possible accountability and transparency.”

“This moment must become a call to action for Illinoisans, for Americans, to see the humanity in every person no matter their race, their religion, their socioeconomic status or their sexual orientation,” Pritzker said. “To George Floyd, to his family, may his memory be for a blessing.” — (Jamie Munks)

More about the George Floyd story here.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle removes her mask before she speaks at a news conference outside of the Cook County medical examiner's office in Chicago on May 27, 2020, as Cook County Senior Medical Officer Dr. Kiran Joshi looks on.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle removes her mask before she speaks at a news conference outside of the Cook County medical examiner's office in Chicago on May 27, 2020, as Cook County Senior Medical Officer Dr. Kiran Joshi looks on.(Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune)

The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus surpassed 100,000 on Wednesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

This news came as Illinois officials on Wednesday announced 1,111 new known cases of COVID-19 and 160 additional deaths, pushing the statewide known case count to 114,306 total cases since the pandemic began. The statewide death toll now stands at 5,083.

In ‘grim milestone,’ Cook County medical examiner’s office tops 2019 caseload with more than 6,600 cases this year — over half from the coronavirus: The toll of Cook County’s death investigations during the first five months of 2020 already has surpassed last year’s total medical examiner’s caseload as the region continues to fight the deadly coronavirus, officials announced on Wednesday.

From the start of the year until now, the Cook County medical examiner’s office has ruled on more than 6,600 deaths, over half of whom were COVID-19 patients, board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a Wednesday news conference. Read the rest of the story from Alice Yin here.

State Comptroller Susana Mendoza talks with colleagues before the governor's budget address to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate, at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Feb. 19, 2020.
State Comptroller Susana Mendoza talks with colleagues before the governor's budget address to a joint session of the Illinois House and Senate, at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield on Feb. 19, 2020.(Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Seeking to put to rest a Republican talking point about the $40 billion state spending plan lawmakers approved over Memorial Day weekend, Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza released a video Wednesday making clear that legislators won’t be getting raises in the budget year that begins July 1.

As debate over the budget stretched into the early morning hours Sunday, some Republicans in the Illinois House and Senate objected to the fact that the legislation didn’t include language blocking the automatic cost-of-living raises they’re granted in state law. The conservative Illinois Policy Institute also publicized that fact while lawmakers spent their special session cobbling together a plan for a budget decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.



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