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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is pushing ahead with plans for businesses to gradually reopen Wednesday, though how much of Chicago actually will open is far from certain.

Local restaurants can reopen with outside dining, retail shops can welcome customers, salons and barbershops can open up and other businesses such as hotels can start to operate. But all of the businesses will be subject to reduced capacities and tight rules designed to stop COVID-19 cases from spiking. And some may not reopen because of damage done during unrest in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, state officials Tuesday announced 1,614 new known cases of COVID-19 and 113 additional fatalities in the last 24 hours. The new figures come a day after the state reported its lowest single-day totals for new infections and deaths in nearly two months. The statewide daily death toll had dropped for five consecutive days before Tuesday’s new numbers were released.

Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

8:58 a.m.: ‘They let us down’: How the CDC fell short in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Long considered the world’s premier public health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has fallen short in its response to the most urgent public health emergency in its 74-year history — a pathogen that has penetrated much of the nation, killing more than 100,000 people.

The agency made early missteps in testing and failed to provide timely counts of infections and deaths, hindered by aging technology across the U.S. health system. It hesitated in absorbing the lessons of other countries, and struggled to calibrate the need to move fast and its own imperative to be cautious. Its communications were sometimes confusing, sowing mistrust, even as it clashed with the White House and President Donald Trump.

“They let us down,” said Dr. Stephane Otmezguine, an anesthesiologist who treated coronavirus patients in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The agency issued a statement saying it was “providing the best, most current data and scientific understanding we have.”

But a New York Times review of thousands of emails, and interviews with more than 100 state and federal officials, public health experts, CDC employees and medical workers, documents how the COVID-19 pandemic shook longstanding confidence in the agency and its leader, Dr. Robert R. Redfield. These are some of the key findings. Read more here. —The New York Times

7:20 a.m.: Unions, activists to call on Lightfoot to use city workers instead of private contractors for contact tracing

A group of activists, elected officials and unions were expected Wednesday to call on Mayor Lori Lightfoot to hire city health workers to do COVID-19 contact tracing instead of using contractors/

The group, including the head of the NAACP South Side Chapter, the head of the Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600 and other community organizations and elected officials were scheduled to hold an online news conference Wednesday morning. Contact tracing by health officials works to determine who a person infected with a disease may have been in contact with, and allows health officials to isolate anyone who may have been infected, to try to slow the spread of a disease.

The groups were expected to call on Lightfoot to hire health workers for contact tracing to “replace the 1,500 public health nurses and workers lost since 1990,” according to a news release. They also were expected to ask the city to work with community groups rather than private contractors and private hospitals.

The groups say that the current plan for contact tracing won’t have enough transparency, because it will be run by a private contractor. —Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: After losing husband and both parents within weeks to COVID-19, suburban woman struggles with the unfathomable

When Mayra Velazquez dropped her husband, Saul, off at a hospital near their home in the northwest suburbs, she didn’t realize it would be the last time she would be with “the love of my life.”

But COVID-19 was not done with the Hanover Park family. In the days that followed, Velazquez would be forced to drop off both of her parents outside the hospital. Neither survived.

In her first public comments after an unimaginable loss, Mayra Velazquez, 37, said she hopes it will serve as a cautionary tale for others to heed public safety guidelines, especially as Illinois has begun to slowly re-open. Read more here. —Christy Gutowski

6 a.m.: As unrest jeopardizes some reopening plans, Chicago black chefs have mixed emotions but remain focused on pain behind protests

After Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut off access to Chicago’s downtown last weekend, protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis — and resulting civil unrest — spilled into neighborhoods, including many predominantly black neighborhoods on the city’s South Side.

At Virtue in Hyde Park, chef/owner Erick Williams posted a sign in the restaurant’s window: “PLEASE DON’T, BLACK OWNED” read the most visible text. Williams said the events of this past weekend “totally affected” Virtue’s plans to reopen outdoor dining with the rest of the city Wednesday, after Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the go-ahead Tuesday morning, but not because of any property damage. Williams is concerned about his team.

“Our staff is predominantly African American, and it would be irresponsible for me to have young men and women who are emotionally wired come into the building with the expectation of providing service, and risking their safety to get them here, because now it’s even more difficult to get to and from (work),” he said.

Having to make such a consideration underscores the same dangers of being black as the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other police brutality victims. As Chicago continued to clean up from the fallout of Floyd’s killing, black chefs and restaurant owners spoke about the need to manage not only their operations, but also the safety of their staffs and their communities. Read more here. —Adam Lukach

6 a.m.: Moving during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here’s how to prepare for virtual tours and what questions to ask.

Finding a place to live is never easy. Finding a place to live in the midst of a global pandemic might seem almost impossible.

Since the state’s stay-at-home order began, real estate agents have gotten creative by virtually showing properties to prospective buyers and renters, using recorded videos, 3D tours and live video chats to give people as clear a picture as possible without them stepping foot inside a home.

Knowing the right questions to ask during a tour and inquiring about coronavirus-prompted special terms of a deal can make it easier to come to a decision — and provide peace of mind for the most thorough of home hunters. Read more here. —Hannah Herrera Greenspan

 

 



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