Also on Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot added Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota and Nebraska to the city’s self-quarantine list. People entering the city from those states are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. There are now 22 states on the self-quarantine list.
Here’s what’s happening Tuesday regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
6:04 p.m.: US officials say Russian intelligence services are spreading disinformation about the coronavirus
Russian intelligence services are using a trio of English-language websites to spread disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, seeking to exploit a crisis that America is struggling to contain ahead of the presidential election in November, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Two Russians who have held senior roles in Moscow’s military intelligence service known as the GRU have been identified as responsible for a disinformation effort reaching American and Western audiences, U.S. government officials said. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
The information had previously been classified, but officials said it had been downgraded so they could more freely discuss it. Officials said they were doing so now to sound the alarm about the particular websites and to expose what they say is a clear link between the sites and Russian intelligence.
5:47 p.m.: With ‘no perfect solution’ in sight, schools in Arlington Heights and Plainfield are latest to reject in-person classes this fall in favor of remote learning only
As the COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of ceasing, school district officials in Arlington Heights and Plainfield said this week that their schools will be offering strictly remote learning in the fall.
While officials at Arlington Heights School District 25 had unveiled a preliminary plan earlier this summer that would have given families the choice between in-person or online learning, in a Monday letter to parents Superintendent Lori Bein said officials had reversed course.
“There is no perfect solution for how to provide in-person instruction while also providing a 100% guarantee of safety for all students and staff,” Bein said. “The only thing that I know for certain is that plans will need to be flexible as there could be many changes throughout the school year.”
5:07 p.m.: How to stay calm, optimistic, even happy during the COVID-19 pandemic — Tribune readers share what works for them
Last week, we asked you to share the one thing that has provided joy in your life amidst the confusion and uncertainty of the coronavirus. You responded with simple yet meaningful items and activities that spark creativity, love and the desire to help other people.
4:25 p.m.: Gary will close Marquette Park Beach starting Wednesday, Mayor Jerome Prince said.
Concerned about COVID-19′s spread, Prince said the beach will be closed for at least two weeks. The park’s shelters and parking lots will also be closed, he said.
Gary cops will be patrolling the beach and kicking off anyone there, Prince said. Marquette Park will still be open for recreation as long as people are keeping apart, he said.
“We continue to see almost daily double-digit increases in our new COVID-19 positive cases in Gary,” Prince said. “We also must ease the logistical strains on our public safety teams and our beach neighborhoods.”
Gary has seen 63 virus deaths and 1,047 positive cases, spokesman Mike Gonzalez said.
4:14 p.m.: Berghoff closes temporarily, a month after reopening, blaming pandemic economic challenges
The Berghoff Restaurant, a historic German restaurant downtown, and Adams Street Brewery, its adjoining brewery, have temporarily closed, starting Tuesday, July 28. The Berghoff Cafe at O’Hare will remain open.
This decision was strictly a business one, according to a recording on the Berghoff’s main telephone line. No employee has tested positive for COVID-19 nor have the restaurants been cited for violating any COVID-19 policies or procedures.
Colleen Silk, brand manager, blamed the lack of customers downtown. In an email, she said that tourism in the Loop is down 68%, if not more, from last year and office buildings are still mostly closed. Since the restaurants re-opened June 30, they have seen an average of 15 to 20 customers a day, which is more than a 90% decrease since last year.
“So we may hopefully reopen in the near future, and to save what capital is left, the family decided it is best to close our doors for the time being,” she wrote. “It was not a decision they made lightly and (they) contemplated over this extensively beforehand.”
3:57 p.m.: Plan to slash $600 unemployment boost could mean big delays in jobless benefits, states warn
A Republican proposal to slash the $600 weekly benefit boost for those left jobless because of the coronavirus shutdown could result in weeks or even months of delayed payments in some states.
Older computer systems that took weeks to set up for the initial federal unemployment enhancement would need to be reprogrammed again twice under the GOP plan.
In Florida, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, said the state has not even gotten the original supplemental benefit to everyone entitled to it.
“So the idea of changing the current process that has taken us months to put into place, that is still not even perfect, is a scary thought,” she said. “These changes, whatever they end up being, are going to create more bureaucratic layers for people to get the relief they need. Meanwhile, we have bills to pay, we have to put food on the table, we have medical expenses and a lot of people are suffering.”
How to handle unemployment is a fiercely contested part of the debate as Congress negotiates the latest relief legislation.
Democrats want to bring back the federally funded $600-a-week unemployment bonus that is expiring, saying it’s a way to keep families and the economy afloat in a time when there are far more people out of work than jobs available.
Republicans argue the current amount is so high that it encourages people to remain on unemployment. They want to reduce it in two steps: First, by cutting the benefit by two-thirds — to $200 a week through September. Then they want to switch that flat rate to a percentage in which the unemployed would receive benefits equal to no more than 70% of their previous incomes in November and December.
The debate isn’t only about the economy and ideology. It’s also about what’s doable technologically, especially on software many states use that dates to the 1970s.
2:58 p.m.: Aldermen, advocacy groups call on City Council to pass ordinance to move medically vulnerable people out of shelters and jails
A coalition of groups voiced their support Tuesday for an ordinance sitting in the Chicago City Council’s housing committee that would prioritize finding housing for medically vulnerable populations living in group living facilities such as shelters and jails during a pandemic like COVID-19.
The ordinance would amend existing housing regulations and is sponsored by Ald. Chris Taliaferro, 29th, and Ald. Walter Burnett Jr., 27th. It follows earlier reports about widespread COVID-19 cases in group settings such as homeless shelters, which health officials have called some of the most challenging outbreaks to stop.
“It’s unfathomable that we sit on unoccupied, ready-to-move-in homes while some are living on the street, and while some are even living in congregate shelters during a pandemic,” Taliaferro said during a Tuesday news briefing.
1:50 p.m.: Democrats, Republicans are far apart as coronavirus aid talks intensify
Negotiations launched, the differences over the next coronavirus aid package are vast, a gulf between Democrats’ $3 trillion proposal and Republicans $1 trillion counteroffer, with millions of Americans’ jobless benefits, school reopenings and eviction protections at stake.
As top White House negotiators return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday the leverage is apparent: They are meeting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Republicans are so deeply divided over the prospect of big government spending it’s leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with a weakened hand.
It’s unclear whether any agreement can be reached between Congress and President Donald Trump before Friday’s deadline for expiring aid.
“We cannot afford to fail,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said as the chamber opened.
The outcome will be a defining one for the president and the parties heading into the November election as an uneasy nation is watching and waiting for Washington to bring some end to the health crisis and devastating economic fallout.
12:45 p.m.: Cubs’ Jon Lester voices his concerns about the Marlins’ COVID-19 outbreak: ‘It’s a little scary. You have to trust in this process and trust in the protocols.’
While COVID-19 hovered around baseball in the wake of the Miami Marlins’ multiple positive tests, Chicago Cubs left hander Jon Lester maintained his focus Monday night in pitching five no-hit innings in his 2020 debut.
After the Cubs held on for an 8-7 win over the Reds, Lester acknowledged the efforts of his teammates to follow the new health and safety protocols could go for naught if more teams are hit as hard as the Marlins.
“It raises questions,” Lester said late Monday night. “We’re all concerned about safety and the protocols. We have to continue to trust in what we’re doing, and hopefully we’re doing the right thing.”
Lester, 36, reluctantly used the world “bubble” in stressing how the Cubs’ traveling party must continue to contain themselves.
“As long as we can continue to get negative tests, obviously it’s good for us,” Lester said. “On the other hand, you don’t want to see anybody get sick or have to deal with this thing.
“It’s a little scary. You have to trust in this process and trust in the protocols that we have in place.”
12:20 p.m.: Study finds 6 COVID-19 ‘symptom clusters’ that may inform clinicians about the severity of cases
The study identifies six “symptom clusters,” or subtypes, of COVID-19:
Subtype 1, “flu-like with no fever”: headache, loss of smell, muscle pain, cough, sore throat and chest pain.
Subtype 2, “flu-like with fever”: fever and loss of appetite in addition to headache, loss of smell, cough, sore throat and hoarseness.
Subtype 3, “gastrointestinal”: diarrhea and loss of appetite, no cough, headache, loss of smell, sore throat and chest pain.
Subtype 4, “severe level one, fatigue”: fatigue in addition to headache, loss of smell, cough, fever, hoarseness and chest pain.
Subtype 5, “severe level two, confusion”: confusion in addition to headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue and muscle pain.
Subtype 6, “severe level three, abdominal and respiratory”: shortness of breath, diarrhea and abdominal pain in addition to headache, loss of smell, loss of appetite, cough, fever, hoarseness, sore throat, chest pain, fatigue, confusion and muscle pain.
11:45 a.m.: After heavy COVID-19 toll on Illinois nursing homes, top regulators depart state agency
With thousands of COVID-19 deaths linked to Illinois nursing homes, two top regulators are now gone from a state agency criticized at times for its oversight of the facilities during the pandemic.
The Pritzker administration confirmed Tuesday that two top staffers at the Illinois Department of Public Health — Debra Bryars and Aimee Isham — departed last week.
Agency spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said Bryars “left” July 20 while Isham began a leave that same day. She did not elaborate on reasons for the departures, saying she was “not able to discuss personnel information.” The departures were first reported by WBEZ.
A Tribune investigation early in the pandemic found a high percentage of Illinois nursing homes had been cited for poor infection control practices, prompting advocates to warn that the state needed to aggressively monitor and fight the virus.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and top leaders have repeatedly said their swift actions limited the virus’ spread and saved lives. Yet the agency’s efforts have at times been broadly criticized as too timid and uncoordinated. Facilities complained they needed help getting more staff and protective gear as infections swept through hundreds of facilities.
11:30 a.m.: Bottled Blonde, controversial River North bar, closed permanently by coronavirus, but not violations
Bottled Blonde, the bar in the River North neighborhood of Chicago better known for its legal drama than pizza, closed permanently on Monday due to the coronavirus, but not COVID-19 violations.
“Yesterday, Bottled Blonde surrendered their business licenses, permanently closing the River North bar after a series of serious nuisance conditions dating back to 2017,” read a statement from the city’s department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection. “The establishment has a history of egregious license violations, including over-occupancy, noise violations, public urination, vomiting and other problematic conditions that have had a serious impact on neighbors and the surrounding community. The City is pleased that yesterday’s action will end three years of legal proceedings with the permanent closure of this problem business.”
The bar had not received any COVID-19 related citations, wrote the department spokesperson. The city had conducted an investigation earlier this month, but did not find any COVID-19 violations at that time.
Bottled Blonde, opened in November 2015, was accused of a racist dress code and allegations of operating in violation of its liquor license, as well as rowdy patrons. In 2017, its business license was revoked, but the revocation was stayed. That revocation was removed last October, leading to the closing of the business, which reopened the next day when that closing was undone.
10:30 a.m.: Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman reportedly opts out of the 2020 season over COVID-19 concerns
Veteran Chicago Bears players are reporting to Halas Hall Tuesday for the first time to begin their COVID-19 intake testing to be cleared for training camp, but one fixture in the team’s high-level defense won’t be there.
Goldman, a second-round pick in 2015 who signed a $42 million, four-year contract extension two summers ago, has been an elite player in the middle of the defense. His absence would create a void in the middle of the line, creating more significant roles for Bilal Nichols and others.
The list of NFL players choosing to sit out the season over COVID-19 concerns is growing. ESPN reported that Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower is the fifth New England player to exercise that option.
Players have until Aug. 3 to opt out and one general manager said “there are going to be more than we originally expected” Tuesday morning. Players opting out in a high-risk category will receive a $350,000 stipend and an accrued season. Players not in the high-risk category will receive a $150,000 stipend but will not accrue a season. The contract of players in both categories will toll.
9:40 a.m.: Chicago-area house flippers ‘surprisingly unaffected’ by COVID-19, but brace for mixed bag in months to come
Born from the burgeoning real estate market that preceded the Great Recession, flipping homes has become a national fascination over the past two decades. Thrifty bargain hunters scooped up foreclosed or decrepit properties, renovated them and quickly resold for a tidy profit.
The good news for those who have made a career out of the practice: It seems, at least for the time being, that house flipping has proven relatively pandemic-proof.
“My business has been surprisingly unaffected,” said Andy Goldman, whose family has been in the house-flipping business since the 1980s.
In the first three months of 2020, 7.5% of homes sold in the United States were flipped, according to a June report from real estate research firm ATTOM Data Solutions. That’s the highest rate since 2006 and a jump from 6.3% at the end of 2019.
Home flipping rates had dropped drastically in 2007 and began to gradually recover in 2010. The number of flipped homes sold in a quarter peaked around 100,000 in 2005, and while it was on the rise in recent years, a decline began in the second quarter of 2019. In the first quarter of 2020, 53,705 single-family homes and condos were flipped, according to the report.
Still, it’s too soon to fully grasp how the coronavirus pandemic will impact the house flipping market through 2020 and beyond, ATTOM chief product officer Todd Teta said in a statement.
“Profits are down and are lower than they’ve been since the dark days following the Great Recession,” Teta said. “Enter now the coronavirus pandemic, and the prospects for house flipping are notably uncertain, at least in the short term.”
9:15 a.m.: Chicago adds Wisconsin, 3 other states to 14-day self-quarantine order, which now covers 22 states
Chicago added Wisconsin and three other states to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 14-day self-quarantine order on Tuesday.
There are now 22 states from which travelers are being told to self-quarantine upon arrival in Chicago due to coronavirus concerns. The requirement covering Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota and Nebraska goes into effect on Friday.
Lightfoot’s self-quarantine requirement was first implemented during the Fourth of July weekend but is not being actively enforced aside from signs and billboards telling people that they must self-quarantine.
The order figures to be particularly problematic with Wisconsin, given its proximity and the high number of people from Illinois who spend weekends and vacations there. Many Illinois and Chicago residents, including Gov. J.B. Pritzker, have homes there.
8:45 a.m.: MLB shortened season could be threatened, but games don’t need to stop right now, says Dr. Anthony Fauci
The Miami Marlins’ coronavirus outbreak could endanger the Major League Baseball season, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday, although he doesn’t believe games needs to stop now.
More than a dozen Marlins players and staff members tested positive for COVID-19, stranding the team in Philadelphia and raising anew questions about MLB’s attempts to conduct a season.
“This could put it in danger,” said Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert. “I don’t believe they need to stop, but we just need to follow this and see what happens with other teams on a day-by-day basis.”
Fauci made his comments on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
A week after appearing to project a more serious tone about the coronavirus, President Donald Trump is back to pushing unproven claims that an anti-malaria drug is an effective treatment and challenging the credibility of the nation’s leading infectious disease expert.
Overnight, after returning from a trip to North Carolina where he promoted efforts to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, Trump retweeted a series of tweets advocating for hydroxychloroquine.
YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have begun scrubbing the video from their platforms, saying it makes demonstrably false claims about the pandemic. The tweet the president amplified is, as of Tuesday morning, not visible on the platform but still atop his feed.
The video, published by Breitbart News, features a group of people wearing white lab coats calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors,” according to CNN. In front of the Supreme Court, they maintain the drug can cure the disease caused by coronavirus — a claim which is contradicted by medical science. The speaker says masks are unnecessary and alleges a conspiracy by pharmaceutical companies.
The video went hugely viral on Facebook, with over 14 million views before it was removed Monday night for promoting misinformation, CNN reported.
Business did improve for McDonald’s throughout the second quarter as restrictions lifted across the globe, but the fast food giant faces a bumpy — and expensive — recovery.
Of the chain’s 39,000 restaurants worldwide, 96% are now open, compared with 75% at the start of the second quarter. Comparable-store sales that were down 39% in April were down only 12% by June.
Last week, McDonald’s said it will delay dining room reopenings for at least another month and will require face masks for anyone entering its restaurants.
McDonald’s is also spending heavily to convince people to come back, particularly for breakfast. The Chicago company spent more than $200 million to support franchisee marketing during the second quarter. It also paid $31 million to distribution centers — payments normally made by franchisees — and $45 million to cover franchisees’ debts.
7:20 a.m.: CTA giving away Ventra cards, healthy travel kits during food distribution event at South Side grocery store
A food distribution event at a Gresham neighborhood grocery store midday Tuesday will include the giveaway of 5,000 Ventra cards and healthy travel kits, according to the mayor’s office.
The food distribution at the parking lot of the Save-A-Lot grocery store, 7908 S. Halsted St., is sponsored by the city’s Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, which Chicago officials set up to work to address racial inequities made more apparent by the high rates of COVID-19 in communities of color.
The food distribution event was scheduled to run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to a release from the mayor’s office.
The CTA Ventra card giveaway is sponsored by Butcher Boy Cooking Oils, a Chicago-area business, according to the release.
6 a.m.: ‘Pandemic pods’ and ‘micro-schools’: How parents are finding ways to help their kids — and themselves — manage schooling at home
After spending months keeping her 6-year-old daughter occupied with nature hikes, scavenger hunts and virtual play dates, Julia Devetski was hoping she could finally return to work full time again once the energetic rising first grader was back in the classroom this fall at her school in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage — and after learning that her daughter and her Chicago Public Schools classmates will be doing remote learning at home at least part of the time when the new school year starts in September — Devetski joined the soaring ranks of parents who are counting on “pandemic pods” or “micro-schools” as a solution to their dilemma.
Equal parts traditional home schooling and Mary Poppins-style nurturing — with a COVID-19 sheltering-in-place twist — these new arrangements are beckoning parents who desperately need support as they juggle working from home with keeping tabs on their kids’ education.
Generally, the idea of pandemic pods, sometimes called micro-schools, Safe Centers for Online Learning or SCOLs, is to supplement or oversee remote learning, rather that replace it, for parents who have the resources.
The cry for help, which includes legions of parents daunted by the prospect of their kids returning to school and potentially catching the virus, has also spawned a burgeoning network of providers ranging from posh private tutoring centers to retired public school teachers and recent college grads, all of whom are offering to organize and supervise in-home instruction for groups of roughly three to five children.
Here are five things that happened Monday regarding COVID-19.
- ‘We have to learn how to live with COVID,’ Chicago schools chief says, but parents remain leery about fall reopening plan.
- Northwestern Medicine announced it is searching for 5,000 Chicago adults to partake in clinical trials aimed at understanding COVID-19 prevention, including potential vaccines.
- Gov. J.B. Pritzker visited downstate counties hit with COVID-19 outbreaks, saying “what’s happening here … is alarming.”
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday announced that $33 million in funding from the federal coronavirus relief bill will go toward housing grants, including mortgage and rental assistance for city residents.
- There will be a Lollapalooza of sorts after all, festival organizers said, a virtual event on YouTube, with old and new content, even a social justice bent.