The high number of cases came with a record high number of test results released: 36,180.
The group notes that COVID-19 has hit Black and Latino communities harder than white counterparts “and laid bare structural disparities in health outcomes, underlying health conditions, access to basic necessities, and safety net support.”
Also Thursday, district officials announced Chicago Public Schools students could start summer sports programs as soon as Monday. Practices are to prepare for the “potential return” of high school sports come fall, and allow for voluntary no-contact workouts of up to five hours, according to a letter to CPS families.
Here’s what’s happening Thursday regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
6: 38 p.m.: IHSA to change its new guidelines following increase in COVID-19 cases
Less than a week into phase four of its Return to Play plans, the Illinois High School Association informed member schools on Thursday that the current guidelines will be revised due to an increase in cases of COVID-19 among student-athletes.
The IHSA will “modify” the guidelines in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Public Health, according to a news release. The plan for phase four had been approved by the IDPH on July 3 and went into effect Sunday.
The IHSA indicated in the news release that the upcoming changes will limit physical contact and require a greater usage of masks. Teams will not be allowed to compete against other schools in most sports, including 7-on-7 football.
6: 25 p.m.: Illinois Municipal League says new state rule could deprive some municipalities of federal coronavirus aid
The Illinois Municipal League is calling on the state to change a new rule governing how federal coronavirus aid money is distributed, arguing it’s burdensome and unnecessary and could result in federal funding being stripped from local governments in Illinois.
The rule, filed last week by the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, is more restrictive than federal guidelines on the relief money and would allow the state to reallocate local funds, which would “strip local governments of much-needed federal dollars,” Municipal League Executive Director Brad Cole said Thursday.
The rule allows local governments to recoup federal dollars for medical expenses, including establishing temporary medical facilities to increase the treatment and testing capacity for COVID-19; public health and payroll expenses; and other coronavirus-related expenses that are “reasonably necessary to the function of government.”
Local governments have until Nov. 1 to submit all reimbursement requests to the department, and any funds that were allotted but not claimed by that date “may be reallocated to other units of local government based on need,” the rule states.
“They will reallocate those dollars, and instead of them going to Peoria or Quincy or Decatur or Springfield or Rockford or Carbondale, they’ll go to another community that is a state priority, versus a local priority within those specific communities,” Cole said at a news conference in Springfield.
5: 35 p.m.: Who gets a vaccine first? US considers race in COVID-19 plans.
Federal health officials are already trying to decide who will get the first doses of any effective coronavirus vaccines, which could be on the market this winter but could require many additional months to become widely available to Americans.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and an advisory committee of outside health experts in April began working on a ranking system for what may be an extended rollout in the United States. According to a preliminary plan, any approved vaccines would be offered to vital medical and national security officials first, and then to other essential workers and those considered at high risk — the elderly instead of children, people with underlying conditions instead of the relatively healthy.
Agency officials and the advisers are also considering what has become a contentious option: putting Black and Latino people, who have disproportionately fallen victim to COVID-19, ahead of others in the population.
In private meetings and a recent public session, the issue has provoked calls for racial justice. But some medical experts are not convinced there is a scientific basis for such an option, foresee court challenges or worry that prioritizing minority groups would erode public trust in vaccines at a time when immunization is seen as crucial to ending the pandemic.
“Giving it to one race initially and not another race, I’m not sure how that would be perceived by the public, how that would affect how vaccines are viewed as a trusted public health measure,” said Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, a group represented on the committee.
4: 12 p.m.: American Writers Museum has reopened on Michigan Avenue — come have all these writers for yourself
The American Writers Museum has reopened to the public. Its second-floor space on Michigan Avenue was back in business July 3, having been closed since mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, said director of operations Christopher Burrow, the pace of visitors has been slow, with between 10 to 20 through the door on any particular day. But that can work in your favor if you come.
“Right now, it’s almost like the museum is yours while you’re here,” he said Thursday.
The museum, devoted to writing, the written word and those who write them, first opened in 2017 and occupies the full second floor of the building; its 11,00-square-foot space is divided into galleries but there are no separate rooms. Burrow says he misses the school groups that used to come on field trips, and fans of writers with their passions.
“Well, Edgar Allan Poe fans are legion,” Burrow said. “Or once we had an exhibit up for Philip K. Dick and a science fiction fan was so mad we didn’t have Bradbury.”
3: 40 p.m.: Big Ten is moving to conference-only schedule for all fall sports because of COVID-19 concerns
The Big Ten has canceled nonconference competition in all fall sports and will face only conference opponents — if the 2020 seasons are played at all — because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a release Thursday afternoon, the Big Ten said it made the decision based on medical advice and after monthslong conversations among conference presidents and chancellors, athletic directors and medical experts. Details for the sports — football, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s cross-country, field hockey and women’s volleyball — will be released at a later date.
“We are facing uncertain and unprecedented times, and the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes, coaches, game officials, and others associated with our sports programs and campuses remain our number one priority,” the Big Ten statement said. “By limiting competition to other Big Ten institutions, the Conference will have the greatest flexibility to adjust its own operations throughout the season and make quick decisions in real-time based on the most current evolving medical advice and the fluid nature of the pandemic.”
Some of the most significant nonconference football games wiped off the schedule include Michigan at Washington on Sept. 5, Ohio State at Oregon on Sept. 12, Miami at Michigan State on Sept. 26 and Wisconsin against Notre Dame on Oct. 3 at Lambeau Field.
The football scheduling changes affect 28 FBS opponents and eight FCS opponents. The financial ramifications for some programs, which receive payouts for scheduling Big Ten opponents, could be crushing.
2: 38 p.m. (updated 3: 15 p.m.): More than 1,000 new known COVID-19 cases reported for first time in more than a month
Illinois announced 1,018 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the first time the state’s new daily cases topped 1,000 since June 5. The tally brought the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois to 150,450.
The high number of cases came with a record high number of test results released: 36,180.
Also announced Thursday were 20 deaths from COVID-19.
2: 30 p.m.: Chicago Public Schools student athletes can start summer workouts next week, but with COVID-19 precautions
Chicago Public Schools students could start summer sports programs as soon as Monday, district officials announced Thursday. But there will be no locker room talks or parents mingling around the soccer field.
The practices are to prepare for the “potential return” of high school sports come fall, and allow for voluntary no-contact workouts of up to five hours, according to a letter to CPS families from Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade and Executive Director of Sports Administration David Rosengard.
Although CPS “continues to plan for potential in-person instruction,” with plans for the fall not yet released, the district is weighing extracurricular activities that could take place following current public health guidelines, according to the letter.
2: 11 p.m.: COVID-19 might spread through the air indoors, according to WHO
The World Health Organization is acknowledging the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions — after more than 200 scientists urged the agency to do so.
In an open letter published this week in a journal, two scientists from Australia and the U.S. wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, talking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”
The researchers, along with more than 200 others, appealed for national and international authorities, including WHO, to adopt more stringent protective measures.
WHO has long dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus is spread in the air except for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.
In a change to its previous thinking, WHO noted on Thursday that studies evaluating COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants, choir practices and fitness classes suggested the virus might have been spread in the air.
1: 41 p.m.: 17 Chicago restaurant openings and reopenings as industry continues to emerge in coronavirus era
Though restaurants in the state have been allowed to reopen for on-premise dining for weeks, some were not ready to emerge right away. But as phase three and now phase four of the reopening from the coronavirus shutdown have unfolded across Chicago and the suburbs, more are launching, many of them with new menus, patios, redesigned dining rooms and in at least one case, an entirely new concept.
On top of that, restaurateurs are getting more comfortable with the idea of opening in a pandemic-stressed economy, opening new places including Baye’s Little Bakery, The Elm and Uncooked.
Here’s a look at 17 restaurants that have opened, or re-opened, in the last week or so, and a few more that are on the horizon.
11: 37 a.m.: Chicago’s Field Museum reopens to public July 24
The Field Museum will reopen to the public later this month, admitting members beginning July 17 and the public on July 24, the museum announced Thursday.
Chicago’s home for dinosaurs, research and natural history has been closed for four months by the COVID-19 pandemic. Already open on the lakefront Museum Campus is the Shedd Aquarium, which opened July 3, and still closed is the Adler Planetarium.
In the announcement, the Field in particular promoted its new “Apsáalooke Women and Warriors” exhibition, which opened a day before the museum’s closure in March. Described as the Field’s first major exhibition curated by a Native scholar, it focuses on “the history, values, and beliefs of the Apsáalooke people of the Northern Plains, also known as the Crow.”
The Field Museum was the third best-attended indoor Chicago museum in 2019, with about 1.5 million visitors, behind the Shedd and the Art Institute, which remains closed. The Chicago History Museum announced Wednesday it will reopen Friday.
9 a.m.: Lightfoot’s COVID-19 recovery task force: Boost spending in areas hit hardest by virus to fight poverty, racism
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s task force on Chicago’s COVID-19 recovery recommends the city accelerate spending on the South and West sides to address inequities deepened by the coronavirus, according to a copy of the group’s final report.
The 104-page document released Thursday, assembled by a task force chaired by Lightfoot and former President George H.W. Bush’s onetime chief of staff, Sam Skinner, recommends the city pursue a series of big goals that have long eluded Chicago leaders.
Chief among them is a series of recommendations aimed at fighting poverty and entrenched racism. The group’s report notes that COVID-19 has hit Black and Latino communities harder than white counterparts “and laid bare structural disparities in health outcomes, underlying health conditions, access to basic necessities, and safety net support.”
6: 25 a.m.: Chicago History Museum reopens July 10 with free tickets
The Chicago History Museum will reopen its doors to the public July 10 and will offer free admission through the end of the month, the North Side museum announced Wednesday.
As Chicago’s principal home devoted to the city’s past and stories, its building on the edge of Lincoln Park has been shut by the COVID-19 pandemic since mid-March. It will reopen at reduced capacity, with timed entries and a maximum of 275 visitors at a time, and following the State of Illinois Phase 4 guidelines for museums.
In the announcement, the CHM also highlighted a few special exhibitions on display:”Millions of Moments: The Chicago Sun-Times Photo Collection” is a new debut, with images from the newspaper’s archives that “document monumental events and everyday occurrences of life in Chicago,” according the the announcement. Included are photos of racial relations and strife, Chicago and national politics and sporting events, some that were never published. The exhibit has been set up so viewers can social-distance.
“Cityscapes” is a new installation that lets visitors experience large-scale panoramic images from the CHM collection chronicling Chicago’s growth from 1858 to 2019. Additionally, “Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America” has been extended until Jan. 3, 2021.
Read more here. —Doug George
6 a.m.: As museums and zoos reopen, Chicago’s children’s museums find themselves sidelined
As museums around Chicago begin to reopen, tentatively, they say they’re mindful of the State of Illinois Phase 4 guidelines that spell out conditions specifically for them: Limited to 25% occupancy, must have plans to limit congregations of people. Then there’s this part: Any hands-on or interactive exhibits should be closed or the interactivity shut off.
For children’s museums, that’s the equivalent of telling them to take their ball and go home.
“All we are is interactive,” said Dave Judy, marketing director for Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview.
The three major children’s museums in the area — the Kohl, DuPage Children’s Museum in Naperville and Chicago Children’s Museum on Navy Pier — have been closed since mid-March by the COVID-19 pandemic, like all museums and cultural institutions. And like all those institutions, they’ve been feeling the loss both to their sense of mission and to their bottom line.
When Shedd Aquarium reopened to the public last week at reduced occupancy, museum officials said even though the new ticket revenue would be welcome, the Shedd would still be operating at a daily loss.
Children’s museums don’t have even that limited option. As nonprofits, they’re hoping area philanthropists will take note.
Here are five things that happened Wednesday related to COVID-19.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker calls for national mask mandate and COVID-19 containment strategy in congressional testimony.