The expanded testing comes as the state saw a big jump in the number of coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday — 125 — the deadliest day of the pandemic yet in Illinois, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,072. Worldwide, the death toll is almost certainly undercounted.
Here’s what’s happening on Friday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
11:41 a.m.: Man charged with attacking nurse on CTA bus after accusing her of coughing on him
Felony charges have been filed against a man accused of punching a nurse on a CTA bus after complaining that she coughed on him and tried to infect him with the coronavirus.
The nurse, 31, told police she was still wearing her scrubs and mask, and was riding the bus home with a co-worker. She coughed into her elbow and a 29-year-old man accused her of trying to give him the coronavirus, police said. He punched her in the face as he got off the bus. Read more here. —Chicago Tribune staff
11:28 a.m.: Major Frida Kahlo exhibition postponed
“Frida Kahlo 2020” is now going to take place in 2021. The new title? “Frida Kahlo: Timeless.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of DuPage’s Cleve Carney Art Museum is pushing back by almost exactly a year what it says will be the largest exhibition of the iconic Mexican painter’s work in the Chicago area since the 1970s.
Originally scheduled for June 1 to Aug. 31 of 2021, the show will run June 5 to Sept. 6, 2021. Read more here. —Steve Johnson
11:07 a.m.: Third Chicago police officer dies after contracting COVID-19
A third Chicago police officer has died from complications stemming from COVID-19, according to the department.
The officer was assigned to the South Chicago patrol district, which covers the area from 75th Street to the southern edge of the city, and from roughly the Bishop Ford expressway east to Indiana. Read more here. —Peter Nickeas
11:06 a.m.:Wall Street credits ratings agency downgrades Illinois’ debt to one notch above junk status
A day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that his administration is projecting the coronavirus pandemic will blow a $2.7 billion hole in this year’s state budget and create an even larger gap next year, a Wall Street credits ratings agency downgraded Illinois’ debt to one notch above junk status.
Fitch Ratings on Thursday downgraded the state’s credit from BBB to BBB-, a reflection of the havoc COVID-19 is wreaking on the state’s precarious finances.
The downgrade “reflects Fitch’s anticipation of a fundamental weakening of the state’s financial resilience given its already tenuous position entering the current severe downturn,” according to the agency’s analysis.
“While Illinois should avoid any immediate cash flow pressures, the state’s lack of meaningful reserves and the limited nature of other fiscal-management tools at its disposal mean Illinois will be challenged to maintain its investment-grade” rating, Fitch said.
Fitch noted that its rating for Illinois is “well below the level of other states” and reflects a long history of “weak operating performance and irresolute fiscal decision-making.” It’s also a reflection of the state’s “elevated” long-term liabilities, including $137 billion in pension debt.
In addition to downgrading the state’s credit rating, which could result in higher borrowing costs that would ultimately be borne by taxpayers, Fitch changed its outlook for Illinois’ finances from “stable” to “negative.”
The agency improved its outlook for the state to “stable” last summer after Illinois received a surprise influx of tax revenue in April 2019 and Pritzker signed what Fitch at the time called a “plausible and achievable” $40 billion spending plan for the current year.
Fitch projects that an economic recovery could begin in the second half of 2020. However, “should the downturn extend well beyond that point, even if for Illinois alone, Fitch’s assessment of the state’s long-term economic growth prospects could be fundamentally weakened from an already modest level,” its analysis says. “This would pressure all aspects of the state’s credit profile.” —Dan Petrella
10:42 a.m.: Gov. J.B. Pritzker strolls with Shedd Aquarium penguins, chastises fish in latest ‘All in Illinois’ video to encourage social distancing
Gov. J.B. Pritzker released a video Friday for the “All in Illinois” campaign featuring a new celebrity cohort—the animals at Shedd Aquarium.
In the video, Pritzker strolls around the aquarium with rockhopper penguins, encouraging them to socially distance by walking six feet apart. Using sea otters and garden eels as examples, the governor also reminds viewers to wash their hands frequently, avoid touching their faces, and stay home.
“What is this? Lollapalooza?” Pritzker playfully shouts at a tank full of hundreds of fish before instructing viewers to avoid gathering.
“Shedd Aquarium is proud to partner with the state of Illinois to support and promote the unifying message of ‘All in Illinois’,” Shedd Aquarium CEO and President Bridget Coughlin said in a statement Friday. “We sincerely hope the incredible connection and joy the aquatic world brings to millions of guests each year will also help to amplify this important message to millions more during this unprecedented time when we all must do our part to stay healthy and safe. —Antonia Ayres-Brown
9 a.m.: COVID-19 outbreak at Lincoln Park nursing home leaves 4 dead, 10 others sickened as workers run low on protective gowns, other supplies
An outbreak of COVID-19 at a Lincoln Park nursing home has left four residents dead and 10 other people ill with the coronavirus, including six other residents and four workers, according to the religious order that runs the facility.
The virus seemed to spread quickly at St. Mary’s Home, operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor at 2325 N. Lakewood Ave., according to Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the order. The facility consists of two connected buildings and contains 76 beds in the nursing home section and 50 independent living apartments.
The facility had tried practicing social distancing for weeks, including serving dinner at individual rooms. But within days, residents started to become sick with COVID-19, Veit said. All four residents who died were in the nursing home, she said. They were between 71 to 97 years old. Read more here. —Elvia Malagón and Cecilia Reyes
8:50 a.m.: Hundreds of people have died of COVID-19 at Illinois nursing homes. The state won’t say which homes.
Nearly 300 Illinois nursing home patients and staff have died from COVID-19, but exactly where still remains largely cloaked in secrecy.
Unlike some states, Illinois hasn’t named specific facilities where the virus has been detected. That’s been true even in cases of significant clusters of deaths.
While state officials signal that could be changing, for now patients, staff and family members often must rely on homes themselves to disclose cases, such as a Joliet home on Wednesday announcing 23 total deaths.
The lack of comprehensive information has led one advocacy group, AARP Illinois, to ask the state to begin posting cases and death counts online for each nursing home. Read more here. —Joe Mahr, Robert McCoppin, Dan Hinkel, Elvia Malagon, Cecilia Reyes
8:30 a.m.: With CPS report cards due, some teachers decry plans to grade students during shutdown
How students’ schoolwork will be graded during the pandemic is a topic that has created confusion since the statewide school shutdown began on March 17.
So when Chicago Public Schools let teachers and families know this week that, with the end of the third quarter, report cards would be forthcoming, some said they were taken by surprise.
With a large chunk of the third quarter having taken place after classrooms were shut down, the Chicago Teachers Union says it’s unfair to give grades to students, especially when some don’t have access to a computer or the internet.
“The customary way of grading is inappropriate given remote learning during a global health pandemic,” Union President Jesse Sharkey said in a news release. Read more here. —Hannah Leone
7:30 a.m.: At 108 years old, Luther Coleman was ‘always trying to help somebody.’ He is the oldest person in Cook County to die from the coronavirus
A little over a month ago, Luther Coleman celebrated his 108th birthday surrounded by generations of family who loved him.
They gathered at the Avantara Evergreen Park nursing home, where Coleman had lived in recent years. The celebration of a long, full life would be the last time his family would get to enjoy the company of a man who seemed to know everything.
Coleman died April 11 after contracting the coronavirus, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. He is the oldest person in Cook County to die from the virus, the office said.
“His memory was as good as yours and he could still read without glasses,” said his niece, Bertha Gunter. Read more here. —Morgan Greene
6:45 a.m.: Wisconsin governor extends stay-at-home order another month, closes schools for rest of academic year, angering Republicans
Gov. Tony Evers has closed all K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year and extended Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order for another month, keeping most nonessential businesses shuttered until after the Memorial Day holiday weekend to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Wisconsin Republicans reacted with anger to Evers’ extension, threatening lawsuits, the firing of his health secretary and other curbs on his power.
The president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the powerful state chamber of commerce, also called the legality of the order into question, saying it will lead to more businesses closing and people losing their jobs. Read more here. —Associated Press
6:40 a.m.: Busy, yet struggling: Illinois hospitals lose $1.4 billion a month as coronavirus cancels surgeries
Though Illinois hospitals are, in many ways, busier than ever as they care for patients with the new coronavirus, they’re also taking a financial beating that’s affecting their workers and raising questions about how the institutions will recover once the worst of the pandemic has passed.
The Illinois Health and Hospital Association estimates that hospitals statewide could now be losing about $1.4 billion a month. That’s the money hospitals are missing out on because of canceled elective surgeries and fewer visits by other patients, many of whom may be avoiding medical care for fear of catching the virus.
Hospitals across the country are receiving federal dollars to help them handle their cash-flow issues, but experts say it’s not nearly enough to plug the financial holes many are now facing. Read more here. —Lisa Schencker and David Heinzmann
6:30 a.m.: For a front-lines pharmacist at Rush, for a Homewood librarian, it’s all an anxious Monday: Another Chicago day in the life of coronavirus
About a month ago, as Illinois began to stay at home, as work vanished, as movie theaters closed and supermarkets emptied, we asked four people in the Chicago area to keep a diary for 24 hours and record their thoughts, fears, hopes — to note how the world was upending.
A month ago was long ago.
A month, in corona-time, is more like a lifetime, a day closer to a week, and a week becomes a month. So, it seemed natural then, now deep into a pandemic, to ask another four people to keep diaries for a day and observe a transformed world. What follows are excerpts from those notes, taken again on a Monday, edited and condensed and with added context. Read more here. —Christopher Borrelli
Here are five things that happened Thursday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Wednesday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Monday that you need to know: