Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Dec. 4 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area - Chicago Tribune
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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what happened Dec. 4 with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Illinois plans to distribute its initial allocation of roughly 109,000 doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine to the 50 counties across the state with the highest death rates from the virus, the state’s top public health official said Friday.

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In the Chicago area, that includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties. It also includes Kankakee County but not McHenry.

First, though, the Pfizer vaccine needs emergency use ization from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which could come as soon as Thursday. If that happens, Illinois expects to receive its first shipment sometime during the week of Dec. 13.

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Meanwhile, state health officials on Friday reported Facebook group to get the latest COVID-19 information from Tribune reporters and editors


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

9 p.m.: Striking workers reach agreement to go back to work at 11 Illinois nursing ag8亚集团官方网站homes

Workers on strike at 11 nursing ag8亚集团官方网站homes in Illinois said they reached a tentative agreement Friday to go back to work with raises and increased pandemic pay.

Nearly 700 members of SEIU Illinois agreed on a new three-year contract with Infinity Healthcare Management, union President Greg Kelly said. Pending expected ratification Sunday, they will go back to work Monday for what leaders described as a “family reunion” with the residents for whom they care.

Read more here. —Robert McCoppin

8:15 p.m.: A deadly second surge: COVID-19 fatalities hit a new record in Illinois nursing ag8亚集团官方网站homes

The new COVID-19 surge is hitting Illinois’ most vulnerable residents harder than ever, with a record 480 deaths recorded in the past week among people living in long-term care facilities.

A Tribune analysis found the surge in deaths was particularly steep outside the greater Chicago area, underscoring the challenges of keeping the virus out of nursing ag8亚集团官方网站homes and assisted living facilities when infections are spreading in the surrounding communities.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker offered a deep sigh Friday when asked what more could be done to tamp down the surge in long-term care deaths.

“This is frankly the same challenge that exists in all the other populations, and even more so, when we’re at the highest levels of the pandemic,” he told reporters.

The latest weekly death tally was nearly double that recorded in the prior week, part of a sizable increase in deaths from earlier in the fall. The latest toll was slightly more than the number seen in the previous worst week for such deaths, during the spring surge, in early May.

Read more here. —Joe Mahr

6:05 p.m.: Illinois to distribute first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine to 50 counties with highest death rates

Illinois plans to distribute its initial allocation of roughly 109,000 doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine to the 50 counties across the state with the highest death rates from the virus, the state’s top public health official said Friday.

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In the Chicago area, that includes Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties. It also includes Kankakee County but not McHenry.

First, though, the Pfizer vaccine needs emergency use ization from the federal Food and Drug Administration, which could come as soon as Thursday. If that happens, Illinois expects to receive its first shipment sometime during the week of Dec. 13.

While the possibility of the first doses of an effective vaccine being administered within weeks is among the most promising news of the year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday attempted to temper expectations about how quickly the immunization, which for the Pfizer vaccine requires two doses given three weeks apart, will be widely available.

“No single person will be fully vaccinated even by Christmas, and it will likely be months before people with low-risk factors for COVID-19 see their first dose,” Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing.

Indeed, if Illinois receives the full 109,000 doses, which is not guaranteed, it would only be enough to vaccinate a small portion of the state’s nearly 655,000 front-line health care workers and more than 109,000 long-term care residents. Based on recommendations from the federal government, those two groups are first in line to be inoculated.

reported by CBS 2 showed crowded rooms full of people hugging, eating, drinking and talking in close proximity.

“The hotel, restaurant, bride, groom, caterer and guests were all reckless and irresponsible,” Dr. Rachel Rubin, a Cook County Department of Public Health senior medial officer and co-lead, said in a Friday news release. “This event was in violation of the current COVID-19 mitigation order and should not have taken place.”

The Cook County health department announced the formal citations Friday, after Rubin said one day earlier that the department was investigating and discussing legal options.

The citations issued included a facility order to disperse for non-compliance with the the county health department’s COVID-19 mitigation order, as well as a facility notice of non-compliance for not following the Illinois Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 regulations.

Read more here. —Kaitlin Edquist

5:10 p.m.: Union League Club votes to sell its prized Monet painting to cover pandemic losses

The story of Claude Monet’s “Apple Trees in Blossom” and Chicago is long, significant and now — with the Union League Club’s decision to sell its most valuable art work to cover pandemic-year losses — potentially dire.

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The painting is currently hanging in the Art Institute’s expansive “Monet in Chicago” exhibition, on loan as a focal point of the show, the first work by the noted French impressionist to be purchased by a Chicago institution.

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The 23-by-29-inch springtime image of a French garden lane alongside a blooming apple tree was significant to the artist himself, Art Institute chief European curator Gloria Groom said during a “Monet in Chicago” tour in September, and became significant to the club and the city after a Union League Club member bought it from an Art Institute show in 1895 and sold it to the club, for $500.

But the club’s current president, in a recent letter to members obtained by the Tribune, said the old-line private social club lacks “the cash resources to survive the contraction of the economy due to the pandemic.”

One of several remedies on the table, and likely to be by wide measure the most lucrative, was the Union League board’s decision to ready for sale the Monet, which the ULC website calls “the jewel of the club’s collection.” The news was first reported Thursday in Politico’s Illinois Playbook.

Read more here. —Steve Johnson

4:25 p.m.: There are more than 221,000 PPP stories in Illinois. Some small businesses got millions. One got $73.

The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to be a bridge from pandemic panic to business as usual for the stores and offices lining America’s Main Streets.

Despite the Small Business Administration approving 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to weather the economic disruption wrought by COVID-19, many businesses have come up short.

The PPP offered businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 500 employees forgivable loans of up to $10 million, if at least 60% of the money went toward payroll. Larger companies received the lion’s share of the money, while millions of smaller beneficiaries got far less — all the way down to $1, according to data released Tuesday by the SBA.

In Illinois, the SBA approved more than 221,000 loans totaling nearly $23 billion for the state’s businesses and nonprofits.

Here are some of their stories. —Robert Channick, Abdel Jimenez and Ryan Ori

4:20 p.m.: Biden predicts ‘bleak future’ if Congress doesn’t act on COVID-19 aid

President-elect Joe Biden is predicting a “bleak future” if Congress doesn’t take speedy action on a coronavirus aid bill amid a nationwide spike in the virus that’s hampering the country’s economic recovery.

He also expressed concern that so far he’s seen “no detailed plan” from the Trump administration on how to distribute an approved coronavirus vaccine, but said he and his team are working on their own proposal to fill in the gaps.

Biden delivered remarks Friday afternoon reacting to November’s national jobs report, which showed a sharp decrease in U.S. hiring even as the country is about 10 million jobs below pre-pandemic levels. The Democrat called the report “dire” and said it “shows the economy is stalling,” but he said quick action from Congress can halt some of the damage.

“If we act now — I mean now — we can begin to regain momentum and start to build back a better future,” he said. “There’s no time to lose.”

Read more here. —Associated Press

3:35 p.m.: Visits, warnings and little legal action: Enforcing COVID-19 restrictions in Kane County has proved challenging

Five days after the governor’s latest prohibition on indoor dining took effect in Kane County, a sheriff’s deputy visited a Sugar Grove restaurant and found patrons sitting inside.

“I advised I was not here to enforce anything other than I was required to document, and educate on current guidelines,” the deputy wrote in an Oct. 28 report.

The next week, the deputy returned to the restaurant and again saw people dining indoors. This time, the deputy didn’t enter the restaurant “due to the upset nature of the last compliance check,” because “I did not want to further make any situation worse by entering,” according to the report. Again, the deputy was not there to enforce, but rather to document and educate on current guidelines, the report states.

The restaurant, Fireside Grille, also received a call from the county health department, general manager Dan Ferrusquia said.

Like at Fireside, much of the enforcement of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 rules in Kane County has consisted of visits, phone calls and letters or warnings to businesses, documents and interviews show. Little action has been taken through the courts, according to the state’s attorney’s office, and officials in the county’s two largest cities, Aurora and Elgin, say they have not issued any citations or fines due to COVID-19 violations.

Instead, some city and county agencies say they lack ity to take legal action to enforce the governor’s rules or point the finger of responsibility at each other. Enforcement is patchwork, at best, leaving businesses on their own to interpret local guidance.\

Read more here. —Sarah Freishtat, Beacon-News

2:40 p.m.: ‘Totally unprecedented’: Concern grows as Indiana hospitals fill with COVID-19 patients

As winter comes, concern is growing as Indiana hospitals, intensive care units and emergency rooms are filling with COVID-19 patients.

In the past two weeks, all eight hospitals they serve, including St. Catherine in East Chicago, Franciscan Hammond, Franciscan Dyer and Methodist Northlake in Gary have been on bypass at some point, said Merrillville-based Northwest Ambulance owner Alechia Norwood.

That means, ambulances are told for a certain block of time a hospital is at capacity, directing them elsewhere. By comparison, as an emergency room nurse at Methodist Northlake in Gary from 2006-2015, it went on bypass only once for four hours, she said.

“This is totally unprecedented to see all of the hospitals on bypass,” Norwood said.

Franciscan Health, with hospitals including in Northwest Indiana, Indianapolis, Lafayette, and Olympia Fields, Illinois, is seeing a big jump in cases and a shrinking number of intensive care unit beds.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a surge in COVID cases across our system. Our inpatient bed occupancy rates are above 90% across the system. Currently, our ICU capacity is low, and varies from day to day, presently ranging between 11 and 20 ICU beds available systemwide. We have adequate ventilator capacity at all our hospitals,” spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz said.

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www.cyberdriveillinois.com, for most services, including renewing driver’s licenses, identification cards and license plate stickers.

A handful of facilities will remain open for new drivers only, including two in Chicago: Chicago North, 5401 N. Elston Ave., and Chicago South, 9901 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

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