Coronavirus In Chicago: As Cases Spike Statewide, 3 More Die From COVID-19

Plus: 422 cases confirmed in Illinois, relief for small businesses announced View this email in your browser
Coronavirus In Chicago: Stay Home, Don’t Hoard Edition
March 19, 2020

Good afternoon, Chicago.

Here’s the latest on coronavirus.

There are now more than 10,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States. As more cases are confirmed, President Donald Trump said the White House has “slashed red tape” to expand trials for treatments, the New York Times reports. Despite citing a “dramatic increase in production” of masks, the administration was not clear about how badly needed supplies would get to doctors and health care workers, who face shortages of ventilators, masks, respirators and other protective gear. Read more here.
Four people have now died from COVID-19 in Illinois. A Cook County resident in her 80s, a Will County resident in his 50s and a Florida resident visiting Sangamon County are the latest victims of the deadly virus. Read more here.
There are now 422 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, which is up 134 from Wednesday. The pace of cases is not expected to slow anytime soon, Pritzker said. Read more here.
THE RUMOR MILL: Rumors of a pending “shelter in place” order circulated widely Thursday, but officials have not confirmed the rumors. If such an order is put in place, Pritzker said essential services will NOT shut down. This includes expressways, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations.
Sick Chicagoans are being ordered to stay home indefinitely as the city tries to stem the tide of coronavirus cases. Those who leave their homes while sick can be fined, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday. Read more here.
The mayor will give a televised address on COVID-19 at 5 p.m. Thursday. You can watch it live here. We’ll keep you updated though, obvs.
Pritzker announced that 20,000 small- and medium-sized bars and restaurants across the state would get a two-month delay in sales tax payments, and all late filing fees will be waived starting Friday. Small businesses from every county are also invited to apply for a low-interest loan of up to $2 million. You can apply here.

For information on coronavirus symptoms, click here. For what to do if you are sick, click here. For tips on keeping calm and talking to your kids about coronavirus, click here.

All of Block Club’s coronavirus coverage is free, as is all of our public health and election coverage. This is possible because of our subscribers. See all of our coronavirus coverage here (there is A LOT)! Also, subscriptions are 20 percent off today.

Coronavirus Cases

• There are 104 cases of COVID-19 in Chicago.

• New confirmed cases have been reported at DePaul University, Columbia College and the University of Chicago. Six cases of coronavirus have been tied to Chicago’s Lycée Français school in Ravenswood. Two members of the Chicago Fire Department have also tested positive, as well as a Chicago Police detective.

What’s Happening In Chicago

• Patients: Chicagoans who have tested positive for coronavirus, or even those who simply have symptoms of coronavirus, are being ordered to stay home or risk fines.

• Testing: Coronavirus testing is still extremely limited in Chicago — which is leading to fear and frustration for some residents.

Pritzker has said he is trying to get more tests for people throughout the state.

• Bills and Tickets: The city will stop ticketing and booting cars and collecting debt until at least April 30.

However, a city program that promised to cut utility bills for low-income residents and families by up to 50 percent and to have past-due balances forgiven has been put on hold.

• Koval: A Ravenswood distillery known for its whiskey and gin is now focusing on making hand sanitizer for health care workers and retirement homes.

• Vintage Shops: A handful of vintage shops have closed their doors due to safety concerns about coronavirus. They need help.

• Restaurants and Bars: Eateries around the city closed their dining rooms — or closed completely — Monday night. Some will still offer drive-thru, pickup and delivery options.

• Helping Workers: Aldermen are calling for the city to launch an emergency fund to help workers hurt by coronavirus.

Fat Rice is offering pay-what-you-can meal kits to laid-off industry workers and others in need.

Restaurant owners and chefs are teaming up to ask to the state to help them and their staff members, who face financial difficulties with the closures.

And here’s a guide for getting unemployment, rent relief and more if coronavirus has impacted your job.

• Chicago Public Schools: Schools closed starting Tuesday. Some people are finding alternative ways to educate kids: MASK, a South Side group, has created shipping container schools with class sizes of just 10 kids.

The district will hand out three days of food for all children in a family 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday-Friday at every school. Those needing emergency delivery can call 773-553-KIDS.

• Weed: Curbside weed sales are being allowed for medical marijuana patients due to the outbreak.

• Funerals: The city’s funeral homes are limiting the crowds at services because of the virus.

• Violence Interrupters: Nearly 200 street outreach workers are still patrolling Chicago’s streets — but now they’re also helping tell people about the outbreak.

• Work Out: Planet Fitness is closing locations, Midtown Athletic laid off 2,000 workers and other gyms are taking similar measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

One trainer is helping hundreds work out at home, though.

• Artists: Local musicians and artists are suffering because of the bans on public gatherings, but Chicagoans have started streaming live shows to help those in need.

• Salons: Many salons are closing up shop voluntarily as coronavirus spreads, but others have remained open so they can pay stylists.

• LGBTQIA: The Brave Space Alliance is creating a crisis pantry for queer and trans residents on the South Side.

• O’Hare Airport: The airport was overwhelmed with crowds over the weekend, leading to some people waiting seven or more hours to be cleared of coronavirus and able to go home.

But Lightfoot and Pritzker have appealed to federal authorities, who agreed to send in more personnel and “deputize” Fire Department EMTs so there’d be more people available to screen travelers.

• Blood Donations: Blood donation organizations have said there is an urgent shortage of blood for people in need. Pritzker urged people to donate blood if they feel well — and said not doing so could cause a second health crisis.

• Grocery Stores: Officials have repeatedly urged Chicagoans not to hoard and stockpile food and home supplies at the city’s extremely busy stores. Some stores are also rolling out seniors-only hours to protect the most at-risk residents.

“Buy what you need, but please be reasonable. Think of your friends and your neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people to not be selfish,” Pritzker said.

Jewel-Osco and Mariano’s are hiring as demand for groceries has skyrocketed.

• Shelters: Animal shelters like PAWS Chicago and One Tail at a Time are seeking more foster families as they worry their shelters won’t have enough staff and could be overwhelmed due to the virus.

The owner of Windy Kitty is looking for foster homes for nine cats she’s had to take in.

• Helping Hands: People around the city are doing good deeds, like buying groceries for older folks.

• Chicago Attractions: Most major attractions — from the Lincoln Park Zoo to Navy Pier and even the Bean — are closed.

• Incarcerated People: The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is taking more precautionary measures to protect staff and detainees, it announced in a news release.

That means all non-staff members, including visitors and attorneys, will be screened for coronavirus. Those with symptoms will be denied entry.

Visitors will only be able to visit one person once a week for 15 minutes until further notice, as well, and staff are ramping up their cleaning efforts.

• Helping Seniors: My Block, My Hood, My City is collecting
disinfectant supplies to pass out to people who are elderly or who have disabilities. Food pantries on the West Side are offering pick up and delivery options for those in need. I Grow Englewood is seeking donations for elderly residents, as well.

Are you having trouble accessing a COVID-19 test? Email us at


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The symptoms:

Shortness of breath

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion, runny nose and sore throat, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick. If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Tips? Questions? Comments? Email us at


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