Here’s the latest news on how COVID-19 is impacting Chicago and Illinois. Follow here for live updates.
Four parents sue Gov. Pritzker, IHSA over winter sports cancellation
Four parents of Illinois high school athletes filed a lawsuit against Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois High School Association in La Salle County Court on Monday.
The suit claims that Pritzker’s cancellation of the winter high school sports season “is an unconstitutional violation of the Plaintiffs right to equal protection under the Constitution of the State of Illinois.” The suit seeks to bar Pritzker and the IHSA from enforcing the cancellation of the winter sports season.
“[Pritzker] is using this emergency statute to create these restrictions,” said Laura Grochocki, the attorney for the plaintiffs. “They are supposed to have a rational basis. We are asking why high school sports have the restrictions and why college sports and pro sports do not. Is there a rational basis for the restrictions on high schools? Or is there something else at work here, why they are allowed to play and high schools are not?”
3:05 p.m. State administers over 100K vaccines, logs another 135 COVID deaths
Illinois has administered nearly 101,000 vaccines, more than any other state in the country, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus briefing Wednesday.
Meanwhile, state health officials reported another 135 deaths from the coronavirus as well as 6,762 new cases.
As of Tuesday night, there were 4,593 Illinois residents in the hospital with coronavirus. Of those patients, 953 were in intensive care units and 536 were on ventilators.
Although the vaccine distribution signals “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic, health officials continued cautioning residents to forego celebrating Christmas and other upcoming holidays with those who don’t live in the same home.
“Yes, there is a long road to go, but we are at the beginning of the end,” Illinois Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. “… We can’t let people who made it this far not make it to the finish line … The best way to avoid another surge in hospitalizations, another surge in deaths, another surge in new infections, is to celebrate the holidays at home with the family that you currently live with.”
In spite of the warnings, the state is “likely to see some uptick” from the holiday and New Year’s celebrations, Pritzker said.
1:46 p.m. City shuts down River North parties for violating COVID-19 restrictions
City officials shut down two River North parties over the weekend for allegedly violating statewide indoor service restrictions, including one party that allegedly charged a $100 entrance fee.
The venues are among 370 businesses cited by the city for violating coronavirus restrictions since the pandemic began in March. The latest batch of cases comes about two months after the city’s ban on indoor dining and service in October.
Officers crashed the first illegal party shortly after midnight Sunday at 409 W. Huron St., and found about 66 people not wearing masks or social distancing, city officials said.
The fourth-floor venue was charging $100 at the door, serving alcohol and had a DJ, according to a statement from the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
10:24 a.m. US to get additional 100M doses of Pfizer vaccine
WASHINGTON — Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the U.S. with an additional 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine under a new agreement.
The drugmakers said Wednesday that they expect to deliver all the doses by July 31 in the nearly $2 billion deal.
Pfizer already has a contract to supply the government with 100 million doses of its vaccine.
Under the $2 billion deal announced Wednesday, the companies will deliver at least 70 million of the additional doses by June 30, with the remaining 30 million doses to be delivered no later than July 31. The government also has the option to acquire up to an additional 400 million doses.
Pfizer’s vaccine was the first to gain approval from the Food and Drug Administration and initial shipments went to states last week. It has now been joined by a vaccine from Moderna, which was developed in closer cooperation with scientists from the National Institutes of Health.
Moderna’s vaccine comes under the umbrella of the government’s own effort, which is called Operation Warp Speed. That public-private endeavor was designed to have millions of vaccine doses ready and available to ship once a shot received FDA approval.
The deal with Pfizer moves the nation closer to the goal of vaccinating all Americans.
9:37 a.m. CPS expects $720M windfall if Trump signs COVID-19 relief bill
Chicago Public Schools officials are expecting to receive about $720 million if President Donald Trump signs the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress Monday, federal funding that would help fill holes for the financially strapped district and support the school system’s planned reopening in the new year.
But late Tuesday, Trump threatened to veto the package over what he called “ridiculously low” direct checks of $600 to most Americans, saying Congress should boost payments to $2,000. The surprise move by the president put the fate of the relief package in limbo.
CPS leaders would collectively breathe a sigh of relief if Trump signs off after the district’s budget for this fiscal year had assumed at least $343 million in federal funding, a risky calculation that could end with more than double the anticipated funds after a months-long stalemate in Congress.
“This crucial federal funding ensures our ability to support the critical resources needed to reopen classrooms, expand access to high-quality academic programming, employ record high numbers of nurses and social workers, invest in social and emotional supports, and provide additional resources to our highest-need schools,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said in a statement earlier Tuesday.
“Black and Brown families in Chicago need the option to send their children to school this academic year, and this funding relief is essential to the safe and supportive learning environments needed to mitigate learning loss and prevent long-term harm.”
- Illinois public health officials reported 6,239 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed among 84,764 tests, lowering the state’s average positivity rate over the last week to 7.4%.
- Illinois surpassed 900,000 coronavirus cases Sunday
Analysis & Commentary
9:40 a.m. Americans are sick of arbitrary COVID-19 restrictions
“I’m not sure we know what we’re doing,” San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow recently confessed, referring to the myriad puzzling restrictions state and local governments have imposed in the name of fighting COVID-19.
Morrow’s doubts are striking, because last spring he joined other San Francisco Bay Area officials in imposing the nation’s first lockdowns, which he still thinks were justified.
Morrow’s remarkable statement, which he posted on his department’s website earlier this month, shows that politicians and bureaucrats are still struggling to justify edicts that are often arbitrary and scientifically dubious. A year into the COVID-19 epidemic, many of them have yet to digest the dangers of carelessly exercising their public health powers.
Although research in other countries has shown that K–12 schools are not an important source of virus transmission, they remain closed in California and many other jurisdictions, largely because of resistance from teachers unions. “The adverse effects for some of our kids will likely last for generations,” Morrow warned.