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COVID-19 roundup

Wednesday, Mar 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* We probably test too much anyway

All standardized tests for Illinois students are likely to be canceled this spring as state education officials work toward securing a waiver from the federal government and seek an exemption from state law requirements.

The Illinois State Board of Education earlier this week submitted a statewide waiver application to the U.S. Department of Education to waive all federally required assessments, summative designations and reporting on accountability metrics on the Illinois Report Card for the 2019-20 school year.

* Tribune

Mayor Lori Lightfoot threatened to shut down the city’s parks and lakefront if the city’s residents don’t obey Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order.

“If we have to because you are not educating yourself into compliance, and if you are not abiding by these very clear but necessary stay-at-home orders, we will be forced to shut down our parks and entire lakefront if people continue to flout these social distancing” rules, a visibly frustrated Lightfoot said. […]

Police will begin ticketing people who do not obey the state’s stay at home order, Chicago interim police Superintendent Charlie Beck said. […]

“Beginning today, one warning,” Beck said. “After that, you will be cited.”

* Press release…

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is pleased with the recent decision by the federal government to extend the federal REAL ID deadline beyond Oct. 1, 2020.

White sent a letter on March 18 calling on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to push back the Oct. 1, 2020, federal REAL ID deadline. White joined the National Governors Association, other states, government leaders and the travel industry, urging DHS to extend the enforcement date on REAL ID due to the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the general public and driver’s license and ID card-issuing agencies nationwide.

DHS has not yet established the new federal deadline. Current Illinois driver’s licenses or ID cards (DL/ID) will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities until a new deadline is set by the federal government.

“The decision to extend the enforcement date of REAL ID is the proper and necessary action during this time of uncertainty and crisis,” said White. “The guiding principle of my decision making will, and must, continue to focus on the health and safety of all Illinoisans. This move by the federal government embraces this philosophy and I commend them for it.”

White stressed he will continue to monitor the situation involving DHS and REAL ID and is eager to learn of the new enforcement date set by DHS. U.S. President Donald Trump publicly announced on March 23 that the REAL ID deadline will be extended beyond Oct. 1, 2020.

A new deadline might be nice. Or just kill the whole silly program.

* Danny Ecker at Crain’s

Two major events that were expected to draw about 100,000 visitors to McCormick Place in May will no longer be held at the convention center, adding to the harsh immediate economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology said in a statement today it will hold its upcoming annual meeting virtually instead of at the Near South Side venue, where it was scheduled for May 29 through June 2. Separately, the upcoming National Restaurant Association Show slated for May 16-19 at McCormick Place has also been canceled.

The events are two of the biggest of the year at McCormick Place, which has already lost more than 20 trade shows, meetings and conventions to the concerns surrounding the outbreak. Those would have accounted for more than 250,000 hotel room nights.

* David Roeder

City and state officials are considering whether to shelter homeless people in McCormick Place to help control the coronavirus pandemic, a spokeswoman for the convention complex said Tuesday.

“We’ve been having lots of conversations with the governor’s office and the city in terms of how our campus might be used during this crisis. Nothing has been confirmed,” said Cynthia McCafferty, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which runs McCormick Place.

The city’s home for major conventions has been idled by the coronavirus and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s order that most people in Illinois stay at home. With 2.6 million square feet in four buildings, plus a 10,000-seat arena for college basketball, McCormick Place could be suited to host people not infected by the coronavirus but in danger of contracting and spreading it.

Its space also could be used for people sickened in the pandemic and needing care, but that would require expensive preparations and equipment that may be scarce. New York is using its Javits Center convention facility in Manhattan as a field hospital.

* From the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and numerous other groups

A key role of the Illinois Supreme Court is to issue orders and promulgate rules that make the local courts fairer, more effective, and efficient. At this time of public health emergency, it is incumbent upon the Illinois Supreme Court to protect litigants, defendants, court personnel, and members of the community who come in contact with our justice system in any way.

The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented threat to public safety. In accordance with the many state and local shelter-in-place orders and the CDC’s recommendations, the criminal courts, in particular, have a critical responsibility to permit people under their jurisdiction to stay home and to properly care for their families and communities. The novel coronavirus is an unparalleled threat to people taken into custody. Jailed people are simply unable to perform the “social distancing” measures that federal, state, and local officials have stressed are essential to slow the rate of infection. Police officers, corrections officers, and individuals newly admitted to custody threaten widespread contagion. Individuals exposed to COVID-19 who are taken to Illinois jails and prisons put the thousands of people already detained and working there at great risk.

We urge the Illinois Supreme Court to work with the Chief Judges, sheriffs, prosecutors, and public defenders from across the state to develop uniform COVID-19 protocols that are in line with the mandates of federal, state, and local public officials. As Illinois lawyers, advocates, and community members, we trust our Supreme Court to take the necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of the people. The remainder of this letter outlines the supervisory orders we feel are appropriate to ensure swift and equitable health protections for people in the state’s jails and prisons. We urge the Illinois Supreme Court to ensure that these protocols are implemented equitably for all people in custody in Illinois.

* Good idea

Jewel-Osco stores have started installing plexiglass sneeze guards as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.

The guards will be installed at all cashier registers, service desks, pharmacy counters and Starbucks terminals.

In addition, the Itasca-based grocery chain is placing floor tape near produce departments, checkout lanes, pharmacy and customer service desks to remind shoppers to practice social distancing.

* I’m the world’s worst golfer, but lots of people love it, so here

Mahomet’s Lake of the Woods is open for golf — with a few twists.

There are no carts to ride, no tee times to book, no flags to pull from greens and no rakes to smooth out the bunkers.

And the clubhouse is closed, so golfers need to call ahead (217-586-2183) to check in and pay online or over the phone. […]

After initially being told they couldn’t operate during the COVID-19 pandemic, state golf courses were given the all-clear, so long as they adhered to social distancing requirements and put in place the aforementioned restrictions.


  1. - Leatherneck - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:30 pm:

    Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder is also planning to declare a citywide state of emergency later today:–langfelder-plans-to-declare-state-of-emergency-wednesday

    Among the powers that Langfelder isn’t ruling out (but not planning to issue at this time) is a citywide curfew.

  2. - Anonish - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:32 pm:

    Re: Real ID
    They probably think they are pot committed with the program at this point.

  3. - Sox Fan - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    Went out for my daily run (alone). There were a LOT of people not social distancing. And its only the low 50’s. What makes me shake my head are the packs of teens roaming the neighborhood. How are parents allowing this?

  4. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 2:55 pm:

    I get that people must social distance, but shut down the lakefront and the parks? they have already shut down the playgrounds (good) and I’m hoping people have the good sense not to play hoops as the weather warms up, but walking in a park is a good thing.

  5. - Grandpa2 - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:00 pm:

    We have REAL ID because of 9/11. The states were just too loose in issuing driver’s licenses.

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:44 pm:

    ===REAL ID because of 9/11===

    Yeah, and all the terrorists were foreigners who had - wait for it - passports, which you can use today instead of a REAL ID.

    It’s a stupid law.

  7. - SSL - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 3:54 pm:

    I’m thankful for golf courses being given the green light to allow play with some restrictions. I encountered more people in close proximity on my daily walks recently than I typically see on the course. Hopefully people respect the restrictions and don’t mess up a good thing. Have to give the Governor’s team props on being flexible on this issue. With everything else they have going on, they made a quick adjustment.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Mar 25, 20 @ 4:00 pm:

    The PGA Tour, all professional tours cited player interaction, even in small groups, as an example as a reason why they ain’t golfin’

    Surfaces like the flag stick, something everyone touches…

    It can’t be overstated how it hurts me to say I’m not golfing, not because I think others are wrong that courses are open, but being around golf most of my life, it’s not sanitary to the requirements specifically necessary with this virus.

    I see tour players on courses on their social media, it’s a head scratcher but…

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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Afternoon roundup
* Pritzker's office, IDOT say consulting bills, lack of new paperwork holding up funding for Cairo Port project
* How states are scrambling to address teacher shortages
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