* Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas at the Tribune…
With the number of coronavirus deaths in Cook County climbing above 300, the medical examiner’s office is opening a refrigerated warehouse as a “surge center” capable of holding as many as 2,000 bodies.
In addition to the 66,000-square-foot warehouse, opening Thursday, the county said it is has acquired 14 refrigerated trailers and is looking for six more for hospitals so their morgues are not overwhelmed.
“We are paying special attention to the southern portion of Cook County, an area that is traditionally disproportionately impacted during crises,” said William Barnes, executive director of the county’s Emergency Management and Regional Security Department.
* This lawsuit was an overreach, in my opinion…
A federal judge on Thursday denied a bid by Cook County Jail detainees for release or transfer amid the coronavirus outbreak but ordered Sheriff Tom Dart to implement new policies to keep inmates safe.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly ordered Dart to begin prompt coronavirus testing of detainees who exhibit symptoms of the virus by Saturday. He said the sheriff must also enforce social distancing when taking in new inmates.
An adequate amount of soap or hand sanitizer must be available for inmates to frequently clean their hands, the judge said, and staff must receive sanitation supplies. Finally, the judge said the sheriff must “provide face masks to all detainees who are quarantined.”
Given those measures, the judge said he would not order the sheriff to move inmates to other forms of custody.
It started small. On March 23, two inmates in the sprawling Cook County jail, one of the nation’s largest, were placed in isolation cells after testing positive for the coronavirus. In a little over two weeks, the virus exploded behind bars, infecting more than 350 people.
The jail in Chicago is now the nation’s largest-known source of coronavirus infections, according to data compiled by The New York Times, with more confirmed cases than the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., or the cluster centered on New Rochelle, N.Y.
* Headlines from the Tribune’s live blog…
Rush University Medical Center was built for a moment like this. Take a look inside the calm at the center of Chicago’s coronavirus storm.
Lightfoot administration files legal brief opposing immediate release of Cook County Jail detainees
After diagnosis, how do you know when it’s safe to be around others? Answers about getting it — and getting over it.
Gary is emerging as new epicenter of COVID-19 outbreak in Lake County, Ind., reports show
Elected officials, activists, union leaders press for changes in reaction to impact of coronavirus on black community
Neighbors rally to local handyman locked up in Cook County Jail as threat of coronavirus spreads
CTA passengers will have to enter through back of buses to promote social distancing during coronavirus pandemic
* Headlines from the Sun-Times’ live blog…
Security firm hiring 300-plus positions for McCormick Place field hospital
Mayor Lori Lightfoot drives around city telling groups to ‘break it up’
150 cases of coronavirus found in 20 Lake County nursing homes
* Essential workers exposed to coronavirus can return to work if showing no symptoms, CDC says: Under the new guidelines for essential workers, the CDC recommends that exposed employees take their temperatures before their shifts, wear face masks and practice social distancing at work. They also are advised to stay home if they are ill, not share headsets or other objects used near the face and refrain from congregating in crowded break rooms. Employers are asked to take exposed workers’ temperatures and assess symptoms before allowing them to return to work, aggressively clean work surfaces, send workers home if they get sick and increase air exchange in workplaces.
* Major Meat Processors Shutting Down Plants As Employees Get Sick With COVID-19: The United States has a large enough meat inventory to prevent shortages for consumers, explained Christine McCracken, senior analyst of animal protein for Rabobank. Processors that were previously servicing restaurants or cafes have started to sell to retailers. And some restaurants are selling groceries, including meat, directly to customers.
* Virus Sparks Prison Riot, Hits More Washington state Long-Term Care Homes: Corrections officers used verbal orders, pepper spray and rubber pellets to get the demonstrators under control, but the inmates ignored those efforts, officials said. Both housing units were evacuated and the situation was under control soon afterward. No one was injured.
* Haywire Immune Response Eyed In Coronavirus Deaths, Treatment: The out-of-control immune response eventually causes the patients’ lungs to stop delivering oxygen to the rest of organs, leading to respiratory failure and in some cases death, the experts say. The malfunctioning immune system may be driving the rapid decline in lung function experienced by some patients, including younger and relatively healthy ones, after the initial onset of symptoms, doctors say.
* State lawmaker questions Pritzker’s order for prisoner furloughs during pandemic: “I would give him an ‘F.’ Right now, the governor is not including the General Assembly,” Cabello said. “Right now the governor is acting like a dictator.”
* Alton mayor’s wife got death threats after she violated stay-at-home order, she says
* Illinois has ‘supreme authority’ to enforce coronavirus quarantine — but won’t use it: “To be honest, we don’t have the resources, the capacity or the desire to police every individual’s behavior,” Pritzker said on March 20. “Enforcement comes in many forms and our first and best option is to rely on Illinoisans to be good members of their communities.”
* Illinois State Police, ministers want you to stay home for Easter to fight coronavirus: Kelly, the former St. Clair County State’s Attorney, said police officers will not be “storming” into churches on Easter morning, but cautioned that if there is evidence that large groups had gathered, there could be consequences.
* Cities across Illinois consider civil fines to stack on top of possible criminal charges for violating governor’s stay-at-home order
* Langfelder signs order toughening stay at home enforcement
* Illinois State Museum seeks to preserve pandemic history
* Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle not ready to consider layoffs as ‘economy falls off a cliff’ because of coronavirus crisis
* Constable: Elgin has a history of enduring other plagues
* Effingham County Health Department reports first COVID-19 death
* 3 people in Pulaski County Detention Center diagnosed with COVID-19
* Will pandemic short-circuit Illinois clean energy reform?
* Rosemont convention center considered ‘last resort’ field hospital
* He was a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather: ‘That he had to die alone just breaks our hearts’
* CTA bus drivers might pass you by if more passengers make social distancing impossible
* Coronavirus interrupted our lives. Now it’s invading our dreams.
* McLean County officials extend property tax due date, may delay interest penalties, because of coronavirus
* Woodward lays off 425 workers in Loves Park