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COVID-19 roundup

Thursday, May 7, 2020

* The city’s vital convention business is edging toward a major disaster

Pritzker’s plan, announced Tuesday, has put the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies in an impossible situation, said President and CEO Jim Pittas.

The group’s annual PACK Expo is scheduled for Nov. 8-11 at McCormick Place, and last year drew about 71,000 people. Pittas said he doubts a vaccine will be available by then, and is unsure what would constitute a readily available treatment option.

Pittas said he is worried that canceling without a specific mandate from the city or state might make it harder to file an insurance claim. “Right now, we can’t plan for a show and we can’t cancel it. We’re right in between with no clear direction,” he said. “We’re in no man’s land right now.”

Between July and December, McCormick Place is scheduled to host 67 events with an expected attendance of 781,168 people, said spokeswoman Cynthia McCafferty. Those meetings and conventions translate to 585,199 nights in hotel rooms and generate $922.7 million in economic impact, including spending on food and entertainment.

If the conventions are canceled, they’ll probably move to an “open” state like Florida and might never come back. But if Illinois allows hundreds of thousands of people from all over creation to attend conventions, the region risks a series of major and potentially disastrous outbreaks.

* Gov. Pritzker said the other day that he didn’t think we’d see a meat shortage. Welp

“Where’s the beef?” has been a marketing slogan associated with Wendy’s for more than three decades, but customers have literally been asking the question in recent days as the Dublin, Ohio-based fast food chain fights COVID-19-related meat shortages.

Just over 1,000 Wendy’s restaurants — or nearly 20% — had no beef items available on their online menus Monday night, according to an analysis by Stephens Inc., an investment bank.

In a statement, the company said it was continuing to supply hamburgers to its restaurants, but that “some of our menu items may be in short supply from time to time at some restaurants in this current environment.”

The chain’s three Springfield stores are limiting customers to single-patty burgers to deal with the supply crunch, according to employees at those locations.

* Jake Griffin

One key requirement for moving to a less restrictive phase of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s economic restoration plan is 14 consecutive days of no more than 20% of COVID-19 tests being positive.

That countdown did not start on Wednesday, when the infection rate was 22.8% in the region that includes Chicago and the suburbs, according to a Daily Herald analysis of Illinois Department of Public Health infection and testing records. […]

Statewide, the infection rate Wednesday was 15.2%. The rate has declined significantly in the past two weeks as more testing has become available.

* You first, Representative

Illinois State Representative Terri Bryant has sent a letter to Governor JB Pritzker to express her disapproval of the state’s reopening plan when it comes to religious gatherings.

The 5-phase plan Gov. Pritzker revealed on Tuesday does not allow for gathering of more than 50 people until the requirements of Phase 5 have been met.

In a letter to the governor, Rep. Bryant said this part of the plan goes against allowing people to freely worship.

“That, to me, is completely unacceptable. If my church calls for a regular in-person worship service prior to the state reaching Phase 5, I can guarantee that I will be one of the first parishioners through the doors,” wrote Bryant. “Quite simply, when it comes to your plan for how I am ‘allowed’ to worship, I will not comply.”

* Headlines from the Tribune’s live blog

Illinois congressional delegation seeks extension of 2,000 National Guard troops to assist with pandemic through June

Chicago Park District summer camp season will be abbreviated

Chicago doctors — mostly moms — join together to advise officials and the public. ‘We can’t not say something.’

Field Museum to host blood drives

Lightfoot cancels news conference to outline Chicago’s plan to ease COVID-19 restrictions

Harborside golf course forced to close Thursday by city

COVID-19 in Illinois, the US and the world: Timeline of the outbreak

Wave of infections from New York travelers swept through US before city began social distancing measures, research shows

Chicago can’t reopen without decrease in the number of coronavirus cases, Mayor Lori Lightfoot says

Latino communities in Illinois see uptick in COVID-19 confirmed cases: “Physical distancing is a privilege”

The high-rise office you left in March may not resemble the one you’re going back to. Here’s what workplaces may look like after the coronavirus shutdown.

* Sun-Times live blog

Archdiocese launches call-in prayer service

Clorox wipes should be fully back in stock by summer, company CEO says

Attorneys for Cook County Jail detainees ask for records on COVID-19 testing

A Lake County judge tested positive for COVID-19.

Federal stimulus checks: No forwarding address for some recipients

Hundreds of city workers take on new jobs to meet pandemic needs

Neiman Marcus becomes 2nd major retailer to seek Chapter 11

- Posted by Rich Miller        

28 Comments
  1. - Amalia - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:11 pm:

    conferences and conventions, and concert and theater productions must be the focus of fast decisions for how to operate safely. they breathe life into the economy. friends in both industries are fearful that things will not come back nearly where they were. when Mayor Lightfoot announced her plan, there was nothing in it for the arts industry.


  2. - Proud Papa Bear - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:15 pm:

    What about my constitutional right to have more than one patty on my burger? /s


  3. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:21 pm:

    === “That, to me, is completely unacceptable. If my church calls for a regular in-person worship service prior to the state reaching Phase 5, I can guarantee that I will be one of the first parishioners through the doors,” wrote Bryant. “Quite simply, when it comes to your plan for how I am ‘allowed’ to worship, I will not comply.”===

    Oh, Ms. Bryant,

    Is your religious beliefs so fragile that the need to gather during a global pandemic is required to be spiritually fulfilled?

    Matthew 18:20

    Shepherds endangering the flock sounds unlike what Matthew says.


  4. - Steve - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:23 pm:

    -If the conventions are canceled, they’ll probably move to an “open” state like Florida and might never come back. -

    How true. You can’t compete if you aren’t allowed to compete.


  5. - Cool Papa Bell - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:26 pm:

    At some point in the not too distant future the science will evolve to allow for conventions and such to return to Illinois. Keep in mind we are learning so much each day…

    Now will people be willing to go to a convention?


  6. - In 630 - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:30 pm:

    I guess “right to infect” states are the new “right to work” states


  7. - A Jack - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:35 pm:

    Some churches do multiple sermons over Christmas. What is stopping a church from doing five sermons for 10 parishioners on a Sunday. Or for that matter 10 or 15 sermons? As long as you keep the number of parishioners down to 10 per sermon you can have as many in person services as you want and keep people safe. I certainly wouldn’t attend a church that wants to send me to heaven before I am ready.


  8. - SSL - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:41 pm:

    There are many studies underway that may very well yield treatment options if not a vaccine. The Northwestern University doctor that is on WGN regularly seemed very optimistic that these studies will yield positive results in a reasonable time period. Until that happens large group events of any kind simply aren’t going to happen. What state can take the risk?


  9. - Benniefly2 - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:45 pm:

    There is an awful big assumption in the convention story that there will be 70,000 people chomping at the bit to share space in a convention center this fall in the absence of a vaccine or ‘effective treatment’ being available.


  10. - 32nd warder - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:47 pm:

    having spent a lot of time in springfield, i have to imagine that the single patty limit must be as popular as face masks in Bailey’s district.


  11. - Logical thinker - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:54 pm:

    Maybe it’s time to put things in perspective:

    The survival rate of Covid is roughly 98% as a baseline and when adjusted for those under 50 with no comorbidities, the survival rate is greater than 99.5%. For all those who fear positive cases and infection rates, this perspective is helpful.

    Now ask ourselves is killing one of the few golden geese left for IL (convention and tourism) worth it with these numbers?


  12. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    2% death rate is 19 times the rate of the flu.

    How’s that perspective?

    If someone tells me the mortality rate is 19 times greater, that ain’t great at all.

    See, that’s a perspective of your rationale to think having my family, friends, Your family friends.., die for money.


  13. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    Right now, total cases and mortality is 4.4%

    That’s 43 times greater than the flu…

    I know you “rationalized” which deaths you deemed “acceptable” but context matters too.


  14. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:01 pm:

    In *all* of 2019-2020, CDC had the high end of flu deaths at 64,000

    In 9 weeks, the United States passed 64,000 deaths…

    How’s that perspective going?


  15. - Logical Thinker - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:03 pm:

    In no universe is the mortality rate 4.4% for Covid. If you want to believe that, have at it but most will acknowledge that your “facts” are way, way off because context matters.


  16. - Graduated College Student - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    Much like with “most Americans aren’t going shopping at these places until they feel safe” “most Americans aren’t going to conventions and conferences until they feel safe.” And that assumes there won’t be any cuts to travel and professional development budgets from the unfolding recession, which seems…optimistic.


  17. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:09 pm:

    I think a year over year comparison of total deaths from all causes would be informative. I expect that January and February would match fairly closely and then diverge as Covid related deaths increase.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    === In no universe is the mortality rate 4.4% for Covid.===

    The math says otherwise, currently.

    Further, you’re assuming those deaths are the only deaths, none not recorded.

    ….

    We can do this all day, but your thoughts to dismissing numbers to pretend your non-existed numbers are *the* numbers is exactly why opening things… not many are planning to show up.

    You can’t un-die… the doctors and nurses and scientists aren’t as lax to life as you seem to be… as you “dismiss” some deaths… “because”


  19. - Lynn S. - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:12 pm:

    One of the reasons Covid-19 is so bad in Massachusetts is that Biogen had a conference in February. Turns out, some asymptomatic carriers were there, and between the flights and all the convention gatherings and dinners, our novel Corona virus went out with a bunch of folks, who then carried it back to their family, friends, and co-workers throughout the U.S. and the world.

    I feel very badly for the people whose jobs are connected to conventions. This is another business that’s going to be depressed for a long time.

    I’m a reasonably healthy person for my age, and there’s no way in Hades I want to go to a convention of any size for the next few years.

    And if I was the president of an insurance company? No way in h-e-double hockey sticks do I want to write an insurance policy for one. That would be like gathering up every single asset and bit of money my company has, then dousing the pile with gasoline and lighting it with a flamethrower (banned punctuation).

    Waaaaayyyy too much risk.


  20. - Former Candidate on the Ballot - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:18 pm:

    The mortality rate for this virus will remain unchanged without a vaccine. In fact it might even get higher as the virus mutates. What WILL change is how people FEEL about this scientifically objective number.


  21. - tea_and_honey - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:25 pm:

    I think even if people were comfortable attending a convention this fall there’s a good chance their company isn’t going to fund the travel. I know mine has cut all travel for the foreseeable future due to budget shortfalls.


  22. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:33 pm:

    I am confused by those who say churches are exempt from the State’s public health laws. Are they also exempt from other laws like the Building Code, Americans with Disabilities Act, Fire Code, minimum wage? Are they suggesting they get to pick and choose which laws to follow?


  23. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    What happens when these conventions, if they move, spread the virus in Florida? And what if there are no services for the conventions there (or here)? Maybe there is no more convention.

    Also, many large Florida businesses are not following the inadequate, lax, and absurd opening strategy from their governor. They’re following Disney instead, which might not open until next year.

    https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/04/25/ron-desantis-re-open-florida-coronavirus-204833


  24. - Demoralized - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 3:43 pm:

    ==I am confused by those who say churches are exempt from the State’s public health laws. ==

    You should be confused, becasue they aren’t exempt.


  25. - Friend of the Family - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 4:45 pm:

    I wish someone would respond to the Cook County Public Defender’s oped in the Sun Times about DCFS and supervised visits. The article complains but offers no solutions. Specifically the impact of COVID on the African-American community is mentioned. Exposing the primarily African-American families and children in Cook County during this pandemic because of some personal crusade without viable options seems very misguided. If parents have no means to contact their children to keep in touch, then the public guardians office should be providing those tools. Not wishing further exposure in one of the hardest hit counties. Many of us cannot be with our loved ones either because of the COVID crisis. This is a burden on us all. Don’t expose people further by forcing or compelling something to happen that can be accomplished by your own office by getting these people access to the ability to communicate. Defend people, but do it wisely.


  26. - Huh? - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 5:37 pm:

    “Quite simply, when it comes to your plan for how I am ‘allowed’ to worship, I will not comply.”

    I wish someone would remind these doofuses what that US District Court Judge said in the Lena case. Didn’t he essentially say that your first amendment right for freedom of religion didn’t give you the right to infect someone with an infectious disease?


  27. - Lynn S. - Thursday, May 7, 20 @ 7:14 pm:

    To follow up on my earlier comment about Massachusetts:

    Their population is 6.893 million. We’re at 12.9 million.

    Today’s numbers:

    New cases: 2641 Illinois, 1696 Massachusetts

    Deaths: 138/3111 Illinois, 132/4552 Massachusetts

    Total cases: 70,873 Illinois, 73,721 Massachusetts

    They’re past us in several categories, with about 60% of our population.


  28. - RNUG - Friday, May 8, 20 @ 12:48 am:

    == Now will people be willing to go to a convention? ==

    I was bringing a national car club convention to Springfield in a month or so. I’ve already rescheduled it out several months. I’ve only received about a 10% pre-registration when it would normally be 70% - 80% of the normal attendees by now.

    But, given the newest limitations / criteria, I’m just a couple of days away from cancelling it completely for this year because we either have to kick into high gear or delay. I told the SCVB where I’m at in the decision process and they are still saying Springfield should be open by then … but the Governor is saying cancel the State Fair.

    Unless something changes fast, there will be one less convention here …


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* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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