* Kind of a reach by Politico…
A DEM DISSES STAY-AT-HOME ORDER
Democratic Sen. Michael Hastings is pushing back against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan. Hastings wants to open up gyms and fitness centers —operations considered “high-touch” — ahead of Phase 4. Finding the right “balance” between health and economy “is a daunting task,” he says in a two-page memo to Pritzker. “Fitness and health club professionals agreed that while distancing may be a part of our new normal, wellness and connection remain more important than ever.” Page 1, Page 2 … Asked if he was a gym rat, Hastings told Playbook: “I have a lot of constituents who are gym-goers and friends who are gym-owners. They’re all struggling in their own way.” The Democrat from Frankfort says Pritzker’s team has “committed to me that they will be working on my recommended solutions.” Until now, it’s been Republicans who have led the political charge against the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Such melodrama. Hastings isn’t leading the charge against the order. Here’s what he told me yesterday…
I have been in close communication with the Governor’s office regarding this issue. They have been extremely understanding and are very engaged regarding this issue. I am hoping for positive news in the future.
He’s gonna have to wait, though. From the governor’s office…
Health clubs and gyms are high risk environments that public health experts have recommended fully re-open in phase four of the Restore Illinois plan. In phase three, accommodations were made to allow outdoor fitness training in groups of 10 or fewer and one on one training. As the state’s health metrics continue to improve and the virus is further under control, the health experts suggest we can move forward with reopening health clubs and gyms in phase four with proper health protocols in place. Illinois has proven that a data driven approach works and we will continue to follow the plan laid out by the experts.
* Bruce Rushton of the Illinois Times checked out the legislative protest last week…
You can’t believe everything you see on TV — I would talk to people and find a voice of reason. I started with folks who had just finished speaking with another reporter.
“I’m asthmatic and pushing 60; if I catch the virus, I’m at greater risk,” I began. “None of you are wearing masks. This is my job. I have to work. What do you say to someone like me?”
“Stay home!” people yelled. And worse. The crowd around me grew larger, and closer. A few pulled masks from pockets to prove that they were equipped and responsible. One man drew near and asked why, if I was so worried, I stood within six feet of all these protesters. It seemed pointless to point out that I wasn’t the one who’d advanced. Nor did I bring up a recent National Institute of Health study showing that droplets from loud talk can remain airborne for 14 minutes. There was plenty of shouting all around, with no discernible wind.
“I’m not a bank robber, I’m not a kid,” someone yelled into a PA system. “I don’t need a mask.” I spoke with a maskless woman who asserted that she could just as easily get the virus standing in this crowd as at the medical lab where she works. She didn’t want to discuss precautions taken by her employer.
* Racing soon?…
Illinois’ struggling horse racing industry could be back off to the races as soon as next week without any spectators in attendance, but Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he’s not quite ready to pick up the starting bugle just yet.
The governor’s office said Wednesday evening it was in the home stretch of implementing a plan to resume fan-free operations at the state’s three racetracks, with health protections in place for workers.
Hawthorne Race Course had already bolted from the starting gate, though, with the Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association announcing the track in west suburban Stickney will reopen June 6 for drivers and trainers, but not railbirds.
They could be off and running even sooner at Fairmount Park in downstate Collinsville, where the Illinois Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association says they’ve gotten clearance for thoroughbred racing to “resume as early as June 1.” […]
“I don’t think it’ll restart on June 1. I think live horse racing will restart. I can’t tell you what date, but again, it will be like other spectator sports where it would have to run without spectators, at least to begin with,” Pritzker said.
* This was pretty cool to see last night…
* Speaking of which…
Rivian has reopened its Normal plant and says it remains on track to deliver its first electric vehicle order by 2021.
The plant was temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, although some contractors remained on site to work on projects related to updating the former Mitsubishi auto plant.
Ford Motor Co. temporarily paused production at its stamping plant in Chicago Heights on Wednesday for sanitation after an employee at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. […]
It is the automaker’s fourth plant that has faced disruption tied to the coronavirus since the company resumed production last week.
* On to tourism…
The road trip is poised for a comeback.
At least, that is what tourism officials and experts say could occur this year as travelers look to destinations within driving distance amid continued concerns over the coronavirus.
This could bode well for centers of tourism and hospitality in Illinois looking for a comeback this summer to make up for spring losses.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of people traveling regionally, so being able to drive places and not having to go through the process of flying and everything that might come with that additionally,” said Nick Thomas, director of the School of Hospitality Leadership at DePaul University. “So being able to go places in close proximity, two-, four-, six hour range, which for places like Chicago, that’s great, because we have so many people that live in the kind of that driving time zone.”
A survey recently commissioned by the U.S. Travel Association found 68% feel safest when traveling in their car. About 45% said they are more likely to travel by car after COVID-19 has passed. Nearly one-third said they would be willing to drive up to 300 miles to reach their vacation destination.
[Choose Chicago, the organization charged with boosting Chicago’s image] is now throwing its efforts into showcasing Chicago as a safe place where reopening protocols are based on public health and science, says board chairman Glenn Eden, an executive vice president with the public relations firm Weber Shandwick.
Its new campaign, called “Tourism & Hospitality Forward,” encourages hotels, restaurants, museums and other attractions to pledge to keep “socially responsible” health and cleanliness measures top of mind for both visitors and employees, and to prominently display that info on websites and other communications.
Unlike some places that have hurtled toward a rapid reopening with a patchwork of measures, Chicago wants to be viewed as an intelligent destination that visitors can trust, Eden says.
“The science will always prevail,” he says.
* Chicago Tribune live blog…
Coronavirus tab for Chicago Public Schools now up to about $44 million
CVS opening hundreds more drive-thru testing locations
COVID-19 spurs union pushes among Chicago-area essential workers. ‘We’re not just burger flippers. We’ve been essential.’
Illinois stores everywhere but Chicago can start reopening Friday. Here’s what to expect in phase 3.
Legal marijuana was supposed to help communities hurt by the war on drugs. But COVID-19 may crush efforts to diversify Illinois’ largely white weed industry.
2 Cook County judges diagnosed with COVID-19
Coronavirus economic toll mounts: 41 million have sought jobless aid
As non-COVID-19 patients return to Chicago-area emergency rooms, doctors see skyrocketing blood pressure and other side effects of delays in care. ‘It’s terrible, and it’s frightening.’
Staffer at Springfield convention center where state House met tests positive for COVID-19
Illinois’ coronavirus death toll passes 5,000 as US tops jarring milestone of 100,000 fatalities
What’s the recovery rate for COVID-19 in Illinois? That number is now available. But it’s complicated.
Chicago restaurants test COVID-19 surcharges as costs mount, but customer backlash forces one to retreat
Chicago to allow “shared streets” program for residents to walk and bike in neighborhoods
* Sun-Times live blog…
These 8 Chicago streets will close to most traffic for social distancing
Chicago-area woman survives coronavirus — and 21-day coma
Two Cook County judges test positive for COVID-19
41 million have lost jobs since virus hit, but layoffs slow
Illinois coronavirus death toll eclipses 5,000
Movie theaters pressure Pritzker to loosen up and allow them to open at 50% capacity
Steering a middle course between COVID-19 hopes and fears