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Today’s quotable

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Block Club Chicago

The head of the Illinois Department of Public Health took issue Thursday with people who oppose wearing masks to protect others from the spread of coronavirus, saying it’s like playing “Russian roulette.”

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the state’s health department, told mask opponents Thursday: “Your individual actions, or even your inactions, will still affect everyone in this state.

“I’m likening the refusal to wear face coverings to a game of Russian roulette, as we don’t know who’s infected, we don’t know if we are infected,” Ezike said.”We’re just taking a chance.

“This game of Russkaya ruletka is a game that is very risky, the stakes are high. It’s potentially fatal. Let’s not gamble with coronavirus. We don’t even know the longterm affects of having COVID-19 — what might happen to our lungs 5, 10, 20 years after being infected.”

And she said it with what sounded like the proper accent.

…Adding… I’m told Dr. Ezike speaks five languages.

* Meanwhile, here’s some helpful info…


* And some really stupid behavior…


  19 Comments      


Gaming to resume on July 1

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Illinois Gaming Board…

Statewide casino and video gaming operations were indefinitely suspended on March 16, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic’s impacts, Gaming Board staff across all division have remained at work performing the agency’s functions.

Among other tasks, the Gaming Board has continued its work to implement the provisions of last year’s landmark gaming expansion law, including the analysis and investigation of 10 new casino applications and two new racetrack gaming applications, the launch of online sports wagering, expanded video gaming, and essential rulemaking activities.

The Gaming Board has also been at work planning for the safe, fair, orderly and consistent resumption of statewide public casino gambling and video gaming operations. Guided by public health metrics and safety considerations, and in close consultation with the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Governor’s Office, the Gaming Board issued Resumption Protocols to guide casino and terminals in their resumption planning. The Resumption Protocols were released on June 9, 2020 and are available on the Gaming Board’s website.

Each casino and terminal operator has now provided to the Gaming Board a Pandemic Resumption Plan that will guide their operations when gaming can resume on Wednesday July 1, at 9:00 A.M.

“The Gaming Board worked with the Governor’s Office, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) to develop a gaming resumption process that protects the public health of patrons and employees, while restarting gaming activities in meaningful way,” said Gaming Board Administrator Marcus Fruchter. Video gaming and casino gaming can both resume operations on July 1, 2020 at 9 AM. Fruchter continued, “The video and casino gaming industry have worked cooperatively and professionally with the IGB to develop best practices that create the safest possible environment for gaming, while adhering to IDPH, DCEO, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidance. We appreciate their cooperation and work toward the mutual goal of a resumption that protects the safety and integrity of Illinois gaming”

  7 Comments      


Pritzker says all regions will advance to Phase 4 tomorrow - Cass County in warning zone - Pritzker speaks of friend he lost to virus - Talks about what could happen if cases spike again - Cass County spike is meat-packing plant - Warns young people - Will extend evictions moratorium, but open to talks - “We’re taking this as it comes” - Will maintain federal sites with federal money already received - Will not delay minimum wage hike - Implies Lightfoot is defying Phase 4 crowd regulations - Reiterates support for police reforms - Commends Gaming Board - Calls virus numbers “stable” - Says he is trusting Illinoisans to make smart decisions - Warns going backward would be “terrible for business” - Dodges question about why IDES director doesn’t speak at briefings - Didn’t need GAO report to know he was right about PPE mess

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* No surprise, but here’s the press release…

Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that every region of the state meets the health benchmarks to advance into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan. Ahead of the transition tomorrow, Gov. Pritzker announced several new efforts to build on the state’s robust response to COVID-19 and help keep Illinoisans safe.

“We’ve seen what’s happened in other states that have allowed politics or short-term thinking to drive decision-making. Many other states are now seeing significant increases in cases, hospitalizations, and intensive care bed usage and they’re being forced to move backward and stay at home – that’s not the story in Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Here, we have been gradually restoring business and leisure activities in a highly deliberate manner, guided by doctors’ advice. Illinoisans are following the mitigations that we can each do ourselves, like wearing face coverings, keeping 6 feet distance between us, and washing our hands frequently. It’s because of the people of Illinois that we’re seeing a trajectory of relative success where other parts of the country are not.”

PHASE 4 METRICS

All four Restore Illinois health regions have met the IDPH health benchmarks to advance into Phase 4. Metrics include reductions of positivity rate and hospital admissions and availability of hospital surge capacity.

On a statewide level, Illinois flattened the curve, passed the peak and saw a sustained decline in key metrics since the coronavirus pandemic began. Looking at 7-day rolling averages – which smooth out daily fluctuations and allow trends to emerge – Illinois is seeing marked declines in cases, deaths, case positivity and covid-related hospitalizations.

This post will be updated with some of the Q&A with the governor and Dr. Ezike. Please make sure to pardon all transcription errors when that happens. Thanks.

…Adding… The state has some new county metrics. If you click here, you’ll see a color-coded county map of the state

Blue indicates that the county is experiencing overall stable COVID-19 metrics.

Orange indicates there are warning signs of increased COVID-19 risk in the county.

Illinois has just one orange county right now, Cass County in west-central Illinois. It has a positivity rate of 10.8 percent.

* On to questions for the governor: Governor you mentioned during this that you lost a family friend or a relative or someone close to you. Can you elaborate on that?…

Yeah. Someone that I’ve known for more than 25 years was a leader in our community when I used to live in Evanston, and he was a real leader in Evanston, somebody who cared deeply about young people, in particular those who had gotten in trouble and he wanted to help them reform their lives as he had himself. A man named Hecky Powell. I grieve for his family and I, when his life had been lost I honestly, I had to call people that we all know that are friends with him, too, and share the grief that I’ve had over that loss. And you know I know many others who are suffering have suffered over the time of COVID-19 with the virus, including our attorney general, that we all know is recovering at home. And so I hope we’ll pray for him and for everybody who’s suffering now.

* You mentioned that you would not be afraid to take a step back. Could that include a stay at home order? I know California’s talking about that as a possibility…

Everything that we’ve gone through over the last three and a half months has led us to this point where things are going well and in the right direction and it allows us to gradually open our economy and to do more have more activity and so on. But I’m not afraid to move us backward to the things that we’ve done in the past I you know you can each one of these phases has aspects of it that we may need to return to. I’ll just give one example you just heard that in Texas that they’ve issued an order to eliminate elective surgeries in Texas because they no longer have enough hospital beds. We allowed elective surgeries more than a month ago back in early May, and if we have trouble with hospital beds with the ICU beds, that might be something that we would need to do that’s one example.

* In the country we’ve seen some spikes in cases among young people. Are we seeing any of that in our new cases that have been reported in the past couple of weeks?…

I will say that we’ve seen numbers of young people contract, COVID-19 and indeed very recently there was an accounting of the cases in in Cass County. And I looked at the specific numbers by age bracket, and there are quite a number of people in their 20s, who had contracted COVID-19 and so I immediately called Dr Ezike after I read this article and saw this graph and, and she explained that much of that had to do with an outbreak at a meat processing plant in that area. But that can happen anywhere. I mean it isn’t just meat processing can happen in any office environment in any manufacturing environment. It could happen anywhere and, you know, in many of the places people work there, young people working there. So, it’s a challenge that we are paying very close attention to I know everybody focuses on seniors because it’s had such a devastating effect on people who are over at over 70, and so on. But we can’t forget that many people who are younger than that contract. And sometimes die from COVID-19.

* With some of the executive orders are going to be filing tomorrow would that also include a moratorium on the evictions, would that be extended?…

We’re continuing the course that we’ve been on there are people that are that are very very challenged in these moments from with, you know, paying their rent, as we’re recovering the economy. You know we don’t we want to make sure people are not thrown out of their homes becoming homeless for something that is, you know, that everybody is suffering from. And we’re trying to balance the interests of the people who own those properties with the people who rent from those properties by giving rent assistance for example and quite a lot of rent assistance, we just recently allocated through our COVID-19 relief funds. Those effect, Carlos was mentioning, you know, those are going to be distributed through many organizations throughout the state.

* What’s your reaction to the lawsuit filed by landlords that seek to stop your ban on residential evictions on grounds including that another executive order doing so exceeds your authority?…

I’d just respond with the answer I just gave. It’s important for us to stand up for people who are working class people who cannot otherwise afford to maintain their home we do not want people to become homeless in this difficult crisis.

* Would you be open to carving out exceptions versus a blanket ban for example a ban only on evictions related to renters who cannot pay directly due to COVID-19?…

We could have lots of conversation about different ways in which to preserve people’s homes to preserve the shelter that they live in now and I’m obviously open to conversations like that I always have been. And all the way along I’ve been having conversations. Even with people on the other side of the aisle who deny that those conversations take place. And I’m somebody who’s always looking for a better way to do things. So I would listen to ideas, but suffice to say that my number one focus here is we’ve got to protect the people who are most vulnerable to this virus and most vulnerable to the financial impact of this virus.

* You’ve said if Illinois sees a backsliding in coronavirus data, moving backward through phases is a possibility. But what specific benchmarks will you use to determine whether that’s necessary and to seeing the spiking case and hospitalization numbers in other states that reopened earlier give you pause about Illinois moving into phase four now?…

Well, let me start with the latter part of that question, which is, of course, when I look at states that are moving backward and at such a rapid pace, I always think, are we doing it right, are we handling this right are we measured in our reopening? And I think we are measured in this reopening we’re being careful. So, you know, yes of course I mean, you can turn on the television and see what’s happening in Arizona Florida, Texas, South Carolina, etc. and not ask the question. Are we getting it right?

Sorry, the first part of the question was just, it was benchmark that we’re looking forward to. We’re in the Restore Illinois plan, you can look online we actually do say what what would be the things that would move you backward. Those are examples. But I told you that that we can make adjustments along the way. We start to see hospitalizations go up and are unmanageable. We would cut back on elective surgeries that’s one example of a change that we could make. But, we’re taking this as it comes. We’re watching very carefully the metrics that we’ve been watching all along to move us forward in our phases are the very same metrics that we’re watching about whether or not we need to think about moving backward.

* On the two federal sites have lost the funding yesterday, how will the state be paying for those to stay open?…

We’re going to maintain those sites and you know there has been COVID relief dollars provided by the Federal CARES Act. And so we’ll be using some of those dollars to maintain those sites we obviously can’t use federal personnel anymore. Once those sites are the at least the federal government pulls out of those sites, we’ll be using state contracted providers to manage those sites but it’s very important to us to maintain sites and to grow the number of sites where we’re providing testing especially free testing.

* A study came out today saying that food service jobs are down over 40% due to the strictness of the reopening plan speaking with restaurants in Central Illinois, they say it is hard to hire back for a couple of reasons. One of them being the minimum wage rising on July 1. Has there been any thought of trying to suspend that pay raise to a later date?…

No.

We have a lot of challenges in the state, but one of them is people living in poverty and working at the very low minimum wage that we’ve had. We are working very hard to help our businesses get restarted to open up more you’ve seen me work at this every day we’ve provided relief funds for small businesses across the state. And we’re going to continue to do that but it’s not to the detriment of the people who are working class people in our state it’s to the benefit of them.

* Is Chicago defying the state’s rules by allowing gatherings up to 100 people outside? Have you talked to Mayor Lightfoot about this?…

She has not called me about this. It’s very clear our state has set guidelines and every municipality has the obligation to follow the guidelines, or they can put in guidelines that are more strict than the ones that we’ve set out, but not less strict. So I think that’s known by the city and understood by really all municipalities across the state.

* Amid protests over police brutality and gun violence in Chicago, do you think the city needs police reforms? I know you’ve talked about police reform efforts, but she’s talking about the city specifically…

Yes, I mean I would direct this across the state, but if you’re asking specifically about the city of Chicago, of course we need police reforms, because any question about that… I have stood together with people to protest over that very issue. We have, to address police accountability, we have to address criminal justice reform, something I’ve been working on since day one of my administration and that I worked very closely with the Lieutenant Governor on. And then of course we’ve got to work on investing in our black and brown communities all across the state and that’s something I’ve been doing since day one as well although more recently we’ve been through the federal CARES act, we’ve been able to provide COVID-19 dollars to many of those communities because, unfortunately, in addition to the racial injustice that’s been experienced for hundreds of years in this country by those communities. It’s also being experienced specifically by those communities from COVID-19, which happens to attack Latino communities and Black communities to a larger extent than other communities across the state.

* Gaming reopening…

I’m not an expert about how many times you need to wipe down a video terminal to make it safe, that’s one example of some detail that needs to be handled by people who understand the industry. The gaming board is doing a very good job I think of taking those things into consideration, most especially what we want to make sure is that people are safe when they go back to any activity entertainment or otherwise, but I would caution that we want to be, we’re like other activities we’re trying to do these things in measures, with lots of health and safety guidance, and that what’s the number one driving factor is people should not get sick of doing those activities.

* So we were at 2% positivity rate for three days this week now we’re going back up to 3%. Do we read into that do we need to wait a few more days to see if that goes up?…

…I think you need to wait to really make an evaluation. Here’s why we don’t really look at these on a day to day basis. I know we report them on a daily basis, but the way we look at them the way the IDPH looks at it is really on a seven day rolling average on an ongoing basis. What’s directionally, where are we going, is it stable is it downward is it upward. And also sometimes these get reported as whole numbers, 2% 3% but actually underneath that it’s 2.4% or 2.6%. And if you’re around those, one of them is two and one of them is three. So again, we’re watching closely these numbers but I wouldn’t read anything into the current numbers.

Obviously every day I watch the numbers and I think,are we going the right direction? And I’m rooting for it to go the right direction and we’re making policies that we hope will move it in the right direction. So, I’m,we’re watching. I would wait to make a judgment about whether there’s some direction here that it’s going to right now I would call it stable.

* Three months in with continued restrictions and COVID-19 awareness, why not trust Illinois residents and businesses to make smart decisions about how they conduct themselves?…

Indeed, we are. We’ve set parameters and guidance. We’ve provided people with guidelines at the IDPH and DCEO websites and told them what the limits are. But we are expecting businesses to have to be responsible during this time period they do need to encourage people to wear face coverings when they’re indoors. They do need to encourage people to wash their hands and so on. There are lots of things responsibilities that businesses as you know citizens corporate citizens of the state of Illinois must do and we’re absolutely relying upon them to do that. So, and many have been very very responsible I might add, there are some scofflaws that that have just, you know, throwing caution to the wind, and unfortunately made it much riskier for people.

But the fact is that you’ve seen that it would be terrible for business, I think this is the implication of the question that somehow this is worse for business to do it in a measured fashion. But what’s much worse is going backward after you’ve gone forward. That’s hard. Think about a stay at home order that was put in place, things then open up and then another stay at home order. If you’re a business owner, if you talk about killing a business that is what will do it and unfortunately we’re seeing that in some other states.

* Why is the acting director with the Illinois Department of Employment Security not available to take questions at these briefings?…

He’s answered a lot of questions to legislators, for example. But the fact is, I’ve answered many of the questions that have been asked about IDES and certainly ultimately the responsibility for our agencies falls to me. I’ve also talked here about the Department of Human Services and the work that they do and the and the Department of Children Family Services the work that they do. So, we’re working very hard at making available to everybody all the data that we have about the work that we’re doing to make it easier for people to apply for and get unemployment. And I think people have seen that we’ve largely succeeded in getting unemployment to people who can go online get that done and who can call in, we definitely have a have had a challenge as many, many other states have had. The systems that were built for this were not built for the multiples of unemployment claims that have been filed. And so everybody is, as I’ve said before trying to build the plane as we’re flying it.

* Is there any plan to open up employment offices?…

Each of our agencies has kind of a reopen plan that either has been developed or is being developed with a goal in mind of keeping first their clients, the people of Illinois safe. And second, of course, the people who work in those agencies safe.

* Today the government accountability office issued a 400 page scathing report on trillions in federal COVID aid. You once called the nationwide competition for PPE the Wild West. Does today’s report vindicate your frequent criticism of administration efforts during the early stages of the pandemic?…

I don’t think it needed vindication. Honestly, I think every state, you’ve heard so many states talk about their challenges with PPE and many other states haven’t been as frank as I have about the difficulty that they’ve had with the federal government not being of any assistance indeed kind of hindrance getting PPE. We’ve asked for PPE from the federal government we I think we’ve received 12% of the PPE that we asked for. And that’s been the experience of so many other states as well. So I’ve just say, I think unfortunately the White House has been an utter and complete failure at delivering on what states needed at the most critical time during this pandemic. And now, here we are in June, we’d love to get more help with the many challenges that we have and we get some help and that’s great. But, I think the criticisms, prove themselves out as factual along the way. I don’t need today’s report to do that but yes it’s another fact.

-30-

  16 Comments      


894 new cases, 41 additional deaths

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* There’s an uptick in new cases this week. 601 new cases were reported on Tuesday and 715 were reported yesterday…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 894 new confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including 41 additional confirmed deaths.

    Cook County: 2 males 30s, 1 female 50s, 3 females 60s, 2 males 60s, 2 females 70s, 3 males 70s, 4 females 80s, 3 males 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s, 1 female 100+
    DuPage County: 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 2 male 80s, 1 male 90s
    Kane County: 1 male 50s, 1 male 70s
    Lake County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 80s
    LaSalle County: 1 male 70s
    McHenry County: 1 male 70s, 1 male 80s
    Monroe County: 1 female 80s
    St. Clair County: 1 male 40s, 1 male 80s
    Will County: 2 females 80s
    Winnebago County: 1 male 80s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 139,434 cases, including 6,810 deaths, in 101 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 31,686 specimens for a total of 1,460,527. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from June 18–June 24 is 3%.

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, IDPH is now reporting both confirmed and probable cases and deaths on its website. Reporting probable cases will help show the potential burden of COVID-19 illness and efficacy of population-based non-pharmaceutical interventions. See CDC definition of a probable case on its website. IDPH will update these data once a week.

* Let’s move on to a COVID-19 roundup. Here’s Jake Griffin

More Illinois residents died in April than in any other month since at least 1999, but not all the additional deaths are attributed to known COVID-19 cases.

Illinois Department of Public Health figures shows 12,417 people died in April. From 2015 to 2019, the state averaged 8,875 deaths each April. That’s an increase this year of almost 40% above what the state averaged in the previous five Aprils.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases account for 2,256 of this year’s additional April deaths. But that still leaves almost 1,300 more deaths than what the state sees during the average April.

Public health officials believe those deaths resulted from uncounted COVID-19 cases, heart attacks and strokes in recovered or asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, seasonal influenza, drug overdoses and people who succumbed because they did not seek medical attention while COVID-19 was rampant.

Whew.

* Tina Sfondeles and Lynn Sweet

Democratic convention delegates were told Wednesday not to come to Milwaukee later this summer, though the city will “anchor” four nights of programming capped by Joe Biden traveling to the battleground state to accept the presidential nomination.

The COVID-19 pandemic scrambled convention plans for both parties’ conventions in August.

Republicans are still finalizing plans — amid an uptick of COVID-19 cases in Florida — but Illinois delegates to the Republican Convention say they’re all in for attending any variation of an in-person nominating event in the Sunshine State. […]

The GOP’s resounding yes came from an informal survey sent to delegates about whether they’d feel safe traveling and attending a convention during a pandemic, no matter where it’s held.

“At this point from the survey we’ve had no one say that they would not go because of any changes,” said Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Derek Murphy.

* Speaking of politics

A central Illinois Republican state senate candidate who does not have enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot asked a federal judge Tuesday to also apply loosened election requirements to him.

After the March 17 primary election, Alexander Ruggieri was chosen to fill the Republican Party’s nomination vacancy for the 52nd senate district race. To succeed in qualifying for the general election ballot, where he would challenge incumbent Scott Bennett (D-Champaign), Ruggieri needed to collect 1,000 voter signatures and submit his petition to the Illinois State Board of Elections by June 1.

According to his court filing, he gathered 1,152 signatures. After election officials reviewed the validity of those signatures, though, they determined only 949 were acceptable. That objection “threatens to keep Ruggieri from the general election ballot,” he argued.

* A “mini-wave” in Adams County and the first child to become infected

A young boy is among the latest people to contract COVID-19 in Adams County.

The Adams County Health Department said he is the first child in the county to contract the virus.

He is among seven new cases announced on Wednesday in what officials describe as a “mini-wave.”

“We have always expected that we would see an increase once we began to reopen following the stay-at-home order,” Quincy Mayor Kyle Moore said, adding that he believes the region “still has a big fight ahead of us” related to the pandemic. […]

The unidentified boy is under the age of 9. No other information about the child was provided.

* Lauraann Wood at Law360

McDonald’s Illinois operations and a McDonald’s franchise owner should be doing more to protect employees at their restaurants as they continue to work amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, an Illinois state court judge said Wednesday.

Cook County Circuit Judge Eve Reilly partially granted the McDonald’s employees’ bid for a preliminary injunction against McDonald’s Restaurants of Illinois and franchise owner DAK4 LLC, requiring the companies to provide workers at three Chicago locations with more adequate social distancing training and stricter mask enforcement practices.

McDonald’s has taken several reasonable steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including providing adequate amounts of handwashing stations and protective gear, Judge Reilly said. But it needs to fix the “two serious failures” that remain in the restaurants at issue — two of which have had employees test positive for the virus, she held. […]

“The hardship McDonald’s would suffer by strictly enforcing its mask policy and retraining employees on proper social distancing procedures is slight,” the judge held. “Now, McDonald’s may need to re-envision how it wants to implement the policy so as to ensure full compliance, but that is for McDonald’s to decide.”

* Teri Maddox at the BND

Metro-east restaurant owners seem cautiously upbeat.

Capacity limitations aren’t as low as some feared they would be for Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan for recovering from the coronavirus shutdown. The state on Monday released rules and guidelines for the phase, which allows indoor dining beginning Friday.

There’s no set maximum for number of customers allowed in sit-down restaurants, as long as tables are spaced 6 feet apart, parties are limited to 10 people or less and standing areas, such as bars, reach no more than 25% of normal capacity. […]

“As far as our plan to go inside, we again are playing it safe,” said [Wine Tap] co-owner Robbie Fogarty-Hayden. “We’re going to hold off a little bit, especially being that we are such a small location. We’re going to continue to kind of evaluate things, especially see what the first week in numbers look like. But we’ll probably be waiting at least two weeks until we do indoor dining.”

* Probably prudent

To protect its workers and patients, Clinton’s Warner Hospital and Health Services will continue to operate under the guidance of Phase 3 of the ‘Restore Illinois’ plan despite the state moving to phase 4 Friday.

CEO Paul Skowron told Regional Radio News on the WHOW Morning Show Wednesday they are going to continue to require masks by patients and social distancing guidelines of six-feet separation. He believes it is important for them to not let their guard down and demonstrate maximum safety.

* I’ve waited hours for this train in Springfield. Lots of potential for delays between San Antonio and Chicago

Amtrak service in Springfield will be further reduced this fall when Texas Eagle service will be cut to three times a week.

The reduction is the result of a severe drop in train ridership nationwide that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic.

  8 Comments      


*** UPDATED x1 *** Lightfoot appears to defy a state crowd-size limit

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot still refuses to open the beaches and playgrounds, even though she could tomorrow. But she’s also apparently going beyond the governor’s Phase 4 limit on the size of social gatherings. WBEZ’s Tony Arnold has been working on this for a couple days now

Overall, the state is limiting all social gatherings at 50 people. Since local governments can establish more stringent rules, however, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration is distinguishing between social gatherings inside versus outside. The city has put a limit on social gatherings outside – such as at an outdoor wedding or picnic – at 100 people.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office argued that requirement falls within the state’s 50-person cap so long as two groups of 50 people stay 30 feet apart. When asked about the city’s 100-person limit on outdoor gatherings earlier this week, Pritzker said getting 100 people together is “a goal,” and reiterated that local governments cannot have looser guidelines than what the state has put forward.

*** UPDATE *** The governor was asked about this today…

She has not called me about this. It’s very clear our state has set guidelines and every municipality has the obligation to follow the guidelines, or they can put in guidelines that are more strict than the ones that we’ve set out, but not less strict. So I think that’s known by the city and understood by really all municipalities across the state.

  12 Comments      


Who’s bluffing whom?

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sun-Times

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara on Wednesday called Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s bluff — saying if she’s serious about making disciplinary changes to the police contract, she’ll eliminate the requirement that Chicago Police officers live in the city and give them the right to strike.

One proposed disciplinary change would allow anonymous complaints — without a sworn affidavit.

“If they want to get rid of the [sworn] affidavit, then take the residency requirement out of the frickin’ contract and also take the no-strike clause out of our contract and then, let’s see how serious you really are. Give us the same ability that teachers have and give us the ability to live outside the city and then we’ll entertain the conversation about getting rid of the affidavit,” Catanzara told the Sun-Times.

“They’re full of it. … You keep talking about the affidavit. That’s a gigantic ask for us. You’re gonna be willing to give up residency and the no-strike clause? I guarantee they’re gonna say `no.’ But, it’s equal to me. It’s what we want you to give up in exchange for what you’re asking us to give up. They’re not gonna do it any more than we are.” […]

The City Council’s Black Caucus has threatened to block ratification of any police contract that continues to make it “easy for officers to lie” by giving them 24 hours before providing a statement after a shooting and also prohibits anonymous complaints (by requiring sworn affidavits) and allows officers to change statements after reviewing video.

* 5 ILCS 315/17

Sec. 17. Right to strike.

    (a) Nothing in this Act shall make it unlawful or make it an unfair labor practice for public employees, other than security employees, as defined in Section 3(p), peace officers, fire fighters, and paramedics employed by fire departments and fire protection districts, to strike except as otherwise provided in this Act.

Lightfoot can’t take that out of the contract. The General Assembly would have to pass a bill. And who the heck is gonna carry a bill to allow police officers to strike?

  63 Comments      


State survey of Cook County estimates $20 million in damages “due to recent civil unrest”

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker today announced the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has approved the state’s request for federal assistance to help businesses in the northern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will. The declaration stems from looting and other damages that took place in connection to civil unrest occurring May 26 through June 8, 2020. The approved SBA disaster declaration makes low-interest loans of up to $2 million available to eligible for businesses, homeowners, renters, and non-profits.

To help businesses facing damages as the result of recent civil unrest and looting, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) worked closely with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) to survey the damage from recent civil unrest and help businesses submit documentation. To be eligible for an SBA declaration, at least 25 homes and/or businesses in a county must sustain major, uninsured losses of 40-percent or more.

“Without a question, COVID-19 has placed an unprecedented burden on businesses across our state, and recent damage sustained during civil unrest only makes matters more challenging for business owners,” said Acting Director of DCEO, Michael Negron. “These SBA disaster loans will provide an essential resource for Illinois businesses who are looking ahead to make repairs and reopen safely.”

The DCEO-IEMA survey of damages in Cook County identified at least 40 businesses that sustained major damages and uninsured losses. Another 95 businesses in Cook County sustained minor damage. The damage assessment estimates more than $20 million dollars in damages due to recent civil unrest. This input was critical to receiving the SBA’s disaster declaration, and for triggering the availability of targeted, low-interest loans that will now be made available to small businesses and non-profits impacted by property damage and looting. […]

Applications for loans are available now and can be found on SBA’s website. Businesses and non-profits can borrow up to $2 million, homeowners can borrow up to $200k for real estate, and homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40k for personal property

The filing deadline is August 24th.

  3 Comments      


July could be a key month for the state’s beleagured budget

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

Will state government be next to announce furloughs, layoffs or pay cuts? As cash-strapped state and local governments look to Washington — and wait — for relief money to help pay for the unexpected costs tied to responding to COVID-19, Pritzker was asked about possible cuts: “Obviously, we look at that all the time because we want to be prepared. But the fact is, I think there is also a growing consensus the Senate will likely take up a (relief) bill of some sort … in July,” said Pritzker, sounding reasonably confident.

* Meanwhile

Illinois, the first U.S. state to tap into Federal Reserve aid for pandemic-battered governments, has reduced its unpaid bills to the lowest level since 2015. […]

The state used $1.2 billion of proceeds from a short-term Fed loan to help pay down the bills, said Carol Knowles, a spokesperson for the Governor’s Office of Budget and Management. The Fed established its Municipal Liquidity Facility to help state and local governments bridge funding gaps created by the pandemic.

Illinois officials have said that if Congress doesn’t approve additional aid they may need to borrow almost $5 billion more from the Fed facility in the upcoming fiscal year to help close a more than $6 billion deficit. In April, after the state delayed its income tax filing deadline to July, officials forecast a $2.7 billion revenue drop for the fiscal year ending June 30.

Illinois’ backlog reached a peak of $16.7 billion in 2017.

  13 Comments      


Question of the day

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Jamie Munks

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday he is not currently considering asking visitors to Illinois from states with spiking coronavirus infection rates to quarantine upon arrival, a measure the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced they would impose as summer officially begins.

”That’s not something that we are looking at implementing right now, but going forward if we got the advice to do that, we might,” Pritzker said Wednesday at an unrelated news conference in Geneseo. “All I can say is that New York and New Jersey and Connecticut have been through an awful lot. They’ve had so many people die, so many people hospitalized. A really tragic, tragic situation. I can understand why they might feel a need, when they see other places on the rise, when they’re actually doing a good job of keeping the rates down, that they might look at every possible way in which to diminish or keep down the number of cases.”

* The Question: Should the governor mandate that visitors from states with high infection rates, or Illinoisans returning from those states, quarantine themselves for two weeks? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


survey service

  60 Comments      


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will reopen next week with new exhibit

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Press release…

After a series of changes to protect visitor health, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is finalizing plans to reopen to the public on Wednesday, July 1.

Visitors will find the facility has been meticulously cleaned and disinfected, and protective barriers have been installed in key places to ensure guest and employee safety. Museum-goers will be also be encouraged to stay one “Lincoln” apart – 6 feet, 4 inches, the equivalent of President Lincoln’s height.

“We are thrilled to welcome everyone back to the museum and library,” said acting executive director Melissa Coultas. “In trying times, Abraham Lincoln’s example can be an inspiration and a comfort to all of us. People deserve to be able to come to this special place, learn about one of our greatest presidents and explore some new features we’re proud to offer.”

New measures to maximize public safety include:

    • Requiring tickets be purchased in advance, either online or by telephone
    • A brief visitor screening, including a temperature check before admission
    • Requiring face masks at all times
    • Installing signs with outlines of Lincoln’s feet to help visitors maintain proper physical distance
    • Reducing the number of theater performances and maintaining safe guest distancing throughout the shows (theaters will be cleaned and disinfected after each performance)
    • The temporary closure of the “Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic” play area and Union Station, home to an exhibit on railroad history
    • Limiting library access to reservation-only research patrons
    • Establishing a strict cleaning and sanitation regimen for the museum and library.

The museum will maintain its usual schedule of being open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Visitors can buy tickets up to two weeks in advance at www.PresidentLincoln.Illinois.gov.

The library will be open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but admission will be by appointment only. Researchers who want to schedule a visit should email ALPLM.reference@illinois.gov or call the reference desk at 217-524-6358.

When it reopens, the museum will feature a new exhibit called “Spies, Traitors, Saboteurs: Fear and Freedom in America.” Created by the International Spy Museum, it examines nine major events in history when Americans were threatened by enemies within the United States borders. This temporary exhibit has traveled throughout the nation over the past few years.

The exhibit does include powerful imagery that may be unsettling to some patrons. Artifacts include fragments of the planes that hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 and powerful imagery from domestic hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan. The ALPLM respects the decisions of parents and guardians but recommends children under 12 may want to avoid the exhibit. Children 12 and over should visit this exhibit with an adult.

And it won’t be long before the museum welcomes its five millionth visitor. That special guest will receive an array of gifts and special access to celebrate this milestone in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s 15-year history.

Glad it’s coming back. Wish they’d get rid of that giant statue of the sweater-wearing white guy standing with Abe, though.

…Adding… I’m now told that the silly statue is leaving in September when its contract expires. The city of Springfield asked the ALPLM board to extend its stay for a year, but the board declined.

If you’ve never seen the statue, here it is at a previous location…

Ridiculous.

  27 Comments      


Rate the Illinois Rising Action TV ad

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* I’ve been telling subscribers about this ad since Tuesday and have been waiting for someone else to report on it so I could post it here. Dave Dahl did it

“Remember when JB Pritzker ripped out his toilets to dodge paying property taxes?”

That’s the opening line of a new commercial from a group that says it wants to hold “Springfield politicians” accountable. It’s actually Democrats under the “Illinois Rising Action” microscope.

The PAC’s executive director, Kayleen Carlson, says Gov. Pritzker is just another tax-and-spend Democrat whose solution to anything is to raise taxes. Pritzker is not on the ballot this year, but the ad campaign wants you to remember two words: Vote Republican.

* Here it is

  49 Comments      


1.48 million Americans, 46,005 Illlinoisans file for unemployment benefits

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* AP

The number of laid-off workers who applied for unemployment benefits declined slightly to 1.48 million last week, the 12th straight drop and a sign that layoffs are slowing but are still at a painfully high level.

The steady decline in claims suggests that the job market has begun to slowly heal from the pandemic, which shuttered businesses and sent the unemployment rate up to 14.7% in April, its highest level since the Great Depression.

Illinois saw an increase in the number of people filing first-time claims. In the week ended June 20, 46,005 people in the state sought unemployment insurance benefits, compared with 44,694 Illinois residents a week earlier.

Still really, really bad.

  8 Comments      


Rep. Bailey: “We don’t want a new normal. We want the old normal”

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Rep. Darren Bailey (R-Xenia) submitted this op-ed last night…

In Illinois, we are three months into governance by Executive Order.

40 Executive Orders are already on the books since the beginning of the Coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak.

One-person rule has a poor track record throughout history. Unfortunately, we’ve been living under a one-size-fits-all approach to the Coronavirus, and it’s led to economic, social and educational harm.

According to the Governor’s schedule, Illinois gets to move into Phase 4 of his reopening plans and permissions on June 26:

“Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, child care and schools reopen under guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.”

I got news for the Governor, even while we were under his Phase 3 plans (gatherings of 10 people or fewer are allowed), southern Illinois has been getting together in larger numbers, WITHOUT his permission.

We are frustrated. We don’t want a new normal. We want the old normal, and that should have happened at a much faster pace for downstate Illinois.

Our State Fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin are cancelled, as well as the Grand American World Trapshooting competition in Sparta.

I note these particular events because downstate Illinois never experienced the COVID-19 outbreak that impacted Chicago. We should have been farther along on the reopening process.

Wirepoints, an independent online resource for economic research and commentary about Illinois’ government, publishes numerous articles about the Coronavirus’ impact on our state.

In a recent story, Wirepoints claims downstate should have reopened weeks ago even using the Governor’s own data-driven metrics:

“Case positivity rates downstate have collapsed for nearly two straight months…Per capita hospital admissions have also been just a fraction of those in the Northeast region. And there was never the risk of running short of hospital resources downstate like there was in Chicago.”

The Wirepoints article includes a graph showing 90 percent of COVID-19 deaths occurred in northeast Illinois, the Chicago region.

The Governor’s failure to take regionalization into consideration is one of the biggest criticism of his decision-making.

People I talk to are skeptical of what they’re being told about the impact of the Coronavirus, and who can blame them. For example, a Chicago Sun-Times story about virus deaths in nursing homes in April, included an admission by the Governor’s spokesman that a “definitional error” resulted in “cases being counted twice.”

At one news conference, the Director of the Illinois Department of Public Health admitted that Illinoisans who died with the virus were counted as the same as those who died because of the virus:

“I just want to be clear in terms of the definition of people dying of COVID. The case definition is very simplistic. It means, at the time of death it was a COVID positive diagnosis, so that means that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live and then you were also found to have COVID that would be counted as a COVID death.

It means that if technically even if you died of clear alternate cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death. Everyone who is listed as a COVID death, doesn’t mean that was the cause of the death, but they had COVID at the time of death,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

There are other concerns too.

Rules for Illinois daycare facilities under the governor’s lockdown Executive Orders were delayed for weeks before any set of guidelines were released. The delay caused a lot of economic pain for these businesses, and I fear that some may not be coming back, unable to survive the lockdown orders.

Our schools have only now (as of June 23) received information about reopening.

Will our teachers and administrators have a chance to provide input moving forward? Again, can a one-size-fits-all and top-down approach work for both Louisville and Chicago? What if the schools determine the guidelines to be impractical and unworkable; what happens next? The Governor previously talked about a combination of in-school and remote learning, but many students won’t get the same level of instruction and guidance if they are out of the classroom.

The lockdown orders have also had a devastating impact on the state economy. Sadly, there will be businesses that will never come back.

A recent academic study indicates 100,000 businesses across the country permanently collapsed because of the Coronavirus pandemic. That conclusion was reached more than a month ago. The University of Illinois participated in the research. Here’s an important quote:

“A team of researchers at the University of Illinois, Harvard University, Harvard Business School and University of Chicago discovered at least 2 percent of the nation’s small businesses are now gone after conducting a representative survey of more than 5,800 enterprises between May 9-11.”

The University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health released a related report on June 1 about the immediate and lasting impact of the Coronavirus on the state economy. The report predicts a loss of more than 550,000 jobs by March of 2021:

“The report says it is likely that somewhere between 1 million and 1.5 million Illinois jobs may be affected overall.”

One person rule doesn’t work fairly and equitably anywhere it’s tried, and neither does one party rule. One party rule of Illinois contributed mightily to the current fiscal failure of state government. The state’s public debt is beyond the ability of us mere mortal taxpayers to pay off, yet the most recent budget passed by the majority spends more than ever before in a single year: $43 billion ($43,000,000,000)!

These same people passed two major state income tax increases with promises of better times. It never happened. Instead, they are constantly looking to raise taxes, and are proposing to radically change the way state income taxes are imposed – all designed to siphon more money out of the pockets of hardworking Illinoisans.

It’s long past time for “all hands on deck.” Leadership is about bringing people together, marshalling the forces to meet challenges head on, clearly mapping out a plan and then executing it, but always remaining flexible to adjust and alter it as you move forward. Illinoisans need confidence in its government and a Governor and the Legislature working together rather than one person’s one-size-fits-all approach, which is a one-size-disservice to all.

Discuss.

* Related…

* ASU researchers say data shows COVID-19 is spreading quickly in Arizona - The data, according to ASU researchers, also bear some similarities to New York, during its height of the pandemic

* New York, New Jersey, Connecticut require 14-day quarantine for Arizona visitors

* Arizona hospitals calling in more doctors, nurses due to COVID-19

* Arizona Gov. Ducey criticizes Scottsdale councilman over ‘I can’t breathe’ comment during anti-mask protest

* As Florida hits a record number of new COVID-19 cases, epidemiologists warn the next 2 weeks could be alarming

* FSCJ scientist says Florida COVID-19 data can be misleading: Perle told News4Jax on Wednesday that after watching months of data being released by Florida, he doesn’t think the numbers tell the whole story and have the potential to mislead the public.

* Covid comes to Florida Man

* Gov. Abbott Says Texas Facing ‘Massive’ COVID-19 Outbreak

* Houston’s health authority concerned as Texas Medical Center’s ICU beds near surge capacity

* Texas seeking volunteer help from medical professionals amid COVID-19 pandemic - Nurse who worked on New York front lines answers call to aid in Texas

* California sees 69% Covid-19 rise in two days as LA county has most cases in US

* New record high COVID-19 cases reported in California

* Disney delays opening of California theme parks as state sees coronavirus surge

  81 Comments      


Protected: SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Supplement to today’s edition

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

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*** UPDATED x1 *** Landlords file suit against Pritzker to allow resumption of evictions

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Bumped up to Thursday morning for visibility.]

* Press release…

The Illinois Rental Property Owners Association (IRPOA) announces our support of the lawsuit filed by IRPOA members JL Properties Group, Mark Dauenbaugh and Steven Cole, challenging Governor Pritzker’s legal authority to deny housing providers access to the courts.

The Governor’s moratorium on evictions essentially ties the hands of housing providers to enforce our lease agreements. While we agree with the Governor’s intent of protecting renters affected by COVID-19, the Governor’s moratorium also applies to people who are not affected by COVID-19 but are choosing not to pay their rent.

Furthermore, the Governor’s moratorium limits a housing provider’s ability to address lease violations that are related to behavior and not COVID-19

Our members have been and will continue to work to ensure that individuals affected by COVID-19 are given every opportunity to remain in their home. We have been waiving late fees, offering payment plans, and directing tenants to resources for rental assistance. But we need access to the courts for those tenants who have been unresponsive or are violating leases in ways unrelated to COVID-19.

Small mom-and-pop landlords, who make up the majority of IRPOA members, have had their interests marginalized by the State of Illinois for too long. Corporate landlords may be able to absorb the losses that the Governor’s eviction moratorium imposes, but the majority of rental housing in Illinois is provided by average working class people who own a handful of rentals and rely on the monthly rent to meet their own obligations. Mom-and-pop landlords cannot go without income for over 5 months when sole proprietors have not been receiving assistance from COVID-19 programs to compensate for the lost income.

The plaintiff’s attorney James Noonan said “While we share the Governor’s concerns on spreading the virus, we believe the eviction moratorium goes too far. It unnecessarily and unlawfully redistributes the cost of protecting tenants to landlords, who deserve the same protection under Illinois law as other Illinoisans.”

We encourage housing providers from across Illinois to join us in this fight. Financial contributions for legal expenses are welcome and we ask all housing providers to add your voices to the growing number of small businesses who are speaking out about being unfairly burdened by the State’s response to COVID-19.

Established in 1994, the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association is an alliance of a dozen independent rental property owner associations across the State of Illinois. With the hundreds of investor-members and the thousands of dwellings they represent, IRPOA advocates for laws and ordinances that are in the best interests of both the owner and the tenant.

The filing is here.

*** UPDATE *** Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance…

Yesterday a landlord filed a suit challenging Governor Pritzker’s statewide eviction moratorium in Will County. It is noteworthy that the case concerns tenants who have been in violation of their lease prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, and who, unlike their fellow residents, have lived free rent since then.

While the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance (NBOA) appreciates the struggles that housing providers face during this difficult time in paying for their costs and maintaining their properties, NBOA believes it is always better to work with their residents to find solutions, and to support rental assistance, both of which have been done successfully at the local and statewide level in recent weeks.

  13 Comments      


Augie’s Front Burner to close

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Bumped up to Thursday morning for visibility.]

* One of my favorite places in town and one of the few quality session restaurants left

The owners of Augie’s Front Burner have decided to close the restaurant after this week.

Saturday will be their last night in business.

The restaurant has been a part of Springfield for more than 22 years.

August “Augie” and Sharon Mrozowski say it is just time to relax and slow things down.

Sharon tells us that closing the restaurant was something they had been considering for quite a while. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it forced Augie to slow down, which is something he has never done, said Sharon.

I’m happy for Augie, but sad for the rest of us.

  16 Comments      


*** LIVE COVERAGE ***

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Follow along with ScribbleLive


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