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Medline reopens Waukegan EtO sterilization facility

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Press release…

Medline has resumed sterilization services at its Waukegan facility following the installation of new, state-of-the-art emissions control equipment, which was certified by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency as required under state law.

This $10 million investment brings the most advanced safety technology in the world to Waukegan, with testing showing the new controls capture 99.99% of all ethylene oxide used at the facility. In addition to sterilization of surgical packs, the facility will play an immediate and direct role in supporting health care professionals battling the coronavirus at medical facilities across Illinois.

“The investment in Waukegan is part of our dedication to the health and safety of Medline employees and our neighbors,” said Medline spokesperson Jesse Greenberg. “Illinois is leading the nation with the most stringent ethylene oxide emission standards in the country. At this critical time for the national public health, we are gratified that we can help supply sterile medical equipment to Illinois healthcare professionals working on the frontlines and to clinicians battling COVID-19 across America.”

Medical devices sterilized by Medline’s Waukegan plant that are used to treat patients with the coronavirus or prevent its spread include personal protective equipment such as gowns and drapes, syringes, tubing and electronic devices including oxygenators.

“We’re really proud of our employees who are working hard each day to ensure our state and our country have the medical supplies needed to confront this crisis,” Greenberg added. “The upgrades at our Waukegan plant demonstrate Medline can meet the highest environmental standards while rising to the challenges we’re collectively facing in healthcare right now.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* I’ll be covering the governor’s weekend press conferences, so check back.

Randy Newman will play us out. Be safe, be well

We stick together and can see it through

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      

*** UPDATED x1 *** U of I engineering develops prototype emergency ventilator

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* IMA President & CEO Mark Denzler on Facebook

University of Illinois Chancellor Robert Jones reached out to me this afternoon with amazing news. The brilliant researchers and innovators at The Grainger College of Engineering and Carle Health have developed a prototype emergency ventilator.

The University of Illinois is a great member of the IMA and we’ve had a collaborative partnership.

The U of I and its Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science, Applied Research Institute, The TEKMILL, and Creative Thermal Solutions, Inc. collaborated on this project.

The University of Illinois and Illinois Manufacturers’ Association are now working together to test with an ultimate goal of ramping up production.

Go Illini!

…Adding… More

The Illinois RapidVent, as the emergency ventilator is known, would plug into the oxygen source available in most hospital rooms or could plug into a tank of oxygen. The prototype has run for more than 75 hours, which is more than 125,000 breathing cycles. Over this time, the device delivered the amount of oxygen necessary and the pressure that patients would need when they are unable to breathe well enough on their own. So far, focused testing in the laboratory shows that the device performs as well as commercial products, which are in very short supply. The U.S. is experiencing a massive shortage of ventilators — most acutely in New York — that numbers in the thousands.

The team is collaborating with doctors and medical professionals on an ongoing basis to refine the design and make usability improvements, based on an evaluation of about a half-dozen existing products. A prototype was created using high-end additive manufacturing equipment and then tested at the University of Illinois and at Champaign-based Creative Thermal Solutions. Team members are also addressing necessary institutional and regulatory approvals for using the emergency ventilator and ramping up animal testing.

And there’s even more here.

*** UPDATE *** Crain’s on a breakthrough by Abbott Labs

The North Chicago medical device maker today announced the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has authorized the use of its new coronavirus test, which delivers positive results within five minutes and negative results within 13.

The test, which runs on an existing, portable Abbott platform, can be used in various health care settings, including urgent care clinics and emergency departments, according to a statement. The company says it will eventually be able to make 50,000 tests available per day.

- Posted by Rich Miller   11 Comments      

Clean, Affordable Energy—Now More Than Ever

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

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Pritzker sets up new Emergency Alert System - Pleads with president to use Defense Production Act - Announces expanded childcare, food and homeless programs - Evaluating whether to extend EO - More cases because of additional tests and virus is spreading - Pleased with Trump invoking Defense Production Act - Working on hospitalization numbers over the weekend - “We’ll get around to talking about” biz demands

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* The governor began his press conference by calling on all licensed healthcare providers across the state to sign up for a new Emergency Alert System at…

Additionally, thanks to your amazing outpouring of support our healthcare workforce is expanding. We have now received more than 510 applications from former healthcare workers to get back into the fight. Still more healthcare workers are needed. If you have recently retired or left the profession to start a new career. Please come back to work for at least the next few months to help us battle against COVID 19

Remember to pardon all typos.

Pritzker talked about the US House’s passage of the $2 trillion emergency bill and said “I’ll continue to work with our federal counterparts to bring in as many dollars, home to Illinois, as possible.”

* And then…

I want to take a moment today to address some of the latest ideas that have been floating out of the oval office. President Trump yesterday went on a talk show to question whether Americans really need more ventilators to save people’s lives. He did this on the same day that our nation overtook China and Italy, having the highest number of COVID 19 positive cases to say that these comments are counterproductive is an understatement. And frankly, at worst, the comments are deadly.

When I said that the bedrock of my decisions was science, I meant it. The equipment we have, the equipment we’re still seeking, these are the recommendations of the best medical experts, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers in the nation, all of whom have set aside their daily duties to help save as many lives as possible. We need exactly what we’re actually asking for. Perhaps more. If we don’t get the equipment we need, more people will die.

The president needs to use the defense production act to put order into the market for ventilators and pp. It will prioritize Americans over foreign countries, and allow states on the front lines to access the equipment. We so badly need, he needed to do this to activate the defense production act weeks ago, or even yesterday, but it still will make a massive difference in our national health care system if he simply moves quickly.

One way or another, we need these supplies, and I have a whole team of people whose singular focus right now is working the phones, calling across the world, to get as much PPE as many ventilators, and as many tests as possible shipped to Illinois. This morning because of my state team and their hustle and working all hours of the day and night, we received another shipment of state procured E 95 masks, and they have been in the process of delivering stocks of PPE. That is our staff to Champaign to Peoria, Edwardsville and Marion. We will not rest until each and every region of our state has what it needs. But without the federal government, individual states don’t have enough market power to procure what is needed on their own. So I urge the president to join us in this work, and take the federal actions that are available to him and to him alone.

* Childcare…

I’m proud to say that we’ve received more than 600 applications for small group emergency childcare licenses from people organizations schools and communities, looking to help their essential workers from health care professionals to grocery store employees. Additionally, hundreds of our childcare homes are staying online to provide care in socially distance settings. And now we will be providing each of the providers who stepped up in this time of need with an additional stipend $750 each for licensed homes, $2,000, each for centers, running one or two classrooms and $3,000 each for those running three or more classrooms.

* SNAP and WIC…

My team at the Department of Human Services is submitting multiple waivers to the federal government to deliver as much nutrition support to as many Illinoisans as possible. Already we’ve been able to automatically extend SNAP certifications set to expire March, April or May, another six months until September, October and November. We’ve also been able to waive the physical presence requirements for SNAP applicants and participants, enabling people to further reduce the time that they spend outside their homes and increase people’s ability to apply for assistance online.

* Homelessness…

DHS has gone through its budget with a fine tooth comb and redirected millions of additional dollars to address all aspects of homelessness assistance statewide, with a focus on expanding our ability to offer temporary shelter. That’s on top of the doubling my administration has done of the state homelessness prevention program over the last year. We’re also increasing all of our existing state homelessness service contracts by an additional 5%

* IDHS Secretary Hou…

With the recent passage of the federal family first legislation, monthly SNAP benefits will increase dramatically. In some cases by over 90%, a month. For example, a single person with a disability, or an older adult with less than $2,000 of monthly income is eligible for $194 in monthly SNAP benefits. Now, before the legislation passed, they would have received $16 a month. A family of four making less than $42,000 a year is now eligible for $646 a month in SNAP benefits

* On to questions for the governor. Mayor Lightfoot said the stay at home order could go deep into April. Will it?…

The truth is we evaluate this every day, we really do and we try to look at the trajectory of the people who are tested positive for the virus. We look at the trajectory of the hospitalizations and the issues around the the deaths of course that are occurring, the ICU beds. And we ask ourselves, what’s the next move, what’s the most important thing we need to do now. And more than ask ourselves because some of us, we don’t come to this as experts, though we’re quickly moving in that direction, but we rely upon the science, we rely upon the experts out there to tell us. Are we on the right trajectory are we reaching a peak, when will we reach a peak, what happens on the other side of a peak. So we’re constantly evaluating that and so I think it’s worthy of everybody just paying attention to. Nothing is set in stone.

You’ve seen there’s been a progression here. We were among the leaders among states, first to ban large group gatherings and then to close schools, to ban bars and restaurants from opening, and so on. But you’ve seen a progression right, if I knew then what I know now perhaps I would have put a stay at home order in back you know when we shut down St. Patrick’s Day parades. But we’re evaluating the science as it comes in and making the moves that we think are necessary.

* What do you do to acquire more PPE and other supplies?…

I’ve been one of the loudest governors on the subject of testing because the truth is that there isn’t much testing going on across the country. You can imagine that what we’ve experienced is very similar to what many other states have experienced in terms of what’s available for testing. I just want to remind you that there’s an entire supply chain associated with testing. It’s not just like well here’s a test, and you know it’s one thing it’s actually made up of viral transport media and nasal swabs, and RNA extraction and, you know, and then the machines themselves, which are expensive. The Roche machines and others that are available and there are only so many of those in the world and what do you know there’s a shortage of virtually every one of those items. That’s why we asked the president to invoke the defense production act. It’s why we asked the president to loosen up the ability of hospitals to develop their own tests which they finally did do and thank God. We’ve got some of the best hospitals and health care providers research institutions in the world and so they were quick on it, and we were able to ramp up more testing. We’re working every day.

* Are we seeing more cases because of additional testing or because the virus is spreading?…

Both. The simple answer is both. We’re only doing so many tests right, you can see that there’s a limit to the number of tests we can do.

* There’s breaking news that President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to order GM to make ventilators

I just want to thank you very much that is really great news invoking the defense production act is so vitally important as I said to the president directly. Look, he’s a businessman. He didn’t want to interfere with the capitalist market. He wants business people to do what they do, that’s all well and good but we are in a crisis we’re in a national crisis. That’s why you know and I said to him, I was a businessman too before I became governor. I understand what you’re saying, but the market is the Wild West out there. We’re competing against each other in the United States, and then against other countries for what already exists in the United States so I’m so pleased to hear that there’s some movement but that’s only GM that’s terrific. But we need more, we need much more.

* Would you please ask the governor when he expects the General Assembly to act on issues related to a proposed Chicago casino…

I don’t know, all I can tell you is that we’re in the midst of an international pandemic. An emergency, a crisis. And I would like action on I have an entire list of things that we’d like to get done for the state of Illinois. But right now, you know the priority is saving lives.

* When will Illinois begin releasing a count of hospitalizations caused by COVID 19 as other states like New York have done?

We’re working on that now, I mean we obviously, we talked to all the hospitals all across the state. We get data, but you know, over history that data has been collected in different ways across the state. We want to make sure that it’s all in one system. We’ve been piecing it together. But in terms of our ability to report that on a regular basis to all of you. We’re making sure that we’re doing that we’ll be working on that over the weekend.

* Several chambers of commerce are asking their lawmakers to shift the minimum wage increase schedule, exempt unemployment insurance benefit claims from affecting the business contribution rate and deferring sales tax payments. A re you discussing any of these ideas right now?…

We’ve already deferred sales tax payments. On the other two, these are obviously things that we’ll want to be working through over the next couple of months. I just want to remind everybody though, I’ve had calls with some legislators or others who raise some of these issues that like the minimum wage or like the fair tax or something else. And I’ll be honest with you, we’re in the midst of the biggest crisis in our lifetimes, at least in my lifetime across the nation. So, we’ll get around to talking about those things, but right now we’re focused on hospitals healthcare workers and those who are sick and dying.


- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

488 new cases, 8 new deaths

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Press release

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 488 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including eight deaths. Approximately 86% of fatalities are among patients 60 years of age and older.

Bureau, Henry, and Iroquois counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 3,026 cases, including 34 deaths, in 40 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.

- Posted by Rich Miller   10 Comments      

85% Of Dialysis Patients In Illinois Rely On Medicare Or Medicaid

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance supports and helps craft public policy that protects those suffering from kidney failure, ensuring that patients’ needs come first. The well-being of these patients and their families is our top concern. For more information, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and visit our website.

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Question of the day

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Illinois Review

Thursday, State Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield), many of his staff and Our Helping Hands volunteers helped pack and distribute food to their Will County community.

“Thank you to all that made this mobile food pantry happen,” Batinick wrote on his Facebook page. “We loaded up 144 cars with food.”


* Check out #ILSchoolsStepUp to brighten your day and maybe give yourself some ideas

* Gotta love the USO…

* Daily Herald

Drive-by parades are growing in popularity as the COVID-19 stay-at-home order continues.

On Wednesday, March 25, Wauconda Grade School fifth-grade teacher Tracie Miglans coordinated a parade with other teachers and staff. Miglans said more than 35 cars left the school’s parking lot, making their way through nearby neighborhoods with participants honking horns and waving.

Cars were decorated with signs, balloons, the school’s gecko mascot and streamers. Many current students and Wauconda residents waved back. Miglans said the parade lasted more than an hour and proved that teachers can stay connected with students while keeping with the social distancing guidelines.

* The Question: What else have you seen out there that strengthens your resolve?

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Oy…

Despite calls for more personal protective equipment and safer working conditions, the Illinois Nurses Association learned today that 12 Registered Nurses from the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19.

“These nurses served patients on the front line of the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic and risked their lives to make sure patients received proper care,” said Alice Johnson, INA Executive Director. “We hoped their hospital and their government would protect them, but they failed,” Johnson said.

Johnson stated that nurses have had to work on the COVID Care Unit without personal protective equipment.

“They do not know day to day if they will have masks, gowns, gloves or goggles for that shift. One nurse said their unit manager scolded them for wearing a mask in a room where a COVID19 positive patient was being intubated.”

* Oy

Officials announced a plan Friday after the amount of detainees inside Cook County Jail with COVID-19 rose to 38.

With only two cases on Monday, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Sheriff Tom Dart are concerned at the rate of the spread.

Officials are still waiting on 123 tests to come back. Non-violent offenders will be released as soon as possible, officials said. Bonds may also be granted to those who are deemed unhealthy or too poor to post bail, according to Cook County Jail.

“I want to assure the public that everyone, everyone leaving the jail will be screened and given a temperature check to make sure they are not currently exhibiting any COVID-19 related symptoms,” Preckwinkle said.

* Oy

A secretive cache of medical supplies to save Americans from deadly disasters for years lacked the funding to prepare for a pandemic as widespread as the coronavirus, former managers of the stockpile told USA TODAY.

Overseen by a cadre of scientists, disease specialists and others at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Strategic National Stockpile houses roughly $8 billion in inventory for rapid deployment to anywhere in the nation in under 12 hours.

But its inadequate supply of ventilators, respiratory masks and other personal protective equipment will leave critical shortages for U.S. hospitals scrambling to respond to the mounting coronavirus pandemic.

New York state requested 30,000 ventilators, and New York City alone asked for 15,000 of them, as well as for 3 million N95 masks. California has requested 10,000 ventilators and 20 million N95 masks.

The stockpile had just 16,600 of the breathing machines and an estimated 12 million N95 masks at the start of the pandemic – not enough for those two states, much less the rest of the country.

…Adding… Oy…

Lake County officials regret to announce that the first two Lake County residents have died from complications of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper said, “On March 24, 2020, at approximately 8 p.m., the Lake County Coroner’s Office was notified of the death of a male in his 50s at one of our local hospitals. He was tested for COVID-19 prior to his death, and last night the results confirmed that he was indeed COVID-19 positive. Today, at approximately 1:30 a.m., we were notified of the death of a woman in her 90s at another area hospital. She also tested positive for COVID-19.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   5 Comments      

Online learning is easier said than done for lots of kids

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* As Jennifer Smith Richards of the Chicago Tribune and Jodi S. Cohen and Haru Coryne of ProPublica Illinois report, it’s not possible for large numbers of at-home kids to be schooled online

A Chicago Tribune-ProPublica Illinois analysis found digital inequities across the state, the effects of which will be exacerbated as families are isolated inside their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. In more than 500 of the state’s roughly 3,100 census tracts, there were fewer than 600 quality connections per 1,000 residents, accounting for a significant portion of Illinois geography. At least 54 census tracts had even lower rates of connectivity as of the end of 2017, the analysis showed.

The Federal Communications Commission surveys the nation’s fixed internet service availability by collecting data through internet service providers twice a year. It defines fixed high-speed internet connections as those with adequate bandwidth to upload or download. So if a provider offers service at least that fast for at least one household on a census-defined block, the entire area is considered served. The most recent data about individual connections is from the end of 2017 and was released last year; providers may have improved speeds and access since then.

The Tribune-ProPublica Illinois analysis of FCC data, combined with estimates of households per census tract, showed that in a high-poverty tract of St. Clair County, about 250 miles southwest of Chicago, there were fewer than 200 quality internet connections per 1,000 households. It was among the most underserved downstate areas, according to the analysis.

So, too, was Edgar County, in the central part of the state along the Indiana border. In three of the five census tracts there, there were fewer than 600 broadband connections per 1,000 households. In contrast, the census tracts served by the Maercker School District 60 in DuPage County all show close to one decent connection for every household.

The governor’s massive broadband build-out program is going to take some time.

* This map shows the number of connections per 1,000 households. Dark red areas have less than 200 connections per 1,000 households. Lighter red is 200-400 and pink is 400-600 connections per 1,000 households. White areas have at least 600 connections per 1,000 households…

* It could be worse, though

Elgin District 46, one of the largest in the state, recently began giving Chromebooks to students from fifth through 12th grade, aided by a surge of new state funding intended to narrow the gap in resources between schools. By August of last school year, all of the district’s 14,000 high school students had a device they could take home. The district has about 26,000 Chromebooks, and more are being shipped this week; it has cost about $9 million so far.

With the need now more immediate, district officials are distributing Chromebooks from the schools to remaining students who don’t have one at home. Students in kindergarten through fourth grade are getting them this week.

“If this virus had struck three years ago, we would not be able to provide any sort of distance learning,” U-46 Superintendent Tony Sanders said. “We should be able to provide a device for every family to make sure their students can learn.”

Yes, he had to be dragged into it, but that education funding reform law was likely Bruce Rauner’s greatest accomplishment in office.

- Posted by Rich Miller   16 Comments      

IDES upgrades website, staggers application times in effort to handle crush

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* This landed in my in-box yesterday at about 5 o’clock and I missed it…

Today, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced they are taking additional steps to address the unprecedented volume of unemployment benefit claims the department has fielded as a result of COVID-19.

To date, the department has taken several steps to improve the unemployment benefit claims process via the online portal and the call center.

    • The website has been moved to new hardware infrastructure to handle the increased demand
    • Web, storage, and processing capacity has been increased to meet needs of increased traffic
    • Methods have been implemented to track COVID-19-related claims
    • Call center capacity has been increased
    • Daily call center hours have been extended to respond to those waiting in the queue after closure
    • Call center staff has been supplemented by 40% to cut down on wait times
    • Both the website and the call center will continue to be monitored for improvements in functions and abilities

In addition to these measures, IDES is now asking individuals to adhere to an alphabetized schedule when filing an unemployment benefit claim online and over the phone. This process mirrors other states, such as Colorado and New York, who are experiencing increased web traffic and high call volumes with their unemployment benefit systems.
Online Filing Schedule:

    • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to file their claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
    • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to file their claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
    • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
    Call Center Filing Schedule:
    • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M will be asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
    • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z will be asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30am – 6pm.
    • Fridays (7:30am – 6pm) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.

The day or time of day in which a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. Additionally, claims will be back-dated to reflect the date in which a claimant was laid-off or let go from their job due to COVID-19.

IDES is currently working through an unparalleled number of unemployment benefit claims and questions, both online and through the call center. Over the first three weeks of March, IDES has received over 130,000 unemployment benefit claims, an increase of close to 400% compared to the corresponding weeks the prior year. The department received close to 115,000 claims for the week of March 21 alone, an increase of nearly 1,400% compared to the corresponding week the prior year. Additionally, the call center continues to field hundreds of calls per minute, per day.

The administration and the department understand and empathize with the heightened level of frustration this crisis has had on those wishing to file a claim. IDES is doing everything possible to support our customers and meet the demand for unemployment benefit inquiries and claims.

Those with questions or in need of assistance with unemployment benefit at this time are encouraged to visit

* And I received this early today from a longtime reader…

Hey Rich,

I got furloughed today. Was expecting it. Still, after so many years of struggling was disappointing to hear. Nonetheless:

I wanted to report that the IDES website and the DHS website both worked perfectly Thursday at 3 p.m. My only criticism was that they both used terminology that the average Illinois citizen wouldn’t understand, and there weren’t any special options for COVID-19 furloughs to explain their situation.

* Problems are understandable considering the enormous spike, which the New York Times put on its front page today…

As I said yesterday, my main beef was that DoIT told the governor the problem was fixed on Monday, which he then relayed to the public. That was clearly not the case.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Credit Unions Throughout Illinois Offering Modifications To Existing Loans

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

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    · Alliant Credit Union
    · Andigo Credit Union
    · Archer Heights Credit Union
    · Blaw Knox Credit Union
    · CEFCU
    · Community Plus FCU
    · Credit Union 1
    · CTA C&M FCU
    · Financial Plus Credit Union
    · First Financial Credit Union
    · Gale Credit Union
    · Heartland Credit Union
    · North Star Credit Union
    · Northern Illinois FCU
    · Rock Valley Credit Union
    · Rockford Bell Credit Union
    · SIU Credit Union

Reaching out to members during times of challenge is not new to the credit union industry. Credit union members have come to understand that when it comes to national crisis, credit unions are here to help. Rest assured that even in these trying times, your credit union remains a trusted partner in ensuring your financial well-being. To ensure the security of your funds, all state and federally chartered credit unions maintain deposit insurance covering at least $250,000 per depositor, per account category - even in uncertain economic times. Please reach out to your credit union for specific details on programs for assistance during this time. For more information about the credit union difference, and to locate a credit union near you, visit today.

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Please, don’t be a Covidiot

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* All of a sudden last night, this became a thing for certain elements of the far right…

* Look, I’d like to have the numbers, too, and I’ve asked for them. ProPublica is attempting to put together some data. But there are two things to consider here…


The overall numbers track everywhere. So even without hospitalization numbers, we have a pretty good idea from looking at other countries and other states what they likely are here. In other words, despite what “Dr.” Glennon and his ilk say, we don’t actually need hospitalization numbers to see how bad things are.

What they instead appear to be doing is sowing doubt among the populace. There’s more than enough misinformation and panic out there already without trying to manufacture something out of thin air.

…Adding… Rep. Wilhour…


The Governor has been very clear that the point of the preventative measures was to relieve pressure on the hospital system. Why would we not be specifically monitoring the pressure on the hospital system? How is that not extremely relevant? How can we make good decisions and properly allocate resources without knowing this? Yes, we need more data-the Governor has said this and I agree. Right now, there are only 2 data sets that are reliable: Deaths and Hospitalizations. I sure hope he has this information. He should be asked if he has it and if he has it, why not be transparent about it?

Serious legislators ask questions and demand all available data to ensure informed decisions are being made.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      

COVID-19 roundup

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* USA Today

From its biggest cities to its smallest towns, America’s chance to contain the coronavirus crisis came and went in the seven weeks since U.S. health officials botched the testing rollout and then misled scientists in state laboratories about this critical early failure. Federal regulators failed to recognize the spiraling disaster and were slow to relax the rules that prevented labs and major hospitals from advancing a backup. […]

The nation’s public health pillars — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration — shirked their responsibility to protect Americans in an emergency like this new coronavirus, USA TODAY found in interviews with dozens of scientists, public health experts and community leaders, as well as email communications between laboratories and hospitals across the country. […]

CDC leaders not only bungled their role in developing the first coronavirus test permitted in the country, they also misrepresented the efficacy of early solutions to state health authorities.

Then, public and private lab directors felt rebuffed by the FDA when they first offered to help troubleshoot the problem by developing their own tests. The agency, through its emergency authority, had placed restrictions on labs that can apply in emergencies but not in normal circumstances. […]

In late February, the CDC’s deputy director of infectious disease projected calm in a conference call with state laboratories. The labs were told they could now send samples to the CDC and receive results within 24 hours.

As we’ve already discussed, that last bit was also not true. It still takes days to get test results back from the CDC. Go read the whole thing. Despicable.

* Emmanuel Camarillo at the Sun-Times

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday issued an executive order halting new prisoners to the Illinois Department of Corrections amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Effective Thursday, all admission to the Department of Corrections from Illinois county jails are suspended, the executive order states. Only a limited number of “essential transfers” and exceptions made in consultation with county sheriffs will be admitted to prisons.

The Illinois Sheriffs’ Association rebuked the move, saying the order was counterproductive to halting the spread of the new virus within the correctional system and put every county across the state at higher risk.

“We’re on the front lines and local Sheriffs need to be able to safely and securely transfer healthy inmates out of their facility to a state correctional center to mitigate risk, prevent overcrowding and slow or minimize the spread within the correctional system.” Jim Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, said in a statement.

* From UFCW Local 881 President Steve Powell…

Tens of thousands of Local 881 UFCW members continue to show up every day and serve their communities across Illinois despite the risk to their own health and that of their families. These brave union members deserve nothing less than the respect and protection of their elected leaders. Words and appreciation are not enough during this crisis. You cannot call them essential without providing the protections and benefits that title deserves. That is why we are demanding that our elected leaders immediate enact the following safety measures.

    Local 881 workers must be designated as first responders for the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis. Governors in Minnesota, Michigan, and Vermont have taken this position, which will make retail workers eligible for free childcare, provide coverage for all coronavirus treatments, tests, and medicines if diagnosed or quarantined, and ensure that they have adequate access to PPE. These minimum benefits come at a pivotal time as our members are working to sustain the food supply when demand is high, and schools are closed. Like the rest of us, grocery store, pharmacy, and food processing workers have children who are no longer attending school and are themselves at risk of getting sick. Everything must be done to ensure they can work and come home safely to their families.

    Limitations on the number of customers in grocery stores and pharmacies must be put in place. Directives from the Governor and Mayor have severely limited the size of crowds allowed in public and private places, and our essential retail outlets should be treated similarly.

    Suspend Chicago’s single use “bag tax” for the remainder of the COVID-19 crisis so that workers and customers are not being infected by reusable bags that are transmitting the virus from home to grocery stores. We have recently seen other industry leaders take decisive action to protect their workers and customers by suspending shoppers from bringing in reusable items like cups and bags because of concerns over transmission of the virus. Local 881 clerks and baggers are directly in harm’s way by having to handle hundreds of reusable shopping bags in an average shift. Other states have already implemented a temporary ban on reusable shopping bags and many of our employers are beginning this commonsense practice.

* From a pal…

If you’re looking for another angle on all of this — this is one of several announcements I’ve seen this week of papers around the state making big decisions about print editions. I presume these will be permanent, too.

Shaw Media

In response to the ongoing crisis Shaw Media’s print schedule has changed:

The print edition of the Northwest Herald will continue its normal publication schedule Monday through Friday. The Saturday and Sunday editions will be combined as a single edition and delivered on Saturday.

The Herald-News will continue its six-day print-and-deliver cycle, but the weekend edition will now be delivered on Saturday.

The Daily Chronicle, Daily Gazette and The Telegraph will suspend the Monday print edition. The Daily Gazette and Telegraph will transition from a broadsheet format to a tab format.

The News Tribune and The Times will continue their current five-day print and delivery cycle, but will be moving to tab configuration. The change in format will allow us to more efficiently produce our printed newspapers in La Salle County and throughout Northern Illinois.

The Daily Egyptian has abandoned print for now as well.

* I told you earlier this week that the state was allowing golf courses to operate with some major restrictions. That policy was reversed yesterday

The DCEO’s new missive addressing frequently asked questions included golf. It remarked, “Can golf courses stay open? No; recreational sports businesses including golf courses are not considered essential businesses under the executive order.” […]

According to a letter sent out Thursday by the PGA Illinois Section, “We communicated yesterday that an interpretation had been published that golf was permitted. That interpretation was correct and actionable at the time it was communicated, however, that interpretation has now been overturned, and once again, the state is prohibiting golf courses from opening.”

The letter added that golf course maintenance is permitted, along with carry-out food service. Long Bridge co-owner Michelle Buerkett said her kitchen will still provide carry-out service Monday through Friday during lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., starting next week.

* Related…

* How recreational weed went from illegal to essential in 3 months: Meanwhile, Kris Krane, president of the Mission dispensary in South Chicago, likened recreational cannabis to over-the-counter medications, like ibuprofen. “Saying we can’t be open for adult-use but we can only be open for medical would be akin to saying that CVS can only sell prescription medication,” Krane said. On top of that, Krane noted, many people in Illinois simply need “stress relief in a time like this.”

* Southern Illinois health centers receive federal funding to help fight COVID-19

* Sister of first coronavirus victim in Illinois dies from disease

* University of Chicago Medical Center brings back furloughed workers without coronavirus symptoms as hospital cases grow

* 4th Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court employee tests positive for COVID-19

* Want to know where all those Florida spring breakers are now?

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

It’s not going to be pretty

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Amanda Vinicky at WTTW

“We collect about $750 million a month in sales taxes to the state. You might be thinking there’s all those folks out there who are buying everything off the shelves at the grocery store and that’s true but the state does not levy a sales tax on food purchases. So we’re seeing a decline in a lot of the types of sales the state does have a sales tax on and food is going through the roof in some cases and we’re not seeing that,” said state Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon. […]

“Our expense are going to be up a lot as we struggle to help our health care system, and be sure that hospitals and doctors have the resources they need as we try to help our school districts and our colleges and universities, transit, make sure meals are delivered to seniors at home and they’re cared for, get medical assistance. All that’s going to cost money,” said House Majority Leader Greg Harris, D-Chicago. “It’s going to be a tough year to figure all that out.” […]

They’re in preliminary talks about options, including a holdover six-month budget, so they can reevaluate the situation once the outbreak has run its course.

But it’s still not clear when lawmakers can return. One of my two questions for Gov. Pritzker yesterday was how much the state has spent on its COVID-19 response. Gov. Cuomo said this week that his state has spent $1 billion. The governor did not directly answer, saying he was more focused on getting things done.

* Back to Amanda’s story

The governor’s stay-at-home order expires April 7, and could be renewed, but if – and [Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon] stressed the “if” – downstate Illinois continues to see only sparse cases, he said Pritkzer should consider relieving those regions from certain executive mandates.

“Many downstate areas, you’re just not seeing the surge,” Righter said. “Should hospitals be allowed to go back to doing certain select – or maybe with a cap – to doing elective procedures, to allow them to start bringing in revenue. If we don’t the taxpayers are going to pay more money to bail those hospitals out later. I think we need to have a serious conversation about that. Consult the public health experts, but remember that the economic shutdown that we are experiencing right now, that’s been government mandated, comes with a price as well.”

* On to Jim Dey

If the state has less revenue, it obviously has less money to pay its bills. That means unpaid bills now standing around $7.6 billion will increase, as will the costs of interest the state pays.

The state has, foolishly, set the interest rates it pays at 9 percent and 12 percent, depending on the bill. At those sky-high rates, interest payments represent hundreds of millions of dollars a year and are, the report states, a “threat to the state because any money needed to pay late payment penalties is money that cannot be used for other purposes.”

Maybe it’s foolish, but without those high interest rates on overdue bills a whole more vendors would’ve cut Illinois off during the impasse and during the lead-up to the 2011 income tax hike hike.

- Posted by Rich Miller   20 Comments      

Oh, the “New Illinois” folks ain’t gonna like this

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* From Illinois Municipal League executive director Brad Cole

Dear Governor Pritzker:

The United States Congress is considering H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act which is designed to provide more than $2 trillion in aid in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

While the plan, under Title VI, Section 601, provides $150 billion to state and local governments to address spending shortages related to the pandemic, the legislation specifically includes in its definition of “unit of local government” a municipality with a population that exceeds 500,000.

As you are aware, only one municipality within Illinois meets this requisite population threshold. In effect, Congress has turned a blind eye to the economic crisis facing all municipalities and has effectively ignored 1,297 of Illinois’ cities, villages and towns.

This action is a failure on the part of Congress to provide the necessary fiscal resources that all Illinois municipalities need.

The Illinois Municipal League (IML) formally requests any aid received by the state designated for municipal governments be dispersed by your office to all 1,298 cities, villages and towns on a per capita basis so that every community receives the financial help they need to weather this crisis.

OK, first of all, it doesn’t just apply to Chicago as Cole claims. From the bill

LOCAL GOVERNMENT.—The term ‘unit of local government’ means a county, municipality, town, township, village, parish, borough, or other unit of general government below the State level with a population that exceeds 500,000.

Kane, Will, Lake, DuPage and Cook counties will also qualify under that language.

Even so, that won’t go over well with everyone else.

Secondly, assuming this language survives a House vote, if it’s in federal law there’s not a whole lot a governor can do about it.

* Meanwhile, here’s Hannah Meisel

Tim Bartik, a senior economist from the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan, told The Daily Line that both the limited amount of money for local governments included in the relief package and the lack of flexibility on spending concerned him.

“[Local governments] can spend it on public health stuff you didn’t budget for,” Bartik said. “But if your tax revenue’s collapsed because of economic problems, you can’t use it to keep police, fire or other employees on. You have to use it for additional services you weren’t planning for.”

Those restrictions could create “a really strange situation” where local governments have a surplus to spend on public health, “but not regular activities,” Bartik said.

That could hamper hopes for a “V-shaped recovery,” in which a recession’s shape charted on a graph takes a swift nosedive but also experiences a sharp upturn, Bartik said.

“This essentially is a planned recession; we’re shutting the economy down,” Bartik said of the executive measures many governors, including Pritzker, have taken to shutter non-essential businesses to prevent the spread of Covid-19. “We hope it comes back like a V. But if state and local governments — due to balanced budget requirements — are cutting spending in the fall and [government and consumer] spending plummets, that’s going to have a negative effect on the economy.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   37 Comments      

Wellness check!

Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* How are you and yours holding up?

- Posted by Rich Miller   89 Comments      

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Friday, Mar 27, 2020

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Friday, Mar 27, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

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REAL ID deadline extended a year

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Press release…

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced today that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the federal REAL ID deadline an additional year to Oct. 1, 2021. DHS cited the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact the virus is having on the general public and driver’s license and ID card-issuing agencies nationwide. Earlier this month, White, along with other state and business leaders from around the country, called on DHS to extend the REAL ID deadline.

Current Illinois driver’s licenses or ID cards will continue to be accepted at airports, military bases and secure federal facilities until Oct. 1, 2021. Once Driver Services facilities reopen, White is suggesting that people who want a REAL ID wait until their current driver’s license or ID card is about to expire before visiting a facility to apply for a REAL ID. For those whose driver’s license or ID card expires after Oct. 1, 2021, and want a REAL ID, they can use their valid U.S. passport or other TSA-acceptable documents to fly domestically until they must renew their current card.

“The decision to extend the REAL ID deadline to Oct. 1, 2021 – a year past the old deadline – is the proper and necessary action during this time of uncertainty and crisis,” said White. “I urge Illinoisans with valid driver’s licenses and ID cards not to rush to our facilities to obtain a REAL ID once they reopen.”

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Everyone has their own priorities

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* From the Eastern Bloc plus 2…

Governor Pritzker,

There are a series of serious structural reforms that should have been in place before this crisis that would have given both state government and Illinois citizens much more resources and flexibility to weather this emergency. Correcting that is a conversation that we will be having in the weeks and months ahead. Today, regular citizens and small businesses across Illinois need immediate help.

We are calling on you and the Legislature to take the following immediate action:

    1. Freeze Unemployment insurance rates for 12 months and provide assurance that rates don’t reflect claims due to corona virus shutdowns and layoffs
    2. Freeze the minimum wage for the next 18 months
    3. Return the light trailer license fee back to $18 from $118
    4. Sales tax holiday for the entire duration of any work restriction or stay at home order
    5. Prorated abatement of property taxes across the board equal to number of days of work restriction or stay at home order

We applaud your common sense first step of moving the state tax filing deadline to align with the federal deadline. We need to do more to give small businesses immediate breathing room. We must do more than just offer small business loans. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are the primary employer for the majority of our citizens. Giving them the confidence that our government is committed to removing barriers for them through these unprecedented times will help all the people of Illinois. As we come through this crisis – which we know we will – it is imperative that we ease the burdens on job creators and take every possible step to make it easier for our small businesses to put Illinois citizens back to work.

Let’s kick start our comeback by enacting these commonsense policies immediately.


    State Representative Darren Bailey-109th District
    State Representative Chris Miller- 110th District
    State Representative Allen Skillicorn- 66th District
    State Representative Blaine Wilhour- 107th District
    State Representative John Cabello- 68th District
    State Representative Dan Caulkins- 101st District
    State Representative Brad Halbrook- 102nd District

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      

Pritzker says POTUS approved major disaster declaration request - Scolds people who congregate outside - Unemployment has dropped one in four households below $50,000 - 450 people returning to healthcare service - Penny Pritzker heads up new relief fund - Talks about Trump - Addresses UI problems - Hopes for more stimulus bills - No “do not resuscitate order” under consideration - Has contributed $4 million to relief fund

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Gov. Pritzker formally announced that President Trump has approved Illinois’ federal disaster declaration request

Earlier today, we received word that my request to the President for a federal major disaster declaration for Illinois has been approved.

This declaration will provide emergency funding to increase hospital and housing capacity as we respond to this unprecedented health crisis. This declaration also provides resources to expand telehealth, allowing us to safely reach more Illinoisans in need of care.

My administration is also seeking a another debt disaster declaration for all 102 counties of Illinois, which would allow us to access FEMA has individual assistance program. This would give us resources like more unemployment benefits for those not currently eligible for state unemployment insurance, enhanced benefits for those seeking shelter, food and emergency supplies, new legal services and financial assistance to our under insured households.

* He also went on a long tirade about yesterday’s crowds. Here’s part of it…

This virus doesn’t care that you’re bored. And that you want to hang out with your friends. It doesn’t care that you don’t believe that it’s dangerous. The virus could care less if you think that I’m overreacting. It has infected infants. It has killed people in their 20s and 30s and 40s. It has forced doctors around the world to make terrible decisions about who will live and who will die.

Again, pardon all typos.

* Unemployment claims this week broke the previous single week record, nearly five times over, the governor said…

We’ve got surveys reflecting that one in five American households have seen a reduction in work hours or layoffs, dropping one in four households below $50,000 income. And that information was collected a week ago, amid circumstances that are truly evolving by the hour events that once seemed unimaginable have quickly become a daily reality.

* Heartening news…

Since I put out the call for retired and former healthcare workers to rejoin the healthcare workforce to staff our hospitals and our health care centers statewide, 450 Illinoisans have submitted applications to do just that and more are doing so even now

* Press release…

Governor JB Pritzker joined the United Way of Illinois and the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations today to announce the launch of the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund (ICRF), a new statewide fundraising effort to support nonprofit organizations serving those whose lives have been upended by this pandemic. […]

The ICRF is launching with nearly $23 million in initial donations. In the upcoming weeks, the steering committee will evaluate and disburse funds to the initial wave of charitable organizations serving at-need communities across the entire state. All donations and distributions will be available to the public.

The governor’s sister Penny is heading the effort. More information can be found at

* Penny Pritzker…

I am honored that JB asked me to chair this endeavor that we are announcing today. A new statewide fundraising effort to quickly deploy needed and critical resources and support to our state’s most vulnerable residents in the wake of this terrible pandemic. […]

Let me close by saying I am personally blown away at the nearly limitless capacity and generosity throughout our state to care for others. And that gives me hope and certitude that we will come through this crisis together.

* Sen. Dick Durbin…

The cost of the rescue package that we enacted last night is about $2.2 trillion. $2.2 trillion. That is larger than the federal budget for an entire year in domestic discretionary spending. And the programs we put together, were the highest priorities. We thought them through, we debated them, we disagreed, we came back to the table over and over again. And at the end of the day. This measure passed with a unanimous, unanimous bipartisan vote in the United States Senate. 96 to nothing. The four senators who didn’t vote two of them are facing diagnoses and two are under self quarantine at this moment. […]

The one part I will close with is near and dear to the governor’s heart is a stabilization fund. We said that there had to be help coming back to the state and local governments that have incurred great expenses, seeing problems with their budget multiplying, there had to be a helping hand from Washington. The stabilization fund was enacted, and it’s going to mean revenues coming back to the state to help it through this challenging time.

* On to questions for the governor. The president sent a letter to all governors today (click here to read it). His thoughts?…

We had a call with the president just before that letter arrived, the nation’s governors did and all I can say is that I’m concerned about the desire of the president to ignore potentially the science to try to do something that I know he’s, you know, has a desire to do, but people will die. People will get sick. We need to make sure that we’re operating on the same playbook together to save people’s lives. And of course, simultaneously we’re all thinking about how we’re going to keep the economy going during this time period and as we reach peak and beyond it.

* What’s up with the unemployment insurance claims website?…

So we’ve been working on this and I’ve spoken with our technical leads on this issue today. We had a record number of people successfully able to file their unemployment claims over 17,000, just as of about two o’clock today, which is an amazing number considering that you know they’re literally building this airplane while it’s trying to take off. So I’m very proud of the work that they’re doing. There’s still more to do, they’re going to keep working at it. I literally spoke with our Chief Information Officer for the state. This morning I called him at 830. I woke him up because he only went to bed at about four in the morning. So, unfortunately, I think I ended his sleep for the day because he’s gone to work right after I spoke with him this morning. We’re going to get this right, and we’re going to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to file for unemployment claims and we have sped up the process for people to actually receive those claims as well.

* Governor Andrew Cuomo called the Senate stimulus bill irresponsible and reckless because it doesn’t provide nearly enough money to cover his state’s revenue losses. Do you agree? Also, NY has spent $1 billion on its response. How much has Illinois spent?…

This is progress so let’s you know at least recognize a win when we see one. I think you heard Senator Durbin say so. So does more needs to be done? Yes, we are frankly doing everything in our power to get the supplies that we need the equipment that we need to expand hospital capability, ICU beds, everything that you can think of.

And frankly, it is at this moment my biggest concern is not the expenditure that we’re making to save lives. It’s, are we saving the lives are we actually bending the curve and that’s what we’re watching very closely. We’re beginning to do that. But, you know, we’ve only had five days now under stay at home.

We need to have more days under our belt before we start to see the bending of that curve further, but more needs to be done in Washington DC and I know that Senator Durbin has said that there’s likely to be potentially a relief package number four, maybe even number five

* For the IDPH Director, are you considering a statewide Do Not Resuscitate order for coronavirus patients?


* The governor was asked if he’d contributed to the new relief fund…

I did personally contribute already. My wife and I contributed $2 million of our own. And then my foundation contributed $2 million.

- Posted by Rich Miller   18 Comments      

673 new cases, 7 new deaths

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Oy…

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced 673 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Illinois, including seven deaths; a man in his 50s, two men and two women in their 60s, a man in his 70s, and a woman in her 90s. Approximately 87% of fatalities are among patient 60 years of age and older.

Franklin and Tazewell counties are now reporting cases. Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 2,538 cases, including 26 deaths, in 37 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to 99 years.

Confirmed Cases by Race

    White – 40%
    Black – 28%
    Other – 9%
    Asian – 4%
    Left blank – 19%

Confirmed Cases by Ethnicity

    Hispanic or Latino – 7%
    Not Hispanic or Latino – 61%
    Left blank – 32%

…Adding… Check out the graph. This is such bad news…

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

“Republicans are not just losing ground; we’re getting clobbered”

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Cor Strategies bills itself as a center-right political firm. They’ve worked for several Republican campaigns here. Here’s their analysis

(T)his 2020 Primary Election has shown some alarming trends Illinois Republicans should be worried about when it comes to voter turnout.

Statewide this year, only 34% of primary voters chose to pull a Republican ballot. In raw numbers, over 1 million more voters pulled a Democratic ballot than a Republican ballot this year. Compare that to the last similar election, which was 2004 with George W. Bush on the ballot, when Republicans pulled 42% of Primary Election ballots statewide.

The story is the same everywhere you look – Republicans are losing ground.

In suburban Cook and the collar counties, a minuscule 21% of Primary Election ballots were Republican. These numbers are less than half of what they were the last time we had a Republican president on the ballot for re-election: 43%.

In 2004, Lake County Republican voters made up 51% of the ballots cast in the Primary Election. Fast forward to 2020 and Republican ballots counted for only an alarming 22% of the vote. Only 22,488 Republican votes were cast, compared to 81,746 Democratic votes.

In central Illinois, Champaign County went from Republicans making up 54% of the primary vote in this key county in 2004 to under 25% of ballots this primary election.

Even the traditionally-Republican stronghold of DuPage County saw a massive dip. The west suburban county used to be so important that in November of 2000, then Governor George W. Bush made a huge appearance at the College of DuPage with over 25,000 supporters in an effort to actually win Illinois. In 2004, during the Primary Election, Republicans pulled 58% of the Primary Election ballots, nearly 87,000 voters. This year, Republicans in DuPage County only made up 26% of the ballots cast, down nearly 50,000 voters.

We chose 2004 as our comparison because it was the last similar election when a Republican president was up for re-election with nominal-to-no opposition. Things look even worse if you compare this year’s results to more recent primaries. In the 2016 primary, 1,460,341 Republican ballots were cast compared to 531,706 this year. Even the 2018 gubernatorial primary saw significantly more Republican activity (739,834 votes cast), despite the fact that turnout is normally lower in non-presidential elections.

So what do these abysmal Republican turnout numbers mean? Well, to us, it’s pretty clear: if we don’t get our collective act together, 2020 might be an even worse year for Republicans than 2018 was.

We’ve been mentioning these numbers to center-right leaders since last Tuesday, and we’ve frankly been a bit shocked at the collective yawn we’ve received in response. We’ve heard every excuse under the sun, from the coronavirus to more interesting races on the Democratic ballot to Election Day being St. Patrick’s Day (seriously). While the virus certainly had an effect on older voters, many of whom trend right, the city of Chicago had massive problems administering this election, which undoubtedly suppressed votes in this deep blue city. Voters crossing over to vote in the opposition’s primary is not a new phenomena in 2020, this happens every election (for instance in IL-3 when Republicans crossed over in 2018 to save Dan Lipinski). And bars were closed on Election Day, so this excuse doesn’t hold water (or green beer).

It’s time to get our heads out of the sand. Republicans are not just losing ground; we’re getting clobbered. No more excuses, no more pointing fingers, and no more sitting around hoping that dark money contributions will save us. Things are not going to get better on their own. Voter turnout projections for November show us losing even more ground, especially when you consider the massive funding advantage Democrats enjoy.

Time to roll up our sleeves. The General Election is less than 8 months away.

- Posted by Rich Miller   68 Comments      

133,763 Illinoisans have so far filed for uninsurance claims this month

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Yikes…

Unemployment Rate Dropped to New Historic Low in February, While State Sees Significant Increase in Unemployment Claims in March

SPRINGFIELD – While the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) announced today that the unemployment rate fell -0.1 percentage point to 3.4 percent, a new record low, the state is responding to a surge of unemployment claims in March due to the impacts of COVID-19. To this point, March unemployment claims total 133,763 compared to 27,493 over the same period in 2019.

In February, nonfarm payrolls were about unchanged, down -200 jobs based on preliminary data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and released by IDES. The January monthly change in payrolls was revised from the preliminary report from +16,600 to +16,000 jobs.

The state’s unemployment rate was -0.1 percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate reported for February, which was 3.5 percent, down -0.1 percentage point from the previous month. This was the second consecutive month that the state unemployment rate was lower than the national unemployment rate. The Illinois unemployment rate was down -0.9 percentage point from a year ago when it was 4.3 percent.

Statewide monthly payroll employment estimates can be subject to volatility. The three-month average Illinois payroll employment estimate, which provides a more stable measure of payroll employment change, was up +9,300 jobs during the December to February three-month period, compared to the November to January three-month period. The largest average gains were found in Trade, Transportation and Utilities (+2,400), Educational and Health Services (+2,100) and Leisure and Hospitality (+1,700).

“This administration remains dedicated to providing relief to small businesses and families during this challenging period for the state economy,” said Deputy Governor Dan Hynes. “As the state navigates this economic uncertainty, the governor will use every tool at the state’s disposal to help small businesses and families get the help they need.”

“From day one, Governor Pritzker has prioritized the needs of the state’s workforce which has resulted in a strong economic foundation,” said Erin Guthrie, Acting Director of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “The policies and plans he has enacted and continues to support will help us through this challenging period and make way for further economic stability.”

Compared to a year ago, nonfarm payroll employment increased by +18,300 jobs with the largest gains in: Educational and Health Services (+18,300), Government (+13,300) and Financial Activities (+4,800). The industry sectors with the largest over-the-year declines were: Manufacturing (-14,500), Professional and Business Services (-11,400) and Trade, Transportation and Utilities (-600). Illinois nonfarm payrolls were up +0.3 percentage point over-the-year as compared to the nation’s +1.6 percent over-the-year gain in January.

The number of unemployed workers decreased from the prior month, -3.9 percent to 218,800, a new record low, and was down -22.2 percent over the same month for the prior year. The labor force was down -0.3 percent over-the-month and -1.1 percent over-the-year. The unemployment rate identifies those individuals who are out of work and seeking employment.

An individual who exhausts or is ineligible for benefits is still reflected in the unemployment rate if they actively seek work.

- Posted by Rich Miller   1 Comment      

Dialysis Patient Citizens Supports The Illinois Kidney Care Alliance

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

[The following is a paid advertisement.]

In Illinois, more than 30,000 people suffer from kidney failure. To highlight their needs, organizations from across the state have come together to create the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance (IKCA). IKCA is a coalition of health advocates and professionals, community groups, providers, and businesses focused on raising awareness of the needs of people who suffer from kidney failure and their loved ones.

IKCA is proud to have Dialysis Patient Citizens (DPC) as a member of the coalition. DPC is a nationwide, non-profit, patient-led organization helping dialysis and pre-dialysis patients and their families. With more than 28,000 members, DPC’s policies and mission are guided by their membership and focus their resources on caregivers, healthcare professionals and advocates.

Those currently on life-sustaining dialysis or waiting for a functioning kidney are among society’s most vulnerable people. IKCA’s goal is to help and protect dialysis patients and their families. For more information, please visit our website.

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An unintended consequence of the stay at home order

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Rebecca Anzel at Capitol News Illinois

The novel coronavirus could “create long-lasting, devastating damage” to Illinois health care facilities that serve vulnerable communities.

Community health centers are treating fewer patients than normal after all 390 locations around the state canceled routine and preventative medical visits to slow the spread of COVID-19 per guidance from federal and state officials.

That means fewer government reimbursements for facilities that use them to pay staff salaries and purchase supplies. According to a report from Capital Link, community health centers in Illinois are projected to lose almost $140 million in revenue over the next three months, or 70 percent of the business typically generated.

This segment of the state’s health care safety net is already underfunded by about $150 million annually, Jordan Powell, president of Illinois Primary Health Care Association, said.

* John O’Connor at the AP

The internal financial review completed Wednesday for the Illinois Primary Health Care Association found that, without help, the state’s federally established community health centers face losses of $181 million and 4,350 layoffs during the next three months. […]

Heartland Health Centers, with 18 sites in the Chicago area along with temporarily closed public school clinics, reduced staff hours by 40% this week, president and CEO Gwenn Rausch said. Most of its 210 employees will work just three days a week to save $400,000 of a $1.2 million monthly payroll.

“Instead of seeing 500 patients a day, to minimize the number of well people coming into health centers who didn’t need to be there, and doing telehealth, we’re reduced to only about 100 patients a day,” Rausch said.

* From a press release

* Nearly 30 percent will exhaust all of their operating reserves and be forced to close sites and reduce services

* 37 percent are already on the brink of closure, with less than 30 days of cash on hand

* More than 70 percent will have substantial operating deficits, making it more difficult to provide the critical care needed during this challenging time

- Posted by Rich Miller   6 Comments      

MLB opening day open thread

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* I miss baseball, but this helped…

- Posted by Rich Miller   25 Comments      

What the nurses want

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* From Sue Clark, who lobbies for the American Nurses Association Illinois…


Wanted to make sure you saw this. Governor Pritzker has most of this, and for that ANA-Illinois and nurses across Illinois are grateful. This letter highlights other issues needing to be addressed, in our opinoin.


What she sent was a letter from the US Secretary of Health and Human Services asking governors to immediately extend the capacity of their health care workforce to address the pandemic, with specific suggestions. Click here to read it.

* I asked Sue what other issues need addressing in Illinois. She sent me this…

COVID Nurse Workforce Issues.

1. Allow health Care professionals licensed in other states to practice across state lines.

    a. The Governor, per Executive Order, allowed this practice around the border, which will help with direct patient care immediately around the border of Illinois.
    b. Telehealth-need to allow telehealth from licensed healthcare professionals throughout the US.
    c. Neither of these strategies would be needed for nurses, had Illinois joined the Nurse Licensure Compact.

2. Waive statutory and regulatory standards not necessary for standards of care: specific to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)*. Remove all barriers for access to care by APRNs. Other states have done this.

    a. The Illinois Nurse Practice Act requires APRN scope of practice be linked directly to their national certification. If this requirement is waived, it allows more flexibility in providing care. Care for which APRNs are educated to provide in all settings.
    b. Eliminate the requirement for Written Collaborative Agreements, (WCA), which requires physicians to determine what care an APRN may provide, including prescribing limitations. Would allow more flexibility and efficiency.
    c. For CRNAs, waive the mandate for ‘physical presence’ of anesthesiologist, physician, podiatrist, or dentist. Elective surgeries have been cancelled so some hospitals are hiring CRNAs as RNs. The ‘physical presence’ requirement is causing confusion regarding liability issues. CRNAs are better utilized to provide lifesaving services such as intubation, ventilator management and insertions of arterial lines and other procedures. While we know RNs are and will be in demand, CRNAs are educated and proficient in these life saving measures that RNs are not.

3. Many Illinois pharmacists will not fill a prescription signed by an APRN. The law does not require a physician name or signature for APRNs prescriptions. Patients are being asked to return at a later time to allow for an unnecessary name of a physician. This needs to stop.

*APRNs in Illinois in order to be licensed must have at least a Masters Degree, obtain and maintain national certification in their specialty. For instance, a Nurse Practitioner is one category of APRN (the others are CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists), CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialists) and CNM (Certified Nurse Midwives)

There are subspecialties especially for Nurse Practitioners, like pediatric, adult, family, mental health, emergency, etc, etc. The NPA (Nurse Practice Act) requires APRNs to practice within the certification specialty. What we are asking is to allow all APRNs to practice wherever there is need for increased access to APRN care. Flexibility during this time.

Written Collaborative Agreement (WCA): is a written agreement between a physician and APRN. In the agreement the physician must delegate whatever care the physician wants to allow. Nursing has tried to eliminate this for many years, as APRNs are well educated and practice within the scope of practice. In 2017, APRNs to meet specific requirements my obtain full authority to practice without a WCA. One stipulation is that an APRN must work 4000 hours with a WCA.

* TL/DR? Probably. But I mistakenly tweeted last year that Sue had been murdered, so I figure I owe her one.

Anyway, she ended with this…

Ok, so I gave you too much information!

The bottom line:

Request to:

    1) Remove all barriers for access to APRN care, including but not limited to eliminating the WCA mandate and remove limitations on scope of practice. And, includes removing the requirement for physical presence of any other healthcare provider when anesthesia care is administered by a CRNA.

    2) Require the acceptance of prescriptions written by an APRN, as authorized by the Nurse Practice Act.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      

Raoul details his price-gouging efforts

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* ABC 7

The coronavirus pandemic has led to complaints about price gouging at stores across the state of Illinois.

Many consumers say they’ve seen prices soar on certain products.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul says he does not take price gouging lightly and if a store is caught doing it, there could be stiff consequences.

Several consumers have called the ABC7 I-Team after spotting what they call price gouging in local stores across the Chicago area and online, with toilet paper rolls being sold for $59.99 and $11.99 for a 24 pack of bottled water.

Attorney General Raoul says his office has so far received 526 complaints related to price gouging during the COVID-19 crisis.

* AG Raoul was on Maze Jackson’s radio show today to talk about price gouging. I kid you not. The last time we talked about Raoul and Jackson was when the two almost got into a fist fight. But all appears well between them now. Crises can bring people together sometimes

* The AG appeared a bit grizzled when I watched his ABC 7 interview. He told me he uses isopropyl to disinfect after he shaves, but he’s preserving his stash as much as he can during the crisis…


- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      

COVID-19 roundup: Searchable EO posted; Trump can’t countermand Pritzker order; Filing extension was automatic; Chicago closes parks, beaches and trails

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* The first version of the governor’s stay at home order was an unsearchable pdf file. Click here for a searchable version. I’m not quite sure when that went online, but it’s very useful.

Speaking of which

With President Donald Trump pushing to jump-start the United States economy by April 12, even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationally, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker saying he’s weighing whether to extend Illinois’ stay-at-home order beyond April 7, some have been wondering who has the final say locally if there’s a difference of opinion.

Examining the nation’s federalist system of shared powers, and the 10th Amendment, which affords broad power to states in a public health crisis, “the governor wins,” says Lawrence Gostin, a Georgetown University law professor and public health expert. […]

“The legal answer is pretty easy actually. The governor wins – that’s the bottomline,” said Gostin, the Georgetown University legal scholar and public health expert. He said if a president tried to override a stay-at-home-order it would go to the courts and the president would lose. “States have historic police powers, which means … their primary responsibility is the health, safety and welfare of residents within their states and they have very broad powers.”

“The president has no power to go to a business within a state and tell that business to violate state law or state directions. The president has no power to command or commandeer a governor or state control over its people and its businesses. And the fact that the president is suggesting or implying that he does, I think is false. We’re not China, and we’re not even Italy. We don’t have a centralized government that is all powerful.”

* The Tribune has a mostly laudatory article on the governor’s handling of the crisis and it included this Pritzker quote from last week

“Every step that we’ve taken during this crisis, my legal team has understood and laid out our legal authority to do it.”

That prompted me to ask for the legal authority to extend the tax filing deadline. From the governor’s office…

Filing: IL statute already allowed for an automatic 6 month filing extension – so filing could always be done after 4/15 (up through 10/15). So filing deadline was never really the issue; payment deadline (below) was the issue.

Payment: DOR found that payment deadline automatically extends when there is a federal extension. Regulation 100.6000: Payment on Due Date of Return (IITA Section 601).

Learn something new every day

If the due date for payment of a taxpayer’s federal income tax liability for a tax year (as provided in the Internal Revenue Code or by Treasury regulation, or as extended by the Internal Revenue Service) is later than the date fixed for filing the taxpayer’s Illinois income tax return for that tax year, the due date for payment of the Illinois income tax liability due on that return shall be the extended due date for payment of the taxpayer’s federal income tax liability.

That happens whenever April 15 falls on a weekend, for instance. So, in reality, the filing deadline had to be extended because the feds did it.

* Meanwhile

The city’s Lakefront Trail, parks and beaches are closed, as well as The 606 Trail, Chicago aldermen said in messages to constituents and social media posts.

“Starting today, all of Chicago’s lakefront with its adjoining parks will be closed to the public until further notice. In addition, all fieldhouses, all playlots, all school playgrounds, the Chicago Riverwalk, and the 606 Trail are now closed to the public,” Ald. James Cappleman in a letter to constituents said in a letter to residents in his 46th Ward. “These steps were taken to further limit COVID-19 infections due to projection rates that if this stricter stay-in-place order did not occur, we would have upwards of 40,000 residents requiring a hospitalization. This would decimate our healthcare system, leading to many deaths.”

It was unclear whether Mayor Lori Lightfoot would close all other city parks as well.

Lightfoot’s office did not immediately have a comment Thursday morning. She has a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m.

* As the governor, the State Police and the Illinois National Guard have all said, these “papers” are not necessary…

* Other stuff…

* Cops called on X-rated video store in West Peoria offering curbside service during stay-at-home order

* These Retailers Refused To Close During The Pandemic, So An Illinois City Shut Them Down: Michaels stores have remained open in several states with stay-home orders in place. In a letter to employees, the company cited three reasons why its stores are “essential”: Small businesses rely on them, teachers use them for educational supplies and people “are looking to take their minds off a stressful reality” right now.

* How to make your food last longer

* ‘Pop-up’ production line at Carbondale plant producing specimen shipping bags for COVID-19 tests

* Let’s respond to coronavirus and climate change with car-free streets, bus and bike lanes

* Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

- Posted by Rich Miller   21 Comments      

DoIT needs to get its act together

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* On Monday, Gov. JB Pritzker was asked about the crush of people trying to file for unemployment insurance who couldn’t get through

First of all, this is just an unprecedented number of people that are seeking unemployment claims during this time period. I don’t think we’ve ever seen this before, even in periods during the 2008-2009 crisis. Having said that, we found over the weekend and over the last you know couple days of the week that the systems that we had that were supporting the online applications wasn’t robust enough to take all of the applications that were coming in at one time. And so we’re porting that system entirely over to a much more expansive foundational software system and server. So we won’t have any of those problems going forward. So we’ve taken care of, I think, the online problem.

The phone line problem is another issue. We had to take non essential staff and push them up to the front lines to answer phones to make sure we answered any questions we would like anybody who needs to apply for unemployment though, to go to the website it really will be. It’s now a, you know, as I say it’s on a new platform, we’ll be able to take many more at the same time, we want to fulfill peoples’ needs during this crisis and we’re going to.

He’s right about the unprecedented nature of this crisis. It’s just never happened before. Every state is having these sorts of problems. But he’s the one who raised expectations.

* When a reporter pointed out the ongoing problems with the IDES website and problems getting through by phone, the governor said the reporter was 100 percent right, and added

As I’ve said, this is an unprecedented number of people who are applying at the same time. And our DoIT, our Department of Innovation Technology, our state CIO, have been on this every day. They’re trying very hard to expand availability, they are expanding the availability. But it is true that we remain overloaded.

People are going to have to be patient at least for now. Over the course of this week those changes are coming online. I can’t guarantee that it’s going to be easy for everybody who gets there, especially if people show up all at the same time during work hours for example. But you can go online, any time of day or night. And so I would suggest to people that perhaps finding off hours to go online to make that filing will be much easier for you and easier on the system.

So, you know, hang with us here we’re going to make changes that are making it better. But it is true, it’s not working the way that I want it to, either.

He needs to seriously kick some DoIT tail and perhaps call in some of his homies from the tech world to help us out.

Yes, nobody ever expected this. I’m not blaming DoIT for its initial failure. I’m faulting DoIT because its honchos told the governor they had fixed the problem when they hadn’t. That’s unforgivable.

- Posted by Rich Miller   29 Comments      

*** UPDATED x3 - Trump approves IL disaster declaration *** What can Illinois expect out of the DC stimulus package?

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020


The U.S. Senate approved an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package to battle the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, though concerns with the unemployment provisions remain. A few highlights of what’s included in the package:

    • Creates a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for state, local and tribal governments. See estimated state allocations courtesy of Federal Funds Information for States.
    • Provides $30 billion for an Education Stabilization Fund for states, school districts and institutions of higher education for costs related to the coronavirus.
    • Provides $45 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund for the immediate needs of state, local, tribal and territorial governments to protect citizens and help them respond and recover from the overwhelming effects of COVID-19.
    • Provides $1.4 billion for deployments of the National Guard. This level of funding will sustain up to 20,000 members of the National Guard, under the direction of the governors of each state, for the next six months in order to support state and local response efforts.
    • Provides an additional $4.3 billion, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support federal, state and local public health agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
    • Extends the Oct. 30, 2020, Real ID implementation deadline to Sept. 30, 2021.
    • Provides $25 billion for transit systems. These funds would be distributed through existing formulas including the Urbanized Area Formula Grants and Formula Grants for Rural Areas using fiscal year 2020 apportionment formulas.
    • Provides $400 million in election security grants to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus in the 2020 federal election cycle. States must provide an accounting to the Election Assistance Commission of how the funds were spent within 20 days of any 2020 election.
    • Expands unemployment insurance from three to four months, and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits.
    • Establishes a $500 billion lending fund for businesses, cities and states.
    • Provides a $1,200 direct payment to many Americans and $500 for each dependent child.

And if you click that link, Illinois’ share of the $150 billion is $2.7 billion, with another $2.2 billion to local governments here. But that doesn’t include the other programs.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Here’s a breakdown from US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s office…

Breakdown of funds to IL for various key programs:

• Election Assistance ($400 million total): $13.9 million federal share + 5% state match ($695 thousand)= $14.6 million
• Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) Program ($850 million total): $31.9 million
• Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG): FY2020 Regular Appropriations ($189.5 million) + COVID Supplemental Appropriations ($117.5 million) = $307 million (an additional $117.5 million)
• Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): $17.8 million
• CDC Coronavirus State, Local, and Tribal Grant (Through the Public Health Emegrency Prpearedness Program) Awards: $16.3 million
• Emergency Solution Grants (ESG): $99 million
• Federal Transit Administation (FTA) Formula Distribution: $1.6 billion
• Housing Opportunities for Persons With Aids (HOPWA): $1.7 million
• Low Income Housing Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) Program: $13 million
• Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP): $2.2 million
• National Endowment of the Arts (NEA): $528,000
• National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH): $799,000

*** UPDATE 2 *** Chalkbeat has a good roundup of what schools can expect. Small excerpt

Districts will be able to use their portion of the $13.5 billion on a wide variety of things, including:

• Supplies for cleaning and sanitizing schools and school district buildings
• Efforts to help students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, “racial and ethnic minorities,” homeless students, and students in foster care
• Coordinating long-term school closures, including meals, technology, and serving students with disabilities
• Buying technology, including connectivity, to help students continue learning, including adaptive equipment for students with disabilities
• Items principals need “to address the needs of their individual schools”
• Mental health services
• Planning and providing in-person or online summer learning programs and after-school programs
• Continuing to provide district-level services and employ staffers

*** UPDATE 3 *** Good news, but let’s hope he also releases the money. New York and California complained yesterday about that very thing…

- Posted by Rich Miller   12 Comments      

Nearly 3.3 million applied for unemployment benefits last week alone

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* AP

Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — nearly five times the previous record set in 1982 — amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is inflicting on the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs.

Layoffs are sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms, and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have closed factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they’re cutting jobs to save money.

As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.

- Posted by Rich Miller   3 Comments      

Today’s required reading

Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Click here.

- Posted by Rich Miller   53 Comments      


Thursday, Mar 26, 2020

* Follow along with ScribbleLive

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comment      

* COVID-19 roundup
* A look at that University of Washington COVID-19 study and how Illinois fares
* Pritzker announces death of infant - "We're preparing ourselves for the worst" - McDonald's donates 400k masks - Talks Medicaid waivers - New guidance for grocery stores - Adresses Trump comments on NYC; Advises kids not to continually watch the news, including "God forbid, Fox" - Lagging test results - Joint buying with other states? - Feds not preventing drug stockpiling - Still scrambling to find ventilators
* 465 new cases, 13 new deaths
* COVID-19 roundup: Child dies; Aurora mayor and police chief test positive; Dart lashes out; GA will have to approve home cannabis delivery; Strike? Maybe; Abbott's new test; Remote notary allowed; Sewing warriors; Adorable video
* Yesterday's stories

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