Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Wednesday said Lake and McHenry counties will become the 8th of 11 regions in his reopening plan where coronavirus metrics have exceeded state thresholds, leading to tighter restrictions. Indoor bar and dining service will be banned in those counties beginning Saturday after the average positivity rate exceeded 8% for three consecutive days, the governor’s office said.
Chicago is also facing tighter restrictions beginning Friday and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Wednesday she had met with the governor and won’t try to block his order to ban indoor bar and dining service in the city.
Also on Wednesday, Illinois health officials also announced 6,110 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide, the second-highest daily cases count since the pandemic began after a count of 6,161 last Saturday. In all, there have been 389,095 known cases in Illinois. With 51 additional fatalities also reported, the statewide death toll stands at 9,619.
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Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
7 a.m.: Pritzker to tour West Side business, hold news conference on business grants
Gov. J.B. Pritzker was scheduled Thursday morning to tour an Austin neighborhood business Thursday morning before announcing where the state stands on distribution the second round of small business grants, according to the governor’s office.
Pritzker was scheduled to tour L May Creations, 5936 W. Chicago Ave., an event space run by the owner of a small business that according to the Austin Weekly News makes custom jewelry and party decorations.
The second round of Business Interruption Grants has included $220 million for businesses including movie theaters, performing arts venues and concert venues, officials have said. — Chicago Tribune staff
6 a.m.: Mental health among Black Chicagoans a concern as suicide numbers rise
Sleeping a lot. Binge eating. Feeling alone.
Casey, 32, knew these were signs in the spring that she was depressed. The Chicago resident didn’t want to be identified by her full name while speaking about mental health challenges.
She’s an extrovert, and when Illinois shut down, she said, it was hard not to be able to see friends. With an underlying health condition, she felt a lot of fear when COVID-19 arrived in Chicago. Her job isn’t one she can do remotely, but she needed to be home with her children, ages 7 and 8, and help with remote learning, creating extra stress. And after all of this, she felt more pain watching the George Floyd protests and seeing, she said, how Black people like her were treated.
“That created a lot of depression and a lot of anxiety,” she said. “I would definitely have those crying spells like, hey, I just need somebody to hug me. Because of COVID, there was nobody available.”
Casey is not alone. Many are feeling extra and unusual stressors during this time, and people of color shoulder additional burdens.
This year, many Americans have reported feeling anxious and depressed. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows nearly half of Americans reported at least one mental or behavioral health condition, including a trauma- and stressor-related disorder or substance use.
In Illinois, health officials are monitoring the number of suicides. Overall, the number in Illinois actually fell slightly, from 678 suicides from January to June last year to 649 in the same time period this year.
But among Black Chicagoans, suicides have risen.
Last year, from January to June, Cook County saw 31 suicides among Black residents, which was actually down from 38 in the same time period the year before. But this year, from January to June, 51 Black residents in Cook County died by suicide, according to Illinois Department of Public Health statistics. Earlier this year, the Sun-Times reported that the majority of Black suicides in Cook County occurred in Chicago, often in the South and West side neighborhoods.
Read more here. —Alison Bowen
6 a.m.: Thursday’s the deadline for sending in your mail-in ballot application. If you miss it, here are some options.
Thursday is the deadline for your local election authority to receive your application for a mail-in ballot, although for weeks officials have been encouraging voters to send them in sooner.
Don’t expect to get yours in on time? Don’t fret. You still have options.
If you’d like to vote by mail, you have a couple of choices.
First, if your local election jurisdiction accepts online applications, you can submit one before 5 p.m. Thursday. But that doesn’t guarantee you’ll receive your ballot in time to fill it out and have it postmarked, place it in a secure drop box or hand-deliver it to your local election authority’s office by Election Day.
Your other option is to go to your local county clerk’s office or election authority to request a mail-in ballot in person. The deadline to do that is Monday. Just be sure to complete your ballot and place it in the mail or a designated drop box or return it to your local election office by Tuesday.
Ballots returned by mail and postmarked by Election Day should be counted as long as they’re received by Nov. 17.
Still, given that election officials encouraged voters to submit vote-by-mail applications by Oct. 15 to make sure they could be mailed out in time, your best bet may be to make other plans for casting your ballot.
Read more here. —Dan Petrella
5 a.m.: A vaccine may be ready by January, but a return to normal isn’t. Here’s what we learned from Dr. Anthony Fauci’s virtual Chicago talk.
With COVID-19 cases rising rapidly in Illinois, Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed this latest surge, the president’s name-calling and a vaccine timeline during a virtual Chicago talk Wednesday evening.
He spoke during an event hosted by Chicago Ideas and presented by Horizon Therapeutics called “The Man Behind the Medicine.” Fauci’s remarks came the same day that Illinois reported 6,110 new cases of COVID-19, with a rolling positivity rate of 6.7% up from 4.6% two weeks earlier.
Read more here. — Lisa Schencker
In case you missed it
Here are five stories from Wednesday related to COVID-19:
The IHSA board went against Gov. Pritzker and said it will start boys and girls basketball seasons on time.
Parents are seeking answers about masks, distancing, pods as CPS looks to reopen schools and plans for simultaneous teaching of kids who remain home.
Loyola, Northwestern unveiled plans to open campuses further, even as COVID-19 surges.
Pritzker tied COVID-19 cases to restaurants and bars in Kane, DuPage counties. But health departments paint a vague picture of the data.
A Pilsen restaurant is testing out a sidewalk enclosure for outdoor dining. Its designer wants to build more, but needs financial backing.
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