Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned Wednesday the region of northwest Illinois that includes Rockford and Northern Illinois University and borders Wisconsin and Iowa could soon see stricter rules aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.
The nine-county region, as defined by Pritzker’s reopening plan, had a 7.5% test positivity rate as of Wednesday, which has climbed “at a concerning rate,” the governor said at a news conference in Chicago.
The governor’s announcement came as Illinois public health officials reported Wednesday they had logged 1,848 newly diagnosed cases and 22 additional confirmed deaths of people with COVID-19, raising the statewide tally to 279,114 known cases and 8,508 deaths.
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Here’s what’s happening Thursday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
6:43 a.m.: Sign tallying COVID-19 deaths that was marred with spray paint will stay up in Northbrook after some called for its removal
On the corner of Shermer Road and Walters Avenue in what many refer to as Triangle Park, a large sign displaying the number of national COVID-19 deaths stood Tuesday night, freshly covered with black spray paint.
At the exact same time, Northbrook officials were discussing whether the sign should be allowed to remain standing. Regardless of any personal views, trustees concluded at the meeting that they legally have no right to order the sign taken down.
The sign, which was unveiled Friday, says “We’re #1,” along with an updated tally of the number of national COVID-19 deaths — now displaying a grim 200,000. At the bottom of the sign reads “U.S.A. Donald J. Trump, President.”
Read the full story here. — Kaitlin Edquist
6 a.m.: Want to vote early in Illinois’ general election? Here’s what you need to know.
Balloting for the Nov. 3 general election kicks off Thursday with the opening of some early-voting polling sites while election officials across the state begin to mail out ballots to some of the more than 1.7 million applicants and brace for an unprecedented surge in both types of voting because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Though election officials will begin sending mail-in ballots to all Illinois residents, only some polling places will open Thursday, including a few sites in DuPage, Lake, Kane, Kendall, McHenry and Will counties.
Chicago’s in-person early voting operation doesn’t start until Oct. 1 at the Loop Super Site at 191 N. Clark St., before expanding Oct. 14 to locations in each of the city’s 50 wards.
In suburban Cook County, in-person early voting starts Oct. 7 and will expand Oct. 19 to more than 50 sites.
Read more here. —Kelli Smith
6 a.m.: ‘This is not good enough.’ Chicago-area parents rally to get kids back in school, and some districts are making it happen.
Her three children had always been good students, but since being relegated to online learning in Downers Grove, Carrie Swenson has had to guard against sleeping during class, poor grades and the temptation to cheat.
At random times, with all three in band but no group practice, they take turns playing a trumpet, saxophone or percussion, while their golden retriever howls. Swenson’s son is dejected and no longer in the Advanced Placement classes at which he excelled.
“This is not good enough,” Swenson said of remote learning. “It’s like they’re watching TV. I’ve heard of more and more students disengaging. Overwhelmingly, parents are saying this isn’t enough, we cannot do this.”
Swenson recently joined in a wave of parent rallies across the suburbs, calling for kids to get back in the classroom and into athletics in Algonquin, Barrington, Libertyville, Naperville, Orland Park, Villa Park and Wheaton, among other towns. They say online learning is not working, noting that some districts are operating with children in class, showing it can be done safely despite the coronavirus. In response, some boards are taking steps to reopen schools, many through a hybrid plan of remote and in-person learning.
Read more here. —Robert McCoppin and Karen Ann Cullotta
In case you missed it
Here are five stories related to COVID-19 from Wednesday:
The CPS plan for reopening schools remained unclear as parents shared remote learning woes with the Board of Education.
Empty roads, trains, buses and airports: Here’s how COVID-19 and staying at home changed how Chicago gets around.
Cook County plans to give out grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses hit hard by the pandemic.
The University of Wisconsin is reopening campus but is asking students who can to move out of dorms.
Those who have recovered from coronavirus can now give blood or platelets at any American Red Cross donation site to help save the lives of struggling COVID-19 patients.
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