Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Connecting the dots between our economy, government and people —

Top Illinois Stories

Pritzker extends Illinois stay-at-home order, keeps schools closed through April 30 – WGNTV (Chicago)

The latest statistics released by the Illinois Department of Public Health Tuesday found 937 new cases of the coronavirus in the state, and 26 additional deaths.

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For Downstate Illinois, coronavirus crisis ‘is going to devastate families’ – Chicago Sun-Times

In Illinois, the focus on the coronavirus crisis has been squarely on Chicago, but the hardships, fears and worries have spread across the state, even if the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases are in Cook County, not the state’s other 101 counties. And that has some public officials questioning Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decisions.

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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area – Chicago Tribune

Here are the latest updates Tuesday on the new coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois, including messages shared at a Fire Department graduation, and the city's concerns for the homeless and incarcerated populations:

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Pelosi Begins Drawing Up Next Stimulus With More Aid for States – Bloomberg

Comment: See our Monday article on why any direct aid to states and cities should be conditioned on pension reform in states like Illinois that have refused reform.

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More Highlighted Illinois Stories

Before COVID-19 downturn, Illinois saw shrinking payrolls and nation’s worst loss of manufacturing jobs – Illinois Policy Center

New data show Illinois lost private sector jobs amid a national economic expansion for the first year on record in 2019, a sign of the state’s deep structural problems in the run-up to the current market downturn.

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Graphics: Tracking Illinois coronavirus: 99 deaths, 5,994 reported cases, 35,225 tests – Chicago Tribune

As the coronavirus spreads and local, state and national governments work to contain and mitigate the outbreak, the Tribune is tracking Illinois cases.

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Illinois schools are now shut until May because of coronavirus. Here’s what that means for students, parents and teachers – Chicago Tribune

In effect, the Illinois State Board of Education is asking school districts to formalize their remote learning plans, two weeks after the abrupt halting of classroom instruction. ISBE is giving districts a lot of leeway in how they provide remote instruction and how they account for student work.

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More than 100 IL firefighters in COVID-19 quarantine, 16 test positive – WREX (Rockford)

The count, released by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, is updated twice daily.

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Employment Security department utilizes new alphabetized benefit schedule – Capitol News

Claims now must be filed online and by phone on days and at times set by the Illinois Department of Employment Security based on the first letter of the filer’s last name.

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Relaxed regulations help truckers deliver medical supplies, other goods across Illinois – Center Square

The COVID-19 pandemic has strained the supply chain. However, supplies continue to move, especially after the government relaxed weight limits and allowed truckers to get in an extra two hours of driving in a day.

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Pandemic derails Illinois’ lobbying reform commission ahead of key deadline – Center Square

The commission held meetings throughout the first quarter of the year, but hasn't met since March 5. It missed a March 31 deadline to produce a report with recommendations.

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Chicago-area counties are sharing data on coronavirus cases. Here are the links – Chicago Tribune

As communities across Illinois grapple with the spread of the novel coronavirus, there is a growing list of government sites that feature local data on the outbreak.

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Gov. J.B. Pritzker to extend stay-at-home order, school closings through end of April – Chicago Tribune

Illinois was among the first states to institute such far-reaching statewide restrictions ordering residents to stay home. Since then, more than half of the nation’s states have issued some sort of stay-home decree, with differing lengths and varying rules.

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Demand for hospital beds, ventilators in Illinois increase during COVID-19 pandemic – Center Square

The number of hospital beds has not been updated during the governor's daily briefings. But the Illinois Department of Public Health is tracking those numbers.

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Editorial: Why shouldn’t Illinoisans expect fair elections like the states that have ended gerrymandering – Daily Herald

"The (U.S. Supreme) court...ruled in 2019 essentially that it is up to an individual state to decide how much power to give elected officials to draw their own district boundaries. That's one reason why it's so critical that Illinoisans be allowed to vote on whether to allow an independent legislative mapmaking process."

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Some Whole Foods workers are planning a “sick out” strike Tuesday to demand better conditions during the coronavirus crisis. This will be the first time employees have staged a strike of this scale in 39 years, since the supermarket chain opened – ABC7 (Chicago)

Whole Foods says it has already increased pay by $2 an hour, offered two weeks of paid leave for workers who test positive for COVID-19 and stated workers who call out sick will not be penalized.

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Coronavirus Costs Illinois Behavioral Health Providers $7 Million – Patch

The COVID-19 financial wallop represents a nearly 50% loss of monthly revenue, potentially leaving as many as 175,000 patients in a lurch.

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Moderate social distancing yields $8 trillion in economic benefits, study finds – Washington Post

A new working paper from the University of Chicago’s Becker Friedman Institute for Economics includes calculations to put a dollar value on all those saved lives. “$8 trillion is over one-third of US GDP and larger than the entire annual federal budget. Whether in regular times or during a pandemic, it is difficult to think of any intervention with such large potential benefits to American citizens.”

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Macy’s, Gap, Kohl’s furlough employees at closed stores during coronavirus shutdown – Chicago Tribune

The Gap has 76 stores in Illinois across its Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta brands, and Kohl's has 66 stores in Illinois.

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Coalition launches Give Blood Challenge as blood supplies dwindle in Illinois – Center Square

Blood supplies are down 40% over this time last year, said Margaret Vaughn, executive director of the Illinois Coalition of Community Blood Centers. She stressed that blood donation is safe, centers are spacing out chairs, and travel to donate blood is permitted under Illinois’ stay-at-home order.

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U of Illinois warns students against ‘racist and xenophobic’ coronavirus language – Campus Reform

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Illinois prisoners sick with COVID-19 “overwhelm” Joliet hospital – ABC7 (Chicago)

The hospital's medical director, Dr. John Walsh, said they have been "overwhelmed" by inmates suffering from the effects of coronavirus. "This is a disaster," he said. "What I most fear, is that without some resolution, the number of patents coming in from Stateville will be excessive."

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Private Sector Workers/Retirees, Is Your Pension Plan At Risk From The Coronavirus Crisis? – Forbes

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Pritzker says feds sent wrong health equipment in latest PPE order – Capitol News

In his daily press briefing about the novel coronavirus disease outbreak Monday, Gov. JB Pritzker said the state’s third shipment of relief supplies from the feds arrived Sunday, but likely includes 300,000 surgical masks instead of the N95 respirator masks Illinois requested.

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State gives guidance on mortgage payments, student loan debt, banking – Capitol News

Evictions are suspended for homes and rental units in Illinois per an executive order by Gov. JB Pritzker, and IDFPR is urging all mortgage servicers to defer payments for 90 days for those suffering hardship as a result of the pandemic.

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Pritzker says Illinois will take over coronavirus testing after White House’s “profound failing” – Salon

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Gov. Pritzker activates 115 more Ill. National Guard members – KFVS12 (Carterville)

Of the 115, about 80 of the additional members will help with communications and reporting between county health departments throughout the state and the State Emergency Operations Center.

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SIU president can reimburse students for some costs – AP Illinois

As instruction has moved online due to the coronavirus outbreak, University president Daniel Mahony anticipates reimbursements to students could total between $4 million and $5 million.

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Illinois inmate dies from COVID-19; dozens more sickened – AP Illinois

“Those who are incarcerated obviously live and work and eat and study and recreate all within that same environment, heightening the potential for COVID-19 to spread really quickly once it’s introduced. The options for isolation of COVID-19 cases are limited.”

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Let’s just call it social distancing – Eric Allie for Illinois Policy Institute

'Social distancing'

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Illinois should suspend, repeal hospital bed limit law to address COVID-19 crisis – Illinois Policy Institute

"Before expanding bed capacity, Illinois hospitals normally require approval from the state by obtaining a “certificate of need,” or CON, after completing a lengthy process to demonstrate that new beds are necessary...By suspending the CON law to give hospitals throughout the state the ability to immediately add bed capacity and other necessary infrastructure, Pritzker would be following the lead of North Carolina, which temporarily lifted one of the more restrictive CON laws to meet the pandemic."

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McCormick Place Gets Hospital Beds; Deaths Include Inmate – NPR Illinois

Clusters of cases at nursing homes were reported in Joliet, Taylorville and Belleville. In addition to the beds at McCormick Place, the state is expected to open temporary beds at now-closed MetroSouth Hospital in Blue Island and Advocate Sherman hospital in Elgin.

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New York City Calls Off Construction, But Pritzker Says That’s Unlikely In Illinois – Block Club Chicago

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Editorial: Other states have emergency financial reserves to help combat the coronavirus. Not Illinois. – Chicago Tribune

"At the moment, the state has a backlog of $7.5 billion in unpaid obligations to businesses, hospitals, social service providers and others. Those that go unpaid for more than 90 days — now totaling about $450 million — have to be financed at an interest rate as high as 12 percent."

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Top Chicago Stories

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says coronavirus likely to have ‘profound impact’ on county’s hospital system – Chicago Tribune

“I can’t tell you how much of a financial impact it will have, because we don’t know how long the pandemic will prohibit us from doing elective surgeries,” she said.

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50 Chicago Police Staffers Test Positive For Coronavirus As Hundreds More Call In Sick – Block Club Chicago

But the department has plans for the higher-than-average number of people who have had to stay at home. A spokesman said, “We have a layered Emergency Operations plan that centers around maintaining critical staffing levels. Even with the increase in sick leave, it is lower than what it was this weekend and we have not yet had to implement any significant changes to maintain neighborhood patrols."

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500 Beds Delivered To McCormick Place As National Guard, Army Corps Build Coronavirus Hospital Inside – Block Club Chicago

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Here’s the first data on the hit to the housing market – Crain’s

In the first week of the stay-at-home order, 895 homes entered the for-sale market in Chicago. That’s down almost 34 percent from the corresponding week in 2019. Until the week ended March 7, new listings were running about even with 2019, but they dropped in each of the subsequent two weeks as efforts to slow the pandemic grew.

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Rent freeze not possible while state ban remains intact, city says as Chicagoans prepare for rent strike amid coronavirus pandemic – Chicago Tribune

The state’s ban on rent regulations means Lightfoot doesn’t have the authority to enact a rent freeze. And while Pritzker expressed support for repealing the state’s 1997 Rent Control Preemption Act during his gubernatorial campaign, the ban remains intact. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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More Highlighted Chicago Stories

No layoffs in city government due to declining revenues and rising costs, Lightfoot says – Chicago Sun-Times

For the umpteenth time, she noted “no one revenue stream is more than 13 percent” and that all of the “economically-sensitive” revenues together total just 25 percent.

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Newest stats show continued crime drop in Chicago during COVID-19 emergency – Chicago Tribune

It has only been a few weeks since the spread of COVID-19 led many Chicagoans to adhere to social distancing restrictions and avoid large gatherings — all the more reason for crime experts to caution against reading too much into the lowered numbers over such a short time frame.

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Mailbox boosted ballot box for Chicago primary voters wary of coronavirus – Chicago Sun-Times

Mail-in ballots trickling in are inching the city’s primary turnout to nearly 35 percent. That’s down sharply from the 53.52 percent city turnout in the 2016 presidential primary and the 52.70 percent in 2008, but above or comparable to the city’s showing in the remaining three presidential primaries this century.

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Most suburban GOP lawmakers endorse Pritzker’s COVID-19 stay-at-home rule – Daily Herald

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Laid-Off Renters Beg City, Landlords For Relief As April 1 Nears, But A Rent Freeze Is Not Coming: ‘I Can’t Even Afford Groceries’ – Block Club Chicago

As of Monday afternoon, a petition calling for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to freeze rent had drawn more than 14,000 signatures, but the mayor does not have the legal authority to enact a rent freeze due to state laws, a city spokesperson said. The petition also calls for the city to freeze mortgages and utility payments and to ban new filings for evictions and foreclosures.

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More than 800 Chicago Police Department employees out sick Monday – Chicago Tribune

About 6 percent of the entire Chicago Police Department was on sick leave Monday. On an average day, about 2½-4 percent of the department doesn’t report for duty for health reasons.

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CPS students unlikely to return to schools this year, alderman says after mayoral briefing – Chicago Sun-Times

Pressed on whether Lightfoot said students would not return to school buildings for the rest of the year, one alderman said, “I don’t know if that was the exact words. But that’s the implication — that the rest of the school year will be remote learning."

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The Chicago Housing Authority Was Slow to Protect Residents During the Coronavirus Outbreak – ProPublica

CHA officials waited weeks before hastily drawing up employee work-from-home plans that could reduce the risk of exposure for staff and residents. Some residents say they still haven’t heard what the CHA is doing to protect tenants and what will happen if the outbreak continues for weeks or months.

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Texas governor mandates 14-day coronavirus quarantine for travelers from 7 more states, cities, including Chicago – Fox News

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Michigan And Wisconsin Tell Chicago: ‘Stay At Your Homes’ Until Pandemic Ends – WBEZ (Chicago)

“Stay in place. Stay in your homes,” said Jim Carruthers, the mayor of the popular lakeside resort town of Traverse City, MI. He posted a Facebook message recently warning people against coming “up north” to vacation cottages during the pandemic.

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Chicago Suspends Collection of Bag Tax During Coronavirus Pandemic – ABC7 (Chicago)

Individuals who buy paper or plastic bags at Chicago grocery stores will still have to pay a 7-cent bag tax; the city won't be collecting the taxes from stores until the end of April. A spokesperson said waiving the fee altogether would require legislative action.

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CPS Sending 100,000 Laptops, Tablets To Students To Learn At Home — A Sign Schools Could Stay Closed For Longer – Block Club Chicago

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Coronavirus pandemic leads to extension of Chicago Police Department reform deadlines – Chicago Tribune

COVID-19 appears likely to further delay a process that already was lagging. In November, the former federal prosecutor tasked with monitoring the city’s progress wrote that the city missed 37 of its 50 deadlines for implementing parts of the decree.

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What the Gov: How Is Coronavirus Affecting Public Transportation? – Better Government Association

Officials with the CTA, which serves a massive and diverse ridership, have announced they are keeping on a normal schedule because “we realize some people have very few travel options.”

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Editorial: CPS and the coronavirus shutdown: Don’t settle for a lost school year, Chicago – Chicago Tribune

"If the Chicago Teachers Union truly is driven by outcomes for kids, it should not protest extra days into the summer. The kids hurt the most by a monthlong school closure are the ones CTU purports to advocate for the most."

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Coronavirus prompts crackdown on crowds in Cook County forest preserves, and more closures possible if public doesn’t comply – Chicago Tribune

She did not cite any particular spots that have become problematic, but a spokesman later said officials are keeping an eye on historically popular places such as the Busse Forest Elk Pasture, Bunker Hill and Caldwell Woods.

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Chicagoland COVID-19 Testing Locations – WBBM

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Coronavirus relief plan gives Cook County reprieve on food stamps – Chicago Sun-Times

Because of improved economic conditions in the county, nearly 60,000 Cook County residents were at risk of losing their public benefits under fresh guidelines that took effect this year. But now, all able-bodied recipients will continue to receive benefits during the national emergency and get a one-month grace period when it ends.

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COVID-19 case-tracking website here today, gone tomorrow – Forest Park Review

Cook County mum on mysterious disappearance of site with data specific to suburbs.

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Chicagoans readying for rent strike, calling on city and landlords to provide relief amid coronavirus pandemic: ‘The hammer is going to drop’ – Chicago Tribune

From Andersonville to Beverly, from Hyde Park to Humboldt Park, residents are working together to pressure rental companies and landlords into forgoing rent charges or evictions until things return to normal. They’ve posted signs, shared the #rentstrike hashtag and displayed white sheets from windows in a show of solidarity. “The moratorium we’re calling for, yes, it is an extraordinary policy intervention,” Guzzardi said. “But this is an extraordinary moment.”

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Lightfoot urges residents to sign up for Smart911 as number of first responders to test positive for coronavirus rises to 29 – Chicago Sun-Times

Mayor Lori Lightfoot urged Chicagoans to create a profile on Smart911, which will alert first responders to a caller’s medical information — including whether they are under quarantine — while they respond to calls for service. As of Saturday, at least 21 Chicago Police Department employees and at least eight Chicago Fire Department employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

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Small suburban park project draws big-time players swept up in federal corruption probe – Chicago Sun-Times

Somehow, this otherwise unremarkable block of green space also became a nexus point between a number of people caught up in an ongoing federal corruption probe in the southwest suburbs.

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US Army Corps of Engineers Plans to Turn McCormick Place Into a 3,000-Bed Hospital – NBC Chicago

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Pritzker Wants Cashier Shields, No Reusable Bags To Protect Retail Workers From Coronavirus – WBEZ (Chicago)

A spokesperson for Mayor Lightfoot explained that retailers must still collect the city's plastic bag tax, but they don’t have to pay it until the end of April.

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Chicago To Buy More Computers And Ramp Up Virtual Learning, With Details Coming This Week – Block Club Chicago

Until now, Chicago Public Schools has been largely mum about the district’s plans to ramp up remote learning — though officials promised more details later this week.

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City to enforce paid sick leave rules for employees during ‘stay-at-home’ order – ABC7 (Chicago)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected to remind people Friday that nobody should be forced to come to work at any business that does not qualify as "essential" during the pandemic.  The City is also enforcing paid sick time rules during the "stay at home" order.

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2,000 Chicagoans Will Get $1,000 In Rent Relief Under New City COVID-19 Plan, Mayor Says – Block Club Chicago

Marisa Novara, commissioner of the Department of Housing, said half of the grants will be awarded through a lottery to people who apply on the city’s website. The other half will be distributed by nonprofit organizations working in the neighborhoods.

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Civic Federation’s Laurence Msall: Staggering Unemployment Claims Will Put Major Strain On Illinois, Chicago Budgets – CBS2 (Chicago)

“We have never seen the economy stopped like this. You can go back 40, 50 years and you won’t see this level of unemployment in one week, and sort of the growth of it,” he said. “So it’s a sign of how serious the matter is. It’s a sign of how important it is that we limit the spread of this virus so we can get the economy restarted when it’s safe.”

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Coronavirus update: Chicago infant among 13 new COVID-19 deaths in Illinois as city considered next hot spot – ABC Chicago

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Officer among two more CPD employees diagnosed with COVID-19 – Chicago Sun-Times

That brings the total number of confirmed cases within the department to 11, police said Thursday.

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Wirepoints Commentary and Research

Coronavirus impact may push Illinois state pension debt to over $300 billion – Wirepoints

If you thought Illinois was already up to its neck in pension debts, just wait until the impact of the Coronavirus is tallied up. The state's shortfall will jump to over $310 billion in 2020 if conditions hold through June.

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As the crisis deepens, keep an eye on Illinois’ unpaid bills – Wirepoints

The full financial and economic impact the Coronavirus will have on Illinois is impossible to predict. For now, Illinoisans can keep an eye on the state’s $7.5 billion unpaid bill backlog to see how the state's finances are holding up.

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Wirepoints’ Commentary: Pension bailouts are not the answer for Chicago and Illinois — even during a pandemic – Chicago Tribune

With the U.S. Capitol building in the background, motorists drive on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington March 25. Thank you to the Tribune for publishing.

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Wirepoints: Don’t Let States Rob COVID-19 Funds to Bail Out Pensions – RealClear Politics

https://assets.realclear.com/images/50/505702_6_.jpg From Wirepoints' Ted Dabrowski and Mark Glennon, "Illinois is a perfect example of a state that shouldn’t be bailed out at the expense of fiscally responsible governments. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the state legislature and Chicago Mayor Lightfoot all reject structural pension reforms that would fix Illinois’ problems."

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Bad Public Pension Bailout Ideas Now Surfacing – Wirepoints

The first specific proposal we’ve seen would be a three-fer, piling wrong on top of wrong on top of wrong. It’s from the Rockefeller Institute’s Liz Farmer, published nationally and in Crain’s Chicago Business.

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Pending $2 trillion federal aid bill would single out Chicago from other Illinois towns and cities to get certain aid – Quicktake

The Illinois Municipal League is angry, as they should be, about federal bailout money for Chicago as the only Illinois town or city to get federal aid.

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More Wirepoints Original Stories

Who Are the Real ‘Covidiots,’ Rich Miller? – Wirepoints – UPDATED

ProPublica was right to ask for hospitalization numbers, and so were we.

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What next for Illinois? – Wirepoints

The Coronavirus is a terrible crisis that threatens everyone, but the silver lining for many will be the clarity that only structural solutions can fix Illinois’ problems.

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Unacceptable: Illinois and Certain Other States Not Releasing COVID Hospitalization Numbers – Wirepoints – UPDATED

We need daily hospitalization numbers and we need them now, on both people currently in hospitals and those who have been released. There’s no excuse for not having them.

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State of Illinois provides first look at possible revenue impact from downturn – Quicktake

A revenue loss of $8 billion is a reasonable scenario – about 20% of the state budget – though it likely would be spread over several years.

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Senator Dick Durbin demanding direct federal bailouts for broke states and cities behind the scenes, says Senator Tom Cotton – Quicktake

You knew this was coming. Trying to use the crisis to bail out Illinois and Chicago for years of fiscal madness.

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Immoral: Paid Vacation for State and Local Workers; Pensioners Held Harmless as Taxpayers Face Ruin – Wirepoints

Illinois state and local governments have committed Illinois taxpayers essentially to holding harmless public sector workers from any loss. It's immoral.

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Focus On Chicago’s Immediate Crisis, Mayor Lightfoot, Not Political Grandstanding – Wirepoints

A month ago she brushed off the threat of the the coming health and financial crisis, claiming Chicago was fully prepared and the federal government was overreacting. Her latest message is that use of the term "Chinese virus" is false and racist.

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Wirepoints Original Stories

Coronavirus impact may push Illinois state pension debt to over $300 billion – Wirepoints

If you thought Illinois was already up to its neck in pension debts, just wait until the impact of the Coronavirus is tallied up. The state's shortfall will jump to over $310 billion in 2020 if conditions hold through June.

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As the crisis deepens, keep an eye on Illinois’ unpaid bills – Wirepoints

The full financial and economic impact the Coronavirus will have on Illinois is impossible to predict. For now, Illinoisans can keep an eye on the state’s $7.5 billion unpaid bill backlog to see how the state's finances are holding up.

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Wirepoints’ Commentary: Pension bailouts are not the answer for Chicago and Illinois — even during a pandemic – Chicago Tribune

With the U.S. Capitol building in the background, motorists drive on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington March 25. Thank you to the Tribune for publishing.

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Top Illinois Stories

Pritzker extends Illinois stay-at-home order, keeps schools closed through April 30 – WGNTV (Chicago)

The latest statistics released by the Illinois Department of Public Health Tuesday found 937 new cases of the coronavirus in the state, and 26 additional deaths.

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For Downstate Illinois, coronavirus crisis ‘is going to devastate families’ – Chicago Sun-Times

In Illinois, the focus on the coronavirus crisis has been squarely on Chicago, but the hardships, fears and worries have spread across the state, even if the overwhelming majority of COVID-19 cases are in Cook County, not the state’s other 101 counties. And that has some public officials questioning Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s decisions.

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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area – Chicago Tribune

Here are the latest updates Tuesday on the new coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois, including messages shared at a Fire Department graduation, and the city's concerns for the homeless and incarcerated populations:

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Pelosi Begins Drawing Up Next Stimulus With More Aid for States – Bloomberg

Comment: See our Monday article on why any direct aid to states and cities should be conditioned on pension reform in states like Illinois that have refused reform.

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Other Illinois News

Before COVID-19 downturn, Illinois saw shrinking payrolls and nation’s worst loss of manufacturing jobs – Illinois Policy Center

New data show Illinois lost private sector jobs amid a national economic expansion for the first year on record in 2019, a sign of the state’s deep structural problems in the run-up to the current market downturn.

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Graphics: Tracking Illinois coronavirus: 99 deaths, 5,994 reported cases, 35,225 tests – Chicago Tribune

As the coronavirus spreads and local, state and national governments work to contain and mitigate the outbreak, the Tribune is tracking Illinois cases.

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Illinois schools are now shut until May because of coronavirus. Here’s what that means for students, parents and teachers – Chicago Tribune

In effect, the Illinois State Board of Education is asking school districts to formalize their remote learning plans, two weeks after the abrupt halting of classroom instruction. ISBE is giving districts a lot of leeway in how they provide remote instruction and how they account for student work.

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More than 100 IL firefighters in COVID-19 quarantine, 16 test positive – WREX (Rockford)

The count, released by the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois, is updated twice daily.

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Employment Security department utilizes new alphabetized benefit schedule – Capitol News

Claims now must be filed online and by phone on days and at times set by the Illinois Department of Employment Security based on the first letter of the filer’s last name.

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Top Chicago Stories

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says coronavirus likely to have ‘profound impact’ on county’s hospital system – Chicago Tribune

“I can’t tell you how much of a financial impact it will have, because we don’t know how long the pandemic will prohibit us from doing elective surgeries,” she said.

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50 Chicago Police Staffers Test Positive For Coronavirus As Hundreds More Call In Sick – Block Club Chicago

But the department has plans for the higher-than-average number of people who have had to stay at home. A spokesman said, “We have a layered Emergency Operations plan that centers around maintaining critical staffing levels. Even with the increase in sick leave, it is lower than what it was this weekend and we have not yet had to implement any significant changes to maintain neighborhood patrols."

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500 Beds Delivered To McCormick Place As National Guard, Army Corps Build Coronavirus Hospital Inside – Block Club Chicago

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Here’s the first data on the hit to the housing market – Crain’s

In the first week of the stay-at-home order, 895 homes entered the for-sale market in Chicago. That’s down almost 34 percent from the corresponding week in 2019. Until the week ended March 7, new listings were running about even with 2019, but they dropped in each of the subsequent two weeks as efforts to slow the pandemic grew.

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Rent freeze not possible while state ban remains intact, city says as Chicagoans prepare for rent strike amid coronavirus pandemic – Chicago Tribune

The state’s ban on rent regulations means Lightfoot doesn’t have the authority to enact a rent freeze. And while Pritzker expressed support for repealing the state’s 1997 Rent Control Preemption Act during his gubernatorial campaign, the ban remains intact. His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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Other Chicago News

No layoffs in city government due to declining revenues and rising costs, Lightfoot says – Chicago Sun-Times

For the umpteenth time, she noted “no one revenue stream is more than 13 percent” and that all of the “economically-sensitive” revenues together total just 25 percent.

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Newest stats show continued crime drop in Chicago during COVID-19 emergency – Chicago Tribune

It has only been a few weeks since the spread of COVID-19 led many Chicagoans to adhere to social distancing restrictions and avoid large gatherings — all the more reason for crime experts to caution against reading too much into the lowered numbers over such a short time frame.

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Mailbox boosted ballot box for Chicago primary voters wary of coronavirus – Chicago Sun-Times

Mail-in ballots trickling in are inching the city’s primary turnout to nearly 35 percent. That’s down sharply from the 53.52 percent city turnout in the 2016 presidential primary and the 52.70 percent in 2008, but above or comparable to the city’s showing in the remaining three presidential primaries this century.

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Most suburban GOP lawmakers endorse Pritzker’s COVID-19 stay-at-home rule – Daily Herald

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Laid-Off Renters Beg City, Landlords For Relief As April 1 Nears, But A Rent Freeze Is Not Coming: ‘I Can’t Even Afford Groceries’ – Block Club Chicago

As of Monday afternoon, a petition calling for Mayor Lori Lightfoot to freeze rent had drawn more than 14,000 signatures, but the mayor does not have the legal authority to enact a rent freeze due to state laws, a city spokesperson said. The petition also calls for the city to freeze mortgages and utility payments and to ban new filings for evictions and foreclosures.

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