COVID-19 in Illinois updates: Here’s what’s happening Thursday

While beaches remain closed, you’ll still get a chance to enjoy the sand and surf this summer: The Chicago Park District has announced that restaurants and concessions east of Lake Shore Drive are now allowed to reopen.

Beachside establishments must adhere to the same COVID-19 safety guidelines that pertain to other businesses and restaurants in the city. While the Park District is working with each concession on its health and safety plans, proprietors can open as early as this week.

Yesterday, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker warned that the state faces “extraordinarily painful” budget cuts if the federal government fails to provide states with relief funding to make up for tax revenue shortfalls caused by efforts to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Illinois’ budget for the year that began July 1 is heavily dependent upon federal aid, but federal relief to state and local governments has been caught in a political stalemate in Washington among House Democrats, Senate Republicans and the White House amid negotiations that also include the extension of special unemployment benefits that ended in July.

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

1:09 p.m.: Chicago’s legendary FOBAB beer festival canceled due to COVID-19, but the competition will go on

Few things could be less appealing in the era of COVID-19 than getting buzzed on intensely boozy beer while crushed shoulder-to shoulder with a bunch of strangers in a bland event space.

So it comes as no surprise that Chicago’s legendary Festival of Wood and Barrel-Aged Beer has been canceled for 2020, the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild announced Thursday.

However, the Guild will press on with FOBAB’s annual competition, in which medals are handed out across 12 categories to honor excellence in wood-aging beer and cider.

1 p.m.: Millions of Americans thrown out of work because of the coronavirus endure loss of $600 aid: ‘My worst nightmare is coming true’

An unemployed makeup artist with two toddlers and a disabled husband needs help with food and rent. A hotel manager says his unemployment has deepened his anxiety and kept him awake at night. A dental hygienist, pregnant with her third child, is struggling to afford diapers and formula.

Around the country, across industries and occupations, millions of Americans thrown out of work because of the coronavirus are straining to afford the basics now that an extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits has expired.

“My worst nightmare is coming true,” said Liz Ness, a laid-off recruiter at a New Orleans staffing agency who fears she will be evicted next month without the added help from Washington. “Summer 2020 could be next year’s horror movie.”

12:33 p.m.: Second stimulus check updates: Negotiators trade public broadsides on stalled coronavirus relief package, likely to miss agreement deadline

The rival sides in bumpy congressional negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief package exchanged public broadsides rather than constructive concessions Thursday as they hurtled toward a self-imposed deadline for an agreement they appear increasingly likely to miss.

After a Wednesday session that produced no progress, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were returning to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Capitol suite to confront the gulf in their negotiating stances. Both sides have set a goal of reaching a deal by week’s end.

12:32 p.m.: Working from home leaving necks aching and shoulders sore? Ergonomic experts weigh in on how to make your workspace work for you.

Neck ache, back pain, sore shoulders — it’s not just you. University of Chicago physical therapist Zachary Stapleton said these are the most common complaints he receives from people who work desk jobs. “Desk jobs” these days may be more aptly called “couch jobs” or “kitchen table jobs” for some, but as more companies move to make work-from-home a more permanent measure, it might be time to reevaluate your workspace for the long term.

“I encourage people to establish environments that lead them to be as efficient as possible,” said Stapleton, who is also board-certified in orthopedics. Whatever your setup, he said it’s important that you have your feet on the floor and elbows at a 90-degree angle. The top of your computer monitor should be even with your brow and angled upward to take some tension off of your neck, he said.

12:11 p.m.: 1,953 new known COVID-19 cases, 21 additional fatalities

Illinois health officials Thursday reported 1,953 new known cases and 21 additional fatalities. The total number of known infections in Illinois now stands at 188,424 and the statewide confirmed death toll is 7,594. Within the past 24 hours, officials report 41,686 tests completed.

11:18 a.m.: Lakefront restaurants to reopen this week, many as early as Friday

While beaches remain closed, you’ll still get a chance to enjoy the sand and surf this summer: The Chicago Park District has announced that restaurants and concessions east of Lake Shore Drive are now allowed to reopen.

Beachside establishments must adhere to the same COVID-19 safety guidelines that pertain to other businesses and restaurants in the city. While the Park District is working with each concession on its health and safety plans, proprietors can open as early as this week.

10:49 a.m.: Bright Horizons buys Chicago-based Sittercity as parents scramble for in-home child care and tutoring

With families scrambling to figure out child care options for kids attending school remotely this fall, day care company Bright Horizons announced it is purchasing Sittercity, an online platform that matches people with child care providers.

Bright Horizons said the partnership will help it fill the wide range of new child care needs families are facing as a growing list of workplaces and schools, including Chicago Public Schools, delay plans to return to offices and classrooms during the pandemic.

“With the child care strain families have been experiencing the last five months paired with the prospect of remote learning, this acquisition will allow us to expand our in-home offerings and virtual solutions that are increasingly critical to families,” Bright Horizons CEO Stephen Kramer said in a news release Thursday. Terms of the transaction with Sittercity were not disclosed.

10:16 a.m.: ‘This is really devastating.’ Airline workers face tough decisions on whether to exit or hold on through COVID-19 pandemic.

American Airlines flight attendants were warned recently that flying won’t be the same after Oct. 1, even for those who avoid furloughs and keep their jobs.

Flight attendants will work more hours, trips will be longer and more will be assigned to on-call “reserve” shifts, even those with 35 years of experience. Some flight attendants may have to relocate across the country to remain employed.

The future of flying is starting to take shape at major airlines, and it won’t be as friendly as the past seven years have been for employees.

10:13 a.m.: Thinking of home schooling? Here’s how to do it.

Families across the Chicago area will be getting yet another taste of home schooling this fall, as many school districts opt for some degree of remote learning due to risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But others are thinking about untethering from traditional schools altogether, adopting their own, more flexible curricula that can be better adapted to parents’ schedules and children’s needs.

Indeed, interest in home schooling — which first gained traction among religious families over the past few decades — has spiked since the pandemic began. Taking responsibility for your children’s education, however, can seem daunting. We spoke with some experts for their tips on how to home-school this fall.

8:24 a.m.: 1.2 million seek unemployment aid after $600 federal pandemic boost ends

Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired.

The government’s report Thursday did offer a smidgen of hopeful news: The number of jobless claims declined by 249,000 from the previous week, after rising for two straight weeks, and it was the lowest total since mid-March.

Still, claims remain at alarmingly high levels: It is the 20th straight week that at least 1 million people have sought jobless aid. Before the pandemic hit hard in March, the number of Americans seeking unemployment checks had never surpassed 700,000 in a week, not even during the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

7:20 a.m.: City Colleges unions to announce opposition to in-person classes

Unions representing teachers and other workers at the City Colleges of Chicago was scheduled to hold an online news conference Thursday to “announce (members’) willingness to strike for safety,” according to a news release.

The Cook County College Teachers Union as well as other unions representing City Colleges workers were scheduled to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Thursday to call on the college system’s leadership to pause reopening “until a safe plan is in place,” according to the release.

The unions say that the City Colleges last week “demanded that student service employees such as college advisors and clerical staff return to buildings,” even though the unions say the workers “have been performing their jobs exceptionally well from home,” according to the release.

Check back for updates. —Chicago Tribune staff

Here are five stories related to COVID-19 from Wednesday.


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