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Coronavirus In Chicago: As Cases Double In Illinois Over The Weekend, A Strange New Reality Sets In

As of Sunday afternoon, 93 cases of coronavirus have been found in Illinois — double the number of cases Illinois was reporting on Friday.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks at City Hall in February 2020.
Colin Boyle/ Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — The city will look wildly different starting Monday as officials shut down bars and restaurants, with schools soon to follow.

This weekend saw massive changes in Illinois as officials look to slow the spread of coronavirus: Gov. JB Pritzker ordered all schools in Illinois to close starting Tuesday, and bars and restaurants are closed starting Monday night to anything but drive-thru, curbside pickup and delivery.

Officials have urged people to work from home and stay inside as much as possible, and large events have been banned and postponed.

Those moves will have far-reaching impacts on the everyday lives of Chicagoans, with many wondering how they’ll pay bills or care for their children.

RELATED: Think You Might Have Coronavirus? Here’s What To Do

But Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot said they’re necessary as coronavirus cases have increased exponentially in the state.

“I tried earlier this week to appeal to everyone’s good judgment to stay home, to avoid bars, not to congregate in crowds. It’s unfortunate that many people didn’t take that seriously. The time for persuasion and public appeals is over,” Pritzker said during a Sunday briefing on the virus. “The time for action is here. This is not a joke.

“No one is immune to this, and you have an obligation to act in the best interests of all the people in this state.”

As of Sunday afternoon, 93 cases of coronavirus have been found in Illinois — double the number of cases Illinois was reporting on Friday.

Chicagoans are looking for ways to step up and help, though, with people bringing supplies to those who can’t go to the store because they’re more at risk from coronavirus, many finding ways to safely patronize their favorite restaurants and help the staff, and people donating to artists and performers who won’t be able to host shows.

RELATED: Working From Home Because Of Coronavirus? Our Reporters Share The Tips You Need To Know

And organizations have stepped in, too: CPS is providing free take-home meal boxes to all children at all schools and restaurants are banding together to get financial protections for their staff, among other things.

“Our people are the bravest, kindest, hardest-working individuals” in the nation, Pritzker said. “I believe in you. I gotta fight like hell for you in the weeks ahead.”

Lightfoot urged Chicagoans to stay inside, follow health care and hygiene guidance from officials and to help those who will be needed during the outbreak, like health care and emergency workers.

“This is one of the most challenging times that any of us will face …,” Lightfoot said. “We can save lives if we work hand in glove together and if we use common sense.”

Coronavirus Cases

• There have been 105 cases of coronavirus in Illinois as of Monday afternoon.

• Some of those patients have recovered since testing positive. No deaths have been reported in Illinois, but some people were in critical condition.

What’s Happening In Chicago

Election Day: Voting is still on for Tuesday, but officials are urging people to vote early on Monday or cast a vote-by-mail ballot to avoid large crowds.

Many polling places had to change locations, but the original spots will have signs pointing people in the right direction, officials said.

Here’s a guide to voting in Chicago with help for looking up your polling place and early voting hours and locations.

And if you’re looking for work, you can make up to $255 as an election judge.

Restaurants and Bars: Eateries around the city are preparing to close their dining rooms — or close completely — starting 9 p.m. Monday.

And restaurant owners and chefs are teaming up to ask to the state to help them and their staff members, who face financial difficulties with the closures.

Chicago Public Schools: Schools close Tuesday, but parents are urged to send their kids to class on Monday to get educational material and supplies from teachers.

The district will also hand out three days of food for all children in a family 9 a.m.-1 p.m. daily at every school. Those needing emergency delivery can call 773-553-KIDS.

O’Hare Airport: The airport was overwhelmed with crowds over the weekend, leading to some people waiting seven or more hours to be cleared of coronavirus and able to go home.

But Lightfoot and Pritzker have appealed to federal authorities, who agreed to send in more personnel and “deputize” Fire Department EMTs so there’d be more people available to screen travelers.

Blood Donations: Blood donation organizations have said there is an urgent shortage of blood for people in need. Pritzker urged people to donate blood if they feel well — and said not doing so could cause a second health crisis.

Grocery Stores: Officials have repeatedly urged Chicagoans not to hoard and stockpile food and home supplies at the city’s extremely busy stores.

“Buy what you need, but please be reasonable. Think of your friends and your neighbors. There is enough food to go around, but we need people to not be selfish,” Pritzker said.

Shelters: Animal shelters like PAWS Chicago and One Tail at a Time are seeking more foster families as they worry their shelters won’t have enough staff and could be overwhelmed due to the virus.

Helping Hands: People around the city are doing good deeds, like buying groceries for older folks.

• Chicago Attractions: Most major attractions — from the Lincoln Park Zoo to Navy Pier and even the Bean — are closed.

• Incarcerated People: The Cook County Sheriff’s Office is taking more precautionary measures to protect staff and detainees, it announced in a news release.

That means all non-staff members, including visitors and attorneys, will be screened for coronavirus. Those with symptoms will be denied entry.

Visitors will only be able to visit one person once a week for 15 minutes until further notice, as well, and staff are ramping up their cleaning efforts.

 Helping Seniors: My Block, My Hood, My City is collecting disinfectant supplies to pass out to people who are elderly or who have disabilities. Food pantries on the West Side are offering pick up and delivery options for those in need. I Grow Englewood is seeking donations for elderly residents as well.

Are you having trouble accessing a COVID-19 test? Email us at newsroom@blockclubchi.org

Symptoms

Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control. People with no symptoms may have the virus and spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, get immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

The CDC only recommends those are already sick wear facemasks because they help you avoid spreading the virus.

Here’s what you can actually do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, like cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where corona is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been advised to stay home.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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