Health officials reported on Saturday 1,462 new known cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number of known cases in Illinois to 118,917 since the pandemic began. Officials also reported another 61 deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 5,330.
After more than two months, the statewide stay-at-home order ended on Friday as Gov. J.B. Pritzker loosened restrictions on a range of businesses and activities, and lifted a cap on the number of people who can gather for religious services.
Many Illinoisans took their first tentative steps back into restaurants, shopping malls and fitness centers Friday and Saturday despite a viral pandemic that has slowed but remains a grave threat.
Here’s what’s happening this weekend with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
4:34 p.m.: Diners out in force at The Glen. ‘It is heavenly.’
In north suburban Glenview, diners were out in force Saturday afternoon at the Glen Town Center, where outdoor seating at some restaurants extended into the street and was blocked off by large orange barricades. While some wore masks, people of all ages dined and shopped without them, or left them hanging around necks or below their noses.
At El Tradicional, Debby Weber, 65, and an out-of-town cousin perched on a high-top a half-hour before the Mexican restaurant opened for service. They contentedly looked over the menu, taking in the fine weather and the foreign experience of eating at a restaurant after months of staying in.
“It’s heavenly,” said Weber, who lives in Northfield. The pair first went to Arlington Heights, lured by news that the village would close some streets to traffic to allow for more outdoor dining space. But with the closures not in effect Saturday, patrons saw hourlong wait times for restaurants there. The pair came to Glenview instead and were the only diners at El Tradicional at the time.
“We have our masks if we need them,” said Weber, patting her purse. “But I’ve been very careful, and I plan to stay that way.”
While many of the shopping center’s restaurants were open, along with anchor stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Von Maur, other retailers remained closed or open only for takeout and delivery. Taking advantage of the good weather, some propped open doors to signal they were ready for customers.
At The Curragh Irish Pub, guests sat at about half of the outdoor tables, while masked servers bustled around.
Dimitri Jurgensen paused from his work as a server to adjust a sign listing the restaurant’s coronavirus-related precautions outside. He came from Holland, Michigan, this weekend to help his aunt with her restaurant’s reopening. During lunchtime service Saturday, he said the restaurant has been busy, but not slammed.
“It’s nice to get out of the house and be making some money again,” he said. “I’ve been doing takeout orders at my family’s restaurant, but it’s not the same money I make serving.” —Ariel Cheung
4:33 p.m.: ‘… It’s summer and people don’t want to be home’
Handfuls of residents walked through downtown Aurora and sat in restaurants’ outdoor areas Saturday afternoon, standing in stark contrast to the bustling patios and shops in neighboring Naperville’s downtown.
Aurora leaders have long sought to energize and transform the city’s downtown into an entertainment and arts hub. The area had just begun to redefine itself and attract new restaurants when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Since then, one of the downtown’s largest draws, the Paramount Theatre, has remained closed.
Some downtown restaurants also remained closed to in-person customers, lacking outdoor seating. At Ballydoyle Irish Pub, a handful of diners sat on the back patio in the midafternoon, though general manager Kevin Kauper said the restaurant had attracted a nice crowd for lunch, and owners intended to expand outdoor seating moving forward.
Altiro Latin Fusion, which opened in Aurora weeks before the state required restaurants to close to in-person dining, was busier than owners expected, but remained below its capacity, general manager Jessica Contreras said. That was likely because the restaurant is requiring customers to make reservations before arriving as part of its social distancing and safety precautions, she said.
She expected business to pick up, however, and the restaurant was working with the city to expand into the street to add additional tables.
“I think it’ll definitely be picking up,” she said. “Especially because it’s summer and people don’t want to be home.” —Sarah Freishtat
4:27 p.m.: Nearly 2,000 people attend Oak Park Farmers’ Market on opening day
Nearly 2,000 people attended the Oak Park Farmers’ Market on its opening day. Customers were required to wear masks and only 150 people at a time were allowed to shop from the 23 vendors.
Customers were encouraged to “shop with eyes only,” as several vendors featured signs asking customers to not touch the products. Hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes were available.
To accommodate public health guidelines amid the pandemic, vendors were spread through a three-block radius and each vendor was at least 6 feet apart.
“We have had amazing positive feedback, I’m really excited we are having the market,” said Mindy Agnew, the sustainability coordinator for the Village of Oak Park.
Shopper Janice Tonietto said she was worried the market wouldn’t open this summer. She said she liked the fresh vegetables and fruits and drove from Berwyn to the market to buy asparagus.
“I was thrilled when I heard it was going to be opening,” said Tonietto, who indicated she preferred not to wear a mask.
“I’m one of those who wishes that it would open more quickly (and) lose the mask, the mask really bothers me,” she added. “But if wearing it gets me into the market, I’ll wear it.”
For the last 45 years, Kenny Stober, owner of Stober Farm Market, has been selling his signature dehydrated fruit and veggies, jelly, and honey at the Oak Park market.
Like Tonietto, he said he was concerned about how the pandemic would affect the market’s opening date and guidelines. However, he praised organizers for the setup and suggested that more than 150 customers should be allowed to enter the market at once.
“Sales were fairly decent for an opening day,” Stober added. —Laura Rodriguez Presa
4:15 p.m.: ‘She’s my first hug in months.’
With temperatures in the high 60s, children rolled down hills, skateboarders took out their cameras to shoot moves and others exercised with personal trainers in Grant Park on Saturday.
Patrice Clarke of Lakeview met her best friend Monica Barry of Bronzeville in the park for a picnic. Despite their online get-togethers, the two were all smiles breaking bread in the sunshine.
“She’s my first hug in months,” Clarke said. “I wanted a hug so much, but I didn’t know what to do.”
Barry said she went in for it. The friends said they hadn’t been ill during the stay-at-home order.
“Yes, seeing each other online is OK, but there’s nothing like being in a person’s space and feeling their energy,” Clarke said.
Barry laughed in agreement, and said she didn’t want to get in trouble with the mayor. They had their face masks in tow, but were not donning them while eating waffle cookies.
Johana Batista, a new South Loop resident, was out with her family riding Divvy bikes — nine members strong wearing face masks.
“It’s such a nice day, my sister came by with her children and we thought, ‘why not get the kids out,'” she said. “With the kids not seeing the sun due to school and the recent weather, we thought this would be fun for them.”
Maalik Falsetto, a recent graduate of DePaul University, was in Grant Park taking professional graduation photos in his cap and gown with friend Ariana R. Jordan. He, with a master’s degree in producing, her with a master’s degree in screenwriting, Falsetto said Jordan set up the shoot. She didn’t get to have a graduation ceremony because of the coronavirus restrictions, but Falsetto did since he graduated a semester ahead of Jordan.
“She’s heading to Hollywood in August, but I’m going to make a go of it in Chicago,” said Falsetto, a Hyde Park resident. “I’ve been busy with pre-production for a number of projects even with COVID-19 restrictions.”
South suburbanites were out to enjoy the weekend as well. Crest Hill couple Dave and Carol Worth were outside the Tex-Mex eatery Chuy’s on Saturday morning enduring a 20-minute wait. Carol said it’s her favorite restaurant and she was just tired of cooking.
Chuy’s patio was full with patrons sitting at 10 tables distanced 6 feet apart. It’s been a steady stream of foot traffic since the patio opened to the public Friday, said Jose Salazar, the general manager.
“Business has decreased dramatically since restrictions went in place — we’ve seen at least a 70% decrease. And the curbside pickup and takeout orders didn’t help as much as one would think,” he said. He said the restaurant had to furlough 80% of its staff, but they’ve already brought back four or five employees to help with the outdoor eating area. About 40 people can eat safely with social distancing still in place, Salazar said.
“We’re just excited to have people here,” said Larry Cappos, Chuy’s Chicagoland area supervisor. “People are just looking to get out because it makes them feel normal again. And people are looking for a sense of normalcy.”
Friends Jill Loffredo and Joan Rohrich, Oak Forest residents, were excited for their version of normalcy, waiting outside Frankfort’s Fat Rosie’s Taco and Tequila Bar. The two friends said this was their first outing together in months.
“We wanted to hit a couple of the stores, do a little shopping, while we were out,” Loffredo said. “Staying inside all this time, can really get you down. My husband and I are both retired, so we like to go out and enjoy a meal. He didn’t find the food that we pick up for takeout as good as having it in person.”
Trail’s Edge Brewing Co. opened its outdoor seating area Friday evening and, according to manager Ken Majewski, there wasn’t an open table for up to four hours. With 22 tables 6 feet apart, he suggested people call ahead for wait times, since they are not taking reservations at this time.
“People are just so happy to be out, some of our servers are getting 100% tips,” he said. “I’m expecting full capacity tonight as well.”
Frankfort resident Laurie Miller was out enjoying a meal with her daughter Samantha Miller, a student at St. Louis University. They were both sporting wide grins after just coming from getting manicures. They sat in the shade taking in the environment.
“Thank God places are opening,” Laurie Miller said. “Just to walk, get some air and not have to cook? It feels good. It feels good to let someone else serve me a meal.” —Darcel Rockett
3:38 p.m.: ′In an ideal world, we might be waiting a little longer’
Diane Manning has patiently awaited the reopening of her favorite Evanston spot, Patisserie Coralie, for months. As she drove by Saturday morning, she noticed activity inside and stopped by for a coffee and a caprese croissant.
She sat at one of just a few small folding tables outside the cafe, where sunlight and a gentle breeze made for perfect dining al fresco.
“It’s been challenging for me, because I’m such an active person,” said Manning, a swim instructor in her 60s. “To sit at home has been hard.”
At the same time, she was critical of passersby not wearing masks as they traversed downtown Evanston. A couple of maskless cyclists caught her eye as she sipped on her iced coffee, while only about half the people had masks on as they meandered down sidewalks in small clusters.
“That’s not going to help us,” she said. “I just don’t understand the thought process.”
Inside Patisserie Coralie, co-workers Katie Delicath and Justin Pierce were delighted to be back at their full-time job. The cafe was bustling for most of the morning, with a line of eager patrons outside as the eatery let four people inside at a time, they said. A hanging sheet of plexiglass separated them from customers, and they both wore face coverings.
“It’s extremely nice to have something to do,” said Pierce, who wore a bandana around his face. “Although I honestly felt like I had maybe forgotten how to make all the drinks.”
And while getting a paycheck again is a big relief for them financially, both said they were concerned about the state reopening too quickly.
“In an ideal world, we might be waiting a little longer,” Pierce said. “But also, people need to be at work.”
They also considered themselves fortunate to be healthy enough to do so.
“There are immunocompromised people who don’t have the luxury of being excited for this,” Delicath said. “Older people who maybe aren’t comfortable going places.”
Around the block, Colectivo Coffee’s outdoor sidewalk patio was busy as well. Most customers wore masks, including John and Sharon Okonek, of East Glenview, who stopped by for a drink after visiting the Evanston farmers market.
“I think people are fed up, and that’s what is driving this,” Sharon Okonek said of the reopening. “It corresponds with the change in the weather. People are just ready to come out, and I do worry that it’s not the right time scientifically.”
The couple will wait awhile to visit a restaurant for a full meal, expecting crowds of diners in the first few weeks. They want to proceed with caution, and plan to keep an eye on Wisconsin, which reopened earlier than Illinois.
“I’m waiting for us to have a big flare (of cases) and for all the staying at home to have been all for nothing,” Sharon Okonek said.
Not all stores and restaurants were open Saturday in Evanston. While places like a comic book shop, a mattress store and Aloha Poke Co. had doors open, some remained closed altogether or only open for takeout and delivery. —Ariel Cheung
3 p.m.: ‘I fully understand. … I will take my chances.’
Dayna Nguyen, waiting to enter the patio at Potter’s Place in downtown Naperville with her husband, two daughters and parents, was anxious to get out Saturday. She and her family had recently returned from a weeklong vacation in Florida, where stores and beaches opened earlier than they did in Illinois.
“I am a grown adult with all the information,” she said. “I fully understand. … I will take my chances.”
She said she respects individuals’ choices about how to respond to the virus, but her family runs a small business and she was anxious to get the economy moving again. Her family followed quarantine guidelines through March and April, she said. But then came May. “
You broke us, come May,” she said. She kept her distance as she asked a hostess at Potter’s Place for a table on the crowded patio.
Tables were more spread out than usual on the patio, general manager Matt Galanes said. A few were kept empty to try to space out entrances to the restaurant, and seats at the outdoor bar were reduced from about 25 to between six and eight.
“I think everyone is a little concerned, but the vibe is, everyone’s anxious to get out,” he said. Though a steady stream of customers came to the patio, business was slower than typical for a May Saturday, he said.
The restaurant rented a concrete lot next door to add additional tables on weekend nights, but Galanes said he didn’t anticipate Potter’s Place would need the extra space on weeknights.
Servers were not as busy as usual, but they had to do extra work like sanitizing tables. And some staff and patrons had to be educated on safety precautions, he said, as he approached a group of young customers who had pulled two tables together to tell them they had to maintain their distance.
“Ultimately, the number one thing is safety and educating the clients and then also our staff,” he said. “We all have different opinions about what’s going on in the world, and we just have to keep our staff and patrons safe to the best of our ability.” —Sarah Freishtat
2:53 p.m.: ‘There’s only a handful of families and there’s no laughter from the children’
At Glencoe Beach, where the required season passes swiftly sold out this month, a lone sailboat bobbed in a turquoise swath of Lake Michigan on Saturday afternoon. Only a few dozen visitors, primarily young families, soaked up the sunshine on the nearly empty shoreline.
While a few youngsters dipped their toes in the icy water lapping the North Shore beach, swimming is currently verboten, and officials have said even if the prohibition is lifted later this summer, it will be “swim at your own risk” with no lifeguards on duty.
“This is absolutely joyless … there’s only a handful of families and there’s no laughter from the children,” said Northbrook resident Marian Cross, who said she and her family have been season pass holders at the beach for more than 20 years.
Gesturing toward a clutch of masked visitors strolling on the beach’s lookout, Cross said, “This is all so sad.”
“The experience this year is a dismal one, but I’m still glad it’s open, and I appreciate that the park district made that decision,” Cross added.
Danny Kogan, 21, a Glencoe resident and Northwestern University student, said he enjoyed spending a few hours on the beach Saturday afternoon, especially since his social life has been limited in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My grandmother lives with us, and she’s 80, so I understand why my mom is being so strict about me hanging out with friends,” said Kogan, who rode his bike to the beach.
The Glencoe Park District says the season pass requirement is aimed at limiting visitors to avoid overcrowding and help ensure social distancing. Kogan noted the upside and downside.
“The season pass rule makes it rough when I have friends in town who want to come to the beach, but there’s usually no parking, even for residents most summers, when the beach is really crowded,” Kogan said. —Karen Cullotta
2:19 p.m.: Opening consignment shop this weekend in Evanston was a mixed bag, owner says
For Vivian Killebrew, opening her Stepping Out on Faith consignment shop this weekend in Evanston was a mixed bag. She felt the state had loosened its restrictions of the stay-at-home order a little too quickly. At the same time, her store is behind on rent, and she has bills to pay.
“I’ve been here for 10 years,” said Killebrew, 62. “I don’t know if I’m going to be here another six months.”
Like other retail across the state, Stepping Out closed in late March, when the order went into effect. In the months that followed, Killebrew lost three family members to COVID-19, and she was denied a small business loan because, as she put it, “we were too small to qualify.”
She had few customers on her first two days in business, and spent most of the time straightening out her inventory and putting some of it aside to donate to Connections for the Homeless. The problem with selling seasonal merchandise, she said, is that she missed out on collecting summer clothes from sellers in time for the summer shoppers.
“By the time the summer stuff comes in, it’ll be winter,” she noted.
Killebrew said she is hopeful business will pick up, despite some shuttered shops nearby. Should a spike in cases force the state to revert to phase two, however, she’ll likely have to close permanently.
“That would really make the decision for me,” she said. “It’s sad, because there’s really nothing you can do about it.” —Ariel Cheung
2:40 p.m.: 1,462 new known COVID-19 cases and 61 additional deaths
Public health officials reported on Saturday 1,462 new known cases of COVID-19, pushing the total number of known cases in Illinois to 118,917 since the pandemic began. Officials also reported another 61 deaths.
The new cases were reported in 14 counties in Illinois including Coles, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kankakee, Lake, Madison, McHenry, McDonough, St. Clair, Tazewell, Union, Will and Winnebago.
IDHP has reported a total of 5,330 deaths in 101 counties, with ages ranging from one to older than 100. Within the last 24 hours, 25,343 specimens have been sent to laboratories, for a total of 877,105. —Deanese Williams-Harris
1:48 p.m.: Steady stream of families in downtown Naperville
A steady stream of families filed along downtown Naperville’s sidewalks Saturday afternoon, many wearing masks and many without.
There was a line outside to get into clothing boutique Havana, as the store had limited its capacity to no more than 10 people.
Naperville resident Sherri Daniels said she normally doesn’t wait in lines at stores but she felt bad that Havana was closing. A sale also likely brought out shoppers, she said.
“It’s sad to see these businesses close after this time,” Daniels said. “You hope they’d make it.”
Manager Monica Sebesta said the store was looking for a new location in part because its lease was up and it would be continuing to operate an online store. The closing was not related to the COVID-19 shutdown, she said.
Daniels said stores reopening provided something to do. She said she felt more concerned about safety waiting in line, where people wore masks but had congregated behind her, than she did entering a store. As long as shoppers wore masks and stores limited capacity, and everyone was mindful of safety precautions, she felt safe.
A couple blocks away, the rooftop patio and sidewalk tables at Empire were full at lunchtime Saturday. The restaurant had also been packed on Friday, general manager Raffi Demerdjian said. As long as the restaurant practiced required social distancing and safety measures, he felt confident diners would return. And he thinks the restaurant’s reduced outdoor capacity and takeout business will keep it operating, though he wasn’t happy about the restrictions, he said.
“I think people are just tired of being home and want to go out,” he said.
That was the case for Rob Sheppard, who lives in Chicago but was sharing lunch with his girlfriend, Sydney Schoolcraft, after he played a round of golf in the suburbs.
“I’ve been cooped up long enough,” he said. Schoolcraft, who used to work at Empire, said she felt safe with everyone wearing masks and tables spaced 6 feet apart. She had visited some other suburban restaurants Friday, and was trying to support businesses she knows, she said.
“I think it’s time to open up,” she said. —Sarah Freishtat
As researchers wrapped up their experiments in March to comply with the state’s stay-at-home order, another problem dogged the University of Illinois at Chicago: How would it continue tending to the 40,000 lab animals housed on campus?
Veterinarians and maintenance staff were deemed essential workers to handle the cage cleaning, feeding and daily health checks required for animals used in federally sponsored research. They are given personal protective equipment and instructed to follow social distancing.
But other aspects of UIC’s response ― including a recent memo that asked scientists to consider euthanizing older rodents ― are likely to stir more controversy, especially from organizations that have long opposed the use of animals in research. Read more here. —Elyssa Cherney
In the global effort to stem the novel coronavirus, every toilet flush reveals a vital clue.
Droplets we breathe, sneeze or cough through our mouths and noses aren’t the only source of SARS-CoV-2. Bits of genetic material from the virus also end up in our waste, offering local health departments life-saving opportunities to track, trace and prevent outbreaks.
Researchers and technology startups involved in the rapidly developing science are finding signs of the virus in raw sewage days before people overwhelm hospitals with symptoms of COVID-19, the respiratory disease driving a pandemic that already has killed more than 100,000 Americans and another 256,000 combined in other countries.
With the United States woefully behind on testing individuals, collecting samples from municipal sewers on a regular basis could give cities early warnings about where the disease is spreading. It also could indicate whether community lockdowns can be eased or if more stringent restrictions on daily life are needed. Read more here. —Michael Hawthorne
Breaking coronavirus news
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Here are five things that happened Friday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Thursday that you need to know:
- Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago will move to phase 3 of her reopening plan on June 3 but warns: “COVID-19 is still very much part of our present”
- Here’s what will be different when most of the state — but not Chicago — moves into phase 3
- Suburban restaurants open for outdoor dining. Here’s what to know.
- Facing multiple legal battles with churches, Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to lift 10-person limit on services in new stay-at-home order
- Bosses say $600 coronavirus unemployment boost makes reopening harder. Some workers “are making more money than they’ve ever made by not working right now.”
Here are five things that happened Wednesday that you need to know:
Here are five things that happened Tuesday that you need to know: