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

A shelter-in-place order is now in effect in Oak Park, a move that perhaps foreshadows the stringent rules the entire state of Illinois could find itself living under in the coming days to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirmed Thursday that his staff was considering a similar order.
Also on Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she will keep Chicago Public Schools closed until April 20, while Pritzker announced three more deaths in Illinois associated with COVID-19. State officials also reported 134 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 422, with at least four deaths.
Watch live: Trump, coronavirus task force hold press briefing »
On Friday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced the Trump administration has decided to push the income tax filing date to July 15 from April 15, while the president said the U.S. and Mexico will sharply curtail cross-border travel.
Globally, more than 10,000 people had died from COVID-19 since the outbreak began late last year in China, according to tracking by Johns Hopkins University, as New York state joined California on Friday in ordering nearly all residents to stay home.
The Tribune is keeping a running list of Chicago-area closings and cancellations and asking experts to answer your questions about COVID-19.
Here are the latest updates Friday on the coronavirus in the Chicago area and Illinois:

11:51 a.m.: Chicago chefs make massive ‘call to action’ online video campaign

Chicago chefs and restaurateurs have organized a “Chefs Call To Action” campaign to push legislators to include restaurants and industry workers in any federal stimulus packages intended to help the economy. 

11:27 a.m.: Indiana postpones primary due to coronavirus

Indiana political leaders said Friday that they decided to postpone the state's May 5 primary because of concern about the coronavirus pandemic.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a news conference with the state GOP and Democratic chairmen that the Indiana primary will instead be held on June 2.
Neighboring Ohio and Kentucky are among at least seven other states that have postponed their primaries, and others are considering increased voting by mail. —Associated Press

11:08 a.m.: Advocate hospitals suspend coronavirus testing

A major Chicago-area hospital system announced Friday that it has suspended all coronavirus testing sites because of a national shortage of test kits and processing materials.
Advocate Aurora Health in a news release said state health officials and the Illinois Hospital Association had implemented new testing protocols “to conserve tests for those in critical need.” 
Patients experiencing non-severe coronavirus symptoms will be told to self-quarantine at home, the release said. Hospital patients with critical coronavirus symptoms will be evaluated and treated, according to the hospital system.
“As a health care provider and a member of our communities, we have a responsibility to prioritize testing for the most vulnerable and save lives by taking decisive action to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” the news release said. “In the meantime, we will continue our efforts to build emergency department triage units.” —Angie Leventis Lourgos

10: 57 a.m.: Hospital officials: Consider reopening shuttered hospitals

The state’s hospital administrators are recommending that Gov. J.B. Pritzker consider reopening at least three recently shuttered hospitals to ease the strain on Illinois’ medical system as the number of COVID-19 cases mounts.
 Westlake Hospital in west suburban Melrose Park, Metro South Medical Center in Blue Island and Vibra Hospital in Springfield all closed within the last two years, a spokesman for the Illinois Health and Hospitals Association said. The organization is urging the state to look into using the facilities to help relieve the burdens on the state’s hospital system.
 Whether expanded facilities come from reopened hospitals, converted vacant space or temporary construction carried out by the National Guard, none of the new facilities will take weeks to outfit for use, said IHA spokesman Danny Chun.
 “It’s not going to be instantaneous. You still to have to get equipment there, and that takes time,” Chun said. —David Heinzmann

10:49 a.m.: At ease, Chicago. The Illinois National Guard is not coming to put you on lockdown.

With Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirming he is considering a “shelter-in-place order,” questions arose about how it would be enforced. As trains transporting military tanks and Humvees traveled through the Chicago area the past few days, rumors took root on social media that the Illinois National Guard would play a role in imposing the directive.

“Those (tanks and Humvees) are not ours,” said Lt. Col. Bradford Leighton of the Illinois National Guard. “The military moves equipment all the time by train. If we were to move, we wouldn’t be doing it by train. We would drive.”
Though the governor activated the Illinois National Guard earlier this week to help combat the virus, the service members don’t have a role in enforcing any lockdown order issued by the government.
Instead, 60 service members will be deployed to establish drive-up testing sites, help with food delivery to disadvantaged families impacted by school closures and possibly prepare closed hospitals to reopen.
There are no plans to have the troops with a potential shelter-in-place order, Leighton said. The vast majority of currently activated troops are health-care professionals – doctors, nurses, medical technicians – who would not be tapped for an law-enforcement assignment.
“We have never even discussed a quarantine mission for the Illinois National Guard,” Leighton said. “It’s never come up.”
Leighton said he understands anxieties are high amid the pandemic, but the Guard is not the boogeyman.
“We are your friends, neighbors and co-workers,” he said. “We’re fellow worshippers at you church, synagogue, mosque or wherever you worship. We are part of the community. We are you. We are not going to invade Chicago. We are here to help.” —Stacy St. Clair

10:12 a.m.: Trade show drawing 50,000 visitors to Merchandise Mart canceled

NeoCon, a commercial interiors trade show that annually draws 50,000 visitors to the Merchandise Mart, has been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The event’s organizers announced the cancellation Friday, saying the next event would be June 14-16 of next year. This year would have been the 52nd edition of the event, and it is the first time it has been canceled.
The cancellation comes three days after organizers said they were postponing the event from this June until a later date could be arranged. But on Friday, they said in a statement that canceling the three-day event “is the best course of action considering the on-going COVID-19 outbreak and the unknown duration for social distancing and other measures.” —Ryan Ori

9:57 a.m.: Kraft Heinz to donate $12 million to ease coronavirus burden

Kraft Heinz announced Friday that it will donate $12 million globally to help ease the burden of the coronavirus, more than half of it in cash and food donations to help U.S. consumers.
The packaged food company, which is headquartered in Chicago and Pittsburgh, is giving $1.9 million in cash to the hunger relief organization Feeding America to help support food banks near its offices and plants, including the Greater Chicago Food Depository. It also will donate $4.7 million in Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Heinz Gravy and Planters Nut Mixes, among other products, to U.S. food banks.
Kraft Heinz said it has significantly ramped up food production as consumers flock to grocery stores to stock up on shelf-stable goods.
“We at Kraft Heinz have an enormously important role to play in making sure people have the food and nourishment they need – and that’s especially critical at this challenging moment,” said Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio in a news release. “This donation is an immediate and impactful way we can help our neighbors in need around the world and help fill this critical gap.” —Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz

9:55 a.m.: CTA ridership continues to fall, but no service cuts planned

With students and workers staying home to avoid the spread of the new coronavirus, the CTA has seen a total ridership drop of 68%.
Ridership has fallen off the most on trains, at 75%, with bus ridership down 59% compared with normal service levels, the agency reported.
Other transit agencies around the country are also seeing big drops, and both Metra and the South Shore Line are planning service cuts next week.
But the CTA is continuing to run normal service, and no changes are currently planned, the agency said in an email.
“Public transit is an essential service, and it’s important to keep trains and buses running for all Chicagoans who rely on the service,” the agency said in an email. It added that it was too soon to know what impact the virus might have on future service levels.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has stressed the importance of public transit during the crisis, and has said that there are no plans to shut it down. —Mary Wisniewski

9:53 a.m.: U.S. Immigration agency stops allowing people to post bond in Chicago

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is no longer accepting bond payments for detained people at the agency’s Chicago office, according to an official with ICE. 
The federal agency had previously stopped taking payments at its offices in Milwaukee and Springfield, Missouri, but Chicago has now been added to the list. The Chicago office will remain closed for the next 14 days, according to the ICE official, who asked not to be named because she wasn’t authorized to release the information. 
Anyone seeking to bond out someone out from an area detention facility will have to travel to Indianapolis, Louisville, Wichita, Kansas; or Kansas City, Missouri, according to the official. The detained person will then be released from the facility where the person is being held. Around Chicago, ICE contracts with some local jails to detain people in immigration custody. 
The McHenry County Jail is one of the facilities that contracts with ICE. That facility will not directly release anyone in immigration custody. If a person there posts bond, the person will be transferred to a different facility and released from there if a bond payment is posted before 11 a.m. that day, according to the ICE official. 
As of Thursday, there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among federal employees working out of the Chicago office, according to an ICE official. 
In New Jersey, a medical staff member at the Elizabeth Detention Center where people in ICE custody are kept tested positive for COVID-19 this week, the Marshall Project reported, a non-profit news organization. —Elvia Malagón

9:51 a.m.: North of Illinois border, Milwaukee mayor under self-quarantine

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett to the list of politicians who are self-quarantining after coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Barrett announced on Thursday night that he was self-quarantining for 14 days. He came to that decision after consulting with public health officials.
The 66-year-old mayor says he intends to continue working from home, using teleconference and videoconference.
U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, also of Milwaukee, said Monday she was self-quarantining after coming into contact on March 8 with someone who tested positive. Former Gov. Scott Walker also self-quarantined himself for two weeks for the same reason. 

9:45 a.m.: Grocers, delivery services scramble to hire thousands of workers

As the Chicago area came to a standstill in an effort to contain the new coronavirus, many of David Falato’s employees chose to stay home.
Falato co-owns five Jet’s Pizza franchises in the city. He sympathizes with his workers, who can return to work once they’re comfortable doing so, but with business still strong as customers stay home and order take-out, Falato was in need of help quick.
“At each store I lost about 20% of the staff in the past week,” Falato said. “I need cashiers, line-cooks and drivers to continue to operate.”
On Thursday, Falato, who is recruiting about 20 workers, said he hired five drivers as pizza orders continued to roll in.
Falato isn’t alone. Certain types of businesses — especially grocers and delivery services — are rushing to hire thousands of workers to handle a crush of business related to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
Mariano’s, Jewel-Osco, Amazon and Domino’s Pizza have all embarked on hiring sprees to keep up with demand.

9:41 a.m.: Suspected coronavirus contact in Cook County State’s Attorney’s office

An employee of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office has had “significant contact” with a person suspected of having the coronavirus, and that employee’s close coworkers have been notified of the development.
According to an email obtained by the Tribune, the diagnosis of the “person under investigation” has not been confirmed, nor has any transmission of the virus been confirmed from that person to the prosecutor’s office employee, who was last in the suburban Markham courthouse on Monday.
But “in light of the unavailability of testing and out of an abundance of caution,” the office decided to notify employees who have been in close contact with that employee, according to the email, sent late Thursday evening.
“Unfortunately, like all large workplaces and communities, we are likely to learn of positive test results within the SAO and/or staff family members as more tests become available.”The email advised employees to monitor themselves for any symptoms of the disease, and reminded them to “continue to exercise care in all your interactions.” —Megan Crepeau

9:35 a.m.: Here’s how Aurora and Naperville doctors are prepping for surge of COVID-19 patients

Hospitals and doctor’s offices in Aurora and Naperville are preparing for an expected surge in COVID-19 patients, taking unusual steps to meet unusual challenges.
Some have reassigned medical staff and quickly ramped-up remote health services, known as telemedicine. Many hospitals across the area have restricted or eliminated visitors, and are postponing elective surgeries. Some, including Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital in Geneva and Edward Hospital in Naperville, are setting up outdoor coronavirus testing tents.
But as they make changes, they are also contending with staff who might need time off to take care of their own family members or children now home from school.
“It’s very common for people to have family at home and so, yes, it’s a particular challenge for everyone right now because children are home and ... there could be other members of the family that need to be cared for,” said Linnea Windel, president and CEO of VNA Health Care, an Aurora-based community health care provider. 

9:35 a.m.: Indiana cancels boys basketball tournament for first time in 109 years; governor says he supports postponing primary

After twisting in the wind for six days, the Indiana High School Athletic Association finally pulled the plug on the boys basketball tournament. An email from the IHSAA on Thursday afternoon confirmed the inevitable.
For the first time in its 109-year history, the tournament won’t be played because of the disruption to school caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement came shortly after Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered all schools to remain closed until May.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday that he would support postponing the Indiana primary election amid the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but a final decision has not been announced.
Holcomb said the May 5 primary is “under discussion” by the Secretary of State’s office, and that Secretary of State Connie Lawson has been in communication with the state’s Democratic and Republican party leaders.
But, Holcomb said he hopes the decision is to postpone the primary out of concern for poll workers, who tend to be elderly, and voters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

9:30 a.m.: Coronavirus hammers Chicago’s hotel industry

Hotel occupancy rates have plummeted. Housekeeping staff, bellhops, valets and other workers are being let go, not knowing when — or if — they’ll be back. Some of Chicago’s swankiest properties have gone dark, temporarily closing their doors to overnight guests
7:38 a.m.: UIC is 1 of 3 men’s basketball teams in self-isolation
Men’s basketball players, coaches and staff at the University of Illinois-Chicago, Siena College and Wright State are self-isolating as a precaution after two officials who called the school’s games tested positive for the coronavirus.
Siena spokesman Mike Demos said Thursday the school learned earlier in the week that two officials who worked Siena’s game against Manhattan in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament on March 11 in Atlantic City had tested positive for COVID-19.
Demos said New York state and Albany County health department officials advised self-isolation for 14 days from the date of possible exposure. Fans who attended the game are not considered to be at risk, he said.
6:45 a.m.: Bartlett preschooler tests positive for the coronavirus
A young child in a preschool in Bartlett has tested positive for the coronavirus, the superintendent of District U-46 told parents in a letter.
The child was enrolled at the Independence Center for Early Learning, a preschool for children ages 3 to 5.
“The student has been isolated and is expected to remain in isolation/self quarantine to prevent spreading the virus,” Superintedent. Tony Sanders wrote.
Sanders did not give the age or any other details of the child.
The superintendent also told parents the district was working on plans if the district remains closed beyond March 30. Details of “Phase 2 of our Distance Learning Plan” were to be released Friday, he said.
“However, we will await further guidance from the governor and state health officials on whether schools will remain closed past March 30,” he added. — Chicago Tribune staff

6:20 a.m. Chicago City Hall closes to the general public

Chicago’s City Hall is closing to the public until further notice, effective Friday, under an order made public late Thursday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot. The building will stay open for essential personnel, aldermen and working journalists under Lightfoot’s order.

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