But even as city officials celebrated the news of imminent vaccine approval, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned residents to follow public health guidance and not grow complacent because widespread community vaccination is still “many months away.
Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:
9:30 p.m.: US tops 3,000 daily deaths from COVID-19 for first time
The U.S. topped 3,000 deaths Wednesday in what is a single-day record, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That’s surpassed the level seen during last spring’s peak in and around New York City.
New cases per day have rocketed to more than 200,000 on average, and the number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 stood at almost 105,000 on Tuesday, another all-time high.
4:45 p.m.: Indiana to cancel, delay elective surgeries as COVID-19 surges, Gov. Holcomb says
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday hospitals are ordered to cancel or delay elective surgeries from Dec. 16 to Jan. 3.
“The state of Indiana is on fire,” Holcomb said, noting doctors and nurses are “overwhelmed.”
The state had halted elective medical procedures in April to help preserve hospital equipment and protective gear. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the surgery restrictions will allow hospitals to shift health care workers to help care for patients with COVID-19.
Holcomb, a Republican, said he was extending the statewide mask order and toughening restrictions on crowd sizes that he reinstated last month. The new rules will prevent local health departments from allowing exemptions for social gatherings of more than 25 people in counties with red ratings and more than 50 people in orange-rated counties.
4:10 p.m.: Lightfoot ‘deeply disappointed’ in Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney after his Ann Sather restaurant breaks pandemic indoor dining rules
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she’s “deeply disappointed” in Wrigleyville Ald. Tom Tunney after the longtime alderman acknowledged letting people eat inside his Ann Sather restaurant despite city and state rules designed to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
“I’ve heard from a number of restaurateurs about this issue but the one thing they’ve consistently said to me throughout this very difficult year for them is just be fair. Make sure that whatever the rules are, that they are enforced uniformly, that there’s no exceptions, and when people break those rules, they are held accountable,” Lightfoot said. “Ald. Tunney understands that he made an intentional decision to break the rules. He didn’t just break them as a businessperson. He broke them as an alderman who swore an oath to live and abide by a higher set of standards than the average person and that’s one of the things I’ve been hearing a lot from people that’s made them really angry and animated about this.”
Tunney, a key member of Lightfoot’s City Council leadership team as her hand-picked chair of the Zoning Committee, previously acknowledged diners have been eating inside his Belmont Avenue restaurant and called it an “error in judgment.”
3:50 p.m.: Lightfoot-backed plan to let Cubs defer infrastructure payment to city advances
Chicago aldermen moved a step closer Wednesday to letting the Cubs put off a $250,000 payment for infrastructure work around Wrigley Field.
The proposal backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot allows the team to make the scheduled 2021 “CubFund Project” payment in 2024. It passed the City Council License Committee on Wednesday, and will head to the full council next week.
In introducing the ordinance last month, on the same day she got aldermen to approve a $94 million property tax hike and other fine and fee increases to help balance the 2021 budget, the mayor cited the Cubs’ loss of revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Southwest Side Ald. George Cardenas, 12th, nodded to the potentially problematic optics of giving the billionaire Ricketts family that owns the team a break on neighborhood improvement funds while regular Chicagoans are struggling.
“Someone has to explain, to a least me, from such an organization that has strong financial backing, obviously, it’s a billion-dollar industry, a billion-dollar entity, why we should defer this payment, besides the fact that there’s no baseball and there’s other things in play,” Cardenas said.
2:18 p.m.: If you didn’t get a stimulus check, filing your 1040 can fix that. Here are 2020 tax tips you need to know.
It’s the time of year to start thinking about taxes — but the upcoming filing season is going to be a bit trickier for many Americans due to rampant unemployment, working from home and general upheaval due to COVID-19.
Here are a few pandemic specific conditions — good and bad — to be aware of.
1:57 p.m.: Only about half of Americans want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, AP-NORC poll finds
As states frantically prepare to begin months of vaccinations that could end the pandemic, a new poll finds only about half of Americans are ready to roll up their sleeves when their turn comes.
The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research shows about a quarter of U.S. adults aren’t sure if they want to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. Roughly another quarter say they won’t.
Many on the fence have safety concerns and want to watch how the initial rollout fares — skepticism that could hinder the campaign against the scourge that has killed nearly 290,000 Americans. Experts estimate at least 70% of the U.S. population needs to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, or the point at which enough people are protected that the virus can be held in check.
1:52 p.m.: Tensions rise over mask requirements as coronavirus grips smaller US cities: ‘The worst health crisis … and we’re fighting over a mask’
Arguments over mask requirements and other restrictions have turned ugly in recent days as the deadly coronavirus surge across the U.S. engulfs small and medium-size cities that once seemed at a safe remove from the outbreak.
In Boise, Idaho, public health officials about to vote on a four-county mask mandate abruptly ended a meeting Tuesday evening because of fears for their safety amid anti-mask protests outside the building and at some of their homes. One health board member tearfully announced she had to rush home to be with her child because protesters were banging on her front door.
In California, Sacramento County health officials had to suspend a meeting Tuesday after more than two dozen protesters pounded on the chamber doors during a debate over whether to strengthen enforcement against businesses that violate virus restrictions.
And in South Dakota, the mayor of Rapid City said City Council members were harassed and threatened over a proposed citywide mask mandate that failed this week even as intensive care units across the state filled with COVID-19 patients.
“I think that’s a sad commentary here in the middle of a global pandemic, the worst health crisis in our lifetimes, and we’re fighting over a mask,” Mayor Steve Allender said.
1:34 p.m.: Oak Park approved as vaccination provider, could receive COVID-19 vaccines by mid-December
After the village of Oak Park received approval from the state as a vaccination provider, officials say they could begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to frontline employees later this month.
As one of the few towns with its own municipal health department, the village of Oak Park applied for and received approval from the state on Nov. 27 to become an authorized vaccine provider once a vaccine is approved, officials said.
1:30 p.m.: Chicago officials outline initial coronavirus vaccine distribution plans: ‘We are very ready for the vaccine as it comes’
With federal approval for two coronavirus vaccines expected soon, Chicago officials said Wednesday they hope to vaccinate all city adults in 2021 as they laid out their plans to roll out the vaccine.
Initial vaccine doses will be sent to all 34 hospitals in the city, officials said. Health care workers who treat COVID-19 patients or are at high risk for coronavirus spread will be first to receive it, the city said.
After health care workers, vaccines will be prioritized for a broad group of people including residents and staff at long-term care facilities, people with high risk due to underlying medical conditions, people who are 65 and older, and workers in “essential and critical industries.”
That broad designation potentially allows a wide array of people to be eligible, though public health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said the definition of essential workers likely will be clarified through additional guidance from federal officials.
The city expects somewhere between 100,000-150,000 doses to be available in December, though that’s just an estimate.
”We are excited about this, we are very ready for the vaccine as it comes,” Arwady said.
12:06 p.m.: 8,256 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 179 additional deaths reported
Illinois health officials on Wednesday announced 8,256 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 179 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 812,430 and the statewide death toll to 13,666 since the start of the pandemic. Officials also reported 92,737 new tests in the last 24 hours.
The seven-day statewide rolling positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests was 9.6% for the period ending Tuesday.
8:28 a.m.: Trump offers $600 direct payments, but would eliminate $300 unemployment boost in COVID-19 relief plan
The Trump administration is back in the middle of Capitol Hill’s confusing COVID-19 negotiations, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans but eliminate a $300-per-week employment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.
The offer arrived Tuesday with the endorsement of the top House Republican and appeared to demonstrate some flexibility by powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But Democrats immediately blasted the plan over the administration’s refusal to back the partial restoration, to $300 per week, of bonus pandemic jobless benefits that lapsed in August.
The House on Wednesday will pass a one-week government funding bill to give lawmakers more time to sort through the hot mess they have created for themselves after months of futile negotiations and posturing and recent rounds of flip-flopping. Without the measure, the government would shut down this weekend.
President-elect Joe Biden is pressing for as much pandemic relief as possible, though he’s not directly involved in the talks. McConnell says Congress will not adjourn without providing the long-overdue COVID-19 relief. The pressure to deliver is intense — all sides say failure isn’t an option.
8:16 a.m.: Rockford-area coroner buys refrigerated trailer as COVID-19 surges
The Rockford-area coroner’s office has purchased a refrigerated trailer in the event deaths related to COVID-19 overwhelm the office’s capacity to store bodies.
The purchase of the $30,000 trailer was made as the county’s morgue neared capacity, Winnebago County Coroner Bill Hintz said.
“The way our numbers were rising at an alarming level, and I do say alarming, I did not want to be caught without any spaces left,” he said.
Updated at 8:15 a.m.: British regulators: Those with ‘significant history’’ of allergic reactions should hold off on COVID-19 vaccine
U.K. regulators said Wednesday that people who have a “significant history’’ of allergic reactions shouldn’t receive the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine while they investigate two adverse reactions that occurred on the first day of the country’s mass vaccination program.
The U.K.’s Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is looking into whether the reactions were linked to the vaccine. The two people affected were staff members with the National Health Service who had a history of allergies, and both are recovering. Authorities have not specified what their reactions were.
In the meantime, the regulator has issued the warning for anyone who has had a significant allergic reaction to a vaccine, medicine or food. That includes anyone who has been told to carry an adrenaline shot or others who have had potentially fatal allergic reactions.
6:45 a.m.: 5 Bloomington bars & restaurants fined for violating COVID-19 restrictions
Five Bloomington bars and restaurants were fined by the city’s liquor commission Tuesday for violating state-imposed mitigation measures to slow the coronavirus pandemic.
Three others still face a decision before the Bloomington Liquor Commission.
Last month, Bloomington Mayor and Liquor Commissioner Tari Renner announced five businesses were issued citations for violating those measures. They included Eastland Suites, 1801 Eastland Drive; Parkview Inn, 1003 S. Morris Ave.; Garden of Paradise, 1412 E. Empire St.; Western Avenue Tap, 1301 N. Western Ave.; and Cheeks Bar and Grill, 1206 Towanda Ave.
Since then, three others were cited, including Applebee’s, 502 N. Veterans Parkway, Joe’s Pub, 3907 General Electric Road, and Mickey’s Kitchen, at 1709 S. Veterans Parkway.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Nov. 1 that bars and restaurants would have to temporarily stop indoor service and have all outdoor service end by 11 p.m.
Last month, 12 Bloomington bars and restaurants were issued citations, and Renner held off on fines, but warned that any further violations could result in fines and the suspension or revocation of their liquor licenses.
Applebee’s, Cheeks Bar and Grill, Eastland Suites, Parkview Inn and Garden of Paradise all admitted wrongdoing and have already paid a $400 fine, said City Attorney George Boyle.
—Bloomington Pantagraph, via Tribune Content Agency
5 a.m.: After a tough 2020, Chicagoans are going big with their holiday lawn decorations.
Seeking to shine a little extra light in a difficult year, Chicagoans are going big with their 2020 holiday lawn ornaments, festooning porches that usually go bare and debuting eye-catching and over-the-top pieces: Christmas unicorns and dragons, life-size Buddy the Elf blow-ups and towering 12-foot snowmen from “Frozen.”
In suburban Highland Park and in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, residents came together to erect light arches over the sidewalk. In the Rogers Park neighborhood, Treacy Greer managed to hoist an 11-foot pine tree onto her third-floor deck and festoon it with 800 colored lights.
“It just seemed like a good year to go big,” said Rebeccah Willard, 43, an oncology nurse in Oak Park who bought an 11-foot inflatable reindeer. “I think everyone’s feeling we need a little more joy, 2020 being what it has been.”
During a recent earnings call with analysts, Home Depot CEO Craig A. Menear cited strong Halloween decor sales and said the company had similar expectations for Christmas. Customers, he said, appear to be craving normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are some recent stories related to COVID-19.