COVID-19 Pandemic March 19 updates: CPS closed through April 20

Coronavirus
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Information in the COVID-19 pandemic is evolving rapidly, so to help keep WGN viewers informed with the latest updates, follow our live blog for March 19, 2020.

These updates will mostly focus on the Chicago area, but will include some national and international news as well.

Newest updates are at the top of this post.

9:45 p.m.

A video is going around showing a train-load of military Humvees being transported through Chicago. It’s caused many to speculate some sort of lockdown is imminent and will be enforced by the military.

However, the Illinois National Guard says the equipment is not theirs and there has been no discussion of using the guard to enforce a quarantine. They are talking about using the National Guard for food distribution, hospital construction and medical help if needed.

The Humvees are manufactured in Wisconsin and routinely shipped all over the country. 

8:45 p.m.

Mayor Lightfoot announced City Hall will not be open to the general public starting Friday, March 20.

“The building will remain open to essential personnel and aldermen in order to help maintain the continuity of government and essential city services,” a statement from the mayor’s office said.

8:30 p.m.

The Department of Health said more than half of Illinois’s 2,164 ventilators are not being used at the moment. 

824 of the more than 2500 intensive care beds in Illinois are available.

And 629 of the state’s 1300 isolation beds are unused at the moment.

Health officials are closely tracking these numbers to determine just how close to capacity our hospitals are.

5:06 p.m.

In a State of the City address, Mayor Lightfoot announced that Chicago Public Schools will remain closed through April 20. The mayor did not issue a shelter-in-place order.

3:24 p.m.

Kankakee County has its first confirmed case of COVID-19, according to local health officials.  The man, in his 70s, reported symptoms to his doctor on Monday and was instructed to report to Riverside Medical Center for testing, Kankakee County Health Department Administrator John Bevins said.  Test results came back Thursday morning confirming COVID-19.

The patient is not currently hospitalized and has been instructed to self-quarantine at home. 

“There is no need to panic,” Bevins said. 

He added the patient and hospital followed procedures during the testing and at this time there is no concern about wider spread of the virus through Riverside Medical Center.

3:02 p.m.

Illinois Health Dept reports a total of 422 cases in 22 counties in Illinois.  Cases have occurred in ages 9 to 99. 

Newest details will be at the top.

2:48 p.m.

Gov Pritzker announced three additional deaths in Illinois related to the virus.

11:40 a.m.

The Chicago Police Department now has a confirmed case of COVID-19. Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said CPD is working to identify all the individuals who were in contact with the member of the department. The member will remain at home until fully recovered.

11 a.m.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk held a press conference with an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. 

10:30 a.m.

Three City of Highland Park Fire Department personnel are confirmed to have been exposed to COVID-19, following the positive test of a patient they treated on March 16, 2020. The paramedics will remain in quarantine for the next fourteen days.

10 a.m.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle held a press conference to announce Cook County’s new text message alert system, hotline and email for sharing COVID-19 updates. Residents can now text the word ALERTCOOK to 888-777, to receive rapid updates related to the virus; call the hotline number at (708) 633-3319; or email at: ccdph.covid19@cookcountyhhs.org

9:25 a.m.

In an effort to help those who are most at risk of COVID-19, Mariano’s will offer senior shopping hours every day beginning Friday. Special shopping hours will be held from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. at all 44 locations until further notice.

“We encourage our customers to respect these designated store hours for seniors and to plan their shopping trips around this timeframe,” Roundy’s Division President Michael Marx said in a statement.

8:45 a.m.

Indiana small businesses are now eligible for financial assistance under a disaster designation by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday. More info here.

To apply for loans or receive more information about the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, visit http://SBA.gov/Disaster.

You can find more about what Illinois is doing for small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic at coronavirus.illinois.gov.

8:24 a.m.

Parents across Illinois may have to keep kids home from school longer than first thought.

Last week, Gov. JB Pritzker closed public and private K-12 schools through March 30, but as the COVID-19 outbreak worsens, state education officials said the closures could be extended, the Chicago Tribune reports.

For how long, it isn’t clear.

8:20 a.m.

Officials have confirmed one case of COVID-19 in Lake Forest and another case in neighboring Lake Bluff.

7:58 a.m.

Koval Distillery, known for its whiskey and gin, are now working with Chicago officials and medical professionals to make hand sanitizer.

It will go to the medical community, retirement homes and those one the front lines fighting the pandemic.

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