December 5, 2021

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Fit And Go Forward

Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area

Chicago’s City Council was scheduled to vote Tuesday on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $12.8 billion “pandemic budget” for 2021.

Lightfoot has spent weeks lining up the 26 votes needed to pass her plan through the City Council, with aldermen pushing back hardest on a proposed $94 million property tax increase.

Meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that he sees a “glimmer of hope” in recent downturns in the number of new coronavirus cases and the positivity rate in Illinois after a raging fall surge of infections but warned the public not to let its guard down.

Illinois state Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike again sounded the alarm about the possibility that recent gains could quickly reverse if people don’t heed the advice of health experts to avoid holiday travel and limit Thanksgiving gatherings to their own households.

On Monday, Illinois announced 8,322 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 47 additional fatalities, bringing the total number of known infections in Illinois to 664,620 and the statewide confirmed death toll to 11,552 since the start of the pandemic.

COVID-19 in Illinois by the numbers: Here’s a daily update on key metrics in your area

Illinois coronavirus graphs: The latest data on deaths, confirmed cases, tests and more

COVID-19 cases in Illinois by ZIP code: Search for your neighborhood

Chicago, Cook County COVID-19 stay-home advisories: Here’s what you need to know

New coronavirus restrictions: What will be open, closed, different in Illinois

Running list of Chicago-area closings and cancellations

Here’s what’s happening Tuesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

7:15 a.m.: Lightfoot to introduce measures to extend COVID-19 regulation changes

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration planned to introduce measures at Tuesday’s City Council meeting to “extend critical regulatory relief measures for businesses” affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a release from the mayor’s office.

The City Council was scheduled Tuesday to vote on Lightfoot’s $12.8 billion “pandemic budget,” which includes a $94 million property tax increase.

Among the measures being introduced are ” delaying business and public vehicle license expiration dates until July 15, 2021, expanding critical sidewalk café reforms to last throughout the 2021 café season and extending” the city’s expanded outdoor dining program through the end of 2021, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

Monday, the City Council capped “third-party delivery fees,” holding fees for delivery at 10 percent of purchase prices and total fees to restaurants at 15 percent, according to the release. — Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Will Illinois run out of hospital beds? Available data suggests a grim winter if trends don’t change.

The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, briefly ran out of intensive care beds earlier this month. For a time, just 11 ICU beds were free across all of North Dakota. And last week, availability in some parts of Minnesota was down to single digits.

In Illinois, the state health director warned last week that some hospitals have already reported running low on beds amid the state’s second massive COVID-19 surge.

“We are not at the point where we are going to have anybody just flailing in the hallway because we can’t get them a bed … (but) that is a real possibility,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike told reporters Friday. “That has happened in other parts of this country, in other parts of this world. We’re not going to let that happen in Illinois, but it takes all of us to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”

As COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen to unprecedented levels in Illinois and other states, the same questions from the spring surge are reemerging: Will Illinois hospitals run out of beds? And if they do, where and when?

Last week, the Pritzker administration released projections from two sets of researchers that estimated the future number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients, including those in intensive care units. These models don’t directly address when beds might run out, but a Tribune analysis of the more pessimistic projections suggests that, if trends don’t improve, all of the state’s currently available ICU beds could be in use by early December.

Read more here. —Joe Mahr, Lisa Schencker

6 a.m.: Local chefs have been cooking for those in need since the pandemic began. Now with holidays approaching, donations are down.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began last spring, Evanston area chefs answered the call to feed those who were suddenly low on money or food as a result of the economic hardships that came with the quickly-spreading disease.

As cases surge again this fall, those same organizations said they are answering more and more calls for help. But this time, the money that previously sustained their efforts is drying up.

That leaves many organizations planning Thanksgiving dinners, but wondering what will happen after the holiday ends.

“In the past two weeks we have picked up a substantial amount of seniors and families,” said Evanston’s Chef Q. Ibraheem, who owns her own catering business. “I don’t know what happened in the past 12 days. But every single day my phone, especially seniors, my phone has just been ringing.”

Since March, she has served more than 20,000 meals to those in need, free of charge. Her efforts, however, have run into an unpleasant reality. On Nov. 13, “I found out that my funding was cut 50%,” Ibraheem said.

Ibraheem, whose meals especially cater to healthy food for intergenerational families with school-age children, is not the only organization taking a hit.

At Evanston-based Meals on Wheels Northeastern Illinois, Executive Director Debi Morganfield said they’re experiencing the same spike in demand, but without the additional donations that aided the organization when COVID-19 first struck.

Read more here. —Genevieve Bookwalter

In case you missed it

Here are some recent stories related to COVID-19:

Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico, who touted a plan for local mask mandate, defended attending a large wedding in Florida.

Cook County courts go virtual after increase in state COVID-19 cases.

More than 212,000 fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits filed in Illinois, sparking concerns about identity theft.

With COVID-19 surging anew, alarms sound again for Cook County’s incarcerated.

Cafe Marie-Jeanne and The Whale among the latest Chicago restaurants closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic toll.

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©2020 the Chicago Tribune

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