Department of Public Health reports 416 local cases of coronavirus

April 8, 2020

The COVID-19 Statistics page on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) website shows more than 400 cases of coronavirus disease have been reported in Chicago’s downtown residential neighborhoods (Magnificent Mile, New Eastside, River North, Streeterville, West Loop and South Loop) as of April 7, 2020.

The numbers were pulled from 68,732 tests performed and submitted by the Illinois Department of Public Health, commercial or hospital laboratories. They are subject to change as new updates are tallied.

The totals reflect the number of residents who have tested positive for the disease and live within the specified neighborhoods, although they may have contracted coronavirus elsewhere.

The breakdown of infected residents by zip code was listed as follows: 28 reported cases in 60601, 43 cases reported in 60605, 66 cases reported in 60607, 20 cases reported in 60642, 75 reported cases in 60610, 58 reported cases in 60611, 89 cases reported in 60616, and 37 reported cases in 60654.

Statewide, 13,549 cases have been reported, resulting in 380 deaths. 

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To view IDPH’s COVID-19 statistics page, visit http://dph.illinois.gov/covid19/covid19-statistics.

Governor Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot launch Arts for Illinois Relief Fund

By Daniel Patton, April 2, 2020

 

The City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the broader philanthropic community are teaming up to provide financial assistance to artists, artisans and cultural organizations impacted by COVID-19.

Launched April 1, the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund (AIRF) is a statewide initiative that began accepting grant applications “for artists, artisans and cultural organizations” April 1,  according to a press release from the Mayor’s office. Funded by public and private sources, it has received $4 million in commitments to date.

“The arts and cultural community is deeply embedded in the fabric of Chicago. Our cultural institutions – from the one-room artist studio to the 1,500-seat theater – employ artists, back office staff, ushers, curators, ticket takers and others,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman. “Many artists supplement their work by providing arts education in our schools. All of these individuals contribute to the City’s vibrant arts and cultural sector, which has been temporarily halted.” 

Eligible disciplines include dance, film & media arts, interdisciplinary, literary arts, music, teaching arts, theater, and visual arts and design. To learn more about how individuals as well as organizations can receive funding, visit artsforillinois.org/donate-and-apply

AIRF financial contributors to date include the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs (DCASE), Walder Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and more than a dozen additional funders. 

The effort’s ongoing fundraising activities will be co-chaired by First Lady MK Pritzker and First Lady Amy Eshleman, with support from other civic leaders, according to the release. Individuals, corporations and charitable foundations are encouraged to donate to the Arts for Illinois Relief Fund by visiting www.artsforillinois.org.

Governor Pritzker extends stay-at-home order through April

March 31, 2020

 

Illinois’ current stay-at-home order will be extended through the month of April to help curb the spread of coronavirus.

The proclamation was made by Governor JB Pritzker during his daily #COVID19 briefing on March 31. It adds a month to the original order that he issued on March 20.

“I have let the science guide our decisions and I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none,” he said. “Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation — but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limit. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.”

The extension also applies to the temporary statewide closure of all K-12 schools that the governor ordered on March 13, two days before he announced a prohibition on in-person dining in restaurants throughout the state.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot — whose efforts to combat the virus include closing the city’s lakefront and launching a plan to house the infected in hotel rooms — acknowledged the hardship of the order while expressing her support for the governor’s actions.

“This may not be the measure that we like, but it is the measure we all need to combat the deadly and growing COVID-19 crisis,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot.”The City of Chicago fully supports Governor Pritzker’s bold and necessary extension of the Stay at Home Order, and stands ready to partner with the State and our health officials as we navigate the challenges that lie ahead in safeguarding our residents. We will get through this crisis together and I want to thank all those who have been doing their part.”

Chicago launches bold plans to curb spread of COVID-19

 

Downtown Chicago’s lakefront and parks closed
When sunny spring weather caused crowds to gather on the lakefront, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered that the lakefront, beaches, parks and the 606 be closed March 27 for an unspecified time to curb the spread of coronavirus. Chicago police patrolled the area to clear crowds and some areas have been fenced off.

 

Window washing essential
Spring window washing is going ahead as planned in the neighborhood. Window washing crews have been observed by residents at several buildings in New Eastside including 155 N. Harbor Dr. and 201 Westshore Dr. in New Eastside, causing residents to hastily draw their blinds.

 

COVID-19 in New Eastside
In March, cases of COVID-19 rose in New Eastside. Cases COVID-19 have been reported in the Prudential, Aon Center, Aqua and Lancaster buildings. Building managers sent notification of reported cases to tenants and residents via emails.

 

Chicago Park District Programs go online
Chicago Park District is bringing the fun to you. Children’s storytimes, make a baby Yoda art project, and video tips on how to keep your house squeaky clean while burning calories are coming to you online via the Chicago Park District Programs website. Visit chicagoparkdistrict.com/stayingactive for a list of their offerings: from bingo boards for download to virtual meditation and ballet videos.

 

Chicagoans come together in sing-alongs
Throughout the stay-at-home order, Chicagoans have found a way to cheer themselves up. Sing-alongs organized via social media platforms have filled the air with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” which drew 8,200 virtual attendees and likely more at the actual event on their balconies and at their windows at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 21. The event caught the attention of Jon Bon Jovi himself, who dedicated an Instagram post to the city, “I am with you with all my heart and my soul, sending my love to everybody in Chicago and across America.”

The radio station 97.1 The Drive put together their own sing-along of the National Anthem and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” March 27. A singalong, especially for kids took place, Sunday March 29 at 5p.m. with a chorus of “Let It Go” from the Disney movie “Frozen.”

These events tend to pop up sporadically and at last minute notice. To take part in upcoming singalongs, please follow New Eastside News’ Facebook page, where we will be reposting the events as they are announced. 

 

2020 election wrap-up
Democrats claiming victory after the 2020 Illinois Primary elections include incumbent Sen. Dick Durbin, who will run against Republican challenger Mark Curran in the November general election. Incumbent State’s Attorney Kim Foxx will face Republican challenger Patrick O’Brien. Incumbent Rep. Danny K. Davis will run against Republican Craig Cameron for the Seventh District, which includes New Eastside, Streeterville and the West Loop.

 

New Eastside and Streeterville political races to watch
Unless a challenger emerges, incumbent State Sen. Robert Peters will run unopposed in the race for Senate District 13, which includes Streeterville and everything east of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside. The same holds true for incumbent Kambium Buckner, who won the primary for House District 26. Lamont Robinson ran unopposed and won the primary for State House District 5, which includes everything west of Columbus Dr. in New Eastside, all of River North, and the eastern half of the Loop.

 

City suspends late fees on parking tickets and more
On March 18, Mayor Lightfoot announced that the city has initiated several “hold-harmless policies” to ease the burden caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, Chicago will stop charging late fees on payment plans, utility bills, parking tickets, red-light citations, booting and other violations. “This is a common sense way that we can help mitigate the burdens and pressures many are feeling,” Lightfoot said. “We know that these practices disproportionately impact the residents that are most in need during this crisis.” The policies will remain in effect until April 30.

 

City rents hotel rooms for people with coronavirus
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said certain people who test positive for coronavirus or are awaiting test results would be housed in hotel rooms rented by the city beginning March 23. The measure will apply to those “who cannot safely return home (but) do not need hospital care.” At the time of the announcement, the city had already reached agreements with local hotels to provide more than 1,000 rooms for those “exposed to or mildly ill with COVID-19.” According to the Chicago Tribune, the program could expand to include up to 4,000 hotel rooms costing nearly $175 per night, and the expense will be covered by “federal funds and other potential sources.”

 

How to give back in the neighborhood
In a recent email newsletter, Alderman Reilly thanked the community for their enquiries into how to give back locally in the time of the coronavirus pandemic. There are many ways to help.

  • CPS teachers or childcare providers are welcome to sign up with Sittercity. Sittercity will match sitters to care for children of first responders and healthcare workers, as both are welcome to access the site for free. Visit sittercity.com for more information.
  • CPS nurses or healthcare providers, including retired healthcare workers and those with out-of-state medical licenses, can sign up for the Illinois Medical Reserve Program. The IMRS is in need of volunteers to help support the healthcare field at this time. For more information, visit illinoishelps.net.
  • The country is also in a blood donation shortage and the Red Cross is asking for more donations. If you are eligible, visit redcross.org.
  • For those who are unable to leave their homes or food insecure, there are several Chicago organizations that could use help and donations. One of which is Greater Chicago Food Depository. They are looking for volunteers ages 18-60 at chicagosfoodbank.org.
  • Please keep in mind if you have exhibited symptoms of the coronavirus or come into contact with someone who has exhibited symptoms or been diagnosed in the last 14 days, you should stay at home and not locally volunteer. For more information visit ward42chicago.com

 

Deals on Divvy
It’s a good time to get a deal on Divvy. To help ease the burden of Illinois’ stay-at-home order, the City of Chicago has arranged a deal to reduce the cost of renting Divvy bikes. The cost of an annual Divvy membership has been reduced 50% — from $99 to $49.50 —The “steeply” discounted memberships are available through April 30, 2020.

Other two-wheeled measures include reducing the regular $3 cost of 30-minute Divvy bike rentals by 66%, which comes out to a dollar for a half hour.

“Chicago is committed to ensuring reliable and accessible transportation for every neighborhood and community,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a press release, “We are taking every measure possible to provide the pricing support needed to keep our residents mobile and our city moving forward.” Divvy is also launching a 30-day program to give critical healthcare workers free bikeshare rides.

 

Local grocery stores enact dedicated hours for senior citizens
Seniors, and those with underlying medical conditions, are at the most risk for serious coronavirus complications, according to the CDC. To make essential trips to the grocery store and pharmacy easier for those individuals that are most at-risk, local stores have enacted senior-specific hours.

  • Whole Foods, 255 E. Grand: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 7a.m., before the store officially opens at 8a.m.
  • Whole Foods, 30 W. Huron: Those 60 and up can begin shopping at 8a.m, before the store officially opens at 9a.m.
  • Target, 401 E. Illinois St.: Each Wednesday, the first hour of shopping is dedicated to seniors and those with underlying health concerns. 7-8a.m.
  • Mariano’s, 333 E. Benton Pl.: 6-8a.m. is reserved for senior citizens and those with underlying health concerns.
  • Jewel-Osco, 550 N. State St., For seniors and those with underlying health concerns, priority will be given on Tuesdays and Thursdays 7-9a.m.
  • Walgreens: 8-9a.m. on Tuesdays is senior shopping hour.

 

CTA, Metra help to ease COVID-19 burden
Starting on March 24, The Chicago Transit Authority offered partial credit to customers who purchased fare cards but were unable to use them due to the coronavirus.

“A one-time credit,” according to a CTA press release, applies to “any remaining days left on an active 7- or 30-day pass.” In other words, a person who purchased a 7-day pass but only used it for one day would be credited with six days of “Transit Value” that would be “added to the cardholder’s Ventra account.”

The CTA also offered reassurance that it will continue operations during the stay-at-home order. Medical personnel also get free rides at this time.

 

McCormick Place transforms into makeshift hospital
Plans are underway to turn McCormick Place into a 3000 bed makeshift hospital to treat coronavirus patients by April 24. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing kits help transform several exhibition halls in the facility into a temporary medical site.

 

Northwestern Memorial Hospital restricts visitors
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 there is a new no-visitor restriction at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. According to the hospital’s website, visitors are not allowed in all in-patient and out-patient care sites with the following expectations:

  • Pediatric patients under the age of 18 (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • Neonatal ICU patients (limited to two visitors 18 or older, one at a time)
  • Compassionate care, including pastoral care visits and end-of-life patients (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Laboring mothers (limited to one visitor 18 or older)
  • Patients requiring transportation home after an ED visit or outpatient visit or procedure (limited to one visitor/companion 18 or older)
  • In these exceptional cases patients and visitors will be screened for symptoms of COVID-19 or flu before being admitted.

Mondelez International moves HQ to Fulton Market

Mondelez International yesterday announced plans to relocate its global headquarters from the Chicago suburb of Deerfield to the city’s West Loop neighborhood, according to several media reports. The maker of Oreo, Ritz, and Triscuits has signed a 15-year lease at 905 W. Fulton Market and it plans to bring all or most of its 400 employees along as well.

Mondelez Chairman / CEO Dirk Van de Put believes the area will reinforce the company mission while increasing employee motivation.  

“We sought a location that reflects our new, dynamic and more consumer-centric growth culture, and which will make existing and future colleagues proud to be working at the global headquarters of a $26 billion dollar global snacking leader,” he said in a statement. “Fulton Market is an exciting part of the City of Chicago that has acquired a well-deserved reputation for world-class food. We’re privileged to be part of this rapidly-developing scene.”

905 W. Fulton Market

Mondelez joins a growing number of corporate HQs that have moved to the neighborhood formerly known as the city’s meatpacking district. McDonald’s arrived in 2018. Google moved in last year.

Tracing its roots back to the National Dairy Products Corporation founded in 1923, Mondelez is an American multinational confectionery that employees 83,000 people worldwide, according to statista.

macrotrends reports that the company generated $25.868 billion in revenue in 2019.

Mayor Lightfoot unveils new Chicago logo

Chicago’s iconic six-pointed star and a font called Big Shoulders are key elements in a new city logo unveiled by Mayor Lightfoot’s office on March 4.

Boasting two variations — low and wide or high and thin — the logo incorporates the traditional blue and red color scheme of the Chicago flag. It is one component of a new Chicago Design System that is intended to connect with a global audience.

The city’s Department of Assets, Information and Services (AIS) worked with Chicago marketing agency Ogilvy to develop the new look. According to Mayor Lightfoot, their efforts honor the past while looking towards the future.

“I am pleased to be taking a new step in Chicago history by launching a design system that aligns with my core values of inclusivity, accessibility and transparency for our great city,” she explained. “Launching this new chapter in our history not only means a fresh look for our City, but it also marks a milestone in ensuring everything we create aligns with our values as a City.”

 

 

Ogilvy Worldwide Associate Editor Chris Celletti includes accessibility among those values. In a post on the company’s website, he encouraged Windy City residents and corporations to take advantage of the logo’s unrestricted usage.  

“The new star is representative of Chicago’s citizens, and it will also belong to them,” he writes. “A key aspect of the Chicago Design System is that the new branding will be able to be downloaded and used by citizens and businesses around the city.”

Visitors can download both versions of the logo in a variety of formats by visiting the City of Chicago’s website here.

According to a press release from the Mayor’s office, Ogilvy “worked in lockstep” to create the final product, which is “rooted in Chicago’s rich history that connects to all residents and visitors alike.”

Mayor Lightfoot unveiled the Chicago Design System on the city’s 183rd Birthday, May 4, 2020.

Navigating drone laws may be tricky for operators in Chicago

(Published Aug. 1, 2019)
By Elisa Shoenberger, Staff writer

It may be tempting to fly a drone downtown whether to get a bird’s eye view on the Lollapalooza crowds or to get a unique shot of the skyline, it may be impossible to do so legally. 

Chicago’s laws allow drone operators to fly their craft with a permit, but according to afficionados, getting a permit is near impossible thanks to confusing, byzantine rules. 

“All drones are restricted unless given a permit for flying,” said Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of Chicago Police Department. 

In addition to a permit, operators have to get permission from the property owner and in the case of Grant Park, that would be the Chicago Parks District. Without that permission and without a permit, operators face citations. 

Jeffrey Antonelli is a drone enthusiast and also a lawyer, and he believes the city’s laws wouldn’t stand up in court. Antonelli points out that since the Federal Aviation Administration regulates air space and not the city, Chicago’s air regulations would probably be thrown out if someone challenged them in court. Nevertheless, Antonelli said he doesn’t fly drones in the city.

Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, a drone training company, said the FAA classified Grant Park airspace as Class G, meaning it is uncontrolled airspace, so recreational drone pilots should be able to fly there under federal law. 

Even so, getting a permit is hard. 

Antonelli said some people have tried getting a permit from the park district and while he’s heard some success stories, he’s been unable to get one. 

“The city doesn’t have a uniform answer,” Antonelli said. 

A spokesperson for the parks district could not explain how to get a permit. 

The FAA mandates that people cannot fly drones over people or cars for safety concerns and pilots must be able to see their drone at all times and they cannot fly higher than 400 feet.

Perlman said people should first learn how to use their drone. 

“You are bringing a flying lawnmower into the air. It’s really important to have intimate understanding of how the aircraft works.” 

West Loop news briefs

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer


Google Announces Chicago Expansion

Google has chosen Chicago as the location for its new finance hub, planning to add “hundreds” of new jobs with potential for even more growth, according to a press release from the mayor’s office. The announcement comes as part of Google’s national expansion plan and days after Google CEO Sundar Pichai detailed a $13 billion investment in offices and data centers across the country.

Currently, Google has more than 1,000 employees working out of its offices at 320 N. Morgan St. In fall of 2018, Google announced plans to lease an additional 132,000 square feet in Fulton Market to accommodate its growth. With the new space, Google will have the capacity to double its workforce and plans to increase it by 10 percent by the end of 2019.

Coca-Cola Offices opening in Fulton Market

Coca-Cola is moving its corporate offices to Fulton Market from Downers Grove, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. This will bring the company closer to McDonald’s, one of its biggest business partners. Developer McCaffery Interests will open the new 150,000-square-foot building March 4, according to Quenee Dale, receptionist at McCaffery Interests.

“Investing in our Chicago footprint will allow us to better support our customers and our bottling partner, Great Lakes Coca-Cola Bottling Co.,” Coca-Cola Spokesman Kevin Morris said in a statement.

Located at 1201 W. Lake St., the building will also house McCaffery itself, as well as Heritage Bicycles.

Tribune Media’s North Branch megasite is for sale

Tribune Media plans to sell a 30-acre stretch of land along the North Branch of the Chicago River, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Last fall, the company received zoning approval from the city to redevelop the area into an 8.5-million-square-foot “River District.”

The land currently houses the Chicago Tribune’s Freedom Center printing plant at 560 W. Grand Ave. Tribune Media has hired office of brokerage Eastdil Secured to sell the property to the highest bidder.

“The River District will extend the downtown district and bring to life a new vibrant mixed-use neighborhood where Chicagoans will live, work and play,” said ” Murray McQueen, head of Tribune Media’s real estate division, in a statement.

CTA stations will get healthy snacks from West Loop vendor

Four CTA stations are getting an upgrade: vending machines from Farmer’s Fridge, a Fulton Market company that makes organic, ready-to-eat snacks and meals, according to Curbed Chicago.

The L stations receiving the machines are the Red Line station at Grand, the Green Line station at Indiana, the Damen Pink Line station, and the Fullerton stop serving the Red, Brown and Purple lines. Phone charging devices and photo booths will also be installed in various L stations around the city as part of a pilot program announced in February designed to improve rider experience and generate revenue for the CTA.

(Published March 18, 2019)

Get to know your community organizations

By Elizabeth Czapski, staff writer

The West Loop stays vibrant with the help of residents, business owners and community leaders who work together through the neighborhood’s many organizations. Here are four stand-outs:

West Central Association (WCA) Chamber of Commerce

This neighborhood association wears a couple of different hats as a chamber of commerce and a delegate agency of the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Economic Development. The Chamber was founded in 1918 to support businesses and the community in general. Benefits for Chamber members include networking opportunities, exposure through WCA’s marketing, access to city services and public officials, and more. Find out more at wcachicago.org.

West Loop Community Organization (WLCO)

This membership organization is a non-profit delegate agency of the City of Chicago that participates in public planning, economic development and community programming. WLCO’s committees include a Welcoming Committee, Safety Committee, Education Committee, Assorts & Culture Committee, and Development Committee, which works with the aldermen to review proposed developments and request zoning changes. Learn more at westloop.org.

Fulton Market Association

Fulton Market Association is a non-profit economic development agency working in Fulton Market, West Loop, Kinzie Industrial Corridor and the West Side. The association focuses on public safety, business, real estate and community solutions, infrastructure, neighborhood beautification, economic development, among other topics. Members receive free advertising to more than 1,000 business and community contacts. More information can be found at fultonmarketchicago.org.

Neighbors of West Loop (NoWL)

Neighbors of West Loop is a membership organization formed by residents who wanted to make a positive impact on the neighborhood. The organization is involved in all areas of community improvement: reviewing new developments, improving parks and green spaces, promoting local events, schools and businesses, ensuring public safety, and more. Get involved at neighborsofwestloop.com.

(Published March 18, 2019)

North Lake Shore open with temporary fix

By Jesse Wright, Staff Writer

(Published Feb. 12, 2019)

According to the City of Chicago, the northbound lanes of traffic are now open on Lake Shore Drive.

The lanes were closed mid-day Monday after Chicago Department of Transportation employees noticed two cracked girders on Lake Shore Drive and another cracked girder on a ramp from Wacker to south Lake Shore Drive. The closure lasted just over a day. Since the problem was discovered, CDOT workers worked nonstop to repair the street.

Susan Hofer, a CDOT spokesperson, said the work went well over the 24-hour period.

“We made good progress through the night,” she said in an email Tuesday. “We re-opened The Wacker to southbound Lake Shore Drive ramp last night.”

At an on-site press conference with CDOT Commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld, she explained the cracked beams were bolstered with four shoring towers.

“This will allow us to make repairs,” she explained. “We expect permanent repairs will be done over the next several weeks.”

The shoring towers can withstand a total of 300,000 pounds of pressure each.

The total cost of the temporary and permanent fix isn’t yet known.

Hofer added that CDOT is still not sure what exactly led to the cracks, though the polar vortex might have been a factor.

“We think the extreme temp variations might be part of the problem,” she said. “We’re still working on determining the causes. 

CDOT engineers are continuing to inspect other girders throughout the road system for cracks.

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