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Coronavirus in Illinois updates: 1,402 new known COVID-19 cases and 14 more deaths reported Sunday

Illinois public health officials Sunday announced 1,402 newly diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and 14 more deaths. That raises the statewide known case tally to 274,258 throughout the course of the pandemic. The state reported death toll is now 8,450.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 48,011 new tests, according to the IDPH, bringing the total number of tests to date to 5,105,153.

On Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that bars and indoor dining can reopen in the region that includes Will and Kankakee counties after weeks under stricter rules aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The region that encompasses Will and Kankakee counties was the second to see tougher rules imposed after it surpassed a state threshold of 8% positivity rate for three consecutive days. As of Friday, the region’s positivity rate was 5.6%.

Meanwhile, DuPage County is no longer among the Illinois counties at “warning level” for a possible resurgence of the new coronavirus. With DuPage being removed from the list, no Chicago-area counties are currently under warning.

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

Lawry’s to close at year’s end after 46 years in downtown Chicago — but leaves room for return

Lawry’s the Prime Rib, which has been a fixture on Ontario Street (just west of Michigan Avenue) for 46 years, is calling it quits at the end of the year. Staffers were notified on Saturday.

The coronavirus, recent civil unrest and an expiring lease all contributed to the decision, said Ryan Wilson, CEO of Lawry’s Inc.

“In a year of incredible turmoil, this is a tough one for sure,” he said. “But with the industry in general in such a state of flux, we felt we had to push the pause button.”

Note the use of “pause button,” and not “stop button.”

“I think there’s a future for Lawry’s in the Chicago area,” Wilson said. “It was always a favorite of my grandfather’s; after visits, he always brought home boxes of Frango Mints. And I think Chicago is the best food city in the country.”

‘Let us play’: High school students and parents rally in the Loop, demanding Gov. Pritzker allow fall sports after halt due to COVID-19 pandemic

About 100 parents and students rallied Saturday morning at the Thompson Center, chanting “Let us play” and demanding that Gov. J.B. Pritzker allow students to participate in fall sports.

Groups of students from Loyola Academy, Glenbrook North High School, Batavia High School and other, mostly suburban, schools gathered in jerseys with signs decrying Pritzker’s decision to halt football and a number of other sports deemed higher risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Student speakers at the rally pointed to other Midwest states that are allowing football and other contact sports to proceed, and said students will lose out on college scholarships and miss out on opportunities to get exercise, maintain good mental health and build leadership skills.

2,529 new known COVID-19 cases and 25 more deaths reported

Illinois health officials on Saturday announced 2,529 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25 additional fatalities. The Illinois Department of Public Health is now reporting a total of 272,856 cases, including 8,436 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois since the start of the coronavirus' spread.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate is 3.5%. Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 74,286 new tests, according to the IDPH, bringing the total number of tests to date to 5,057,142.

Chicago suburbs warn ComEd: It’s time to pay up on local utility taxes

Already caught up in a high-profile federal bribery scheme, Commonwealth Edison is embroiled in an escalating fight with dozens of cash-squeezed Chicago suburbs that are demanding the power company deliver millions of dollars in utility taxes the communities say they are owed.

“The longer that it keeps going, the more revenue that we’re out,” said Chicago Heights Mayor David Gonzalez.

The crux of the dispute stems from how utility taxes are collected. Towns are allowed to levy their own taxes on utilities such as phones and electricity. Those local charges show up on consumers' monthly bills, and ComEd collects the tax and distributes the money to the individual towns.

Suburban frustration with how well ComEd handles that the complex details of that job dates to at least the 2000s. In 2006, Des Plaines sued ComEd as a test case on the issue, but the lawsuit wasn’t resolved until the end of 2019.

That resolution meant dozens of suburbs expected ComEd to start paying up. Then COVID-19 hit, slowing down the economy, causing local sales tax revenues to drop and busting budgets. Fearful that help isn’t coming from Washington, D.C., mayors now are turning over the couch cushions looking for money to make up shortfalls.

North Shore school district backs off proposed COVID-19 policy keeping quarantined kids off remote learning: ‘There are no travel police’

At the urging of officials with the Illinois State Board of Education, Sunset Ridge School District 29 on Friday have scrapped a proposed policy that would have prohibited students who are quarantining from participating in remote learning.

The proposal from a District 29 task force, which was approved by the school board, would have required that students at the Northfield-based school district who are on quarantine for travel-related reasons, like visiting a high risk area, “not be permitted to access remote learning during the travel or quarantine period,” District 29 Superintendent Ed Stange said in a Sept. 16 parent letter.

Stange said the recommendation was made due to the difficulties educators face when students transition between in-person and remote instruction.

“Our general goal is to maintain consistency in the learning environment, and limit unnecessary movement between in-person and remote environments,” Stange said. “That is why we asked families to commit to in-person or remote learning through the first trimester.”

The communication, which was emailed to parents and posted on the district’s website, was quickly followed by a second message, with Stange apologizing and acknowledging that he was hearing from “concerned families,” and hoping to provide “perspective” on the recommendation.

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