As COVID-19 cases rise in neighboring states, Illinois has expanded testing across the state and on Wednesday announced the highest number of new cases in the month of July with 1,598. There were 23 deaths reported.

“Let me start with the unfortunate truth, COVID-19 has not gone away and it remains a serious threat,” said Gov. J.B. Pritzker at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The total number of known cases in the state are 165,301 and the statewide death toll to 7,347 since the start of the pandemic.

Here’s what’s happening Thursday regarding COVID-19 in the Chicago area and Illinois:

7:30 a.m.: Group of unionized university faculty to call for online classes

A group of higher education unions was scheduled to hold an online news conference Thursday morning to call on Illinois colleges and universities to hold online classes this fall because of the dangers of the spread of the coronavirus.

A group of unions including the University Professionals of Illinois, the Cook County College Teachers Union , the UIC United Faculty, the Columbia College Chicago Faculty Union, and the Illinois Education Association – Higher Education Council planned to “demand that campus presidents put science before politics and economics,” according to a news release. — Chicago Tribune staff

6 a.m.: Can endowment funds make up for pandemic losses? At Chicago’s big institutions, leaders balance tomorrow’s stability against today’s needs

As cultural organizations across the city have laid off workers and otherwise tightened their belts in anticipation of dismal revenues at least through 2020 and likely beyond, a question keeps coming up: What about the endowment?

Many of Chicago’s most prominent arts institutions have big piles of money on their balance sheets, hundreds of millions of dollars earning revenue that contributes mightily to the annual budget. And if a once-in-a-century global pandemic that forces museum and auditorium doors to shut for months on end isn’t the time to tap that pile more aggressively, when is?

We put that question to leaders at a range of organizations, from Lyric Opera to the Field Museum. Some said, yes, circumstances will force them to skim some number of millions extra from the endowment to make up for COVID-19-related shortfalls. All explained that endowments come with restrictions and encumbrances that complicate the very thought of dipping into them.

But several gave a version of the same answer: not even now. Read more here. —Steve Johnson and Howard Reich

Here are five things that happened related to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said rising COVID-19 numbers in Illinois and neighboring states show virus “remains a serious threat.”

CPS students will get the option to continue remote learning in the fall, schools chief says.

Laid-off workers brace for expiration of the extra $600 in unemployment benefits helping them get by.

United Airlines is broadening requirements for where passengers must wear masks as a surge in COVID-19 cases stalls slowly recovering interest in air travel.

Chicago tightens restrictions on workout class sizes, even as gyms say members aren’t rushing back.


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