How six months of pandemic have changed Illinois forever

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Since Illinois reported its first case of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 24, COVID-19 has cut through every aspect of life—from the most basic social interactions to education, health care and travel.

In a span of six months, 168,000 Illinoisans have tested positive for the virus and more than 7,300 have died. Roughly 1.5 million people have applied for unemployment benefits in Illinois since March, employers’ costs have skyrocketed as they implement new safety measures and governments statewide face steep budget gaps and rising calls for relief. More than 4,000 Chicago-area businesses shut down as stay-home restrictions and fear of infection kept customers out of restaurants and stores. Meanwhile, as case rates rise in other states, leaders are bracing for a new surge.

But in the midst of the gravest public health crisis in generations, people are adapting to a new way of life, full of e-learning, mask wearing and socially distant celebrations. Whether the pandemic will lead to permanent work flexibility, bigger investments in public health and unemployment, or meaningful moves toward equity is still unknown.

But how did we get here? Crain’s asked Chicago-area decision-makers, business leaders and workers how the first six months of the pandemic in Illinois—from the controversial calls to the most pivotal moments—have affected them and what life is going to look like in the future as a result. Here’s what they said. (Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.)

26-Delivered

via Crain’s Chicago Business

July 24, 2020 at 05:22PM

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