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Coping with COVID: May 23: Memorial Day, free hand sanitizer, stats

Memorial Day in pandemic mode. Thornton Distillery offers free hand sanitizer. Recent COVID-19 statistics. 

Memorial Day in pandemic mode. As the weather warms up and case numbers stabilize and begin to decline, state officials worry people will give up physical distancing practices too quickly. At the Friday daily briefing, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike urged people to stay the course. 

“I know in the absence of parades, we still want to find ways to honor and celebrate those who have given their lives while serving this country in a safe and socially distanced way,” she said. “I know this weekend is supposed to unofficially kick off the summer season. This is not an easy time, but until we have a vaccine and reliable treatment, we need to learn how to co-exist with COVID. The virus is still out there.”

She said wearing facial coverings and maintaining at least 6 feet distance between individuals “are the weapons we have right now to combat this virus.”

In his weekly COVID-19 update, Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld reminded residents that the Memorial Day parade and ceremony were officially canceled, but he noted that the village has displayed American flags downtown and he urged residents to display flags at their homes. “Still you can honor the holiday and those whose lives were lost on all our battlefields. Do fly your flag at home.”

Free hand sanitizer. Thornton Distillery announced Friday that it will make its hand sanitizer available free to the public. The company started producing hand sanitizer soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the area, but was providing it to healthcare workers and first responders. The offer is for one free 16-ounce bottle per person, first come, first served. Call 708-877-6222 in advance to confirm availability. Additional supplies can be purchased. Customers can also purchase spirits or merchandise to help support furloughed staff. The bottle shop is open 2 to 7 p.m. daily. Customers will be asked to follow CDC physical distancing guidelines. There is a limit of 10 people in the shop at one time and everyone is required to wear face coverings.

COVID-19 milestones in the past week or so. The state passed 100,000 cases on May 20. A new record for tests administered in a 24-hour period, 29,307, was announced on May 21. The state passed 4,000 deaths on May 15. Homewood reached 25 deaths on May 16.

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