The work-from-home strategy adopted by many companies during the pandemic may soon be shifting. What will that look like in Chicago?
Meanwhile, the city of Chicago is offering up to 15 months of rent payments for tenants struggling to pay for housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today.
Downtown Chicago Office Buildings Remain Near Empty, But for How Long?
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The work-from-home strategy adopted by many companies and employees during the pandemic will soon be shifting as employees return to fill the office buildings of downtown Chicago, according to people who run the towering structures that make up the city’s iconic skyline.
A recent poll of business leaders and professionals conducted by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago (BOMA Chicago) found 52% are excited to return to the office, 25% are nervous, but looking forward to it and 23% are undecided.
Commercial real estate giant JLL said most of its Chicago business tenants kept their leases and are ready to adapt to the new workspace reality of a post-pandemic world.
“Tenants are reconsidering inevitably how they design their space and how often their employees may come into the office,” said Matt Carolan, executive managing director of JLL. “So what might have been typically have been a five-day work week might look like a three-day work week where you have your folks coming in Tuesday, Wednesdays, Thursdays.”
JLL said returning employees can expect a super clean environment, healthier air and additional signage in many buildings.
“It might not necessarily be a permanent desk any longer,” Carolan said. “It could be a temporary place for you to sit down, but there could be conference tables. There could be collaborative areas.”
Illinois COVID Hospitalizations Continue Decline After Brief April Spike
Coronavirus cases requiring hospitalization in Illinois have continued to decline after a brief upward trend in those metrics earlier this year.
According to the latest data available from the Illinois Department of Public Health, there were 1,393 patients hospitalized due to coronavirus in the state as of midnight. That number is the lowest the state has recorded since late March, and represents a continued decline in the number of hospitalizations associated with the virus.
The state experienced a short-lived bump in hospitalizations beginning in late March and extending into mid-April, with a peak hospitalization total of 2,218, which was hit on April 18, according to IDPH data.
After remaining over the 2,000 mark until early May, the number of hospitalizations has begun to decline dramatically, dropping to levels not seen since March.
United Airlines Offering Vaccinated Travelers a Chance to Win Free Travel for a Year
Want free travel for a year? In an effort to boost vaccination rates, United Airlines is holding a contest to give five people the chance to win just that.
The Chicago-based airline on Monday announced the "Your Shot to Fly" sweepstakes for members of its loyalty program, aimed at encouraging people to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Throughout the month of June, United said it plans to give away 30 pairs of tickets for a roundtrip flight for two in any class, to any destination in the world where United flies.
Then on July 1, United will announce the five randomly selected winners of the grand prize, which is travel for a year for themselves and a companion, also in any class of service and to any United destination.
Read more, including how to enter, here.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 933 New COVID Cases, 10 Deaths, 36K Vaccinations
Illinois health officials reported 933 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 10 additional deaths in the last day, along with more than 36,000 vaccinations administered.
The newly reported coronavirus cases bring the state total to 1,376,411 cases since the pandemic began and lift the total death toll to 22,633, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The statewide positivity rate stayed at 2.2% of all tests returning positive results, and the positivity rate for individuals tested in the last seven days dipped slightly to 2.7%, according to IDPH data.
The state reported 36,358 vaccinations administered in the last day, according to the latest data, bringing the seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered to 76,133 doses.
Chicago Rental Assistance Program Offers Up to 15 Months of Rent for Tenants Struggling to Pay Due to COVID-19
The city of Chicago is offering up to 15 months of rent payments for tenants struggling to pay for housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The application for the Chicago Emergency Rental Assistance Program opened Monday, the city announced. Applications will be accepted through 11:59 p.m. on June 8 .
The program will provide grants of up to 12 months of unpaid rent and three months of future rent payments for eligible tenants and landlords, the city says.
To be eligible, tenants must live in Chicago and have suffered a hardship due to COVID-19, like job loss, reduced hours or illness in the household. Applicants must also be at risk of housing instability and have earned less than the maximum income threshold.
That threshold ranges from $52,200 for one person up to $86,500 for a six-person household, according to the city.
Read more, including how to apply, here.
Illinois to Test Wastewater for COVID-19 to Find ‘Early Warnings of a Potential Outbreak'
Illinois health officials have announced a new system that will test wastewater for COVID-19 and use those tests to find "early warnings of a potential outbreak on a county-by-county basis."
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, "is detectable in human waste nearly from the onset of infection, while symptoms may not appear for three to five days."
The department plans to implement a monitoring system for next year that will test wastewater in various counties for signs of the virus as well as for new variants that may emerge.
White Sox Increase Capacity at Guaranteed Rate Field
The White Sox will increase the capacity limit at Guaranteed Rate Field to 60% starting Monday.
The Sox will allow approximately 24,300 fans at Guaranteed Rate Field starting Monday for the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team announced earlier this month.
The Cubs will also allow 60% capacity at Wrigley Field beginning with the three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on May 28, the team said.
United Center Ends Walk-Up COVID Vaccinations
The United Center is closing the walk-up portion of its COVID vaccinations Monday, officials say.
The mass vaccination site at the United Center opened on March 9 under a federal pilot program and run by a coalition of federal, state and local officials.
The site has operated seven days a week and was originally slated to be open for eight weeks with the ability to administer 6,000 shots per day at full capacity, officials said. Those doses have been provided directly from the federal government and not diverted from the supply sent to Chicago or Illinois.
Earlier this month, the site shifted from administering the two-dose vaccines for walk-ins to the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The Chicago Department of Public Health says the United Center has administered almost 287,000 vaccine doses since March 9. Its end date was pushed back because of its success in administering shots, officials said.
The drive-thru vaccinations using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to remain open through next month.
Illinois Phase 5: When State Could Fully Reopen and What Else You Need to Know
Barring a significant rise in COVID-19 metrics, Illinois could lift all capacity limitations and fully reopening its economy as soon as June 11.
But what exactly will it look like, and what changes will be put into place?
Phase 5 will remove capacity limits and restrictions on all sectors of the economy, with "businesses, schools and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures," according to state officials.
Conventions, festivals and large events will also be able to resume, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Read more here.
Pfizer, Moderna, J&J Vaccines: Efficacy and Potential for Booster Shots
As vaccinations continue across the U.S. with children as young as 12 become eligible, how effective is each vaccine and when could booster shots be needed?
According to medical experts, the three vaccines currently available each offer protection.
For a full breakdown, click here.
Children Now Make Up Majority of Chicago's Daily COVID Cases: Top Doc
In the last week, children made up the majority of Chicago's daily COVID cases, data shows, but they are not becoming hospitalized or dying from the virus, according to the city's top doctor.
Recent data indicates those in the infant to 17-year-old age group are now making up the most coronavirus cases in the city when compared to other ages.
Chicago is currently averaging 289 cases per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Those between the ages of 0 and 17 are reporting 63 average cases per day in the city. The next highest group is 18- to 29-year-olds, who are reporting an average of 59 new cases per day.
Children in the youngest age range, however, have reported no hospitalizations or deaths with recent cases, according to the city's data from the last seven days. Those in the 18- to 29-year-old range reported three hospitalizations, but no deaths.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said while "there's more cases in kids" currently, it is likely due to the fact that children under the age of 12 are not eligible for vaccination yet and those between the ages of 12 and 15 only recently became eligible.
Chicago Block Parties Can Return This Summer Without Bounce Houses
Block parties can return to Chicago this summer, officials announced Thursday, without bounce houses, among additional mitigations in place due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said in a Facebook Live that the Department of Transportation would begin accepting permits for block parties starting June 6, with gatherings set to begin July 5.
"I do just want to highlight, of course, that we are continuing to measure all the health metrics," Arwady said. "This is assuming that we continue to see progress here, but we're feeling optimistic about it, you know. You've heard us say sort of June/July is when we really expect to kind of be more widely open."
Due to the pandemic, Arwady said officials will require that planners notify neighbors of the event and recommend that those attending who are eligible receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Illinois School Board Votes to Adopt Resolution Requiring In-Person Learning in the Fall
The Illinois State Board of Education voted to adopt a resolution requiring schools to resume in-person learning for the fall school year, with few exceptions.
The resolution, which was opposed by many parents who offered public comment ahead of the board's Wednesday vote, was passed unanimously.
The daily in-person learning requirement is "subject to favorable public health conditions" and would begin at the start of the 2021-22 school year, under the guidelines.
The resolution supports a declaration made by State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala, a spokesperson for ISBE said in a statement. It includes one exception to in-person learning, however, stating that remote learning "would still be required for students who are both not eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and also under a quarantine order." It also states that students who don't meet that criteria "may be eligible for home/hospital instruction."
Where You Still Need to Wear Your Mask in Illinois – Even If You're Vaccinated
Illinois has new mask guidelines for fully vaccinated residents following guidance from the CDC. So what does that mean for you and when will you still need your mask? Here's a breakdown:
Fully vaccinated people can, per the CDC and IDPH:
- Resume activities without wearing masks or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance
- Resume domestic travel and refrain from testing before or after travel or self-quarantine after travel
- Refrain from testing before leaving the United States for international travel (unless required by the destination) and refrain from self-quarantine after arriving back in the United States
- Refrain from testing following a known exposure, if asymptomatic, with some exceptions for specific settings
- Refrain from quarantine following a known exposure if asymptomatic
- Refrain from routine screening testing if feasible
But fully vaccinated people should continue to:
- Get tested if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Follow CDC and health department travel requirements and recommendations
Fully vaccinated people should also continue to wear a well-fitted mask in:
- Crowded indoor settings like correctional facilities and homeless shelters
- If you travel, you will still be required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations
- Schools and daycares
In Illinois, residents should continue wearing masks on public transportation, in congregate facilities and in healthcare settings regardless of their vaccination status, according to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office. Masks will also continue to be required in schools and daycares in the state.
If you are not fully vaccinated, you will need to wear a mask in most instances.