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Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Guidelines for Hosting Events, Pritzker on ‘Vaccine Passports'

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If you're hosting a wedding, a graduation party or any other private social event this year, what are the new restrictions and guidelines you need to know?

Meanwhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says the state won't create a program for residents to prove they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:

Changes to United Center COVID Vaccinations Start Monday

Major changes to the United Center's COVID-19 vaccination site start Monday.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady announced the changes Tuesday, saying walk-in first-dose Pfizer vaccinations would be coming to an end last week.

From May 4 through May 10, the vaccination site will strictly offer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine for walk-in appointments, Arwady said. After this week, the center will no longer offer first doses of the two-shot vaccines.

Read more here.

Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,860 New COVID Cases, 27 Deaths, 45K Vaccinations

Officials in Illinois reported 1,860 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus over the last 24 hours, with 27 additional deaths attributed to the virus.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, 44,678 new doses of the coronavirus vaccine were administered on Saturday.

Sunday’s new coronavirus cases bring the state to 1,339,728 during the pandemic so far, with 22,019 deaths linked to the virus. An additional 2,339 deaths are currently classified as “probable” COVID-19 fatalities, according to IDPH data.

Read more here.

Illinois Won't Require COVID-19 ‘Vaccine Passports,' Pritzker Says

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Friday the state won't create a program for residents to prove they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Pritzker said, however, Illinois may "look for some way to have an electronic measure available" to residents who want a system to show vaccination status.

"That's just something, again, if the users desire, you know, if they want to use something like that," the governor explained. "We want to make that available, but otherwise, it's not something that we would require."

Read more here.

Fully Vaccinated? Here's Where to Score a Deal in the Chicago Area

Are you fully vaccinated against COVID-19? Don't miss the latest deals offered across the Chicago area, as various businesses have already begun serving up bargains for vaccinated individuals.

Here's where to find COVID vaccination deals nearby.

DuPage County Sets Goal of Vaccinating 80% of Residents by July 1

DuPage County has set an ambitious goal of vaccinating 80% of its residents by July 1.

The challenge was announced on Friday at a press conference with county health officials and “champions” who are using their community platform to spread the word.

Read more here.

Can You Take Tylenol, Ibuprofen With the COVID Vaccine?

Whether preparing for the COVID-19 vaccine or enduring side effects, officials provided guidance over the last few months on taking various over-the-counter medications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people talk to their doctors about taking over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, or antihistamines, for any pain and discomfort after getting vaccinated. 

The CDC does not recommend, however, that people take such over-the-counter medications or antihistamines to prevent side effects prior to receiving the coronavirus vaccine.

Read more here.

Hosting a Wedding, Graduation Party or Private Event in the Chicago Area? Here's What You Need to Know

Graduation and wedding seasons are fast approaching and this year's events will be unlike any other.

While most events were canceled or dramatically scaled down last year because of the coronavirus pandemic, more widely available vaccines and early signs of improvements in COVID metrics have enabled some jurisdictions to loosen restrictions on in-person gatherings.

To learn more on capacity limits and other new guidelines, click here.

Report: LaSalle Veterans' Home COVID Crisis Response Was ‘Reactive and Chaotic'

Consistent statewide procedures and ongoing drills that target infection response and other emergencies will be routine at Illinois veterans’ homes after COVID-19 caught the LaSalle Veterans’ Home unprepared and claimed 36 lives last fall, the state’s newly appointed director said.

Terry Prince, a 31-year Navy veteran and former senior adviser to the U.S. Surgeon General, has issued a six-point plan for improving readiness at the state’s veterans’ homes in Anna, Manteno, Quincy and LaSalle. The plan follows a blistering investigative report that laid out a string of miscommunications, lax policy and missed opportunities when the pandemic hit the home in LaSalle, 94 miles west of Chicago.

The report by the inspector general of the Illinois Department of Human Services, released Friday, noted that despite escaping all traces of the deadly respiratory illness for eight months after it entered Illinois, there was little done to devise protocols for preventing or managing infections. After the first four cases were reported Nov. 1, the virus spread to 60 residents and 43 employees as confused staff operated in an environment that was “inefficient, reactive and chaotic,” the report said.

Read more here.

Chicago Reopening Plan: City Loosens Phase 4 Restrictions as COVID Metrics Improve

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced that the city will loosen its current COVID-19 restrictions as the city has both improved its metrics to reopen and increased vaccinations.

The new changes to the current Phase 4 guidelines include:

  • Restaurants and bars: Indoor capacity can increase to the lesser of 50% or 100 people.
  • Spectator events, theater, and performing arts: Large indoor venues, including the United Center, can now operate at 25% capacity.
  • Meetings, conferences, and conventions: Large indoor venues can now operate at the lesser of 25% or 250 people.
  • Places of worship: Large indoor venues can now operate at 25% capacity.
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events: Operate at 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft.
  • Flea and farmers markets: Operate at 25% capacity or 15 people per 1,000 sq. ft.

Read more here.

Cook County to ‘Ease' Phase 4 Mitigations as COVID Cases Decline, Vaccinations Increase

The Cook County Department of Public Health on Thursday issued revised COVID-19 Phase 4 reopening guidance that eases some mitigations while taking "a cautious approach to reopening suburban Cook County."

The guidance, issued the same day as the city of Chicago released its reopening plan, becomes effective on Friday, April 30. 

The new changes to the current Phase 4 guidelines include:

  • Increased indoor restaurant capacity to 50 percent capacity or 100 individuals, whichever is smaller. 
  • Outdoor social events, such as weddings, proms and potlucks increase to lesser of 50% capacity or 100 people. 
  • Fully vaccinated people will be exempt from the capacity count for private social events, such as weddings.  
  • Higher capacity for indoor and outdoor seated spectator events, theater and performing arts in large venues (ticketed and seated) with a capacity of 200 or more to 25 percent. Indoor events with capacity less than 200 stay at 50 percent capacity with no more than 50 people. 
  • Festivals and general admission outdoor spectator events increase to 15 people per 1,000 square feet. 

Read more here.

Bulls, Blackhawks to Begin Hosting Limited Fans at United Center

Beginning May 7, the Bulls and Blackhawks will begin hosting a limited capacity of fans for games at the United Center, the teams announced Thursday morning.

Each team will host spectators at "approximately 25 percent capacity" with a mandatory mask policy, distanced seating and contactless concessions. Guests will also be required to complete a health screening in the CLEAR app before arrival.

Read more here.

Chicago Will Join Illinois in Moving to Bridge Phase If COVID Metrics Remain Stable

Chicago officials announced Thursday that the city will join the rest of Illinois when the state moves to its Bridge Phase - a new transitional period before a full reopening - if COVID metrics remain stable.

As part of the statewide reopening plan, Illinois officials unveiled the Bridge Phase last month, announcing new metrics and guidelines that will allow for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current Phase 4 guidelines and a full reopening in Phase 5.

Read more - including what will change in the Bridge Phase - here.

Windy City Smokeout, New State Street Fest: These Summer Events Are Coming to Chicago

Chicago has announced a lineup of festivals and events set to take place this summer in the city as officials begin further reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I'm thrilled to announce that we are able to broadly loosen capacity restrictions across industries, starting today, which allows us to welcome back fans to the United Center, reopen Navy Pier and our lakefront beaches, bring back the Windy City Smokeout, our premiere country music and barbecue festival, as well as a number of summer street festivals and bring back several other loved summer and fall activities, thanks to our new open Chicago initiative," Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced.

Among the list of changes were the return of several events that were canceled last summer due to the pandemic and a lineup of new festivities in celebration of a step closer to normal.

Here's a look at what the city has on tap so far.

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