Chicago and Illinois are now in their final reopening stage, but what has changed and which guidelines remain in place?
Here's what you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Coronavirus in Illinois: 401 New COVID Cases, 22 Deaths, 42K Vaccinations
Health officials in Illinois reported 401 new confirmed and probable cases of coronavirus on Friday, along with 22 additional deaths and more than 42,000 new vaccine doses administered.
In all, 1,387,029 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the state since the pandemic began. The additional deaths reported Friday bring the state to 23,035 confirmed COVID fatalities.
The state has administered 39,661 tests over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to more than 25 million tests conducted during the pandemic.
More on Illinois' recent COVID stats.
Chicago Hides Hundreds of $250 Gift Cards Around City to Celebrate Reopening
Starting Friday, hundreds of $250 gift cards will be hidden around all 77 of Chicago’s neighborhoods, the city announced.
Each weekend through July 4, Chicagoans and tourists can find the gift cards scattered around the city.
It the newest initiative from Mayor Lori Lightfoot aimed at encouraging people to get back out to local businesses this summer.
“These are going to be at businesses and locations in all of our 77 neighborhoods. If you're the one who walks in and says, ‘Open Chicago,’ you will get this $250 gift card that we'll be hiding today through July 4,” Lightfoot said Friday as she announced the city would reopen.
More on how to find the gift cards hidden around Chicago.
Chicago Giving Away More Than 1K Lolla Passes to Vaccinated Residents
Chicago is set to give out 1,200 single-day Lollapalooza passes to vaccinated residents, the city announced Friday.
As the city entered Phase 5, its final reopening stage, Chicago's health department revealed that anyone who makes an appointment at select vaccination sites on June 26 will be given a single-day pass to the four-day fest set for this summer. There will also be an opportunity for already-vaccinated residents to get a pass, the city said.
“Lollapalooza has called Chicago home for the past 16 years, and we truly love this vibrant city,” Charlie Walker with C3 Presents, said in a statement. “We are pleased to partner with and support the City to encourage vaccinations.”
More on how to get free Lolla passes in Chicago.
Chicago Becomes Largest Big City to Fully Reopen, Mayor Says
Chicago's move into Phase 5 Friday makes it the largest big U.S. city to fully reopen, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.
"Due to the incredible progress we've made in our mission to stop the spread of COVID-19, I am thrilled to announce that we are able to safely transition into Phase 5 and become the first major city in the country to fully reopen," Lightfoot said in a statement. "Our ongoing vaccination efforts, which prioritize equity and inclusion, have made a remarkable difference in our COVID-19 journey and have resulted in the lowest positivity rate since the beginning of the pandemic. This progress, as well as ongoing initiatives such as Open Chicago, have allowed us to safely lift capacity limits and reconnect our residents back to the activities they love the most."
Chicago joined Illinois in entering Phase 5 Friday, the final stage of the state's reopening plan and a full reopening. The phase removed all capacity limits from businesses and large-scale events, signaling that the state is ready to fully reopen for the first time in nearly 15 months.
Phase 5: Everything to Know as Illinois and Chicago Reopen
Illinois fully reopened Friday, entering Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who announced last month that the state was on pace to move into the final phase of its reopening plan, made the official announcement Thursday, citing continuing declines in COVID metrics and increases in vaccinations.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is also set to hold a news conference as the city becomes what she described as the largest big city to full reopen. (Watch live at 9:15 a.m. in the player above)
Still, while the phase does mark a full reopening, not all restrictions have been lifted.
‘You Did it, Illinois:' Pritzker Says State Will Move to Phase 5 Friday, Making Reopening Official
After nearly 15 months, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has confirmed that the state will move into Phase 5 of its coronavirus reopening plan, eliminating all capacity limits for businesses and large-scale events as COVID metrics continue to drop in the state.
Pritzker, who announced last month that the state was on pace to move into the final phase of its reopening plan, made the official announcement Thursday, citing continuing declines in COVID metrics and increases in vaccinations.
“A strong economy requires that people not only feel safe, but truly be safe, as they go about their lives as workers, neighbors, consumers, and friends – and thanks to the lifesaving power of vaccinations, that day is finally here for Illinois,” Pritzker said in a statement.“I invite all Illinoisans to feel the hope and joy of this moment while also recognizing that this pandemic is still very present for the world at large – not to mention those here at home who have not been or cannot be vaccinated. As we take this next step forward, let’s do so with a renewed commitment to empathy, to community, and to making each day together count. You did it, Illinois.”
Under Phase 5 of the state’s reopening plan, all capacity limits on businesses, large-scale events, conventions and amusement parks will be lifted. Professional sports teams, including the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, will be permitted to have full crowds at their games, and a host of other festivals and concerts are now permitted to move forward.
Those capacity restrictions will also be fully lifted for restaurants and other businesses, according to state officials.
Officials: 1.6% of COVID Deaths Have Occurred in Breakthrough Cases in 2021
As Illinois prepares to move into Phase 5 of its coronavirus reopening plan, state health officials say that the number of so-called “breakthrough” COVID hospitalizations and deaths remains low among those who have been fully vaccinated against the virus.
According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, a total of 413 fully vaccinated individuals have been hospitalized because of COVID so far in 2021. Of those patients, 106 died either of COVID or from complications related to the virus.
Those 106 deaths represent 1.63% of the total number of coronavirus deaths that the state has confirmed so far in 2021. According to IDPH data, a total of 6,524 residents have passed away due to COVID so far this year, with 23,014 confirmed deaths during the pandemic.
The CDC defines a breakthrough case of COVID as a case involving a person who tested positive for the virus at least 14 days after becoming fully vaccinated, and hadn’t tested positive in the preceding 45 days.
Cubs to Hold ‘Opening Day 2.0' With Hall of Famers, Bill Murray: Here's What You Need to Know
As the state of Illinois moves into Phase 5 of its coronavirus reopening plan, the Chicago Cubs will celebrate “Opening Day 2.0” this weekend at Wrigley Field, welcoming back fans at 100% capacity and hosting a series of special events throughout their three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Friday’s festivities at the ballpark, which will feature a group of Cubs legends and legendary comedian Bill Murray, will kick off three days of fun at the Friendly Confines, the team announced in a press release.
Arwady ‘Very Confident' Illinois Can Avoid COVID Surge After Moving to Phase 5
While some residents have expressed concerns that rollbacks of coronavirus restrictions could lead to surges in virus cases, Dr. Allison Arwady says that she is “very confident” that case numbers are low enough in the state to prevent a large surge from happening in the early stages of summer.
Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, spoke out about the possibility of a surge Thursday, just one day ahead of the state’s move into Phase 5 of its reopening plan. That phase will remove all capacity limits from businesses and large-scale events, signaling that the state is ready to fully reopen for the first time in nearly 15 months.
“All the modeling looks very good when we look in the short term over the next few weeks,” she said. “So I’m not concerned in the short term about a major spike in COVID.”
Arwady pointed to increases in the number of vaccinated individuals as a key component in the decision to move forward. According to Illinois Department of Public Health data, more than 51% of the state’s adult residents are now fully vaccinated against COVID, with more than 68% having received at least one COVID vaccine dose.
‘These Are False’: Chicago’s Top Doc Debunks Viral Vaccine Magnet Social Media Videos
No, COVID vaccines will not make you magnetic, according to Chicago's top doctor.
Responding to social media videos showing people with keys, quarters or magnets sticking to their vaccinated arms, particularly on TikTok, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said "there is nothing magnetic in the vaccine."
"We've talked about what is in these vaccines, there's really very little," she said during a Facebook Live Thursday. "There's the instructions to teach your immune system how to fight off COVID and then there's a little bit of a fat layer to help make sure that that's protected. There's a little bit of salt and sugar to make sure it's at the right pH and it works with your body, and that is it. So, these are false."
Arwady said the social media challenge started circulating as part of "recent myths" on the Internet related to "misinformation that there is a chip or something that is tracking in some way" inside the vaccines.
Chicago Phase 5: Here's What's Reopening Across the City Starting This Weekend
Chicago will likely start to feel a sense of normalcy again this weekend, as Illinois moves into Phase 5 and fully reopen on Friday.
Check out our complete guide to what's reopening in Chicago this weekend.
15 Cases of COVID-19 Delta Variant Reported in Chicago So Far, Top Doc Says
Chicago has so far reported at least 15 cases of the new Delta variant of coronavirus, the city's top doctor said Thursday, noting, however, that it is not the dominant variant in the city.
Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a Facebook Live that the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, is responsible for a little more than a dozen cases in the city.
Officials at the federal level say they are aiming to get more Americans vaccinated as quickly as possible so the Delta variant can’t gain more of a foothold in the United States.
“In the UK, the Delta variant is rapidly emerging as the dominant variant. It is replacing the B.1.1.7 (strain),” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday. “We cannot let that happen in the United States.”
More on the Delta COVID variant.
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