Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce a new coronavirus reopening plan for Illinois this week.
And when might Illinois expand vaccine eligibility to Phase 1C of its rollout?
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across Illinois today:
Chicago Will Enter Phase 1C of Vaccinations on March 29, Top Doc Says
Get Chicago local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Chicago newsletters.
Chicago is expected to move ahead to its next phase of coronavirus vaccinations, Phase 1C, at the end of the month, the city's top doctor said Tuesday.
The city is slated to move to Phase 1C, which opens up eligibility to people with certain underlying health conditions and other essential workers not already eligible under Phase 1B, on March 29, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said.
"We are intending March 29 to move ahead with 1C, which means moving ahead to the people who have the list of the underlying conditions as well, to be clear, as the frontline workers who are unable to work from home," Arwady said during a Facebook Live Tuesday.
"So I feel pretty strongly about making sure that people who are working in restaurants and people who are, you know, clergy and people who are working in, you know, doing your hair and the nails, people who have trouble keeping the distance, who can't work from home... We want to make sure that they have the opportunity to get vaccinated. We have plans to be vaccinating particularly in some of the settings that may have a lot of lower wage workers, that may have more difficulty accessing vaccine, and so we are planning to move ahead."
An announcement with more information surrounding the move to the next phase is expected on Wednesday, Arwady said.
Coronavirus in Illinois: 1,997 New COVID Cases, 19 Deaths, 78K Vaccinations Reported
Health officials in Illinois on Tuesday reported nearly 2,000 new coronavirus cases and 19 additional deaths, along with more than 72,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours that lifted the seven-day average to its highest number to date.
According to figures from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 1,997 new confirmed and probable COVID cases reported in the last day brought the state’s total to 1,212,110 cases since the pandemic began last year.
The 19 new deaths lifted the state's death toll to 20,973 fatalities related to the virus, according to health officials.
In the last 24 hours, state health officials say 51,240 new test specimens were returned to state laboratories, bringing the statewide total to 19,221,483 tests performed. According to health officials, the seven-day positivity rate on all tests currently stands at 2.3%, while the positivity rate for individuals tested is at 2.6%.
As of Monday evening, 1,152 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 250 were in ICU beds, and 124 were on ventilators.
A total of 78,287 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the past 24 hours, IDPH said, bringing the rolling seven-day average for daily vaccinations to 102,564, the highest it's been since vaccinations began in December. In all, Illinois has received 5,397,125 doses of the vaccine and of those, a total of 4,181,097 have been administered in the state.
Cubs Announce 2021 Dates for Wrigley Field Concerts Postponed Due to COVID
The Chicago Cubs have announced rescheduled dates for most of last summer's concerts at Wrigley Field that were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The artists now slated to play the Friendly Confines this year after canceling last year's shows include Chris Stapleton, Guns N' Roses, Lady Gaga, Maroon 5 and more.
The dates for each show are now listed on the Cubs' concert website as follows:
- Chris Stapleton: July 17 (originally scheduled for Aug. 29, 2020)
- Guns N' Roses: July 21 (originally scheduled for July 26, 2020)
- The Hella Mega Tour with Green Day, Fall Out Boy and Weezer: Aug. 15 (originally scheduled for Aug. 13, 2020)
- Lady Gaga: Aug. 27 (originally scheduled for Aug. 14, 2020)
- Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe: Aug. 29 (originally scheduled for Aug. 28, 2020)
- Maroon 5: Aug. 30 (originally scheduled for June 13, 2020)
Ravinia Festival to Reopen in July For Summer Concerts
The Ravinia Festival will reopen in July for an in-person 2021 summer season, offering "its signature mix of classical, popular and chamber music" concerts, Ravinia organizers announced Tuesday.
While the full concert lineup will be announced in late April, organizers confirmed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra will return in July for a six-week summer residency.
"Ravinia believes that music and the arts are an essential part of the personal, artistic, and economic recovery from this past year," Ravinia President and CEO Jeff Haydon said in a statement. "Our 36 acres of outdoor space provide the perfect setting for a healthy and inspiring experience for all of our guests."
Gov. Pritzker Expected to Reveal New Phased Reopening Plan This Week
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce a new coronavirus reopening plan for Illinois this week that could lay out new guidelines for the state as cases and deaths continue to fall.
Currently, Illinois is under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan the governor announced early in the pandemic last year. Next up would be Phase 5, which marks a full reopening, but requires a widely available vaccine or highly effective treatment for coronavirus.
But in a state Senate health committee meeting Monday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said a new reopening plan could be announced "later this week."
According to the Chicago Tribune, Ezike said "there may be one more phase" between Phase 4 and Phase 5. Few details have been revealed, but one thing is certain: masks will continue to be mandated in the state, she said, adding that "masks have to continue to be a mainstay.”
A spokesperson for the governor confirmed Pritzker has been in "discussions with industry and health experts."
Read more here.
Phase 1C in Illinois? Pritzker Says Vaccine Eligibility Will Expand, But Gives No Timeline
When might Illinois expand vaccine eligibility to Phase 1C of its rollout?
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said while he anticipates opening up vaccine eligibility - particularly in the months ahead to meet President Joe Biden's deadline of having all adults eligible by May 1 - the exact timing of Illinois' expansion isn't clear.
"No announcements yet about what 1C would look like, I just think that people should start to think very much about you know the fact that we're going to open this up to everybody relatively sooner than I think people expected," Pritzker said during the interview Monday. "Certainly by May 1 and we'll do it sooner than that I believe in the state of Illinois."
Read more here.
COVID Travel: 7 Domestic Airlines Reveal Their Voucher, Ticket Expiration Deadlines
A year ago, as coronavirus outbreaks multiplied, borders quickly closed, bringing both cruising and air travel to a halt. But that’s when the real journey began for so many would-be travelers.
“In retrospect, if I had gone, there was a very likely chance I would have been stuck in Italy and not been able to come back as things started to lock down so fast,” Chicagoan Merle Ward told NBC 5 Responds.
Ward was scheduled to depart for Italy on Feb. 26, 2020, and canceled her vacation just hours before her flight. Now a year later, she is still unable to reschedule and her airline voucher has since expired.
Find the complete story here.
Only 1 Chicago Business Cited For COVID Regulations Amid St. Patrick's Day Celebrations
Only one Chicago business was cited for not complying with coronavirus regulations amid St. Patrick's Day celebrations this weekend, officials said.
Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection said they found a "high level of compliance" at bars and restaurants Saturday while people were partaking in St. Patrick's Day celebrations throughout the city.
BACP officials conducted 40 full investigations and observed 49 additional businesses, according to a release, citing just one establishment for violating COVID-19 regulations.
Clutch Bar, located at 316-318 W. Erie St., was issued two citations for operating over capacity with 60 customers in a space allotted for 50 people, for allowing more than six people at a table and for having the tables closer than six feet apart, according to a release.
BACP noted that investigations and observations were held throughout the city, including in River North and Wrigleyville, on Saturday.
Read more here.
These Are the COVID Vaccination Sites Opening in the Chicago Area This Week
With more coronavirus vaccines arriving in the Chicago area, health departments announced new vaccination clinics will open this week.
Here's a list of the vaccination sites opening this week and the next:
- Shaumburg Convention Center vaccination event
- Northern Illinois University arena
- Aurora one-day vaccination site
- St. Rose Church in Wilmington
For more information on the sites and eligibility, click here.
Note: For COVID-19, the herd-immunity threshold is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent. Our analysis considers herd immunity reached at 75% of the population fully vaccinated based on estimates by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
COVID Vaccine Appointments at United Center Open to 4 Additional Chicago ZIP Codes
Four more Chicago ZIP codes can schedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center vaccination site, city officials announced Saturday.
According to the mayor's office, the new ZIP codes are on Chicago's South and West Sides in an effort to increase vaccinations in neighborhood with a "high COVID-19 burden."
Here are the ZIP codes that can book COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the United Center:
Since limiting vaccination appointments to select ZIP codes, 75% of appointments scheduled at the United Center have gone to Black, Latinx and Asian residents, according to officials.
Read more here.
What the $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill Does for Americans, Illinoisans
After the bill was passed by both houses of Congress this week, President Joe Biden signed the $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” legislation into law Thursday, paving the way for millions of Americans to receive stimulus checks and a host of other relief in the coming days and weeks.
As the ink on Biden’s signature dries, click here for five things you need to know about the legislation.
These Are the 22 Mass COVID Vaccination Sites in Illinois
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said on multiple occasions that shipments of COVID-19 vaccines are "set to soar" in the coming days, but for those who qualify, where can you get an appointment?
There are currently 21 state-supported mass vaccination sites across Illinois, plus a site at the United Center run in partnership with the federal government under a new pilot program.
For a look at all locations, click here.