Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot or other officials will be streamed in the video player above.
All of Illinois is now under Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations imposed by the state beginning Friday.
Meanwhile, Illinois' top public health official says getting a negative coronavirus test doesn't mean it's OK to gather for Thanksgiving.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today (Nov. 20):
Illinois Reports 13,012 New Coronavirus Cases, 126 Additional Deaths Friday
Illinois health officials reported 13,012 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Friday and 126 additional deaths as the statewide positivity rate dropped, but hospitalizations continued to rise.
The newly reported figures brought the total number of cases in the state to 634,395 since the pandemic began and lifted the death toll to 11,304, IDPH said.
A total of 116,024 new tests were performed over the last 24 hours, according to state health officials. In all, 9,588,698 tests have been performed during the pandemic.
The state’s rolling seven-day average positivity rate dropped down to 11.5% after rising up to 12% one day earlier.
The positivity rate was 11.9% on Wednesday and 12.5% on Tuesday and Monday, which was down from 12.8% on Sunday.
Still, the state saw its hospitalization numbers increase again Friday, with 6,111 residents currently in hospitals due to coronavirus-like illnesses, an increase of more than 70 patients in the last 24 hours. Of those patients, 1,196 are currently in intensive care units, and 604 are on ventilators.
Crowds Seen at O'Hare as Travelers Depart Chicago Ahead of Thanksgiving Holiday
Large crowds and long lines were seen at O'Hare International Airport Friday as travelers prepared to depart Chicago ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Photos showed people lined up in terminals, many within 6 feet with little social distancing in effect.
According to the airport's website, face coverings are required inside the airport and, "when possible, travelers should maintain 6 feet or 2 meters distance between individuals." The Chicago Department of Aviation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the crowds.
"The safety, security, and well-being of the traveling public is our highest priority, and CDA works closely with our airport and public health partners to ensure the safest possible environment," the Chicago Department of Aviation said in a statement Friday. "This means, among other things, masks are required to be worn at the airport, social distancing is encouraged via floor decals and other signage, and the most up-to-date public health guidance is communicated regularly through a variety of channels."
In addition, the department said it worked with TSA and airlines operating out of the airport to "ensure consistency throughout the terminals." There are also volunteer "ambassadors" moving through terminals, distributing masks and encouraging social distancing, officials said.
"We will continue these efforts, but we would also like to remind travelers of their responsibility to follow public health guidance, including wearing a mask and maintaining appropriate social distance," CDA's statement read. "We all have a role to play."
The lines and crowds come one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance urging Americans not to travel for the holiday.
CTA Holiday Train, Bus Schedule Released - With One Major Change for 2020
The Chicago Transit Authority's popular holiday train and bus will still run this year, but there will be one major difference: riders can't get on them.
There will still be a special train and bus featuring Santa and his elves, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the transit agency said this year's routes will be "socially distant."
“Each year, customers of all ages look forward to the arrival of the CTA Holiday Train and Bus,” CTA President Dorval R. Carter, Jr. said in a statement. “Because our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of our customers and employees, we wanted to find a way to spread holiday cheer across the city, but do so responsibly. Though customers won’t be able to get on board, we know that seeing the CTA Holiday Train and Bus in neighborhoods throughout the city will bring much-needed smiles, joy and hope for everyone.”
This year's holiday train is set to begin on Nov. 27 and appear on all train lines. It will feature six cars decorated with holiday scenes, thousands of sparkling lights and bright signs. Santa and his reindeer will ride outside of the train.
The holiday bus is scheduled to begin on Dec. 1, bringing "Ralphie the Reindeer" and his bright green nose to several city neighborhoods. The bus will also feature hundreds of twinkling lights and Santa will appear through the roof.
Tier 3 Coronavirus Restrictions Take Effect Across Illinois
All of Illinois is now under Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations imposed by the state beginning Friday.
The new restrictions, announced by Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tuesday, will force the closures of several businesses and spaces, including casinos and museums, among others. There will also be new limitations for non-essential businesses like gyms, salons, and more.
Here's a complete look at the new restrictions for each industry, how long they will last and what it will take to lift them.
Bars and Restaurants:
• All bars and restaurants close at 11pm and may reopen no earlier than 6am the following day
• No indoor service
• All bar and restaurant patrons should be seated at tables outside
• No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
• Tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• No dancing or standing indoors
• No tables exceeding 6 people
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table
• Indoor gaming terminals must suspend operations
• Includes private clubs and country clubs
Health and Fitness Centers:
• Operate at no more than 25% capacity
• No indoor group classes
• Face coverings must be worn at all times, including while engaged in individual exercise regardless of person or machine spacing
• Reservations required
• Locker room areas should be closed
• Hotel room occupancy should be limited to registered guests only, with the maximum allowance being the number of individuals permissible per existing fire code for each applicable guest room
• Fitness centers should be closed, or operated only on a reservation model with capacity limited to 25% of the maximum occupancy for the room
• Grab and go food allowed
• Event and meeting space closed
Indoor Recreation, Theaters, Cultural Institutions:
• Gaming and casinos close
• Indoor recreation centers, including theaters, performing arts centers and indoor museums and amusement centers, close
• Live streaming of performances encouraged with social distancing of performers and minimum operational staff
• Outdoor activities allowed at 25% capacity or less
• Outdoor group activities limited to 10 persons or less, participants/guests must wear face coverings at all times
• Reservations required for each guest for outdoor activities
• Additional COVID training for all employees required even if previous training occurred
• Operators should coordinate with IDPH to implement testing protocols and contact tracing, upon request, consistent with available testing supplies
• All employees must wear face coverings at all times unless eating or drinking. Exemptions only for safety purposes.
• Only manufacturing staff and key personnel allowed in facilities. Non-production employees must work remotely. Non-essential staff and visitors are not permitted. Exemptions only for critical equipment repairs, supply deliveries and safety reasons (“critical visitors”).
• All critical visitors must have an Employee Health and Safety (EHS)-approved risk-assessment done in advance, including travel history, tracking, and temperature check prior to entrance.
• Implement additional workstation realignment when feasible
• Stagger and space shifts, and designate shift entrances and exits (when possible) to minimize interactions of employees across unique shift groupings
• Station sanitation required at beginning and ending of shifts
• Operators must suspend COVID-related incentive pay and promote staying home when sick or showing symptoms
• Implement temporary leave policies to accommodate workers who are sick
• Develop and implement safety protocols for employee travel vans to promote spacing, require face coverings, temperature checks, air circulation, and vehicle sanitization
Meetings, Social Events and Gatherings:
• Limit in home gatherings to household members
• Meeting rooms, banquet centers, private party rooms, private clubs and country clubs may not host gatherings
• No party buses
• Funerals are limited to 10 family members of the decedents, not including staff, see IDPH guidance
-All employees who can work remotely should do so.
Organized Group Recreational Activities:
• Pause all indoor group sporting and recreational activities including youth and adult recreational sports, individual training may remain (with facility reservation)
• Includes park districts and travel leagues • Outdoor sports and recreation allowed
• Participant groups and practices outdoors limited to 10 persons or less with social distancing
• Face coverings required for all activities at all times
• Locker rooms should be closed
Personal Care Services (Including Hair Salons, Massage Facilities, Nail Care Facilities):
• Operate at lesser of 25 clients or 25% capacity
• Face coverings must be worn at all times by clients and service providers
• Suspend services where a face covering cannot be worn (e.g. facials, beard trims)
• Physical, occupational and massage therapy allowed as deemed necessary by a medical provider, but appointments must be spaced by a minimum of 15 minutes and facilities should take steps to sanitize and circulate clean air through service rooms before and after each service
• Virtual consultations recommended
• Operate at no more than 25% capacity, including general merchandise stores, "big box" stores that offer groceries and pharmacy, and convenience stores
• Grocery stores and pharmacies may operate at up to 50% capacity
• Encourage delivery or curbside pickup options wherever possible
• When in-store shopping is necessary, promote efficient trips and consistent circulation
According to the governor's office, grocery stores across the state will remain open and available, child care facilities can continue to operate, and school districts and officials "should continue to follow the extensive guidance released by the Illinois State Board of Education in August to make decisions related to in-person and remote learning at the local level."
How long will Tier 3 last?
The state's health department said officials will track metrics over the next 14 days to determine "if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place."
In order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, it must see a seven-day test positivity average below 12% for three consecutive days, more than 20% availability for intensive care units and hospital beds for three consecutive days, and a decline in seven-day hospitalization average for at least seven days.
“There is no denying that the state is headed in the wrong direction with increased cases, hospitalizations, and deaths,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “There also is no denying that reducing the opportunities for the virus to spread can reverse our direction. This includes staying home as much as possible, wearing a mask and keeping social distance when we do have to go out, and not gathering with people outside our households. Until a vaccine is widely available and people understand the importance of being vaccinated, we must continue to take preventive actions to stop the transmission of the virus. Right now, our preventive actions are the best way to prevent new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths."
While the latest round of mitigations does not include a stay-at-home order, Pritzker warned that another order may be required.
"If these numbers don't start to curb, if they don't start to bend this curve, then it is clear that we're going to have to take more difficult measures and go to a stay-at-home order," Pritzker said in announcing the new statewide restrictions.
The governor has also previously hinted at the possibility of another statewide stay-at-home order.
Illinois' Top Doctor Says a Negative COVID Test is Not a 'Free Pass' for Thanksgiving
Getting a negative coronavirus test doesn't mean it's OK to gather for Thanksgiving, Illinois' top doctor warned Thursday, one week before the holiday.
"Just remember a negative test does not get you a free pass to celebrate Thanksgiving in person," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said. "The safest way to celebrate with your loved ones and your cherished elderly relatives is to do it virtually."
Ezike noted that exposure could lead to a positive test any time within 14 days of that exposure.
"That only works if you haven't exposed yourself to anyone in the 14 days from when you got tested to when you meet up with your friends and family," she said. "When you are around other people you could be exposed to the virus at any time."
Her comments mark the latest warning from Illinois officials surrounding the holiday, and come just hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving.
Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's COVID-19 incident manager, said the CDC is "alarmed," adding that the country has seen an "exponential increase" in cases, hospitalizations and deaths recently.
"One of our concerns is that as people over the holiday season get together, they may actually be bringing infections with them to that small gathering and not even know it," he said.
Roughly 30% to 40% of Covid-19's spread is driven by people without symptoms, he said.
"From an individual household level, what's at stake is basically increased chance of one of your loved ones becoming sick and then hospitalized and dying," Walke said. "We certainly don't want to see that happen. These times are tough. It's been a long outbreak."
Illinois hospitals are preparing for the potential that Thanksgiving and Christmas could lead to increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations as metrics continue to surge leading up to the holidays.
Read more here.
Pritzker Says State Seeing 'Hint of Leveling' But Too Early to Tell With Hospitalizations Rising
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that while Illinois continues to see "concerning trends" in hospitalizations, some regions have seen a "hint of leveling" when it comes to new cases and positivity rates in recent days - but "there is no celebrating here."
"It’s too early, at this point, to determine if this stabilizing of the average is a meaningful trend or an anomaly, but we’re glad to at least have a pause in our upward movement," Pritzker said during his daily coronavirus update Thursday.
Still, he said, the statewide numbers remain "extraordinarily high."
"That doesn’t mean, of course, that our work to slow the spread is any less
important – these numbers are still extraordinarily high, and today’s new
cases won’t show up in our hospitalization data, which are still trending
poorly, for a number of days, maybe even a week or more," Pritzker said. "Let’s take these next few weeks and really commit to making a change – for our healthcare workers, for our neighbors, for ourselves and our families."
Pritzker's comments come one day before the state enters heighted Tier 3 mitigations.
The governor said state officials will watch the numbers for at least two weeks, or one "incubation period," after the mitigations take effect, noting that two incubation periods will likely be necessary. If the numbers don't decline, added measures could be taken, he warned.
Pritzker Urges Illinoisans to Donate Blood to Help Hospitals During Pandemic
As hospitalizations increase due to the coronavirus pandemic, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker urged blood donations Thursday to assist healthcare centers amid an escalated need.
Pritzker said a way to further assist hospitals during the second coronavirus wave is to donate blood, as less people have been giving during the pandemic.
"Fewer people than usual are giving blood during the pandemic, yet there
are still patients in need of transfusions, including those who need surgery,
are undergoing cancer treatments, have chronic conditions such as sickle
cell or for those who experience accidents or trauma," Pritzker said.
Blood collection is traditionally low during the holidays, but the added pandemic has only lessened the number of people donating, the governor said.
To find a location to donate blood, click here to visit the American Red Cross website and enter your zipcode under "Find a Drive."
Archdiocese of Chicago Issues Updated Guidance to Ensure Safety Amid Surge in Coronavirus Cases
As Illinois prepares to enter Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations on Friday, the Archdiocese of Chicago has announced several changes to protocols to ensure safety during church services across the state.
Starting Friday, all of Illinois will be under Tier 3 coronavirus mitigations imposed by the state and based on Illinois gov. J.B. Pritzker’s recent advisory, the Archdiocesan Task Force issued an update on protocols to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are confident that our protocols continue to work in safeguarding the health of clergy, staff and parishioners, while mitigating any spread of infection in our churches,” Bishop Robert Casey, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago, said in a statement.
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