coronavirus illinois

Watch Live: Pritzker, Lightfoot to Update on Chicago's Reopening Efforts

Note: The news conference can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 9 a.m.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot are expected to give an update on the city's reopening efforts Tuesday.

Pritzker and Lightfoot will give the update at 9 a.m. at Chicago's McCormick Place, according to their public schedules. Details of what the update may include were not immediately available. The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.

The update comes days after Chicago announced changes to its reopening plan, increasing capacity limits and allowing for a return of fans to the United Center and more as the city's COVID metrics improve and vaccinations increase.

Lightfoot announced the following changes on Thursday, which took effect immediately:

  • 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.

Chicago officials also announced last week that if the city's reopening metrics  "remain stable or continue to decrease for the next two weeks" and the city reaches criteria set by the state, Chicago will join Illinois in moving to the state's new Bridge Phase.

The Bridge Phase, unveiled in March, would 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.

In order for Illinois to advance to the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.

While the state has since reached the vaccination metrics required to advance from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prevented the state from moving into the new phase.

Pritzker said Monday that the state could move to the Bridge Phase potentially as early as next week.

During a news conference, Pritzker said the state is in “decent shape” when it comes to hospitalization metrics, and that vaccination numbers are well within the range of being able to move the state forward into the Bridge Phase.  

“If you look at all the hospital admissions data, it looks like we’re in decent shape and moving toward the Bridge Phase,” he said. “I believe that it may be next week.”

But a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Public Health said Monday that it is “difficult to estimate” when the state will move forward to the Bridge Phase, and that there are still several metrics that officials are watching.

“Right now the metric that is holding the state back is the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19,” Melaney Arnold said in a statement. “We have seen several days where the number of people in hospitals has decreased, indicating that we could move to the Bridge Phase, but it’s still a fluid situation.”

Arnold says that the state is also closely monitoring the mortality rate among COVID-19 patients, with a recent increase in deaths giving state health officials some cause for concern.

“We know that hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators, and are likely a reflection of the recent increases in cases,” Arnold said.

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