Mayor Lori Lightfoot's new plan to reopen Chicago amid the coronavirus pandemic details five phases of reopening based on guidance from epidemiologists determining when the city can move from one phase to the next.
Missing from that plan, unveiled Friday, are specific or estimated dates related to each phase, making it initially unclear when certain phases might begin.
How will Chicago know when it's ready to move to the next phases?
Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health said it's all based on epidemiological criteria "rooted in public health guidance" that will be "reviewed and revisited on an ongoing basis."
"Health-based metrics are one of the many considerations that the City is weighing to determine the details of the City’s reopening approach and sequencing," Lightfoot's team said in a statement. "Foremost, Chicago is monitoring answers to these four questions in order to help determine when and how the transition between phases takes place."
- Is the rate of disease spread across the city and surrounding counties decreasing?
- Does the city have the testing and contact-tracing capacity to track the disease and limit spread?
- Are there enough support systems in place for vulnerable residents?
- Can the healthcare system handle a potential future surge (including beds, ventilators and PPE)?
“While our goal is to get as many people back to work as quickly and safely as possible, we will keep data and science as the north stars of this work, as we have throughout the COVID19 pandemic,” said Dr. Allison Arwady, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health. “We also recognize that some populations and families are suffering more than others in this crisis, and we are taking that into consideration as we prepare for reopening as well.”
A set of epidemiological factors were made, Arwady said, to guide Chicago's transition from Phase Two's stay-at-home category, in which Chicago remains, and Phase Three, titled Cautiously Reopen.
Those factors include:
• COVID-19 Case Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
-Declining rate of new cases, based on incidence and/or percent positivity
• Severe Outcome Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
-Stable or declining rates of cases resulting in hospitalization, ICU admission, and/or death
• Hospital Capacity Citywide (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
-Hospital beds: <1800 COVID patients o ICU beds: <600 COVID patients o Ventilators: <450 COVID patients
• Testing Capacity: o Test at least 5% of Chicago residents per month
• Testing Percent Positivity Rates (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
-Congregate: <30% positive tests o Community: <15% positive tests • Syndromic Surveillance (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
-Declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and/or COVID-like illness
• Case Investigation & Contact Tracing:
-Expanded system in place for congregate and community investigations and contact tracing
"The specific health criteria for transition between the latter phases will be established and released over the coming weeks," Lightfoot's office said in a statement, "to ensure the City is open and responsive to new data and information as it arises."
Besides health-based metrics, Lightfoot also is determining "the appropriate sequencing of reopening businesses and public services – taking into consideration both economic enablers such as transportation and childcare concerns, as well as keeping an eye towards economically disadvantaged populations."