Note: Press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the video player above.
Chicago's top health official is expected to deliver an update on the city's latest COVID-19 data and emergency order requiring travelers to quarantine.
Her update comes one day after Illinois health officials released a new map for residents highlighting states that pose a "higher risk" of the virus when traveling.
Here are the latest coronavirus headlines from around the state today, Aug. 18:
Archdiocese of Chicago Asks Parents to Sign Waiver Before Sending Child to School
The Archdiocese of Chicago is asking parents to sign a waiver before sending their child to school during the coronavirus pandemic.
Parents reported receiving an "acknowledgement form" stating they understand the risks, will adhere to coronavirus protocols and waive the right to sue the school and the Catholic Bishop of Chicago for "any claims of negligent exposure."
The archdiocese said the document requires parents to "agree to review protocols" put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus, but also acknowledges the risks of sending a child to school as "there was no foolproof measure to prevent the introduction of the virus in our school environment."
As for the waiver of liability, the Archdiocese said it chose to include it "as a way to impress upon parents the importance of our partnership in implementing these protocols to limiting the introduction and spread of disease in our school communities."
"To be very clear, the Office of Catholic Schools informed its school principals that if a family refused to sign the waiver portion of the document that it would not recommend the family not be permitted to return for that reason, provided they accepted the protocols and assumption of risk," the archdiocese said in a statement. "Our schools will work with our families."
Some parents still expressed concern after receiving the letter.
"I understand why they did it, but I would not have felt comfortable signing it," Kelly said.
Attorney Paul Lannon, who specializes in education, said it's unclear if such waivers will hold up in court.
"There is typically some limitations on it," he told NBC 5. "They don't cover intentional or gross negligence, just ordinary negligence."
Despite plans from other area districts, including Chicago Public Schools, to start the year remotely, the Archdiocese of Chicago has continued on its plan to keep children in classrooms.
How Chicago is Preparing for Cold and Flu Season as Pandemic Rages on
Chicago's top health official is urging people not to forget their flu shots during the coronavirus pandemic, but getting the shot might not look the same.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday the city has been preparing for flu season.
"We are using our flu vaccine campaigns to practice, prepare and test some of what we're thinking about for COVID vaccines," she said. "For example, historically, the Chicago Department of Public Health would say come one, come all for flu clinics, open up in aldermen's offices, open up in our van, etc. We are moving to, instead, more controlled settings."
Other examples include having people register in advance and moving to paperless as much as possible.
"It is really important. Flu shots are just becoming available and we need people to get a flu shot," Arwady said. "The last thing we want to see this fall and winter is any amount of COVID, even the amount we have now, on top of our predictable pandemic, which is our flu season every year. Our hospitals get full every winter largely because of flu."
But there could be some good news in store. Arwady said data from the Southern Hemisphere shows we could see a more milder flu season thanks to precautions people are taking with coronavirus.
Still, Arwady stressed that flu and coronavirus are very different and should both be taken seriously.
"The vaccine is so important, especially for younger people and older people," Arwady said. "Different from COVID, flu hits young people very hard."
Here's When Chicago Will Consider Loosening Coronavirus Restrictions
Chicago's top health official said Tuesday that the city won't consider loosening any of its coronavirus restrictions until one metric in particular drops.
That number is the daily average number of new cases, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference, pointing to a metric she has repeatedly referenced throughout the pandemic as the figure that has largely guided health officials in their decision-making process.
As of Tuesday, the city was seeing a rolling average of 307 new cases per day, Arwady said. That number is lower than the roughly 1,000 new cases the city was seeing each day on average at the peak of the pandemic in early May, she said - but still not as low as officials want it to be.
"That's really been fairly consistent over the last week or two," Arwady said. "We've seen that flatten but we've not yet seen the decline that we'd like to see."
Arwady said last month that that number "is the best reflection of the burden of our disease" and that the current daily average puts Chicago in a "high incidence state."
Health officials want that number to drop below 200 to get out of the "high incidence state" and before they will consider loosening any restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the virus, Arwady said.
The city dropped below 200 in June, Arwady said, but surpassed that figure again in July, prompting Chicago officials to shut down indoor service at bars and other establishments that serve alcohol without a food license and to cut the size of parties allowed at restaurants from 10 to six people, among other changes.
When asked about potentially lifting those restrictions, specifically the size of parties at restaurants, Arwady said health officials won't consider it until the city is back under 200 average new cases per day.
"When we think of the number of people who are gathering at an event, particularly if they are gathering in a setting like a restaurant, where you can't wear a mask at least while you're eating and drinking, we really think about what is the risk that someone will have COVID in a group of a given size," Arwady said.
"Even when we were at 200 cases per day on average, there was still, given the number of active cases that means we have in Chicago, about a 15% chance that in a group of 50 people, for example, you would have someone with active COVID who may not know that," she continued.
"We will not be thinking about loosening those restrictions until we get back down under 200 cases," Arwady said. "We get under 200 cases, we move out of a high incidence state, we can then start thinking again about, 'Are there safe ways to further reopen?'"
Arwady added that as long as Chicago continues to see between 200 and 400 new cases per day on average, the city will remain in a "holding pattern."
"I want to able to move ahead as much as everybody else does but until we see some progress there we will not be looking to further expand," she added.
Illinois Reports 1,740 New Cases of Coronavirus, 27 Additional Deaths Tuesday
Health officials in Illinois confirmed 1,740 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, along with 27 additional deaths related to the virus.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Health, the state’s total number of coronavirus cases during the pandemic has now risen to 209,594.
Tuesday's 27 additional deaths bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 7,782 total fatalities.
According to officials, a total of 34,175 new tests were performed over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 3,439,272.
Tuesday's new test results bring the state’s 7-day rolling positivity rate up by one-tenth of a percent, from 4.2% to 4.3%, according to newly available data.
Hospitalization numbers were down slightly on Tuesday, with 1,510 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized in the state. Of those patients, 335 are currently housed in intensive care units, while 128 patients are currently on ventilators.
5 Chicago Restaurants, Bars Temporarily Closed for Weekend Coronavirus Violations
Five Chicago restaurants were temporarily closed for violating the city's phase four guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
The department said it "conducted research into advertised parties" and used a task force with the Department of Buildings, Chicago Fire Department and Chicago police officers to investigate.
According to BACP, the task force conducted 38 investigations over the weekend, eight of which were at residential locations while another five resulted in the temporary closure of five city restaurants.
Barba Yianni in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood was closed and given two citations for operating over capacity indoors, with more than 80 people reported, operating after midnight, social distancing violations and a lack of face coverings, BACP said. The citations could lead to fines of up to $20,000, but the exact amount will be determined when the case is tried at the Department of Administrative Hearings, according to Isaac Reichman with BACP.
The restaurant's owner, Anas Ihmoud, said he is unsure if he will be able to pay the fines, noting that he behind on other payments due to the pandemic. He also said his staff wears masks but declined to comment on the crowd Saturday.
Retro Cafe in the 3200 block of North Central Avenue was cited for operating after midnight, social distancing violations and a lack of face coverings.
The cafe's owner, Matthew Gancarz, argued that he and some tenants who live above the restaurant were outside having drinks due to a power outage at the building, but said the restaurant was closed at the time of the citations.
"I'm very pissed off," Gancarz told NBC 5.
Similarly, Juanita's Restaurant on the Southwest Side was also cited for the same violations.
Estrella Blanca Nightclub in the Kelvin Park neighborhood was cited for allowing people to drink alcohol inside without a food license and a lack of face coverings.
Second Time Around, located in the 8300 block of West Irving Park, was cited for operating after midnight.
The restaurants could not immediately be reached for comment, but BACP reports the closures lasted for one night.
Wisconsin Falls Off Chicago's Quarantine List, But Some States Return
Chicago's travel order was updated once again Tuesday, with Wisconsin falling off the city's quarantine list, but another neighboring state returning.
Wisconsin and Nebraska were both removed from the quarantine list, effective Friday, but Iowa and Kansas have both returned. Arizona and North Carolina were also noted for dropping below the threshold to require a quarantine, but those states will need to stay below the mark for another week in order to be removed from the list.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is expected to deliver an update on the order, along with the city's latest coronavirus data, at noon at City Hall.
As of last week, the list stood at 20 U.S. states and territories. Both Wisconsin and Nebraska were noted for dropping below the threshold required to remain on the list, but they needed a second week of numbers below the mark to be removed from the order.
Navy Pier to Close After Labor Day Due to Coronavirus Pandemic: Report
Navy Pier will reportedly close after Labor Day as the iconic Chicago attraction faces restrictions and budget shortfalls during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Chicago Tribune, pier officials plan to announce Tuesday that the pier will shut down Sept. 8 and won't return until at least the spring.
Last week, officials said Navy Pier was exploring its options, including the potential for closure as the attraction faces a $20 million deficit in its budget due to the coronavirus pandemic, a spokesperson said.
According to Communications Director Payal Patel, no decisions had been made at that time but the pier was "exploring and considering some options at this time to help preserve the long-term vitality of the Pier."
In a statement, Navy Pier said the loss of earnings "has been devastating to the organization's budget," citing the ongoing closure of the pier's iconic Centennial Wheel and other attractions as well as decreased parking revenue, rent relief for tenants and the cancellations of all private events.
The pier was forced to close from March 17 through June 10 "to help curb the COVID-19 pandemic." Since then, it has implemented a phased reopening plan that has seen the return of 15-20% of its typically summer attendance.
"Our hope was that once we reopened, revenues would be restored at a more sustainable level. Unfortunately, that has not been realized," the statement read.
Chicago's Top Health Official to Provide Update on Emergency Travel Order
Chicago's top health official is expected to deliver an update on the city's emergency travel order and the latest COVID-19 data on Tuesday.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is scheduled to hold a news conference at 12 p.m. at City Hall, her office says.
She will provide new information and the updated list of states on the city's travel order that requires a 14-day quarantine for anyone entering the city or returning from more than a dozen states in the U.S.
Her news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
Chicago Bears to Play Games Without Fans to Start 2020 Season
After trying to come to a solution with city officials on allowing a limited number of fans into games this season, the Chicago Bears announced Monday that the team will play games in an empty Soldier Field to begin the year.
The announcement comes as NFL teams continue training camps around the country, albeit with many coronavirus restrictions in place.
The Bears are currently in Lake Forest, but will not play any preseason games due to the NFL's cancellation of the exhibition slate due to the virus. Their first home game is scheduled for Sept. 13 against the New York Giants.
IDPH Launches Travel Map Showing Which States Are 'Higher Risk'
Illinois' public health department on Monday released a new map for residents highlighting which U.S. states are the highest risk for travelers.
The map aims to "help inform residents of potential risks associated with traveling during the pandemic." The states and countries listed as "higher risk" are based on case rates, according to IDPH.
Locations with an average daily case rate of 15 or more cases per 100,000 residents are marked as an increased risk. As of Monday, U.S. states included Idaho, Nevada, North Dakota, California, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Globally, only the U.S., Brazil, the Bahamas, Israel, Kuwait, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Suriname were listed.
“Travel may increase the chance of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “To help inform residents where they might be at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19 when they travel, IDPH has launched a map that clearly shows states and other countries where case rates are elevated. While staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, we know that it may not be possible to avoid all travel. We encourage people who are traveling, whether for work or otherwise, to check out the map before making plans.”
IDPH emphasized that airports, bus stations, train stations, and rest stops are among places where people may be exposed to the virus in the air and on surfaces.
"The more people you come into contact with, for longer periods of time, the greater your risk of infection if you are exposed to someone with COVID-19," IDPH said in a release.
Officials urged anyone who is traveling to avoid traveling while sick and to also "think about the destination."
"It is also important to think about needed precautions for moving through bus, train, or airport terminals, check-in and security lines, as well as the actual bus, train, or plane ride," the release stated. "Remember to take precautions when stopping for gas, food, and bathroom breaks when traveling by car or RV and as you interact with others and frequently touched surfaces."
The criteria for "higher risk" states mirrors Chicago's and Cook County's current travel order, which requires anyone entering or returning to the city or county from such states to quarantine for 14 days.
Coronavirus Mitigation Restrictions Go Into Effect in Region 4
The Illinois Department of Public Health has announced a series of new mitigation efforts and restrictions in southern Illinois due to ongoing increases in the coronavirus positivity rate in one of the state’s healthcare regions.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the new mitigation efforts go into effect for Region 4 on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Region 4 includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.
For the three days in a row before the mitigations were announced, the region reported consecutive days of positivity rates above 8%, automatically triggering the new restrictions under the state’s regional mitigation plan announced last month.
Those new restrictions include the closing of bars, restaurants and casinos in the region by 11 p.m., the closing of all party buses and the reduction of gathering sizes to 25 people or 25 percent of room capacity, whichever is lower.
The new restrictions will remain in effect for 14 days, and if numbers don’t begin to improve, more measures, including the closing of indoor bars and dining, could be implemented.
The region, adjacent to St. Louis, has frequently been mentioned by Pritzker in press conferences as one of the areas of the state where the positivity rate has been climbing in recent weeks.
Increasing positivity rate is one of the numbers that can automatically trigger additional restrictions, along with increasing hospital admissions, ICU availability and medical bed availability.
Illinois Reports 1,773 New Cases of Coronavirus, 12 Additional Deaths Monday
Health officials in Illinois confirmed 1,773 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 12 additional deaths related to the virus.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Health, the state’s total number of coronavirus cases during the pandemic has now risen to 207,854.
Monday's 12 additional deaths bring the state’s death toll from the virus to 7,756 total fatalities.
According to officials, a total of 38,246 new tests were performed over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 3,405,097.
Monday's new test results bring the state’s 7-day rolling positivity rate up by one-tenth of a percent, from 4.1% to 4.2%, according to newly available data.
Hospitalization numbers were down slightly on Monday, with 1,544 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized in the state. Of those patients, 340 are currently housed in intensive care units, while 126 patients are currently on ventilators.
See How Illinois' Coronavirus Regions and Counties Compare in 7 Key Metrics
How do each of Illinois' 11 regions and several counties across the Chicago area compare when it comes to key coronavirus metrics?
Dive into the most important data with this searchable tool that shows some of the numbers health experts examine when making decisions about potential restrictions and other efforts to slow the pandemic's spread.
Updated every evening, this chart shows the number of cases each county or region has reported in the last seven days and its total number of cases since the pandemic began.
The chart also shows each area's current positivity rate in testing, as well as two important figures adjusted for population: the total number of cases per 100,000 people, as well as the rolling average daily new case count per 100,000 people over the previous seven days.
Public health experts say that latter figure is considered the norm to examine any trendline and could signal a "hot spot" for spread of the virus. It's also the threshold that some local and state officials are using to determine which states should be placed on any list for which travelers are required to quarantine when entering their jurisdiction.
This chart also shows the metrics for three states overall - Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin - at the top to allow for easy analysis of how a particular region or county is faring in comparison with the rest of the state.
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