(NOTE: Daily press conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed live in the player above. Check back for updates.)
The city of Chicago is ramping up its enforcement of phase four guidelines this weekend to ensure that bars and restaurants are following public health regulations.
This comes as public health experts share their answers to big questions about outdoor dining: Is it safe? How can you protect yourself? And will they be eating inside a restaurant any time soon?
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (July 2):
Chicago Issues Travel Order, Requiring Anyone Traveling to, From These 15 States to Quarantine
Chicago issued an emergency travel order Thursday directing anyone who visits one of 15 states in the U.S. currently experiencing a rise in coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said travelers entering or returning to Chicago from "states experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases" will need to quarantine "for a 14-day period from the time of last contact within the identified state."
The order is set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday and remain in effect until further notice.
States included in the order are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.
Illinois Reports 869 New Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus, 36 Additional Deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 869 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, along with 36 additional deaths.
According to state officials, 144,882 cases of the virus have now been confirmed across the state, with a total of 6,987 fatalities confirmed during the ongoing pandemic.
As of Thursday, 30,262 coronavirus tests returned to state labs in Illinois. That brings the state’s total to 1,666,317 since the pandemic began.
New Study Sheds Light on Mystery Disease Affecting Kids
A study published this week in the New England of Journal of Medicine followed 186 children who developed Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) in 26 states. The young patients developed severe inflammation in multiple organs, including the heart, weeks after having COVID-19, researchers found. A positive diagnosis was confirmed through a test for coronavirus or its antibodies.
“The vast majority of these children are not identified as having COVID-19 before they come in with the inflammatory syndrome,” said Dr. Anne Rowley, an infectious disease physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital. “It’s still unclear though, whether the virus might still be in their body or whether it has gone away and now it's just the immune system responding.”
What Could Happen If Illinois Sees Spike in Coronavirus Cases Like Other US States?
Illinois is still operating under its phase four guidelines, but with other states backtracking on their reopening plans and some instituting travel restrictions or heightened closures to prevent new spikes, could the state see changes ahead?
In the Midwest alone, Indiana postponed its move to phase five, instead opting to shift into what it called "phase 4.5." Public health officials also closed indoor service at bars in Madison, Wisconsin, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday said she was closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including a city with a bar that has been linked to a rising number of infections.
New cases have surged in several states across the nation, setting new records almost daily, driven mostly by expanding outbreaks in the American South and West. Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are just some of the states that reported record-high counts of daily new cases last week.
California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again across most of the state Wednesday. Counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large July Fourth crowds that could spread the virus.
Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants as they watched the crisis unfold from afar.
So what is Illinois' plan going forward?
"I'm not afraid to protect the people of Illinois by moving a region back to an earlier phase," he said last week. "If we see a surge ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to a return to the peak."
In Chicago, the city has implemented a system to determine if the reopening should stall or possibly even move backwards. As long as metrics continue to be met, or stay "green," cautious reopening plans can advance. If some metrics are not being met, or become "yellow," the city will "pause and monitor."
But if the city's progress turns "red," plans will stop and some restrictions may be reinstated.
The city has announced new plans to strictly enforce phase four guidelines at businesses heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
"If we get into trouble, we'll take steps backwards," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday.
In Illinois, a new county map was launched to give areas a look at which locations are most at-risk.
As of last week, only one county was in a "warning" stage.
Pritzker has said guidance from health officials and scientists has not yet indicated the state should require people from "hotspot" states to quarantine, as states like New York and New Jersey are doing.
"That's not something that we are looking at implementing right now," he said last Wednesday. "Going forward, if we got the advice to do it we might."
Lightfoot Issues Warning to Restaurants, Bars That Saw Crowds, Lines Last Weekend
With Chicago bracing for gatherings over the Fourth of July holiday weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot issued a warning to restaurants and bars that allowed massive crowds of people and long lines on the first weekend of indoor dining.
"We simply cannot have any large gatherings like we saw last weekend," Lightfoot said, calling the crowds and lines "foolish."
Lightfoot said it is a "make or break" weekend for restaurants and bars as the city has already said it will begin ramping up enforcement on phase four guidelines starting Thursday.
"I don't want to shut you down, but if you make me, I will," she said.
As states across the U.S. see surges of coronavirus cases, many have shut down bars and restaurants in an effort to quell or prevent a spike.
Chicago to Ramp Up Enforcement of Phase 4 Guidelines
Chicago will begin ramping up enforcement of phase four guidelines Thursday as the city braces for the holiday weekend.
According to the mayor's office, citations and fines will begin, particularly for bars and restaurants, to ensure they are "following the public health guidelines for phase four during the Fourth of July holiday weekend."
The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection will issue citations with fines of up to $10,000 for social distancing, capacity limit and face covering violations, the mayor's office said. In addition, investigators can now immediately close a business "in cases of egregious violation."
Under the guidelines, bars and restaurants can seat a max of 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is fewer, and must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m. They are also required to manage lines outside of their business.
Since Chicago began phase three on June 3, the BACP said it has received at total of 764 complaints related to reopening. At least 377 investigations have been conducted and 59 warnings or "notices to correct" were issued, along with citations for nine businesses.
The city urged members of the public to submit complaints regarding social distancing violations to 311.
Lightfoot to Detail Weekend Safety Plan
Mayor Lori Lightfoot is expected Thursday to detail Chicago's safety plan ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend as the city continues to grapple with a spike in gun violence.
Lightfoot is scheduled to announce public safety efforts at a news conference beginning at around 1 p.m. at Ogden Park. She will be joined by Chicago departments, agencies and street outreach partners, her public schedule says.
The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
Is Indoor Dining Safe? Answers From Chicago Health Experts
With many states closing bars and restaurants back down and others declining to open them all together as spikes are reported around the country, questions have surfaced about indoor dining in Illinois.
How big of a risk is it to dine inside a restaurant or bar? We asked infection prevention experts from Northwestern Medicine to weigh in on some questions.
Find their full answers here.
Taste of Chicago Goes Virtual
The Taste of Chicago has been reimagined, transitioning into a virtual showcase and a way to help pay tribute to first responders and community organizations.
The “Taste of Chicago To-Go” event, announced Wednesday, will take place from July 8-12, and instead of vendors selling food items to hungry Chicago visitors, the event will largely be held online.
Free online cooking demonstrations will be given as part of the event, according to a press release, and virtual music and dance events will also be part of the fun.
In addition, a series of “Community Eats” events will take place, with neighborhood restaurants and food trucks providing meals for frontline and healthcare workers and community organizations.
More details can be found here.
Illinois Reports 828 New Confirmed Cases of Coronavirus, 30 Additional Deaths
The Illinois Department of Public Health has confirmed 828 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 30 additional deaths.
According to state officials, 144,013 cases of the virus have now been confirmed across the state, with a total of 6,951 fatalities confirmed during the ongoing pandemic.
Illinois once again set a new high watermark for testing on Wednesday, with 33,090 coronavirus tests returned to state labs. That brings the state’s total to 1,636,055 since the pandemic began.
2 Chicago Restaurants Close After Coronavirus Exposure
Two Chicago restaurants have closed their doors following coronavirus exposure as dining resumed in limited fashion in the city during the pandemic.
Fork in the city's Lincoln Square neighborhood became the latest to shut its doors temporarily, announcing Monday that the restaurant "had exposure to Covid-19."
"The safety of our guests and staff is our top priority so out of an abundance of caution we have temporarily closed and will plan to reopen again on Wednesday, July 8th pending the staffs test results," the eatery wrote on Facebook. "We are taking the necessary steps to be able to reopen including staff testing and conducting a thorough cleaning."
It remains unclear how or when the restaurant became exposed, but the restaurant said it plans to reopen next week.
"We look forward to seeing all your smiling faces again on July 8. Thank you for your patience, support and understanding," the post read.
Last week, Longman and Eagle announced a staff member had tested positive for the virus and the restaurant would be shutting down temporarily.
Illinois Drops to 6th in Nation for Coronavirus Cases
The state of Illinois dropped to sixth in the U.S. for total number of coronavirus cases on Tuesday after states currently seeing a surge in the South and West regions surpassed it.
Illinois reported 724 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total to 143,185 confirmed cases statewide since the pandemic began.
That total number of cases puts Illinois at sixth of the 50 states, dropping from its previously consistent rank in the top three or four states with the most cases as the outbreak surges in other parts of the country.
With roughly 50,000 cases confirmed in the past week alone, Florida reached 158,997 cases Tuesday. That steady climb in recent days put it above Illinois at fifth in the country, and just behind Texas' 159,986 cases as of Tuesday, ranking fourth.
New York, the epicenter of the outbreak in the U.S., still has the most confirmed cases in the nation with 394,079 cases, state health officials say. California reached 222,917 cases Tuesday, putting it above New Jersey, which health officials say ranks third with a total of 171,667 confirmed cases.
More details can be found here.
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