coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Chicago's Reopening Plan, Future of Schools

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today

(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.)

After a delay in the city announcement, Chicagoans are finally set to learn what the city's reopening plan will look like as it continues to battle the largest number of coronavirus cases in Illinois.

Meanwhile, a suburban mayor is speaking out against part of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phased plan to reopen the state, calling it unreasonable.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 8):

Chicago Considers Hiring Workers to Enforce Social Distancing

Chicago Mayor Lightfoot has floated the idea of hiring workers to enforce social distancing as she continues to decide how to safely open the city's lakefront, riverwalk and walking trails amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lightfoot was asked about her plans for reopening the lakefront at a news conference Friday where she announced the city's five phase reopening plan.

The mayor stated that the reopening plan must be "guided by science," and she's considering multiple possibilities, such as a phased reopening and employing the use of "social distancing ambassadors."

Ambassadors have been added in cities like Seattle to remind people about social distancing and to record data on park usage, according to KING-TV, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. In that city, ambassadors have been instructed to close any park where usage is too high or when people are not following social distancing rules.

Mayor Lightfoot Asks Chicago Residents to Fill Out Survey on Reopening

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday asked residents to take a survey to help the city gauge public opinion regarding stay-at-home orders and plans for reopening.

At a news conference, Lightfoot unveiled her plan to reopen the city, which is similar to the roadmap released by Illinois' Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this week.

The Chicago phases include the following: strict stay-at-home, stay-at-home, cautiously reopen, gradually resume and protect.

The "Community Sentiment Survey on Reopening," which Lightfoot highlighted at the news conference, includes questions about social distancing, ways of coping during the pandemic, support services and reopening businesses.

The survey aims to help Chicago "reopen in a way that reflects the lived experience of residents during the crisis," according to a news release from city officials.

2,887 New Coronavirus Cases Lift Illinois Total to 73,760 as State Nears 400K Test

As Illinois prepares to enter its seventh week under a stay-at-home order, state health officials reported 2,887 new coronavirus cases and 130 additional deaths Friday.

The total number of cases reported now sits at 73,760, with 3,241 fatalities.

So far, the state has administered nearly 400,000 tests, with more than 20,000 conducted in the last day.

As of Friday, 4,750 coronavirus patients remained hospitalized, with 25 percent of those in intensive care units and 727 people on ventilators.

Will CPS Schools Return in the Fall? Mayor Lightfoot Says That Is the Goal

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she hopes city schools will be back in session in the fall - even if thing may look a little different than the school students once knew.

Lightfoot said her goal is "to get our kids physically back in school," that the decision will be "guided by the science."

"In Chicago schools are more than just a place of learning," Lightfoot said during a press briefing Friday, where she outlined her plans for reopening the city.

"We need that school structure. It is important to the health and wellbeing of our children," she added. "And yes, we have been doing e-learning but better yet to be close in proximity to your teachers."

Lightfoot's plan, which features five phases, did not specify when schools may reopen, but when asked about alternative options like staggered schedules for students, the mayor said discussions are underway.

"If the public health data tells us we can come together in some altered fashion to be in schools, that is something we should aspire to do," she said.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot revealed her five-phased plan for reopening Chicago during coronavirus.

Lightfoot Unveils Chicago's Reopening Plan

NOTE: Read a full breakdown of the plan here.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday unveiled city-specific guidelines for reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Lightfoot's plan includes five phases, similar to the roadmap unveiled by Illinois' governor earlier this week. The Chicago phases include the following: strict stay-at-home, stay-at-home, cautiously reopen, gradually resume and protect.

Lightfoot had previously said her guidelines would "complement" Gov. J.B. Pritzker's plan, both of which center on healthcare requirements for a region to enter the next stage of reopening.

“Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have been committed to basing our decisions on the science and data related to this disease and communicating our actions to the public in an open and transparent way,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Though we still have a way to go before we can begin reopening our city, when the time comes, that reopening will follow our thoughtful, data-driven process aimed at ensuring all our residents and businesses are informed and supported every step of the way.”

When Will Illinois Restaurants Open for Dine-in? Not Until Late June at the Absolute Earliest

When will restaurants in Illinois be able to allow patrons to dine in again? Under Gov. J.B. Pritzker's reopening plan, not until late June at the very earliest - though that timeframe is far from guaranteed.

Pritzker unveiled his five-phase, region-by-region reopening plan on Tuesday. Illinois currently remains in the second phase of Pritzker's plan.

Any region of the state can begin entering phase three after seeing no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days. That means the earliest any locations can move to the next phase would be on May 29 - though data has not yet shown if any region will be ready at that time.

But restaurants and bars will still be required to remain closed to dine-in customers through phase three. Only in phase four can restaurants and bars reopen with capacity limits and safety guidelines in place as approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Gatherings of 50 or fewer people will also be allowed in phase four, according to the plan, with face coverings and social distancing still required.

But moving to phase four requires another 28-day period with no overall increase in hospital admissions for coronavirus. If any region is able to move to phase three by May 29, an additional 28 days would mark June 26 as the absolute earliest date an area can move to phase four.

And the dates on which each of the state's four regions - northeast, north-central, central and southern Illinois - move into stage may be staggered. That means it's entirely possible that the Chicago area, the portion of the state hardest hit by the pandemic, may not see restaurants open for much longer after other regions.

All restaurants and bars in Illinois have been closed for dine-in service since March 16.

When Will Chicago-Area Shopping Malls Reopen? Not for Awhile, Pritzker Indicates

When will shopping malls across the Chicago area reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Not for awhile, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday - a directive that the country's biggest mall owner agreed it would follow.

Pritzker was asked during his daily coronavirus briefing on Thursday about where shopping malls fit into his five-phase, region-by-region reopening plan unveiled earlier in the week.

"Indoor venues with hundreds and hundreds of people who will be walking together, you know, that's an extraordinarily difficult circumstance under the epidemiological recommendations here," Pritzker said, adding, "So that's something that will have to happen over the course of months and not in the immediate next phase."

A spokeswoman for Simon Property Group, the biggest mall owner in the U.S., said in a statement Friday that the company "will comply with all state and local orders and only open properties when permitted to do so."

The Indianapolis-based company operates Orland Square Mall in Orland Park, Gurnee Mills in Gurnee, Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg and Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora. The company also owns Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City, Indiana, and Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.

Simon opened six shopping centers in Indiana earlier this month, including Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets. In announcing the reopening of its Indiana locations, Simon said the malls would employ new safety protocols.

12 More Chicago Police Department Employees Test Positive for COVID-19

Chicago police announced Thursday 12 more cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of cases in the department to 487.

Of the confirmed cases, 464 are officers and 23 are civilian employees, police said. Each case has been independently confirmed through the department’s medical section.

The department announced the death of a third officer from complications of the coronavirus on April 17.

Orland Park Mayor Urges Pritzker to Speed Up Plan to Reopen Illinois

The mayor of south suburban Orland Park posted a video to social media on Thursday speaking out against part of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s phased plan to reopen Illinois.

In the video, Mayor Keith Pekau said he believes the governor’s plan to reopen the state is unreasonable and argued businesses in Orland Park can’t wait much longer.

“The governor’s plan would not allow restaurants to reopen until at least June 26,” Pekau said in the video that has just over 100 views on YouTube. “Frankly most of our small, family owned restaurants will not survive that long.”

Pekau added that he’s asked Pritzker to speed up his plan while questioning it’s legality.

When asked about the challenge today at his daily coronavirus press briefing, Pritzker seemingly acknowledged the potential legal conflict.

“I have discouraged local law enforcement from arresting people. I have not discouraged them from reminding them what their obligations are to each other,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker also added that he believes Orland Park Mall won’t open for several months despite the mall’s plans to reopen on May 31, but Pekau said measures would be in place for the mall to open safely.

Labor Deal Averts Strike at Dozens of Illinois Nursing Homes

Staff at dozens of Illinois nursing homes called off a strike set to begin Friday after their union reached a tentative deal with nursing home owners that will increase workers' pay to at least $15 and guarantee additional bonus pay during the coronavirus pandemic.

Certified nursing assistants and food service and housekeeping employees were among those planning to walk out at 44 facilities starting Friday morning, according to officials with the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Illinois Indiana unit.

Staff at 20 more facilities planned to follow on Tuesday. Nearly all of the nursing homes are in Chicago or surrounding suburbs.

What Will the Future of Sports in Illinois Look Like?

Could professional sports teams resume play in Illinois without fans under the state's reopening plan?

Possibly, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday.

"Many of the leagues and teams - and I have spoken with many of them - are considering opening their seasons or continuing their seasons without fans in the stands so that people can enjoy the sports online on TV," Pritzker said.

Pritzker said it's up to a team to submit plans for how they would manage restrictions while playing.

"We have some terrific sports fans all across the state of Illinois that want to see this up and running and so there's a desire to have it work," Pritzker said. "I think they've got to come up with a set of plans... I think they're incentivized, by the way, the leagues are, to do the right thing. Partly they're incentivized because they have players that are worth millions of dollars to them that are going to be on the field. So you know, I think they want to protect their, for lack of better term, assets and their people."

No teams have submitted such plans so far, but Pritzker said he's "looking forward to seeing them."

The NFL released its full schedule for the 2020 season Thursday night. But as far as when fans could return to Soldier Field, Pritzker said it will depend on nationwide conditions.

"We want to make sure that everybody's safe," he said. "So all across the country, if the nation isn't in a state where we can have tens of thousands of people together in a stadium, then I don't think you're going to see football opening up to have fans in the stands."

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed optimism last month that baseball could return in some fashion soon, but both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs were hesitant to make such claims.

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