coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: Hand Sanitizer as a Safety Hazard, DMV with a Positive Case

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.)

As many people try to keep hands clean amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Fire Department warned keeping hand sanitizer in cars could cause vehicles to go up in flames.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (June 20):

Schaumburg DMV, South Holland Facility Close After Employees Contract Coronavirus

A Schaumburg DMV that reopened earlier this month was closed this week after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

The Schaumburg drivers services facility will remain closed until July 2 “out of an abundance of caution,” according to a statement Friday from Secretary of State Jesse White’s office.

The public is not “directly impacted by this situation,” state health officials said. Employees will be quarantined for two weeks while the building, at 1227 E. Golf Rd., is cleaned according to federal guidelines.

Find nearby driver facilities that remain open here.

Chicago Fire Department Issues Warning About Hand Sanitizer in Hot Cars

As people try to keep their hands clean amid the coronavirus, the Chicago Fire Department warned the public Saturday of the dangers of carrying hand sanitizer in cars.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise to constantly keep hands and surfaces clean to prevent from the spread of COVID-19, CFD said leaving hand sanitizer in cars is a potential fire hazard.

In Waukegan, a neighbor recently noticed a family's car on fire with the dashboard in flames and called the fire department.

After responding to the incident, officials said the fire was caused by hand sanitizer left in a hot vehicle and warned against keeping it in cars during the summer months.

Nursing Homes in Illinois Can Now Allow Outdoor Visitation

Nursing homes in Illinois can now allow visitors for residents as long as the visits remain outdoors, according to new guidance released by the state.

According to the rules released Thursday, visitations must be limited to two visitors at a time per resident and the maximum number of residents and visitors allowed in the outdoors space at one time will depend on the size of the outdoor space.

Each facility will be required to keep people six feet apart in the outdoor space. See the restrictions here.

Indoor Dining Can Return in Chicago on June 26, But With Restrictions, Mayor Announces

Indoor dining will be allowed to resume with capacity limitations in Chicago on June 26, the mayor announced Friday.

The loosening of restrictions will come on the same day Illinois is set to enter phase four of the state's reopening plan. Though Chicago won't be entering its own phase four until at least July 1, Lightfoot said "indoor dining and drinking can begin at restaurants, bars, breweries and other eating and drinking establishments" early.

“Our neighborhood restaurants, bars, and breweries all stand as among the most cherished parts of our communities and are integral to the fabric of our entire city,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Like all Chicagoans, I am personally excited to see them take these new, cautious steps towards safely reopening, and commend their collaboration throughout this unprecedented crisis. As we move ahead in the coming weeks and months, I look forward to strengthening our partnership as we continue our journey in rebuilding our city and becoming stronger and more equitable than we have ever been.”

Indoor dining will be restricted to 25% capacity under the mayor's plan with up to 50 people allowed per room or floor. Tables must also stay 6 feet apart with 10 people or fewer per table.

Venues without a Retail Food Establishment License will be limited to a maximum of two hours per party and alcohol sales at bars and restaurants must still end at 11 p.m. each night. The sale of alcohol for carryout or delivery must end at 9 p.m. each night.

Currently, restaurants and bars can only offer outdoor dining, which comes with space limitations and leaves capacity dependent on weather.

Navy Pier Enters Phase 2 of Reopening

More of Navy Pier is reopening to visitors as the iconic park enters its second phase of reopening, officials announced Friday.

As part of the new phase, the park will now be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition, the Fifth Third Bank Family Pavilion, Miller Lite Beer Garden, retail shops, food corridor and Crystal Gardens will reopen.

The first phase of Navy Pier's reopening plan included public access to outdoor spaces, restaurant patios and select attractions, the Pier said.

Pier Park rides, including the Centennial Wheel, Amazing Chicago’s Funhouse Maze, Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier IMAX and restaurants with indoor seating will remain closed. No eating and drinking will be allowed inside the pier during the second phase and all fireworks shows and large-scale events remain canceled.

University of Illinois Announces Fall In-Person Instruction

In-person instruction will take place in the fall at the University of Illinois, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place to protect students if the state has moved into Phase IV of its reopening schedule, officials said Thursday.

Students who don’t or can’t return to the central Illinois campus can take classes online, according to the university. Those who have signed up to live in university housing or freshmen required to live on campus will have to submit special documentation and receive approval to learn from a distance.

Unique Coronavirus Strain Found in Chicago: Northwestern Study

Northwestern University researchers have discovered Chicago has a unique COVID-19 virus strain that appears to be directly linked from the early outbreak in China, the university said in a news release Thursday.

Another variant discovered in Chicago COVID-19 patients, which happens to be the predominant variant worldwide, and in the U.S. is centered in New York, generates more of the virus in the upper airways than the Chicago version.

“This is the first clear evidence that genetic differences in the viruses are associated with differences in the characteristics of the infections that they cause,” said Dr. Egon Ozer, an assistant professor in infectious diseases at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine physician.

Ozer said that because Chicago is a transportation hub, the city is a melting pot for different variants of the virus.

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