coronavirus illinois

Illinois Coronavirus Updates: New Social Distancing Ambassadors, More People at Beaches

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.)

With the lakefront opening Monday, Chicagoans can expect to see Social Distancing Ambassadors in uniform along the trails, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (June 21):

Water Safety Concerns Are on the Rise as More People Head to Area Beaches

Since pools closed for summer, more people are heading to the beach. But with high water levels and erosion leading to smaller beach fronts, many are packing in, leading to increased concern over water safety.

Dave Benjamin, co-founder of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, has used this time to educate the public about the risks involved. GLSRP is a non-profit group that tracks drowning statistics and performs presentations and training around the Midwest.

"It's not common sense that panic is the first stage of drowning. It’s not common knowledge that 66% of all drowning victims were good strong confident swimmers. Knowing how to swim is not enough. You need to know how to survive," Benjamin said.

Since 2010, there have been more than 850 drownings in the Great Lakes. Benjamin said he hopes to eradicate tragedy with the mantra: Flip, float, follow.

Here's What Social Distancing Ambassadors Look Like in Chicago

With more popular Chicago areas reopening to the public Monday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the city will place Social Distancing Ambassadors along the sites.

Both the lakefront and the 606 Bloomingdale Trail are slated to reopen Monday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, the mayor announced Thursday.

Lightfoot explained Social Distancing Ambassadors will be stationed along the trails to educate the public on proper guidelines and manage the flow of traffic.

"Ambassadors will actively engage patrons providing guidance on appropriate social distancing, the importance of face coverings, as well as other health and safety guidelines," Lightfoot said.

Read more about Chicago's Social Distancing Ambassadors here.

What School Could Look Like in Illinois This Fall

School will be different when a new academic year starts this fall, but whether students are still learning remotely or the number of days per week they attend class will likely vary by location and district.

The Illinois State Board of Education is expected to release health and safety guidelines by the end of June for districts trying to prepare for fall during the coronavirus pandemic. Some will be requirements, such as wearing masks or cleaning regimens for school facilities.

But Illinois State Schools Superintendent Carmen Ayala says there won’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

“Because community A in southern Illinois is not the same as community B in suburban Illinois or in urban Illinois,” Ayala told WUIS-FM.“ As much as we have tried to provide some common things, it still will remain the district’s ability, given their community context, to make the best reopening plan to meet the needs of the community and children that they serve.”

Districts will have the option of continuing remote learning, bringing students and staff back to buildings, or doing a combination in which fewer students are in a classroom at one time.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday signed legislation that changes the school code to give districts more options for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. That includes “blended learning,” in which students receive instruction both remotely and in person.

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.

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