(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.)
In one day, Illinois will enter its next phase of reopening, bringing back gyms, salons, daycare centers and more.
Health officials remain cautiously optimistic about the statewide numbers but fear a surge as the state begins to reopen further.
Chicagoans will have to wait until at least early June before they will see an easing of restrictions.
But could changes be in store for the city's plan? The mayor is set to update.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (May 28):
Pritzker Announces Illinois Could Shift to Phase Four as Soon as Late June
With most of the state expected to enter phase three of the Restore Illinois plan on Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced regions could potentially shift into phase four of the plan as soon as late June amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at Thursday’s press briefing, Pritzker provided insight into when the reopening plan could shift into the next stage.
“Just as this 28-day period of tracking started when we moved from phase one to phase two on May 1, our next health metrics calendar will restart tomorrow and run for the same period, meaning that regions that meet the metrics could move into Phase 4 possibly as early as Friday, June 26th,” Pritzker said.
All 4 of Illinois' Health Regions Will be Allowed to Enter Phase 3 Friday, Pritzker Says
All four of Illinois' health regions will be allowed to enter to the next phase of reopening after meeting the health criteria necessary to begin easing restrictions, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
As of Thursday, just two days remained in the statewide stay-at-home order, but regions can begin entering phase three Friday. Chicago will not be joining the rest of the state, however, the city's mayor said, revealing plans to enter her own phase three plan on Wednesday.
One Day Before Entering Phase 3, Illinois Reports 1,527 New Coronavirus Cases
With much of Illinois just one day away from its next phase of reopening, the state reported more than 1,500 new cases and over 100 fatalities in the last 24 hours.
The Illinois Department of Public Health confirmed 1,527 new cases of the virus in the last day, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 115,833.
With an additional 104 deaths, fatalities so far across the state now total 5,186, health officials said.
As of Thursday, 3,649 people remained hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 1,009 were in intensive care units and 576 were on ventilators.
Over the last 24 hours, Illinois officials say that 25,993 new tests were conducted by state labs, bringing the statewide total to 829,966 tests. That leaves the seven-date positivity rate for the state at 8.3%.
Chicago Set to Enter Phase 3 of Reopening on June 3, Mayor Announces
Chicago is expected to enter phase three of its reopening plan on June 3, the city's mayor announced Thursday.
It's the first time residents have learned a date as the city nears the start of its next stage.
The date is later than the rest of Illinois, which is set to enter phase three on Friday, one day before the end of the statewide stay-at-home order.
More details here.
Horse Racing to Resume in Illinois Without Fans in Stands
Horse racing can return to Illinois tracks in June but without fans in the stands. The Illinois Department of Agriculture announced plans Thursday to bring "patron free standardbred and thoroughbred racing back on tracks around the state while adhering to social distancing guidelines."
Only licensed essential personnel needed to care for the racehorses and those necessary to facilitate live racing will be allowed on the grounds, the department said.
All wagering will take place online.
Cook County Courts Extend COVID-19 Precautions Into July, Further Delaying Most Criminal, Civil Cases
The Circuit Court of Cook County is set to postpone most civil and criminal cases another month as a precaution against the COVID-19 pandemic, while continuing to hear new cases and hold emergency hearings.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans is currently postponing most cases until May 31, but is expected on Thursday to extend the modified schedule order to July 6, Office of the Chief Judge Pat Milhizer said in a statement.
The current order allows for emergency and criminal pretrial hearings to be held on the online videoconference application Zoom. Seven court rooms currently broadcast proceedings publicly on YouTube.
Cook County Reaches ‘Grim Milestone’: More Deaths in 5 Months of 2020 Than in All of 2019
Cook County has seen more deaths in the first half of 2020 than it had in all of 2019, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced.
In a statement calling it a “grim milestone,” Preckwinkle said the Cook County medical examiner’s office has counted 6,600 deaths so far this year. In 2019, the office had a total of 6,274 deaths all year.
Since first death from COVID-19 in Cook County on March 16, the office has counted 3,700 deaths from the disease.
COVID-19 Cases in Chicago Police Department Reach 551
Chicago police announced three more cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of cases in the department to 551.
Of the confirmed cases, 521 are officers and 30 are civilian employees, police said.
Thirty other employees reported positive test results but the department’s medical section has yet to confirm those cases, police said.
Worker at Springfield Arena Where Illinois Legislative Session Held Tests Positive for Coronavirus
An employee who worked at the arena where the Illinois House held its special legislative session last week has tested positive for coronavirus, according to House Speaker Michael Madigan’s chief of staff.
In a memo sent out Wednesday, Jessica Basham said that an employee who worked at the arena tested positive for the illness after the session of the legislature. The employee worked one shift at the arena during the session on May 21, but was not located in a space that was used for the special session or in the public viewing area.
According to the memo, it does not appear that the employee had any interaction with any legislators or staffers during the session.
Illinois Health Officials Provide ‘Recovery Rate’ Data for COVID-19 Cases
In recent days, Illinois health officials have begun posting a “recovery rate” on their coronavirus data website, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker discussed the new addition to the state statistics on Wednesday.
During his daily coronavirus press briefing, Pritzker said that the percentage was designed to relay the message that a COVID-19 diagnosis “is not a death sentence,” and that a vast majority of individuals who test positive for the disease recover.
“What we’re trying to do is to make sure that people understand that when you get COVID-19, it’s not a death sentence,” Pritzker said. “In fact, about 80 percent of people who get COVID-19 experience mild-to-moderate symptoms, then recover. It’s really 20 percent or so that get it and have something more serious.”
Pritzker Says He’ll Sign Bill Allowing Sale of Cocktails for Takeout or Delivery
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker says he will sign a bill allowing restaurants and bars to sell mixed drinks and cocktails in to-go containers.
Pritzker made the announcement during a coronavirus press briefing this week, saying he approves of the legislation, which will allow restaurants and bars to sell to-go containers of mixed drinks and cocktails.
The Illinois House and Senate passed the bill with overwhelming majorities over the weekend, sending the legislation to the governor’s desk.
Suburban Businesses Detail Plans to Reopen as Phase Three Nears
Hundreds of restaurants and retailers are preparing to reopen in Phase Three of the “Restore Illinois” plan, and owners across the region are eager to get back to work.
In suburban Aurora, city leaders have crafted their own set of guidelines, giving equal opportunity to bars and restaurants who may not have an outdoor area suitable for seating under the auspices of the “Restore Illinois” plan.
Under that plan, restaurants and bars can reopen their outdoor seating area, with at least six feet between tables and servers and bartenders wearing masks.
The city is allowing restaurants to close off 25 percent of their parking lots in order to gain more space for outdoor seating.
Suburban Burr Ridge is using its own unique strategies to help business owners, footing the bills to give restaurants tented areas and outdoor space so that they can serve more customers.
Phase Three of the state’s reopening plan is expected to begin Friday, Under the terms of the plan, restaurants and bars can open outdoor seating areas, while all non-essential retailers will be allowed to open their doors with social distancing guidelines and capacity limits in place.
Personal care services, including hair salons and tattoo shops, will also be allowed to reopen under the plan, which is being implemented as the state continues to make progress in lowering its overall positivity rate, trimming its number of COVID-related hospitalizations and lowering the number of patients requiring ventilators.