Note: Any news conferences from Gov. J.B. Pritzker or Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot will be streamed in the video player above.
Two south suburban counties that make up one of Illinois' 11 healthcare regions will see new restrictions put in place to mitigate the spread of the deadly coronavirus, state officials announced Monday.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke from one of those counties to address the new mitigations, as another region could see even more stringent restrictions take effect as well.
This comes as the city of Chicago updated its emergency travel order requiring a 14-day quarantine for anyone returning to or entering the city from more than a dozen states.
Here are the latest updates from around the state on the fight against coronavirus today (Aug. 25):
Chicago Travel Order: 2 States Removed from Quarantine List as South Dakota Added
Arizona and North Carolina are no longer on Chicago's quarantine list, but South Dakota has been added as the city's emergency travel order requires travelers visiting or returning to the city from one of 19 locations to self-quarantine for 14 days, officials announced Tuesday.
In addition, Kansas has dropped below the threshold to be on the city's quarantine list, but will need another week of declining numbers to be officially removed, health officials said.
Last week, Wisconsin and Nebraska were both removed from the quarantine list, but Iowa and Kansas returned.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady noted Tuesday that Illinois has also reached the threshold to be on the city's order.
"Chicago has decided not to institute restrictions on Illinois," Arwady said, adding that she would still avoid travel as much as possible.
As of last week, the list stood at 20 U.S. states and territories. On Tuesday, 19 remained.
Illinois Restaurant Patrons Must Wear Masks During Interactions With Staff Under New Guidelines
Patrons at restaurants and bars in Illinois must now wear masks when interacting with wait staff and other employees under new state health guidelines, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday.
The new guidelines require patrons at bars, restaurants and other establishments statewide to wear a face covering over their mouth and nose when interacting with staff, state officials said.
This includes when wait staff takes orders, delivers food and beverages or serves tables in general. It applies to indoor and outdoor dining as well as any other facilities with food services areas like indoor recreational facilities, museums and entertainment venues, officials said.
"Customers must follow this rule when food and beverages are brought to the table, when orders are placed, and when picking up carry out orders," Pritzker said at a news conference on Tuesday.
"Illinois has had a mask mandate since May 1, and in most establishments people are adhering to it. But it’s important that we treat hospitality employees just as you would in any retail store or establishment," he continued. "This new requirement asks a little bit more of our residents dining out in order to protect their health and safety and that of our frontline hospitality workers, as well."
"Restaurateurs and bar owners want to remain open for business, and this new requirement will help keep people safe while moving the economy forward – that’s a goal we all believe in," Pritzker added.
Already restaurants in the state require workers to wear a face covering while on the job, and had previously required patrons to wear masks while on the premises, except while eating and drinking at their own table or bar. Health officials said Tuesday that the new guidelines "ensure that while seated, interactions between business staff and patrons can happen safely to prevent possible spread of the virus."
Illinois Reports 1,680 New Coronavirus Cases, 29 Additional Deaths
The state of Illinois reported more than 1,600 new cases of coronavirus and 29 additional fatalities in the last 24 hours, public health officials announced Tuesday.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now reported a total of 223,470 cases throughout Illinois since the pandemic began earlier this year.
The 29 additional fatalities bring the state’s total number of deaths related to the virus to 7,917.
Marking a slight increase from one day earlier, the state reported 40,859 new test results Tuesday, far below the more than 50,000 tests turned in to state labs in recent days. Those test results bring the state’s total to 3,781,050 tests during the pandemic.
After rising throughout last week, the statewide seven-day positivity rate dropped from 4.2% to 4.1% on Tuesday.
Lightfoot Creates Winter Outdoor Dining Challenge for Restaurants Across Chicago
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday that she plans to launch a winter design challenge in an attempt to reimagine the winter outdoor dining experience.
In partnership with IDEO, BMO Harris Bank and the Illinois Restaurant Association, the Winter Design Challenge asks Chicago residents to propose outdoor dining solutions that adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, the mayor's office said.
According to Lightfoot's Office, the challenge will run Aug. 25 to Sept. 7, with winners announced in mid-September. Each winner will receive $5,000 and opportunities to start their idea at restaurants and bars around the city, the office said.
“While we’ve had to implement restrictions and take hard measures to combat a recent rise in COVID-19 activity, we will continue to ensure our restaurants, bars and businesses have the supports they need to survive during these unprecedented times,” Lightfoot said. “We are asking our community members to come together and think creatively about how we can make outdoor dining feasible in the winter.”
The mayor's office said that all Chicago residents are invited to participate in the challenge with submissions accepted on IDEO's open innovation platform.
Bank of America Chicago Marathon Announces Free 2020 ‘Virtual Experience'
In lieu of this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon, race organizers announced Tuesday the free 2020 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Virtual Experience to bring "the spirit and celebration of race week to you."
"We're inviting everyone to run with us in their own communities and celebrate their achievement virtually with the global running community," Chicago Marathon organizers said in a statement. "Shorter distances from the mile to the half marathon will be available for novice runners to veteran marathoners to take part in a new kind of running experience."
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon Virtual Experience starts on Monday, Oct. 5, and ends on Sunday, Oct. 11, the date that would have been the 43rd running of this year's race. The 2020 Chicago Marathon was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Pritzker to Discuss New Mitigations in Region 7
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to discuss the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Will and Kankakee counties on Tuesday, his office says.
The news conference will begin at around 12 p.m. at the Will County Health Department, where he will be joined by local leaders from that area.
The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
Will, Kankakee Counties to See New Coronavirus Mitigation Rules as Positivity Rate Rises
A second Illinois region will have new coronavirus mitigation rules put into effect, as south suburban Kankakee and Will counties continue to see increases in their rolling positivity rates.
Under the new rules, indoor service at both bars and restaurants will be suspended until further notice, according to a statement from the governor's office.
According to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Region 7 will have new COVID-19 mitigation efforts implemented on Wednesday after the region saw its rolling positivity rate meet or exceed the 8% threshold for three consecutive days.
According to data provided by the Illinois Department of Health, the two counties, which comprise Region 7 in the state’s coronavirus mitigation strategy, have seen their combined positivity rate on coronavirus testing go up from 6.7% on Aug. 12 to 8.3% on Monday, with eight consecutive days of increases in that number.
Under the IDPH’s “Restore Illinois” plan, any region that has a rolling positivity rate of 8% or higher for three consecutive days would then have coronavirus mitigation measures enacted, and Region 7 is now in that category after remaining at or above 8% since Saturday.
Those new mitigation measures include requiring bars and restaurants to close by 11 p.m., with outdoor service suspended at both bars and restaurants as a result of the new restrictions.
The legally mandated-maximum allowed size of gatherings will also be reduced to 25 people. Party buses will also be banned under the restrictions, according to state health officials.
The measures are expected to remain in place for 14 days, and if the positivity rates don't decrease to below 8% during that time, the restrictions could be left in place, or perhaps even expanded.
Those measures have already been implemented in Region 4, which includes counties adjacent to St. Louis in southwestern Illinois. That region exceeded the 8% threshold on Aug. 12, and the number has continued to rise, topping out at 9.6% over the weekend.
The number did decline slightly on Monday, but still remains at 9.4%, according to figures from IDPH.
Chicago Travel Order to Be Updated
NOTE: Watch the press conference live beginning at 1 p.m. in the player above.
Chicago's travel order will be updated once again Tuesday following the recent removal of some states on the city's quarantine list and the return of others.
Last week, Wisconsin and Nebraska were both removed from the quarantine list, but Iowa and Kansas returned. Arizona and North Carolina were also noted for dropping below the threshold to require a quarantine, but those states needed to stay below the mark for another week in order to be removed from the list.
Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady is expected to deliver an update on the order, along with the city's latest coronavirus data, at 1 p.m. at City Hall.
As of last week, the list stood at 20 U.S. states and territories.
The city's travel order began on July 6 and is evaluated every Tuesday, with any changes taking effect the following Friday.
States are added to the list if they have "a case rate greater than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 resident population, per day, over a 7-day rolling average." If they fall below that threshold, they could be removed as well.
The states included are: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Puerto Rico was also recently added to the list.
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." Essential workers could be exempt from the quarantine requirement, however, as long as their employer certifies their work in writing.
The order is set to remain in effect until further notice.
Region 4 Could See More Stringent COVID-19 Mitigation Rules if Positivity Rates Don't Drop
Numerous counties in southwestern Illinois could see even more coronavirus-related restrictions implemented next month if rolling positivity rates in the region continue increasing, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday.
Region 4, an area of the state located near St. Louis, already saw additional coronavirus mitigation rules put into place earlier this month, but if the region doesn’t begin to see a decline in rolling positivity rates, then additional restrictions would be put into place on Sept. 2.
The restrictions were put into place after the region, which includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties, saw its rolling positivity rate exceed 8% for three consecutive days. Currently, that rate is sitting at 9.4%, as the number continued to increase after the new mitigations were implemented.
Those mitigations currently include a mandate that bars and restaurants close at 11 p.m., and mandates that table size should be limited to six or fewer people, with capacity limited to 25%.
Gatherings of 25 or more people are also prohibited under the new mandates. Party buses will also be banned while the new mitigation efforts remain in place.
Some Chicago Residents First to Participate in National Trial for Vaccine
Some Chicago residents will be among the first to participate in a national clinical trial starting Monday of a potential vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19.
The University of Illinois at Chicago announced the school will lead the study in the city, enrolling up to 1,000 people, with aims to understand if the vaccine gives immunity to protect against the novel coronavirus.
Dr. Richard Novak, head of infections diseases at UI Health and leader of the study, said they are looking for two things in particular.
“One, we want to see if people who get the vaccine have a lower chance of getting sick from the virus compared to others — this would be game-changing," Novak said. "Two, for those people who still get sick from COVID-19, we want to see if those who received the vaccine have better outcomes."
According to UIC, participants will be randomly assigned to two separate groups -- one that receives the vaccine and one that takes a placebo. Neither the researchers nor the participants will know who has the vaccine, the school said.
The study group, which receives the vaccine, will take two shots over the course of four weeks, UIC explained.
“We will have two UIC locations and a site at the University of Chicago,” Novak said. “We expect the study to enroll 1,000 people within the next month or so.”
The school said that trial volunteers are expected to have an initial appointment with their research team, six in-person follow up appointments, weekly check-ins by phone and to keep up with an electronic diary measuring symptoms.
Novak explained that researchers will follow the trial participants for two years, although early results may be available as early as December.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the trial can sign up via UIC’s online registry or the national registry.
Lake County Jail to Test All Inmates, Staff for Coronavirus
The Lake County Jail plans to test all inmates, correctional employees, staff and contractors for the coronavirus as part of enhanced mitigation procedures announced Monday.
Due to the expansion of testing availability, in early August all employees of the Lake County Jail were provided coronavirus tests, according to a news release from the Lake County Sheriff's Department.
Of the nearly 140 tests provided, two correctional officers and one administrative assistant tested positive. All three were asymptomatic.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of six inmates, nine correctional officers and one correctional administrative assistant previously tested positive for the virus.
“I view it as a top-priority to keep my employees as safe and healthy as possible, as well as the inmates in the jail who we are responsible to protect," Sheriff John Idleburg said in a news release. "Overall, our mitigation efforts have proven to be successful and we look forward to the ongoing increased testing in our facility.”
Loyola Academy Suspends In-Person Instruction
Another Chicago-area school has decided to switch back to remote learning temporarily, as Loyola Academy made the decision following a review of the potential exposure of students to coronavirus in recent days.
In a release issued late Sunday, the school announced that in-person instruction will be suspended for at least two weeks, with the school aiming to resume in-classroom learning on Sept. 8.
According to the school, no cases of coronavirus have been linked to in-person instruction, but officials do believe that off-campus social exposures to the virus are worse than initially feared among members of the student body.
“The decision was not made lightly, and it is made with the health and safety of our entire school community in mind,” the school said in a statement. “The next two weeks will be an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can increase our personal responsibility and minimize our exposure risks.”
Illinois Reports 1,612 New Coronavirus Cases, 8 Additional Deaths
The state of Illinois reported more than 1,600 new cases of coronavirus and eight additional fatalities in the last 24 hours, public health officials announced Monday.
According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now reported a total of 221,790 cases throughout Illinois since the pandemic began earlier this year.
The eight additional fatalities bring the state’s total number of deaths related to the virus to 7,888.
There was a significant drop in the number of tests performed in the last 24 hours, a typical occurrence early in the week in terms of reported data. A total of 36,155 new tests were reported after five consecutive days of the state performing more than 50,000 tests per day.
The 7-day positivity rate remained steady at 4.2%.