More Restrictions Could Soon Ease in Chicago's Phase 3, Health Official Says

Arwady the said city is largely on track to meet its metrics, but announced adjustments in the requirements needed to consider moving to phase four

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Chicago officials have long hinted that restrictions could ease further as the city continues into phase three of its five-phased reopening plan - and an announcement on such a move could be coming soon.

Chicago entered the third phase of its reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 3, allowing a number of businesses to resume operations at limited capacity and with certain restrictions in place.

The capacity of those industries were expected to be "incrementally" increased as time goes on "based on health criteria progression and adherence," Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office said.

Lightfoot said some other industries and businesses may open later in phase three, but "we'll have to wait and see how these initial first steps go." Those mentioned include:

  • Gyms
  • The Lakefront
  • Limited-capacity outdoor performances
  • Museums

On Friday, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady hinted Friday that such a move could be announced as early as next week.

"If things are looking good, we may be announcing some, you know, some additional expansions, even as soon as next week, and we'll be sharing more details of that as the numbers hopefully continue to improve," she said.

Arwady the said city is largely on track to meet its metrics, but announced adjustments in the requirements needed to consider moving to phase four.

Among those metrics are:

  • a percent positivity rate of less than 7%
  • adequate hospital capacity
  • at least 4,500 tests per day, maintained, or increase to 6,500 tests per day
  • contact tracing investigations of 90% of cases within 24 hours of positive results
  • Stable or declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness or COVID-like illness over 21 days
  • Stable or declining rates of cases resulting in hospital admissions and deaths over 28 days
  • Declining rate of new cases over 28 days and/or less than 200 new cases per day over 14 days

Currently, the city is on track to meet all of those metrics, except for testing capacity, which saw disruptions due to protest demonstrations and inclement weather.

Still, Arwady said the city is monitoring for a potential surge.

“We’re seeing increases in cases in about 20 others states that reopened, so our concern is real,” Arwady said. “No single measure will determine whether we move forward or backward but we’ll be watching all of them as we make that call.”

When asked about the earliest the city could move forward to the next phase of reopening, Arwady said "we could be looking at July 1."

"If things went really well... we could go even before then," she said.

Despite concerns over a surge following mass protests in the city, Arwady said the number of demonstrators wearing face masks could help limit a resurgence - as long as many also quarantine for 14 days following the events.

"If people are doing that well it's quite possible we could continue to see progress," she said.

If not, however, the city has implemented a system to determine if the reopening should stall or possibly even move backwards. As long as metrics continue to be met, or stay "green," cautious reopening plans can advance. If some metrics are not being met, or become "yellow," the city will "pause and monitor."

But if the city's progress turns "red," plans will stop and some restrictions may be reinstated.

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