(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.)
More attractions in Chicago are beginning to reopen – and in a big way.
The city’s coveted Riverwalk will soon be back, with restrictions, and streets in some Chicago neighborhoods are closing down to make way for outdoor dining.
Here are the latest developments on the coronavirus crisis today (June 12):
City of Chicago Creates Memorial Page to Honor Lives Lost to Coronavirus
To remember the lives of Chicagoans who lost their lives to coronavirus, the city of Chicago created a public virtual memorial page for residents to honor their loved ones.
“In light of the current situation, the way we mourn and celebrate one’s life needs to be reimagined,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement. “The Virtual Memorial is just one way to help Chicagoans cope with the sudden loss of their loved one to COVID-19, but also to celebrate their lives and memories.”
Residents can submit stories about friends, families and neighbors to the “Chicago Remembers” online memorial site by going to www.chicago.gov/covid19.
More Restrictions Could Soon Ease in Chicago’s Phase 3, Health Official Says
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:
- The Lakefront
- Limited-capacity outdoor performances
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.
Illinois Reports 595 New Coronavirus Cases, 77 Additional Deaths
Illinois reported 595 new cases coronavirus Friday along with 77 additional deaths, marking a decrease in the number of cases and deaths reported 24 hours earlier.
In all, 131,198 cases of the virus have been confirmed in Illinois since the pandemic began.
With the 77 additional fatalities reported Friday, the state now stands at 6,260 coronavirus-related deaths.
Dr. Allison Arwady, the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, details where Chicago stands now and what is needed for the city to move to its next phase of reopening/
When is the Earliest Chicago Could Move Into Phase 4?
Chicago is currently in its third phase of reopening, and while health and city officials have said more reopenings are still expected in this phase, they’re also looking ahead to phase four.
On Friday, the director of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Dr. Allison Arwady, announced adjustments in the metrics needed to consider moving to phase four.
Currently, the city is on track to meet all of its metrics, except for testing capacity, which saw disruptions due to protest demonstrations and inclement weather.
“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.”
But 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.
Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs Canceled Due to COVID-19
With the state of Illinois prohibiting large-scale gatherings until more effective treatments for coronavirus or a vaccine are widely available, the annual state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin have been canceled this summer.
“The Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs have been some of my favorite opportunities to celebrate our agricultural communities and the residents who make Illinois so exceptional,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “But it’s because the fairs are such a treasure to so many thousands of people that my administration, like those of our neighboring Midwestern states, must make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 State Fairs in light of the risk posed by COVID-19. This is the right choice based on guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and other experts: we have to prioritize keeping our people safe. Our state fairs are unmatched across the nation, and I look forward to gathering again to showcase the best of Illinois when it is safe to do so.”
The Department of Agriculture will instead host a virtual Junior Livestock Expo in Springfield in September.
Streets Close to Make Room for Outdoor Seating at Restaurants
Two streets on Chicago’s North Side will close Friday to make way for more outdoor seating at area restaurants.
Broadway in Lakeview will be closed from Belmont Avenue to Diversey Parkway beginning at 12 p.m. and continuing through the weekend for “Dine Out on Broadway,” according to the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. More than 35 restaurants are expected to participate in the program.
In the Gold Coast, Rush Street will be closed between Oak Street and State Street, according to the city. Bellevue Place will also be closed between State Street and just east of Rush Street to the alley. No parking will be allowed in any of the closed area.
The streets are two of six in a pilot program announced by the mayor last month before the city entered phase three of its coronavirus reopening plan. Other streets include 75th Street in Chatham, 26th Street in Little Village, Taylor Street on the Near West Side and Randolph Street in the West Loop.
Chicago Riverwalk to Reopen With Restrictions Friday
The Chicago Riverwalk will reopen to the public Friday morning with notable restrictions, city officials said in an email late Thursday night.
In order to maintain crowd sizes and ensure social distancing, the city of Chicago has created designated hours for recreation and concessions, according to a news release. The Riverwalk will be open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Those using the space must wear face coverings and maintain social distancing, officials said.
Between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m., those using the Riverwalk will be able to run, jog, walk and bike along the path between Lake Shore Drive and Lake Street.
At 10:00 a.m., the Riverwalk will be closed for cleaning. Starting at 11:00 a.m. through 9:00 p.m. concessions vendors will be open by reservation only.
In addition to requiring reservations, each establishment will be required to space tables 6 feet apart.
First Double-Lung Transplant Performed On Coronavirus Patient At Northwestern Hospital
Northwestern Hospital has successfully completed its first double-lung transplant on a coronavirus patient, the hospital confirmed.
The patient, a Hispanic woman in her 20s, recovered from the virus but suffered life-threatening damage to both lungs, requiring the procedure.
“A lung transplant was her only chance for survival,” said Ankit Bharat, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and surgical director of the Northwestern Medicine Lung Transplant Program.
Northwestern Hospital is one of the first health systems in the country to successfully perform a lung transplant on a patient recovering from COVID-19, according to a statement from the hospital. Dr. Bharat said he wants other transplant centers to know the procedure can be done safely while offering terminally ill coronavirus patients another option for survival.