Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) today announced that Chicago is on track to transition to phase four of the “Protecting Chicago” framework on Friday, June 26, alongside the rest of Illinois.
The guidelines are aligned with the State-issued guidelines, with additional specificity included for Chicago’s context, which has experienced a different arc of COVID-19 than other parts of the state. Phase four – ‘Gradually Resume’ – will allow additional businesses and public amenities to open with limited capacities and appropriate safeguards.
Although progress has been made in order to move to phase four, all residents should continue to abide by important guidance including: physically distancing and wearing a face covering; limiting non-business, social gatherings to 50 persons for indoor events and 100 for outdoors; staying at home if you are considered vulnerable, feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19; and getting tested if you have symptoms.
“The service and sacrifice made by Chicagoans from every corner of our city and every walk of life has allowed us to safely reach the point where we are now,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “It includes the incredible work done by our healthcare professionals, first responders, and essential workers who have cared for our residents and kept our city running. Everything we’ve done to meet this moment has been the direct result of the hard work and sacrifice of our residents, which has not only saved the lives of thousands of Chicagoans over these past three months, but also helped lay the groundwork for the transformative recovery that will follow.”
The following industries will open for the first time at the beginning of phase four in Chicago:
- Indoor seating in bars and restaurants
- Museums and zoos
- Performance venues
- Summer camps / youth activities
Phase four will also include adjustments to other industries that have previously reopened, and detailed information can be found at chicago.gov/reopening. To allow businesses and organizations to prepare for the next phase, Mayor Lightfoot, in partnership with CDPH, industry leaders, labor leaders, and public officials from around Chicago, released an additional set of industry-specific guidelines for businesses, employees, and customers to follow as the city moves into phase four. Industry-specific guidelines include details such as how businesses can encourage healthy interactions between workers and customers, how to maintain safe working spaces and conditions, and how to design and monitor workplace operations to create flexibility and maintain safety for employees and customers.
To inform businesses of the new guidelines for phase four, the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) will hold a series of educational webinars this week. Webinars will be held for newly reopening industries such as arts/performance venues and museums and industries that will be following new guidelines in phase four, such as health and fitness centers and personal services. To register and learn more, visit chicago.gov/businessworkshops.
The COVID-19 data in Chicago continues to trend positively and the city is on pace to meet the metrics to move into phase four:
- Continued decline in the number of newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases, across all race-ethnicity groups. These numbers have continued to steadily decline since peaking in early May, even as testing has increased, a sign that the outbreak has remained in good control locally as industries have begun cautiously reopening.
- Continued decline in the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths, and emergency department visits.
- Continued decline in percent positivity (the percentage of people tested who are positive), which is now down to approximately 5%. The goal to move into phase four had been less than 7%. This is also declining across all race-ethnicity groups.
- Adequate hospital and ICU capacity, which are currently more than adequate and continue to improve as COVID-19 hospitalizations decline.
- Adequate testing capacity, and specifically conducting at least 4,500 tests per day, which represents the ability to test 5% of Chicago’s population each month. The city is back above this mark after testing disruptions due to street protests and inclement weather.
- Adequate response capacity, with at least 90% of new COVID-19 cases being assigned for investigation within 24 hours. This metric has been achieved
To move into phase four, Chicago had set a requirement of stable or declining cases along with a goal of reaching fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases per day, which it has now achieved, with a current 7-day average of 167 new cases per day. Based on the city’s population and national metrics from the CDC, this will move Chicago from a high-incidence to a moderate-high incidence level.
“The data continue to show that we’re making progress and we’ll be ready to move into phase four later this week,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “However, we still have a lot of COVID-19 cases here in Chicago; we’re just now moving from a high-risk to a medium-high-risk city for COVID-19 spread, based on our numbers, and we need to move ahead cautiously. I can’t emphasize enough the need for people and businesses to continue to abide by the public health guidance so we can avoid the spike in cases we’re seeing in other cities and states that re-opened before us.”
If and when Chicago continues to make progress against COVID-19, capacity restrictions will be loosened further within phase four. For example, right now, while Chicago is still at a moderate-high level of new cases, there is approximately a 15% chance that a gathering of 50 Chicagoans will include someone with active COVID-19 infection. This is concerning because many people may not have symptoms but can still spread COVID-19, which is why keeping a 6-foot distance and wearing a face covering is so important. Once Chicago has fewer than 100 new cases per day, the city will move to a moderate-incidence level by national standards, and gathering sizes and capacity limits can more safely increase.
CDPH will continue to follow the same health metrics to help guide the City’s decision-making process, with easy color-coding:
- Green – Go: cautious progress, continued progress or advanced progress
- Yellow – Caution: pause and monitor
- Red – Stop: may need to reinstate certain restrictions
Currently, the city is in green for all metrics. The City recently launched a data dashboard here where individuals can explore these metrics. The new data dashboard was prompted by the desire to make community-level data more accessible, particularly for African American and Latinx residents who have been most impacted by the outbreak. The Racial Equity Rapid Response Team, which was launched by the City to be responsive to these communities, wanted a clearer understanding of the change in the COVID-19 outbreak by race, ethnicity, and neighborhood. The dashboard can be accessed from the ‘Latest Data’ tab on the COVID-19 website. It was developed in partnership with community groups, the CDPH Office of Epidemiology and Slalom Consulting, with support from the Civic Consulting Alliance, and will be constantly updated so community organizations and residents are encouraged to continue to provide input.