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Chicago Is Not Ready For Phase 3 Next Week, Says Lightfoot, Who Doesn’t Set A Date For Reopening

Much of Illinois will begin Phase 3 and start to reopen, but the mayor said Chicago is not yet ready.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot answers questions at a press conference on March 20 in Chicago.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO —  Although much of Illinois will be entering the next phase of the coronavirus battle late next week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Friday said Chicago won’t be ready to enter “Phase 3” until sometime in early June.

The mayor did not specify a date and warned a setback in new cases and other metrics could scrap any reopening plan. But she framed the announcement as positive news in light of a declining number of new cases and hospitalizations in the city.

“Given their trajectory over these last few weeks, I am pleased to announce that we are preparing for Chicago take the first step in early June,” the mayor said during an afternoon press conference.

“We don’t have a crystal ball, but we are looking daily at the data. And I cannot give you a date certain on which our transition to Phase 3 will happen. The best I can say right now is we’re hoping, and we believe it will be, in early June. [That] may be frustrating, but it’s just a little time. I know we can do this, but we have to be smart and careful.”

Pressed on why she didn’t set a date, the mayor said the city needs to follow the health metrics, but did say she expects it to be the first half of the month.

“I don’t think it’s mid-June. I think it’s early June,” she said. “Early June means to me not the 10th, something sooner than that, and hopefully in the single digits of June.”

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said new cases of coronavirus in Chicago are now going down, the most important metric is reopening the city. In addition, deaths, hospitalizations and intensive care unit admissions have declined, Arwady said.

But she warned that new cases are still coming in, and people need to continue to social distance and wear face coverings outside.

“Bottom line is we are on track, but we need people to continue to stay home and save lives this weekend and next week while the stay at home order is in place,” she said.

Lightfoot said the city will issue specific rules and guidelines for industries next week, down to the “granular” level. Friday’s announcement, she said, was essentially a heads-up to industries to start getting ready.

The specific industries that need to prepare to reopen in June are: Child care and in-home family day care, park facilities west of Lake Shore Drive, libraries, real estate service, office jobs, hotels, lodging, barber shops and nail salons. She also spoke of the need for partial reopening of restaurants and coffee shops, but said restaurants need indoor seating to make it financial feasible.

“I want to give the restaurant industry something that is real,” she said.

Meanwhile, the mayor said the city “hopes” to reopen a number of other sectors but it’s still developing guidelines for them so they’ll be closed for now. That includes summer programs, youth activities, religious services, gyms and the lakefront and beaches.


Coronavirus can be deadly, but the vast majority of cases have been mild. Those most at risk from the virus are people who are elderly or who have underlying health conditions.

Symptoms of coronavirus can appear two to 14 days after a person has been exposed to the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even people who show no symptoms may have the virus and can spread it to others.

The virus spreads between people through coughing and sneezing, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills and shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of taste and/or smell

People have also experienced body aches, nasal congestion and runny nose, according to Harvard Medical School.

If you or someone else has difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, become confused, cannot be roused or develop a bluish face or lips, seek immediate medical attention, according to the CDC.

How To Protect Yourself

Here’s what you can do to prevent getting ill:

  • The CDC and other officials have said people should wash their hands often, including before, during and after eating; after using the bathroom; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    The CDC has a guide here for how to properly wash your hands. Remember: Wash with soap and water, scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth, with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you touch frequently, such as cellphones and light switches. Here are tips from the CDC.
  • Stay home when you’re sick and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you have to sneeze or cough with a tissue, throw it out immediately after using it, according to the CDC.

What To Do If You Think You’re Sick

Even if you’re not showing symptoms, the Chicago Department of Public Health recommends people coming from high-risk countries (here’s a CDC list) self-quarantine for 14 days after returning home.

If you do have symptoms of coronavirus, contact your primary doctor or a health care facility before going in. Explain your symptoms and tell them if you’ve come into close contact with anyone with coronavirus or traveled to an area where COVID-19 is widespread (here’s a CDC list) within the last 14 days, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

From there, the experts will work with your local health department to determine what to do and if you need to be tested for coronavirus, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And, of course, if you think you’re sick with coronavirus, don’t risk exposing other people to the virus. Anyone who feels unwell has been ordered to stay home or risk getting a $500 fine.

Those with questions and concerns about coronavirus can call the Illinois Department of Public Health at 800-889-3931.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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