CHICAGO — Navy Pier reopens Friday — and officials announced Thursday how the rest of the city is loosening its coronavirus restrictions, too.
Street festivals are back, the United Center can reopen to fans and restaurants and bars can serve more people were among the changes announced by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health.
“All right, Chicago; let’s reopen,” Lightfoot said as a jazz band played at Navy Pier, which will partially reopen as the city loosens its rules.
There are still too many new COVID-19 cases being reported every day, Arwady said.
Cases, hospitalizations and Chicago’s positivity rate climbed for weeks in March. But those numbers have recently begun to stabilize and fall, and more people are getting vaccinated, making it possible to reopen — though it must be done slowly, Arwady said.
“This is happening, make no mistake, because people are getting vaccinated,” Arwady said at the news conference. “Things are heading the right way, but we are not done; and our ability to continue to move ahead is most dependent on people continuing to get vaccinated.
“… Talk to everybody you know and say, ‘Have you gotten this vaccine yet? And if not, let me help you.'”
At the same time, the average number of vaccine doses being administered per day has stagnated — and, at times, even dropped — recently. That change has come even though the vast majority of Illinoisans are not fully vaccinated, though everyone 16 and older is now eligible for the shots in Chicago and across the state.
Arwady and Lightfoot have said they won’t require Chicagoans to get vaccinated, and there won’t be a “vaccine passport” that people will have to present to get into restaurants or events.
But they are looking at ways to incentivize people to get vaccinated — and that does mean they’ll host events where vaccinated people can get concert tickets, or vaccinated people might get preferential spots at sports events and concerts, the officials said. The city also doesn’t require fully vaccinated people to quarantine or get tested when they travel, nor are vaccinated people included in capacity limits for private events.
Officials will continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated and take safety precautions — like wearing a mask and staying socially distant — as there’s still a high risk for spreading COVID-19 among unvaccinated people.
Current vaccines have been shown to be highly effective at preventing serious illness and death among those more common variants, but the vast majority of Chicagoans have not yet been fully vaccinated.
Another 38 Illinoisans were reported dead from coronavirus over the past day.
The most recent victims included 15 people from Cook County, including a man in his 30s and two men in their 40s.
At least 21,927 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois, and another 2,325 deaths are probably related to the virus, according to the state.
The state reported 3,394 cases over the past day. That brings the total number of confirmed cases in Illinois up to 1,331,848.
Across Illinois, 97,434 vaccine doses are being administered per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. Illinois and Chicago have administered at least 9,155,989 vaccine doses of the 11,546,345 provided to them.
City data shows 1,948,745 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans, and 2,107,077 doses have been administered in the city overall. About 44.1 percent of all Chicagoans have gotten at least one shot, while 30.2 percent have completed their vaccination. Among Chicagoans 65 and older, about 65.9 percent have gotten at least one dose, while 54.8 percent have finished their vaccination.
People are still at risk from COVID-19 and will have to continue taking precautions for much of 2021, officials have said. People should keep wearing a mask, staying socially distant, washing their hands frequently, not gathering, not traveling and not having people into their home, experts have said.
Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate rose slightly to 3.5 percent Thursday with 89,057 tests reported. It was at 3.4 percent Wednesday. The figure represents the percentage of people testing positive among recent tests.
Illinois’ seven-day test positivity rate, which measures the percentage of tests that were positive, fell slightly to 4 percent Thursday. It was at 4.1 percent Wednesday.
As of Wednesday night, 2,115 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 475 people in the ICU and 231 people using ventilators.
In Chicago, 10 deaths and 654 confirmed cases were reported since Wednesday. There have been at least 5,169 deaths from COVID-19 in Chicago and 274,801 confirmed cases, according to state data.
The city is seeing an average of five deaths per day, unchanged from the week prior.
An average of 527 confirmed cases are being reported per day, a 16 percent decrease from the previous week. At the same time, testing has fallen 3 percent since a week ago.
The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 4.7 percent, down from 5.4 percent the week before.
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