Coronavirus Illinois: IL moves into Phase 3 of reopening plan Friday; COVID-19 cases top 118K with over 5K deaths – WLS-TV

CHICAGO (WLS) — Illinois is reporting more than 1,400 new COVID-19 cases and 61 deaths Saturday, as the state experiences its first weekend under Phase Three of Governor JB Pritzker’s reopening plan.

Illinois health officials announced 1,462 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 118,917. The state’s COVID-19 death toll has now reached 5,330.

Within the past 24 hours, more than 25,000 coronavirus tests have been conducted, for a total of 877,105. As of Saturday, the preliminary 7-day statewide positivity rate for coronavirus cases from May 23-May 29 is 7%.

Gov. JB Pritzker reviewed Illinois’ progress as the state turned a cautious corner Friday.

“The people of Illinois have taken this seriously, and that has made all the difference. In this new phase, the new executive order called ‘The Community Recovery Order’ reflects our new, more open reality,” Pritzker said.

WATCH: Gov. JB Pritzker shares message with Illinois residents as Phase 3 gets underway

Illinois has seen the average number of daily ICU patients fall 20% in four weeks and the average number of daily deaths drop 32% in two weeks.

“The journey to this point has seemed very long, and unfortunately, the journey is far from over,” Pritzker said. “Let’s be clear on this: the virus is still out there, and it is still very dangerous.”

State officials said there’s still much work to do as Illinois ramps up its contact tracing program, warning about scam artists.

“No contact tracers would be asking you for any money, asking for social security numbers or bank account numbers or credit card numbers,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Please know that if any requests for that are associated with contact tracing, that is in fact a scam.”

According to new IDPH data, more than half of Illinois’ COVID-19 deaths are now linked to long term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

State officials now link 2,747 deaths to the facilities. That’s 52% of the total number of deaths statewide. In comparison, these facilities have had just 15% of the state’s COVID-19 cases, at 17,135.

WATCH: Suburban salons, retail stores reopen under Phase 3 of Restore Illinois

The transition to Phase Three was a welcome sight for many suburban businesses.

At Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery, the return of outdoor dining means owner Carolyn Armstrong can bring back furloughed staff.

“I think it’s character building for everybody right now. What is going to be your new normal? We don’t know,” Armstrong said.

Meanwhile in Schaumburg, Angelina Panagakos, 95, was one of the first clients back inside of PH Salon Friday.

“I need a haircut, a perm, a mani, a pedi,” Panganakos said.

Personal care services, including salons, barbershops and spas, are now back open for business.

“We are going to treat it like the doctor’s office,” said Toni Waitkus of PH Salon.

The salon will take customers’ temperature before entering, and offer sanitizer and face masks, Waitkus said.

Health clubs and gyms are now allowed to reopen for one-on-one personal training and outdoor classes with a maximum of 10 people.

Under state guidelines, all workout equipment must be spaced 10 feet apart.

“I think people are most concerned about controlling the occupancy, and luckily, we have this space for it,” said Justin Curry, owner of Ultimate Fitness in Schaumburg.

Curry is focused on keeping his clients safe.

“Sanitize everything, not just at the end of the day, but every time a piece of equipment is used,” Curry said.

Many non-essential retailers that were closed for weeks can now reopen with safety guidelines.

Woodfield Mall rolled out social distancing signage, a mandatory mask policy, limited hours and employee health screenings.

In Glen Ellyn, Blackberry Market opened its patio up this morning, welcoming loyal customers back for the first time in months.

“Just seeing the spacing between the tables and you know the risk is still there, but I think I’m venturing out cautiously,” said Steve Nelson, a restaurant customer.

With Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan, bars and restaurants can open for outdoor seating only, with safety restrictions in place.

Chicago will be able to move to Phase 3 on Wednesday, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“I’m just really excited to add this element back in and we’re looking forward to the next phases too. I hope everyone stays safe and we can just keep moving forward,” said Anna Davidson, the owner of Blackberry Market.

The phone at the Busy Bee Barber Shop next door on Main Street was ringing off the hook Friday morning.

Bill Blackburn was one of the lucky ones who got an appointment Friday morning. Many will have to wait until Wednesday with the schedule booked solid.

“I just kept calling and hoping that Joe would be in here making appointments before opening up today,” Blackburn said.

The owner, Joe Etheridge, placed barriers between chairs and took several other safety measures.

“I can’t come in without an appointment, can’t come in without a mask, can’t wait in here unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Etheridge said.

Meanwhile, Perfect 10 Nail Salon is also open for business.

Customers with appointments had their temperatures checked upon entry. Nail technicians wore face shields and have also added plastic barriers to work stations.

“I wasn’t really expecting it, but I feel a lot safer that they have these things in place,” said Chrissy Dougherty, a Perfect 10 customer.

Lesley Vesevick owns a stationary store next to the nail shop, she can now open her doors to a limited amount of customers.

“I’m so excited. It feels like we’re opening for the first day,” Vesevick said.
Restore Illinois: 5-phase reopening plan by Governor Pritzker splits IL into 4 regions

Starting Friday in everywhere outside of Chicago:

-Outdoor dining is permitted,
-Offices, barbershops, hair and nail salons can re-open,
-State parks and tennis courts re-open,
-Gatherings of ten or less are permitted, and
-Social distancing and wearing a mask are required.

Coronavirus in Illinois: Latest news on COVID-19 cases, Chicago area impact

Governor Pritzker said June 26 is the earliest possible date the state will enter Phase 4 when restrictions ease on more businesses in Illinois.

Gov. Pritzker announced a crackdown on nursing homes and other long-term care facilities – but most facilities are privately run, creating a problem in reporting and oversight.

“Strong compliance from many isn’t good enough to counteract any heel dragging at any privately-held nursing homes,” Pritzker said. “The Illinois Department of Public Health is today filing a rulemaking requiring each facility to develop its own individualized testing Plan.

The new rules require all private facilities to develop an individualized testing plan and document their relationship with a testing lab. It also mandates compliance with infection control recommendations.

“This new rule will require nursing homes to conduct testing when experiencing an outbreak, when an outbreak is suspected, periodic testing even when there is no sign of an outbreak,” Pritzker said.

“Facilities must immediately notify public health officials of any confirmed COVID-19 case, whether it’s a staff or a resident,” Dr. Ezike added.
WATCH: New guidelines released for places of worship

In the last 24 hours, the state has lifted restrictions for houses of worship. Though, new IDPH guidance still recommends virtual and outdoor services.

But Illinois officials said if indoor services are held, the recommended capacity is 25% of the building, or a maximum of 100 people. Multiple small services are preferred over a single large one, and officials recommend no singing or group recitation.

The new guidance comes after five churches in Lake County sued the governor to be able to hold indoor services.

One of those churches is the Christian Assembly of God in Zion, which was planning to open its sanctuary on Sunday regardless.

“We were inviting everybody,” Pastor Keith Fielding said. “I think the way we’ve got our sanctuary set up, we’ve utilized space, that we have no flow room. And so we’ve expanded that to its fullest so we can really just use out the chairs quite well.”

As people continue to have problems filing for unemployment benefits, some Republican lawmakers are calling for the Illinois Auditor General to conduct an investigation.

“The IDES website continues to crash, folks are still unable to call into the automated phone system. And now some offices are closed. Customer service is getting worse, not better,” Rep. Brad Stephenson (R-Rosemont) said.

“If their goal is to figure out what didn’t work right, I have stood here I don’t know how many times over the last two plus months and told people what hasn’t worked right and how we’ve been trying to address it,” Pritzker said.

And there is some good news for fans of horse racing. Starting next month, the state is allowing horse racing on Illinois tracks with no spectators in the stands. But fans can still place wagers online and over the phone.

Another sign the state is turning a corner, Gov. Pritzker said he’s ending his daily COVID-19 briefings but will continue to give regular related updates.

WATCH: Illinois steps up efforts to expand contact tracing


Bars and Restaurants Can Open for Outdoor Seating, All State Parks to Open

Building on a robust, statewide effort to ensure Illinois can safely reopen and following the data, science, and guidance from public health experts and stakeholders across the state, Governor Pritzker announced updates to Phase 3 of the state’s Restore Illinois plan.
“We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better. And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of our reopening plan Restore Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans.”

In the coming days, the state and IDPH will be issuing formal industry-specific guidance, particularly around workplaces and childcare, for business owners and employees in these and other sectors.
Bars and Restaurants
With Phase 3, bars and restaurants will have the option to resume operations for outdoor seating only. Tables must be six feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff must continue to be followed, and other precautions and guidance will be issued.

These measures will allow restaurants to re-open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, while giving the state’s hospitality industry a much-needed boost.
Municipalities are encouraged to help restaurants and bars expand their outdoor seating options.
To date, the administration has delivered over $14 million in small business grants averaging $20,000 to 699 bars, restaurants, and hotels across 270 individual cities in Illinois.

Outdoor Activities

With the start of phase 3, all state parks will reopen on May 29. All concession will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in Phase 3. Illinois will permit the re-opening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits.

For golf, in Phase 3, courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart.

With the new ten person gathering limit for all activities in Phase 3, boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted.

The state will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors in Phase 3.

Health Clubs, Retail, and Personal Care Services

In Phase 3, health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.

Personal care services, like nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.

And all retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place.

Local governments retain the right to establish stricter restrictions in any areas.

“The Governor’s action to allow for expanded outdoor dining options will benefit many restaurants at a time when every dollar counts and provides a glimmer of light at the end of this long, COVID-19 tunnel. Innovative outdoor dining strategies extend a lifeline – restoring jobs and offering guests the hospitality experience they’ve been missing while prioritizing public health and safety. Outdoor dining will not help every restaurant, but it is a constructive step in the right direction,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

“The Allied Golf Associations of Illinois are grateful that we had the opportunity to collaborate with the Governor’s office to propose safely lifting some of the restrictions that had been in place for golf. The Phase 3 changes will allow more people to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of the game, and do so in a way that is safe for both golfers and facility staff,” said Carrie Williams, Executive Director of the Illinois PGA and Illinois PGA Foundation.

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