Chicago ready to begin reopening

Chronicle Media

The Harold Washington Library could reopen as early as June 8 as city begins opening services that had been closed to the public, including park facilities and libraries. (File photo by Igor Studenkov/for Chronicle Media)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health have announced the city is on track to transition to phase 3 of the “Protecting Chicago” framework and will begin reopening today (June 3).

Reopening in phase 3 will still require physical distancing but will begin to allow some industries to start up again. Guidelines in phase 3 include physical distancing; wearing a face covering; limiting nonbusiness, social gatherings to less than 10 people; staying at home if you feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19; and getting tested if you have symptoms. City services that had been closed to the public, including park facilities and libraries, will begin reopening June 8.

“Throughout the pandemic, I have been overwhelmed by the service and sacrifice made by countless Chicagoans from every corner of our city and every walk of life,” Lightfoot said. “Our ability to meet this moment would not have been possible without the work and passion of countless other Chicagoans who stepped up for their city during our time of need. It’s because of all these efforts that Chicago is poised to begin cautiously reopening on June 3.”

CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D., issued a public health order extending Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Stay-at-Home Order in the city until June 3.

“While we as a city have made tremendous progress on many of the health-based metrics necessary to move to phase 3, the last thing any of us wants is to experience a set-back that would mean another spike in COVID cases and deaths,” Arwady said. “I’m particularly concerned about the communities and people who have been most impacted by this outbreak because they will experience any resurgence more than others. We need to continue to take this seriously as we move into the next phase.”

Factors guiding Chicago’s reopening decisions are:

Declining rate of new cases

  • COVID-19 case counts (over 14 days, based on a seven-day rolling average):
    • Goal: Declining number of new cases, based on incidence and/or percent positivity
    • Progress: Daily case counts decreasing on average 1.7 percent for seven days. Over the prior seven days, they decreased on average 2.9 percent (Black, non-Latinx counts stable or decreasing for 26 days; Latinx counts decreasing for 16 days; Asian, non-Latinx counts decreasing for 23 of 26 days; and White, non-Latinx counts decreasing for 25 days)
  • Severe outcome rate (over 14 days, based on a seven-day rolling average):
    • Goal: Stable or declining rates of cases resulting in hospitalization, ICU admission, and/or death
    • Progress:
      • Hospital admissions declining by 13 days
      • ICU bed occupancy stable or declining for 18 days
      • Number of deaths decreasing by 2.5 percent on average for 10 days
  • Syndromic surveillance:
    • Goal: Declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and/or COVID-like illness for 14 days
    • Progress:
      • Emergency department visits among Chicago residents with influenza-like illnesses decreasing on average 2.2 percent daily over 27 days
      • Emergency department visits among Chicago residents with COVID-19 related illnesses declining on average 2.9 percent daily for 12 days


Adequate hospital capacity

Hospital capacity citywide (over 14 days, based on a seven-day rolling average):

    • Goal:
      • Hospital beds: <1,800 COVID patients
      • ICU beds: <600 COVID patients
      • Ventilators: <450 COVID patients
    • Progress:
      • <1,800 COVID-19 patients in acute non-ICU hospital beds
      • <600 COVID-19 patients in ICU beds
      • <450 COVID-19 patients on ventilators since beginning of epidemic


Adequate testing capacity

  • Testing Capacity:
    • Goal: Ability to perform 4,500 tests per day
    • Progress: Conducting almost 5,000 tests per day
  • Testing percent positivity rate:
    • Goal: Community positivity rate: <15 percent
    • Progress: Community positivity rate at 16.3 percent
    • Goal: Congregate settings positive rate: <30 percent
    • Progress: Congregate positivity rate at 15.2 percent


Adequate Response Capacity

  • Case investigation & contact tracing:
    • Goal: Expanded system in place for congregate and community investigations and contact tracing
    • Progress: Chicago Department of Public Health is expanding its contact tracing and case investigation capabilities. That includes a request for proposals in which the city has allocated $56 million in COVID-19 relief funding for community organizations in areas of high economic hardship to train and certify a 600-person workforce to support contact tracing.


To allow businesses and organizations to prepare for the reopening, Mayor Lightfoot, in partnership with CDPH, industry leaders, labor leaders, and public officials from around Chicago, has released industry-specific guidelines for businesses, employees, and customers to follow as they begin to reopen June 3. Industry-specific guidelines include details such as how businesses can engage in 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. The guidelines are aligned with the state-issued guidelines, with additional specificity included for Chicago’s context. Specific guidelines for sporting events, religious services, outdoor performances, summer programs and youth activities, the Lakefront, and museums will be available later in phase 3 when those entities are predicted to begin reopening.

Lightfoot also announced a partnership with The Second City to produce a weekly web series that will communicate information regarding the city’s “Protecting Chicago” five-phase framework guiding Chicago’s reopening process amid COVID-19. The show, titled “The Second City’s Phased & Confused” will premiere on both Mayor Lightfoot’s and The Second City’s Facebook pages beginning Thursday (June 4) and will feature interviews with city officials and local heroes, original sketch comedy, animation, music, and guests.

“We’re all improvising right now during this unprecedented time, and no organization is more adept at that skill than The Second City. Our hope is to use this platform to shine a light on the shared questions, concerns, and experiences happening across every walk of life in Chicago right now to bring people together in a way that uplifts and empowers,” said Kelly Leonard, executive director of learning and applied improvisation for The Second City.

”We’ve called Chicago home for over 60 years, and it’s an honor to give back to the city by helping it navigate some of the most confusing issues of our lifetime. We’re grateful to Mayor Lightfoot for the opportunity,” said Andrew Alexander, CEO of The Second City.

Longtime partner to the city, BMO Harris Bank, is the inaugural sponsor for the first five episodes of “The Second City’s Phased & Confused” series.

“We’ve been part of Chicago for over 160 years, and we’re committed to boldly growing the good in all of our neighborhoods,” said David Casper, U.S. CEO, BMO Financial Group. ”We’re thrilled to be working with Second City to help reopen our great city.”

Phases 1 and 2 of the “Protecting Chicago” framework fell under the banner of Mayor Lightfoot’s “Stay Home. Save Lives.” campaign.

As the city begins exiting out of shelter-in-place, residents will see a new campaign entitled “Be Safe Chicago” for the remaining phases.

Last month, the city launched a reopening survey that more than 57,000 Chicagoans responded to, which helped shape the city’s plan for reopening. Now, as the city moves into the next phase, it invites residents to fill out a survey to inform Chicago’s recovery planning: