The sun rises over a frigid Lake Michigan early Sunday near the Museum Campus. 📷 Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
• The city is easing restrictions on indoor capacity for bars and restaurants starting Thursday. Restaurants, bars and events spaces will be allowed to host the lesser of 50 people or 25 percent capacity of a room or floor.
The next big change for restaurants will be the expansion of indoor capacity to 40 percent, but that won’t happen until the city is rated as “moderate-risk” level. Read more here.
• Other updates to business regulations will also be considered once the city is at “moderate-risk” level or lower for three days. The city will use these metrics to guide changes:
COVID cases diagnosed per day: This number must be below 400 new cases per day to reach the “moderate-risk” level. The city is currently averaging 466 new cases per day.
COVID test positivity: The city is already in the “low-risk” level as it has a positivity rate of 4.7 percent as of Wednesday.
Emergency department visits for COVID-like illness: The city is currently in the “moderate-risk” level as it has an average of 69 per day.
ICU beds occupied by people with COVID: The city is currently in the “moderate-risk” level as it has an average of 148 per day.
• The state is expanding who is eligible for coronavirus vaccinations to include people with underlying conditions and disabilities starting Feb. 25. It's making the move because Illinois is getting an increased supply of vaccine doses from the federal government, Gov. JB Pritzker said in a news release.
Previously, only health care workers, frontline workers and people 65 and older were eligible for Phase 1B vaccinations. People with underlying conditions were going to have to wait for Phase 1C to start before they’d be eligible. Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said the city is still getting too few vaccine doses from the federal government to expand eligibility — and there are too many people in phases 1A and 1B who still need a vaccine. Read more here.
• Another 53 Illinoisans dead from coronavirus and 2,825 confirmed cases were reported in the past day. Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate held at 3.3 percent Wednesday with 82,885 tests reported. Read more here.
• The state is administering an average of 55,135 vaccine doses per day, based on a seven-day rolling average. So far, Illinois has administered at least 1,256,289 vaccine doses of the 1,724,325 provided to it. More than 281,000 doses of vaccine have been administered to Chicagoans.
Another 223,790 vaccines have been administered in long-term care facilities, which have been provided with 428,100 doses. All together, at least 1,480,079 vaccine doses have been administered in Illinois.
• The federal government will likely start sending more vaccine doses per week to Chicago in several weeks, with the bump coming at the end of February or beginning of March, Arwady said. As of now, the city is getting only 6,000 doses per day — a tiny number compared to the more than 700,000 people eligible under 1B and 1A. Read more here.
• As of Tuesday night, 2,082 people were hospitalized with coronavirus in Illinois, including 464 people in the ICU and 232 people using ventilators.
• In Chicago, nine deaths and 398 confirmed cases were reported since Tuesday. The city’s seven-day positivity rate is at 4.7 percent, down from 5.6 percent the week before. Read more here.
• The indoor gardens at the Garfield Park Conservatory will soon be open to guests after being closed due to the pandemic.
Visitors can reserve timed-entry slots to accommodate social distancing and a lower capacity. People who live near the conservatory will be given first pick of the 60-minute reservation slots. For the general public, registration opens 10 a.m. Friday. To register, click here. The reservation slots will be available for the conservatory’s new hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Read more here.