Mayor Lightfoot Unveils 'Protecting Chicago' Framework: City's Reopening Plan

WBBM Newsradio Staff
May 08, 2020 - 2:42 pm

    CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Public Health on Friday announced the “Protecting Chicago” framework that the city will use to guide Chicago’s reopening process amid COVID-19. 

    "We have begun to flatten the curve of Chicago's COVID-19 cases; however, as I said before, we must never confuse promising gains with outright success. We are not at the point were we can begin reopening our city yet. The light at the end of the tunnel is absolutely there, but is still just a glimmer, and we still have a long way to go, before we can safely return to the way things were before. We will get there, but we have to do it in a way we have always done it from the very beginning of this pandemic -- to be guided by the data and the science, our public health guidance, period," Lightfoot said.

    "To do otherwise would be reckless, irresponsible, and of course, deadly. And I will not allow that to happen in this city. That is why today I am proud to be joining our public health commissioner, Dr. Allison Arwady and others here to announce the Protecting Chicago Framework, specifically designed for Chicago's residents and businesses and encompassing a clear, data-driven, five-phase process."

    Lightfoot said the framework dovetails with Gov. Pritzker's outline for reopening Illinois and is tailored to the city's unique environment. Lightfoot said the city has been working on these plans for weeks.

    "Protecting Chicago framework is more than just a roadmap for city leadership. It is about protecting all of our residents and businesses, as well as protecting the future of our city as we move through this crisis and lay the foundation for the recovery that must and will follow. This also represents a framework from the dialogue we will be having with our residents and businesses throughout our reopening process - a process of dialogue which has been ongoing throughout," Lightfoot said.

    Chicago has already transitioned from phase one (Strict Stay-at-Home) to phase two (Stay-at-Home).

    PHASE ONE: STRICT STAY-AT-HOME 

    Phase One of Protecting Chicago follows the strict guidelines of staying at home and maintaining safe, physical distance from anyone you do not live with. 

    • Essential workers go to work; everyone else works from home
    • Stay at home and limit going out to essential activities only
    • Physically distance from anyone you do not live with, especially vulnerable friends and family

    Phase 2 does the same; however, while also seeing the flattening of the curve of Chicago's COVID-19 cases.

    PHASE TWO: STAY-AT-HOME 

    • Essential workers go to work; everyone else works from home
    • Stay at home as much as possible
    • Wear a face covering while outside your home
    • Physically distance from anyone you do not live with, especially vulnerable friends and family

    "And we believe that we are in Phase 2 now, and its rules are ones we all know well: only go out for essential activities, brief walks near home, and when you go out, wear a face cover and practice safe, social distancing. Following this phase, when the science and data allows we will move to Phase 3," Lightfoot said.

    PHASE THREE: CAUTIOUSLY REOPEN 

    • Non-essential workers begin to return to work in a phased way
    • Select businesses, non-profits, city entities open with demonstrated, appropriate protections for workers and customers
    • When meeting others, physically distance and wear a face covering
    • Non-business, social gatherings limited to <10 persons
    • Phased, limited public amenities begin to open
    • Stay at home if you feel ill or have come into contact with someone with COVID-19
    • Continue to physically distance from vulnerable populations
    • Get tested if you have symptoms

    Phase 3 is a limited reopening, including non-essential workers returning to their jobs, in a phased manner. Select businesses, non-profits, and city entities will open if they can demonstrate a plan for appropriate protections for employees and customers, Lightfoot said. This phase also allows the limited reopening of some public amenities, as well as small, non-business social gatherings limited to 10 people or fewer. 

    "However, make no mistake, this phase still has us wearing face coverings and physically distancing when meeting others. It also has those of you, who are sick continuing to stay home; and this guidance that even if you are a little bit sick that you must stay home will continue for the foreseeable future," Lightfoot said.

    Those that are a member of a vulnerable population will also be advised to continue to stay home, Lightfoot said; as well as those who have come in contact with someone with COVID-19 continuing to stay home and immediately contacting their healthcare provider if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

    PHASE FOUR: GRADUALLY RESUME

    • Additional business and capacity restrictions are lifted with appropriate safeguards
    • Additional public amenities open
    • Continue to wear face covering and physically distance
    • Continue to distance and allow vulnerable residents to shelter
    • Get tested if you have symptoms or think you have had COVID-19

    Phase 4 allows the city to open "a little further," Lightfoot said, with additional businesses reopening, more restrictions being lifted, and additional reopenings of public amenities, with all residents continuing to wear face coverings and physically distancing. In this phase, vulnerable populations will continue to have to shelter in place.

    PHASE FIVE: PROTECT

    • All businesses open
    • Non-vulnerable individuals can resume working
    • Most activities resume with health safety in place
    • Some events can resume
    • Set up screenings and tests at work or with your family
    • Sign up for a vaccine on the COVID Coach web portal

    "Finally, after all the appropriate measures are met, we will reach Phase 5, our fifth star, which is a near complete reopening of our city," Lightfoot said.

    In Phase 5, businesses will reopen, workers will return to their jobs (as long as they are healthy), and most activities and events will resume. This phase will be supported with workplace screenings and tests.

    "I want to pause for a moment to take a special note about our businesses. What I want is for our city to come out of this crisis stronger and more resilient than we have ever been. I want our recovery to stand as a model for other cities around the world. I want nothing less then for our efforts over the coming months to truly warrant a fifth star on our flag," Lightfoot said. 

    "However, we are facing an urgent crisis with scores of businesses struggling to survive, particularly our small and micro businesses, many of whom are truly hanging on by a thread. Based on the numbers that we are seeing, if these businesses don't open soon, many will be forced to close their doors entirely. And so, to our businesses, I want you to know that we are doing everything we can to keep that from happening and will continue to do so throughout every phase of this crisis. Of course we have to be led by the data and science and only opening additional businesses when we can do so safely. And the question of safety is one that will continue to be in dialogue with a variety of businesses by type, sector, size and that will also influence and inform our public policy."

    Lightfoot said in order to move to the next phase, it comes down to four key questions. 

    1. Is the rate of disease spread across the city and surrounding counties decreasing?
    2. Does the city have the testing and contact-tracing capacity to track the disease and limit spread?
    3. Are there enough support systems in place for vulnerable residents?
    4. Can the healthcare system handle a potential future surge (including beds, ventilators and PPE)?

    "If the answer is no to any of these, then we simply cannot and will not move to the next phase," Lightfoot said. "We will also, if necessary, take a step back if that is where the data leads us."

    Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said CDPH has defined seven indicators that in combination will let the city move from phase two to phase three:

    • COVID-19 Case Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
      • Declining rate of new cases, based on incidence and/or percent positivity
    • Severe Outcome Rate (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
      • Stable or declining rates of cases resulting in hospitalization, ICU admission, and/or death
    • Hospital Capacity Citywide (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
      • Hospital beds: <1800 COVID patients
      • ICU beds: <600 COVID patients
      • Ventilators: <450 COVID patients
    • Testing Capacity:
      • Test at least 5% of Chicago residents per month
    • Testing Percent Positivity Rates (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
      • Congregate: <30% positive tests
      • Community: <15% positive tests
    • Syndromic Surveillance (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
      • Declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and/or COVID-like illness
    • Case Investigation & Contact Tracing:
      • Expanded system in place for congregate and community investigations and contact tracing

    "We have to make sure that as a city we are making progress in all of these areas," Dr. Arwady said. She made it clear that these are not necessarily the indicators for the state's reopening plan, but what the City of Chicago will be using.

    Lightfoot said the city has created an online survey to hear from residents directly, "to hear on the ways you can best support our reopening." She said the responses will shape the city's decisions on where the city needs to place greater emphasis and how the city can make its reopening as smooth and supportive as possible. Lightfoot encourages all Chicagoans to fill out the survey by visiting the city's COVID-19 website.

    Lightfoot said the survey is simple, short, and anonymous. 

    "These next steps will be important and encouraging , but we cannot get ahead of ourselves. This is a framework we will need to operate in until we have a vaccine for COVID-19. And regardless of what you may be hearing elsewhere, the truth is, we do not know right now when a vaccine will be available. All of us, of course, want it to come as soon as possible, but at this point, we don't anticipate on having one until sometime in 2021," Lightfoot said. "Until then, the structure of our lives will continue to be based on how we can safely move around."