If current trends hold, the state could move to full reopening under the state’s revised plan by early-to-mid June.
But Pritzker said Tuesday that although he’s optimistic about where the state is in its efforts to slow COVID-19′s spread, “we can’t predict the future, and this virus has proven to be very challenging.”
Meanwhile, unvaccinated travelers heading from Indiana to Chicago will have to quarantine or test negative for COVID-19 starting Friday under the city’s latest update to its emergency travel order.
Here’s what’s happening Wednesday with COVID-19 in the Chicago area:
12:52 p.m.: Bears single-game tickets to go on sale May 12 as fans prepare to return to Soldier Field for the 2021 NFL season
The Chicago Bears will begin selling single-game tickets for the 2021 season May 12 at 8:30 p.m., marking preparation for fans’ return to Soldier Field.
Tickets for single games and suites will go on sale next week after the NFL unveils the schedules for all 32 teams at 7 p.m. on NFL Network. The Bears will hold a presale for season ticket holders and those on the season ticket priority list starting at 7.
12:20 p.m.: The iftar meal looks different during a pandemic Ramadan, but Chicago-area Muslims are finding solace in traditional, tenderly made dishes
The table for iftar — the meal marking the end of a day’s fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan — is traditionally filled with chewy dates, water, bite-sized snacks and dishes that make an appearance but once a year.
For Almira Ahmetovic, it’s sarma, ground beef wrapped in cabbage leaves, and burek, a baked pastry filled with ground beef.
Like most people finding ways to make this second pandemic Ramadan feel special, 29-year-old Ahmetovic and her family have been cooking up traditional Bosnian dishes on Chicago’s Northwest Side.
In the final fasting days ahead of May 13′s Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, the family has enjoyed cooking together more by virtue of having more time on their hands, and because this year, the month has a little bit smaller of a footprint.
“Our house is kind of like a train station full of people invited over for iftar — if not every night, at least three or four times a week. I’m not complaining; we love having people over,” she said. “But when you have guests, you can’t really sit down to eat your own iftar properly, because you’re too busy serving. So now that it’s scaled back and it’s just us, we get to spend more time enjoying that part.”
12:11 p.m.: 2,410 new COVID-19 cases, 30 deaths reported Wednesday
Illinois public health officials on Wednesday reported 2,410 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 30 additional deaths. That brings the state’s totals to 1,346,398 cases and 22,096 deaths.
There were 77,670 tests reported in the previous 24 hours and the seven-day statewide positivity rate as a percent of total test is 3.3%.
There were 96,415 doses reported administered in Illinois, including about 40,000 not reported by pharmacies over the weekend because of nationwide system issues. It’s possible more doses could still be added, officials said. The seven-day rolling average of daily vaccine doses given is 71,219.
11:30 a.m.: Northalsted Market Days announces tentative return Aug. 6-8
Northalsted Market Days — the popular LGBTQ+-friendly street fest in Lakeview — announced tentative plans Wednesday to return in August after canceling last year due to the pandemic.
The announcement from Northalsted Business Alliance lays out a three-day festival Aug. 6-8, adding a Friday night portion for the first time in the event’s history. The August timing is typical for Market Days, which feature live music, vendors, food and drink, dancing and more.
11:02 a.m.: With annual AP exams underway, some students feel ‘wildly unprepared’ because of the pandemic
Kyujin Derradji is well-versed in Advanced Placement exams, having taken one as a sophomore and three as a junior. Now a senior at Northside College Prep High School, Derradji, 17, of Humboldt Park, is slated to take four more exams in May.
But this pandemic year is different.
“My classes have divided up the learning materials too much to accommodate for remote learning,” Derradji said in an email. “I feel wildly unprepared to take timed AP exams where I have to fill these gaps in preparation on the spot.”
Starting this week, thousands of students in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are taking the annual AP exams. Both in Chicago and across the nation, the number of exams taken is expected to be higher than in previous years. But with the majority of AP instruction happening remotely in and near Chicago, some students feel at a disadvantage.
10:21 a.m.: With safety measures in place, farmers market season kicks off on the North Shore
In a true sign that summer is on the horizon, the Downtown Evanston Farmers Market opened May 1 with 57 vendors on hand.
The market at University Place and Oak Avenue is now in its 46th year of operation. An average of 6,000 people come through the Evanston market each Saturday, said Myra Gorman, the market’s manager.
This year, the socially distanced closed square again used a monitored gate and exit.
“We’ll still be a no touch market,” Gorman said, referring to COVID-19 pandemic protocols on vendor inventory handling. “People will ask the vendors what they are looking for.”
Outside of the closed square are food vendors and miscellaneous sellers.
Other North Shore communities have either started up or will soon debut their farmers markets.
Traders at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2011. (Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune)
10:04 a.m.: CME Group will close most of its trading pits — for good
Fourteen months after temporarily closing its trading pits because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CME Group says most of them will not reopen.
The only “open-outcry” trading that will continue will be in the Eurodollar options pit, which reopened in August and also allows electronic trading, CME Group said Tuesday.
The transition to electronic trading has been going on for years and most of CME Group’s trading pits in Chicago and New York were closed in 2015.
9:30 a.m.: City announces concert series for fully vaccinated Chicagoans
Chicago will host a series of concerts for those who get vaccinated against COVID-19, the city announced Wednesday.
The series is scheduled to kick off May 22 in Hyde Park with performances by DJ Ron Trent and Duane Powell. The Silver Room, which used to host an annual block party in Chicago, is a partner in the first concert.
To attend, concertgoers must have received the final dose of a two-dose vaccine or a single-dose vaccine on or before May 8. The city said each concert will be ticketed, and attendees must bring their CDC vaccination card and a matching photo ID. Tickets will be distributed via Eventbrite, designated vaccination sites and will call.
8:45 a.m.: RealGood Stuff plots big post-pandemic restaurant expansion in Chicago and beyond
RealGood Stuff Co. has leased space in a Fulton Market office building as the fast-casual restaurant concept maps an ambitious expansion more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2,500-square-foot store at 333 N. Green St. is expected to open in October.
It is one of four the Chicago company will open in 2021, on its way to having two dozen locations over the next few years, said Jon Schiff, CEO of RealGood Stuff Co.
RealGood Stuff got its start with an emphasis on juices, but it now offers breakfast, lunch and dinner items as well as drinks. The menu includes smoothies, juices, grain bowls and other items using ingredients from farms known for supplying high-end restaurants, such as Spence Farm in central Illinois’ Fairbury and Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph, Michigan.
The expansion plans come during a challenging time for restaurants, many of which closed for good during the pandemic. There’s hope of a comeback as more people are fully vaccinated, and some restaurant investors are looking to gobble up available spaces in top locations.
“This is an industry that’s been decimated, and we’re in a position where I’d like to take some risk,” Schiff said.
6 a.m.: Illinois’ COVID-19 vaccination pace is slowing, particularly downstate. Here’s what researchers say must be done to boost the effort and return to normalcy.
At first glance, there may not be a lot in common between the tiny downstate town of Arthur and Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood.
Arthur is surrounded by flat farmland in the heart of Illinois’ Amish country, a largely white, solidly Republican area. Englewood helps anchor Chicago’s dense South Side, largely Black and reliably Democratic. But the unprecedented pandemic has spurred one similarity: low COVID-19 vaccination rates.
Such communities represent the new battlefield for Illinois to reach herd immunity — or, more likely, something closer to it — in the march toward normalcy.
Those who study and work in vaccinations say an already exhausted public health ecosystem must build and flex a different set of bureaucratic muscles. The goal? To lure the ambivalent or leery into their favorite doctors’ offices or clinics where they can easily get a shot, or at least talk through concerns.
A Tribune analysis of federal and state data shows that there is plenty of work to do, with millions of adults remaining unvaccinated, and some regions now vaccinating so slowly that — if the pace doesn’t change — it could take them a year or more to get close to herd immunity.
6 a.m.: Grant Park Music Festival returns in 2021 with lawn pods, lithe ensembles, and a little season
This summer’s Grant Park Music Festival festivities won’t be Beethoven as usual.
From July 2 to Aug. 21, the festival orchestra and chorus will return to their home at Pritzker Pavilion, marking the unofficial opening of public summer events at the venue. Though safety protocols will transform the festival’s sound and duration, Grant Park’s core mission remains intact: The 2021 season includes a healthy offering of programmatic rarities, the chorus will sing its usual six programs, and, yes, lawn spots will remain free of charge.
The festival will run for eight weeks instead of its usual 10 — kicking off with its traditional July 4 concert, in a bold change of pace — and only a maximum of 65 instrumentalists and singers will perform on any given program. A dramatic change in stage configuration will bring the chorus out in front of the orchestra, with brass in the choir loft for some heftier works. In accordance with safety protocols negotiated with the American Guild of Musical Artists, the union representing Grant Park Festival Chorus members, choristers will sing masked and spaced six feet apart side-to-side and nine feet front-to-back.
“We wondered, how do we take a smaller contingent and still create a season that feels like a Grant Park Music Festival?” says festival president and CEO Paul Winberg. “This organization has always been committed to bringing live music back to Millennium Park for live audiences, no matter what barriers were thrown our way.”
COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be held at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville May 22 and June 12 as Indian Prairie School District 204 and Naperville School District 203 push for eligible students to get vaccinated.
The clinics are a partnership between the two Naperville-area districts and Osco Pharmacy, which will administer the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Six thousand vaccine doses will be on hand and available to anyone 16 or older who signs up.
Teens will receive the first dose May 22 and second three weeks later. The district is advising parents to not register their children for appointments if they cannot make both dates.
Patrick Nolten, District 203′s assistant superintendent for assessment and accountability, said eligible families have been sent an email invitation with an embedded registration link. Appointments also can be booked through the two districts’ websites.
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