Chicago coronavirus: Countdown to reopening as city, state prepare to ease COVID restrictions

Chicago coronavirus: Countdown to reopening as city, state prepare to ease COVID restrictions

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CHICAGO (WLS) — We may be in the final stretch towards reopening, thanks to high vaccination numbers and low COVID-19 case numbers, but doctors say this does not mean we’re in the final stretch of this pandemic.

In downtown Chicago, businesses are counting down the days to their opening as the city and state prepare to fully reopen.

The Sheraton Grand Hotel featured unique designs on hotel windows leading up to its reopening Monday.

“The metrics are all pointing towards safely being able to reopen the state of Illinois, which is very exciting,” said Dr. Zachary Rubin, a clinical immunologist.

On Friday, Illinois will move into the next phase, marking a full reopening of all businesses and activities across the state. That means lifted capacity and social distancing mandates.

RELATED: Chicago reopening: City moving to Phase 5 with rest of Illinois, Mayor Lightfoot says

However, Dr. Rubin still cautions the public as we return to normal to keep some of the pandemic’s best practices.

“I still think it’s important in major gatherings, especially folks who are not vaccinated, to still wear a mask because these events are going to get quite large and so transmission will still happen,” he said.

The CDC said as of Sunday, more than 300 million vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S.

The Pilsen community contributed to that as hundreds got their shot at a vaccination clinic focused on helping the immigrant community.

“It’s our duty to protect and serve people that don’t have the ability to get the vaccine,” said Elijah Bermejo, who got his second dose Sunday.

“We are hardest hit by COVID, right, so we want to make sure that the vaccines come to us,” added Karina Ayala-Bermejo, president and CE of Instituto del Progreso Latino.

Dr. Rubin said as restrictions lift completely in the days to come, the public should still keep their guard up.

“The pandemic is not over. Globally we still see high levels of transmission, all over the place. While things are getting better here locally, we’re still going to be affected by what’s happening, halfway across the globe,” he said. “Phase Five is not saying we can do whatever we want.”

He makes his point knowing, especially with this pandemic, any regression will mean more than just rollbacks but more people infected.

RELATED: Chicago lakefront sees big crowds for hottest day of the year as COVID restrictions ease

“Things can roll back at any point and that’s why there are metrics in place. As we look at case numbers and hospitalization rates, if they start to creep back up, this may go back to a different place,” Dr. Rubin said.

A reminder to the public that even though mask mandates will ease up for people who are fully vaccinated, mask will still be required on public transit, in hospital settings and individual businesses can still enforce their own rules.

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