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Democrats, business leaders argue for phased approach to full reopening, and they want it to start soon

Friday, Mar 5, 2021

* More background from this committee hearing is here if you need it. Capitol News Illinois

Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza said she is hopeful outdoor events can return as early as this summer with large indoor events such as conventions and trade shows beginning in the fall.

Speaking during a Senate Tourism and Hospitality Committee hearing, Mendoza said that the return to holding events would be gradual and based on a number of factors, including COVID-19 transmission and vaccination rates. […]

Some business leaders told the committee that they have been set back by the state’s current cap of 50 people for event gatherings under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois guidelines. Phase 5 of the reopening plan would allow for a return of large-scale events with the necessary safety precautions, pending the widespread availability of a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment.

As a result of the federal government moving up projections that a vaccine could be available to the entire population by the end of May, business leaders asked the committee for a “ramp” approach to reopening under Phase 5 to allow events to resume in some capacity as soon as possible.

* Center Square

State Sen. Suzy Glowiack Hilton, D-Western Springs, said the difference of Phase 4 with a cap of 50 people and Phase 5 with no restrictions is too great.

“It’s all or small and we need an in-between piece to kind of ramp us up and plan and give us some predictability for the folks who really need it because we’ve got to get our people back to work,” Glowiack Hilston said. […]

State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, said meetings expected in about 10 days aren’t going to cut it compared to other states.

“That is the same week that Connecticut, Nevada and New York are actually already going to be implementing their 100-150 capacity, but we’re still in these internal conversations,” Feigenholtz said.

150 people ain’t gonna help the convention industry much.

And while Texas is fully reopening soon and abandoning its mask mandate, it has a 10 percent positivity rate, which is five times higher than Illinois’ rate. Texas’ daily new case rate is 25 per 100,000. Illinois’ rate is 14.2. But no prominent Democrat in this state is arguing for such a drastic move.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - RNUG - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:19 am:

    == 150 people ain’t gonna help the convention industry much. ==

    It won’t help the giant convention operations in Chicago. But there are lots of smaller meetings / conventions that occur around the state. For everyone else, a cap of 100 - 250 or some number in there would be a big deal.

  2. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:23 am:

    I’m oversimplifying my thoughts, but I’m pretty much at “let’s open up everything at 50% and keep the mask mandate.” Our positivity rates are so low, that if we keep using common sense, everything will be able to completely reopen without restrictions in a matter of a few months. Thanks J&J.

  3. - walker - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:27 am:

    False Spring this week Ask again in a month

  4. - RNUG - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:28 am:

    To clarify, the State really does need to set some metrics to gradually reopen things between 50 and anything goes.

  5. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:37 am:

    I’ve showed my work over the past few days at to why the state should be pushing the door open.

    It’s about time for a noon presser from the Governor’s office with a deep explanation now as to why that’s not in the cards. What is the R naught now? This perhaps is more important than everything other than hospitalizations. With a good sized herd immunity and a million people with a jab in their arm the - is the virus still moving between 2 and 4 people or is it under 2?

    Hospitalizations are lower than they were in the summer. The vaccine is working - keeping people out of the hospital and keeping people from dying.

    The Gov’ was always quick to slow down or stop activity, but he’s never been as quick to make a choice to crank things back up. That’s too bad.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 10:50 am:


    === “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. … The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters.”===

    It’s Neanderthal thinking.

    If one takes it personal that one is a Neanderthal, that’s on them.

    Victimhood is like that.

    To the post,

    There needs to be a real reckoning to what and where things mean and stand, with the vaccine, the ways to do things safe, and the goals to move forward to bring things back.

    Neanderthal thinking is this idea that it’s October 2019, we should be “free and clear”

    Yeah… no. (To put a lil Midwestern talk in this)

    The goal is safety with expansion, its moving forward without making things roll back.

    Not grasping that… well… it’s not helpful

  7. - Lefty Lefty - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:08 am:

    This should be an easy fix. High school football and soccer start next week, and the 50-person limit applies to these stadiums that seat 1000s in some cases. And way team fans aren’t allowed.

    As Zeynep Tufekci pointed out in the Atlantic recently, there have been no documented outdoor super spreader events. Outdoor activities should be encouraged.

  8. - Simple Simon - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:08 am:

    CPB…we do not have herd immunity. At all. We don’t even know what percentage will be needed. That will only come with seeing the results. Any plans made by JB will be so nebulous that they are useless except for throwing back in his face later.

    Texas recorded 5 times our deaths in the last 7 days. I don’t want to join them in their Ayn Rand “paradise.”

  9. - Keyrock - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    The CDC just put out a report associating indoor restaurant dining and mask mandates with increases in infection.
    We all need to hold on a little while longer.,%20March%205,%202021&deliveryName=USCDC_921-DM51377

  10. - JS Mill - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:18 am:

    Masks continue to be a significant part of our ability to control or reduce the spread. That is what the legitimate experts continue to tell us.

    I think we can gradually open up more if we continue with masking. For indoor events we should move to something like 250-500 05 25% capacity with masks and then plan to implement increases to 50% and 75% etc. based on firm metrics. If we maintain masking as a requirement and keep an eye on the metrics the convention folks have a good shot at a safe economic rebound.

    Also, on WGN this morning, Dr. Murphy talked about the future of COVID and vaccines and that we may have to approach it like flu shots in the future as an annual event based on new strains. He did emphasize wearing a mask. That seems to be a consistent theme.

  11. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:20 am:

    =Texas recorded 5 times our deaths in the last 7 days. I don’t want to join them in their Ayn Rand “paradise.”=

    There is a big difference between easing restrictions and eliminating them. We are at 2.5% case positivity rate. Let’s not open the flood gates, but lets start turning the lever a little more aggressively.

  12. - Simple Simon - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:33 am:

    The deaths in Texas this week did not come about from the elimination of restrictions a couple of days ago. They came from weeks and months of fewer restrictions, which is what people seem to be wanting. We’ve been down this path before, and until we have a lot more shots in arms, it leads to increased illness, death, and more variants. Patience for a little longer.

  13. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 11:46 am:

    Never said lets’ go all TEXAS up in here.

    Never said we need to get rid of a mask mandate.

    How about 50% capacity at outdoor events (a MLB game) with a mask mandate?

    How about 25% or 50% capacity for indoor conventions with a mask mandate?

    See that’s pushing the door open, seeing what happens, looking at the numbers again.

    Simon - the science on herd immunity + vaccine immunity right now is far better than the science was 10 months ago when charts were shared showing incredible death rates.

    Go back and find the data Rich shared on vaccinations in LTC’s. Early proof about ending the massive death rate in the elderly population. That terrible toll is what got us here. That is being ended right now.

    If the state made massive decisions months ago based on trends and models - those same trends today indicate that its time make some really big decisions to get this place moving again.

  14. - Simple Simon - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:06 pm:

    CPB, it is not sensible to be “pushing the door open” and seeing what happens. We know what happens based on actual experience. People die. Variants develop.

    No one at this point knows how many people need vaccination or previous infection to achieve herd immunity, especially with variants. People threw numbers around like 70% and more. We are nowhere near that. When we get closer, I would support some steps. Not now. Texas shows us why. I don’t want to be part of your experiment.

  15. - BOE Member - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:11 pm:

    A year ago the IDPH was an entity looked well upon. Over the course of the last year, the integrity and wisdom of that agency has slowly eroded away. Decisions and guidance by our public health agencies should be data driven. An evaluation and reckoning seems appropriate, particularly now while our state is not on fire.

  16. - Essential State Employee - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:13 pm:

    I wonder if Comptroller Mendoza, because of her statements regarding reopening conventions and outdoor events, has just opened herself up to an Administration-backed primary challenge next year.

  17. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:17 pm:

    Simple Simon - But it was sensible to slam the door shut and see what happens? The data right now is better to support a soft opening than it was to keep people off golf courses and away from outdoor dining in May of last year.

    Illinois has more than 3 million shots in the arms of people.

    Real data on vaccines and variants (you seem very worried about those)

    Also go look at UK data - they own that variant and their numbers are dropping like a rock too.

    12 months of this virus running through the US we know so much more than we did. It’s time to use that data to move forward.

    And are we at 70% herd? Use CDC infection data (when the CDC says real infections are 4.5 times more than confirmed cases) and the number of vaccines out in the state.

  18. - Chatham Resident - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:19 pm:

    =False Spring this week Ask again in a month=

    I agree. Plus Halloween in October (aka St. Patrick’s Day) is coming in 12 days, so the bar and restaurant capacity limits will be sorely tested again as we approach the first anniversary of the shutdowns.

    Also, just saw today’s IDPH numbers (the ones released from Tuesday). Very sharp increase in Region 8 (DuPage/Kane) from 3.8% last Monday to 4.5% Tuesday. All in one day.

    Also, Regions 1, 3, 7, and 9 saw at least 0.1% increases.

  19. - Essential State Employee - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:22 pm:

    =Also, on WGN this morning, Dr. Murphy talked about the future of COVID and vaccines and that we may have to approach it like flu shots in the future as an annual event based on new strains.=

    That’s what I also strongly believe. Plus I’m thinking that future Flu Shot vaccine mixtures will include those for COVID and variants. If I recall correctly when we had the Swine Flu outbreak in spring 2009, that fall’s flu shots included chemicals to stop swine flu. Perhaps the same thing with H1N1 in the early 2000s too.

  20. - Simple Simon - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:25 pm:

    Yes, it was sensible to close as we did, knowing little other than how to prevent spread of respiratory viruses. Those measures worked and continue to do so where people follow them. Your thoughts are all based on guesses. You’re just guessing what percent is needed for herd immunity, what percent has had the virus, how long immunity lasts, etc. If we have achieved herd immunity, the virus should be gone. It is not. Experimenting with our lives is a serious matter, and past experiments all failed. Take note of their lessons and wait (im)patiently until we get better vaccine coverage.

  21. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 12:50 pm:

    @SS - =Your thoughts are all based on guesses. You’re just guessing what percent is needed for herd immunity, what percent has had the virus, how long immunity lasts, etc. If we have achieved herd immunity, the virus should be gone. It is not.=

    That’s data, not guesses. Guesses were made in March, April and May of 2020 without real known data. Now, science does “guess” here and there, and that’s what I’ve been sharing with you. But they are far more educated guesses at what immunity looks like vs what anyone knew in May of 2020.

    Keep in mind that herd immunity does not eradicate a virus. We still have mumps outbreaks here and there in the US. So the virus is never really going away. If you are waiting for that, you have a lifetime to wait.

    And I’m all for the past experiments in messenger RNA - without them we would still be worried about COVID and waiting for a much longer time for a vaccine that works.

  22. - Simple Simon - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 1:04 pm:

    Since you brought it up, I calculated the numbers. Assuming your assumptions are right, as much as 63% of Illinois might be considered immune (assuming even one shot gives you immunity). Herd immunity for many viruses is 80-95% (some are more infectious than others). So, while we’ve made headway, we’re not there yet for many reasons, including most people needing another shot plus 3 weeks to get full immunity. And none of your assumptions are proven true yet. In addition, vaccines might be only 60% effective against variants, which requires more shots in arms to get the same effectiveness. I’m hoping 6-8 weeks more of being stringent and we might save the summer. I don’t foresee much longer than that. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit on the patio of your fav bar or restaurant in summer? Open now and we may lose even that. Premature.

  23. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 1:24 pm:

    The data is way better than 60% on the variants.
    The J&J shot is actually really impressive because is was going through final phase trials as B 1.1.7 was floating around. I’d gladly take that shot - it’s no second sister to Pfizer or Moderna.

    But back to the herd, this isn’t an exercise in eliminating COVID. It’s in protecting people from death and being in the ICU. The vaccine clearly does that - even the variants.

    To opening up? I think the dirty secret is that the economy is basically open. Holding back on concerts, football games and conventions is about it. In Sangamon County for all the handwringing that went on when indoor service opened back up “early” numbers still fell like a rock.

    And FYI - I haven’t been inside a bar or to eat since March of 2020.

  24. - Steve Polite - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 1:49 pm:

    “there have been no documented outdoor super spreader events.”

    That is an untrue statement. The October 20th, 2020 Outdoor Rose Garden Ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett is a documented super spreader event, one of the 10 worst according to MSN news.

    It’s a respiratory disease. Whether you are outside or not, if you are in close proximity to an infected person, especially one who is yelling and screaming or singing like at sporting and concert events, you are at a high risk of contracting covid-19.

  25. - Cool Papa Bell - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 2:17 pm:

    @Steve - How about allowing larger outdoor events with masks on? 10K-20K people at Wrigley or the “Rate”

    I don’t think any mass infections were tied to attendance at college football bowl games or NFL games this year.

  26. - Steve Polite - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 2:29 pm:

    @Cool Papa Bell
    Following CDC guidelines, masks and physical distancing can significantly lower the risk for events especially outdoors. I was only making the point that just being outdoors does not mitigate the risk.

  27. - Ferris Wheeler - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 3:18 pm:

    Is Mendoza running for Governor?

  28. - Menardian - Friday, Mar 5, 21 @ 4:07 pm:

    Steve P: There were indoor components , including transportation, to all the events on your list. An indoor reception was part of the Barrett event. Being outside certainly does reduce the chance of transmission, probably by quite a bit.

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