Fifteen months after the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools, businesses, and government offices, the City—after several false starts—is finally, officially, and fully reopening on June 11. On Monday, the city’s coronavirus positivity rate fell below two percent for the first time since the pandemic began; hospitalizations have similarly dropped off. But unvaccinated people are still susceptible to the virus, and fourteen Chicagoans died this week of COVID-19 as of press time. The majority of new cases are occurring in areas where fewer people are vaccinated, according to Dr. Allison Arwady, the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health—the South and West sides. Masks will still be required in schools, in health care settings, and on public transit, and unvaccinated people should continue to wear masks everywhere. Restaurants and bars are open for indoor seating at seventy-five percent capacity. Parks and beaches are open. The Buckingham Fountain is flowing. We’re getting there, Chicago.
A bill that awaits Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signature could close all immigration detention centers in the state by the end of the year. The Illinois Forward Act would also prohibit law enforcement from asking for a person’s citizenship status, as well as end much of the police cooperation with federal immigration agencies when carrying out an arrest or a raid on a suspected undocumented person. In May, McHenry County—one of three counties that detain immigrants—voted to maintain their jail contract with ICE, though it faced pushback from a large coalition of advocacy groups across northern Illinois.
Extended relief for renters and homeowners
The Illinois Housing Development Authority has extended the deadline by which landlords and tenants can jointly apply for rent relief—up to $25,000 per household—through the federally funded Illinois Rental Payment Program. Landlords still needed to initiate an application by June 7, but tenants now have until 11:59pm on Sunday, June 13, to follow up. A second application period for renters applying on their own opens at 9am on Monday, June 23, and remains open until 11:59pm on Sunday, July 18. See ihda.org/about-ihda/illinois-rental-payment-program/ for information on eligibility and documentation. Meanwhile, the current eviction moratorium in Illinois is in place through June 26, but it’s expected that Pritzker will extend it until the end of August—by which time advocates hope that the ILRPP monies will have been disbursed, giving both landlords and tenants a little time to breathe.