Coronavirus Chicago: Large summer events may be canceled to stop spread of COVID-19, Pritzker says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Friday morning Grant Park was empty and quiet, and that could be how it stays through the spring and summer.

Highly anticipated events now may fall victim to the pandemic, and the economic could be impact severe.

The Taste of Chicago drew more than a million hungry visitors last year, but you may have to scratch that highly anticipated event off your summer to do list.

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"I think everybody needs to think seriously about canceling large summer events. I just, from my perspective today, I do not see how we are going to have large gatherings of people, again until we have a vaccine which is months and months away," Gov. JB Pritzker said during his daily press conference Thursday.

WATCH: Gov. JB Pritzker's COVID-19 briefing on April 9, 2020
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Watch Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike's opening remarks during a daily COVID-19 update on April 9, 2020.

"I ask you to stay the course," said Illinois Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. "We are headed in the right direction because of all the tremendous efforts by all of you."

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The rate of infection seems to have leveled off but is not yet trending downward, so Pritzker said it is unlikely the stay-at-home order will end early.

"And indeed, as we approach April 30th, we will be thinking about what are the restrictions or rules that we need to set going forward after April 30," Pritzker said.

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Lollapalooza drew 400,000 concert goers to Grant Park last July, but be prepared to erase that off your calendar along with other summer events like baseball games and festivals.

"We know that it is going to change the income and revenue for every level of government in Illinois, we just don't know when the end will occur," said Civic Federation President Laurence Msall in a phone interview.

"Plans for summer programming and events remain under discussion our department and the city team will continue to work closely with our partners at the State," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.

Lightfoot said the city's COVID-19 response has cost $100 million, the majority of which has been spent on McCormick Place.

McCormick Place could start receiving patients early next week.

"It's without a doubt the greatest economic impact that our country has ever experienced," Msall said. "If we don't stop this virus from spreading, there will be no economy to come back to. It's hard to imagine that people will feel safe unless we get this virus under control."

Some economic experts say this is a national and international crisis, and that the federal government will have to step in and help the cities and the states when they move forward.
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