12 of the best hotels in Chicago, from 5-star properties with sleek pools to design-forward boutiques with standout rooftop bars

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viceroy chicago outdoor
  • Chicago’s architecture, dining scene, and lakefront location are longtime draws for tourists.
  • There are many hotels at all prices, from boutique stays to cheap hotels and 5-star properties.
  • We chose top hotels in Chicago with historic features, great rooftops, and COVID-19 safety policies.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

As you might expect from one of the world’s greatest cities, Chicago is home to architectural marvels, an award-winning dining scene, innovative museums, and stunning lakefront scenery. Since I moved here more than 20 years ago, I’m constantly impressed by the rich cultural offerings the city provides.

The largest city in the Midwest has also grown to include numerous compelling hotel choices, from intimate boutiques to world-renowned opulence. There is an enormous selection of accommodations for business travelers, luxury seekers, families, and tourists of all sorts.

Our picks cull the choices down to a pristine group and are found in prime locations and worth your hard-earned cash – or reward points. Prefer Airbnb? Here are some of our favorite affordable Airbnbs in Chicago.

Browse all the best hotels in Chicago below, or jump directly to a specific area here:

These are the best hotels in Chicago, sorted by price from low to high.

Ace Hotel Chicago

ace hotel chicago guest room

Book Ace Hotel Chicago

Minimal, yet modern and edgy, Ace Hotel Chicago speaks to hip business travelers and locals looking for a West Loop base with cool factor. It’s hard not to feel taken by the immersive vibe. 

The West Loop is one of Chicago’s trendiest neighborhoods, and the whole hotel seems to channel that sentiment. Rooms are purposefully utilitarian (a hallmark aesthetic of the Ace brand) yet still very comfortable, and some even come with their own turntable or guitar. The restaurant, lobby bar (with outdoor patio and fire pits), and rooftop bar are all hotspots that attract locals as well. Weeks later, I’m still thinking about the heart-stealing views from my east-facing room and the rooftop.

COVID-19 procedures are available here

Read our full hotel review for Ace Hotel Chicago

Virgin Hotels Chicago

virgin hotels chicago

Book Virgin Hotels Chicago

Created by Sir Richard Branson, the very first of the Virgin Hotels opened in Chicago in 2015 inside the Old Dearborn Bank Building. Steps away from Michigan Avenue in Chicago’s Loop, the downtown boutique hotel offers a refreshed approach to modern luxury and comfort, catering to younger business types and tech-savvy travelers. An app is utilized for check-in, room service requests (which is actually handled through delivery services like Door Dash), and it also serves as your TV remote control.

Each room (they call them chambers) in the 26-story hotel is separated into two areas, with a large dressing area, closet space, and shower separated by a set of sliding privacy doors from the sleeping area. The vibe is cool and no-nonsense. I love the fact that Virgin has no hidden fees and they offer “street-level” pricing on minibar items and videos on demand, without the typical upcharge found at similarly elevated hotels.

COVID-19 procedures are available here

Loews Chicago Hotel

loews chicago

Book the Loews Chicago Hotel

The Loews Chicago Hotel is housed within a gleaming 52-story glass and steel tower and favored by business travelers who eschew stuffy or traditional hotels for one such as this that favors a clean, sleek approach. Unlike many of Chicago’s hotels set in rehabbed historical buildings, I love the newness of Loews. The spacious public spaces feel contemporary, and the rooms, while decently sized, still seem airy.

I’m also enamored by the enormous rooftop terrace (one of the largest in the city) and the 24-hour state-of-the-art fitness center and large indoor lap pool. Located one block from the Chicago River, the hotel is about a five-minute walk to Michigan Avenue.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

chicago athletic association

Book the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Originally home to an elite men’s club, the Chicago Athletic Association hotel building is an architectural gem dating back to 1893. Converted to a boutique hotel in 2015, the lobby always gives me goosebumps with its Harvard meets Hogwarts aesthetic.

Rooms play into the vibe, but it’s comfortable rather than kitschy. I often bring out-of-towners up to Cindy’s Rooftop, an airy restaurant with a large outdoor terrace offering some of the city’s best views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review for Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

LondonHouse Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton

londonhouse chicago rooftop

Book LondonHouse Chicago

After I stayed at the LondonHouse Chicago, I consider it one of my favorite hotels in the city. The hotel is located only steps from the corner of Michigan Avenue and Wacker Drive in a Chicago landmark building, the former London Guarantee and Accident Building.

Many of the plush rooms in this Hilton Curio Collection property overlook the Chicago River and I highly recommend my Vista Suite for the prime river views and comfortable accommodations. Though, the real scene-stealer is the rooftop bar, arguably the best in the city with 360 panoramic views and three levels, at the top of which is a columned cupola — expect to witness daily marriage proposals in the summer.

COVID-19 procedures are available here

Read our full hotel review for LondonHouse Chicago

Kimpton Gray Hotel

kImpton gray hotel chicago

Book Kimpton Gray Hotel

Packed in amidst the Loop’s skyscrapers, the Kimpton Gray Hotel is ideal for downtown business travelers but it’s a far cry from the bland cookie-cutter business hotels you might expect. Formally known as the New York Life Insurance building, the landmark edifice dates back to 1894. The hotel takes its name from the preserved Georgia Gray marble, which is found throughout much of the restored interiors.

The IHG property deftly combines such historic features with contemporary-styled guest rooms with crisp furnishings. Upgrade to the King Spa room for a walk-in shower and separate soaking tub, which is pretty nice after a long workday. We love the social vibe of the complimentary evening wine hour in the lobby, an IHG hallmark. Head upstairs to the lively Argentinian rooftop lounge with an enormous retractable roof. It’s a great after-work spot for entertaining clients.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review for Kimpton Gray Hotel

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection

emc2 chicago

Book the Hotel EMC2

Hotel EMC2, Autograph Collection (part of Marriott Bonvoy’s collection of hotels) is a truly one-of-a-kind boutique hotel in Chicago’s downtown Streeterville neighborhood. True to its name, it impressed me with a refreshingly different design concept mixing art with science. It’s far more interesting and immersive than it might initially sound.

Rooms feature sleek decor, hardwood floors, and dramatic artwork that feels experiential over traditional. My favorite part: the hotel “employs” two-room service robots, Leo and Cleo, who will deliver extra towels and such to your room. That was a first for me.

COVID-19 procedures are available here

Read our full hotel review of Hotel EMC2

Thompson Chicago

thompson chicago

Book the Thompson Chicago

Dark and sophisticated, The Thompson Chicago (a World of Hyatt luxury property) immediately makes you feel cool with a stylish, loft-like urban edge that attracts a cosmopolitan crowd.

Reviewers love the luxury linens, Gold Coast location, and modern, state-of-the-art bathrooms and city views. Nico Osteria on the ground floor is well known in the neighborhood for its raw bar, house-made pasta, and tasty seafood.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel

The Gwen Deluxe King Suite Bedroom

Book The Gwen

Located right on iconic Michigan Avenue, The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel from Marriott Bonvoy, is set in a 1920s Art Deco landmark building (yes, it’s a common theme in Chicago).

Bright and modern rooms come with ultra-luxe Frette linens and a plush bed. Amenities include excellent on-site restaurants from one of Chicago’s most celebrated chefs and the sleek rooftop terrace has fire pits and a unique “curling” rink in winter. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review of The Gwen

Viceroy Chicago

vchi rm b

Book Viceroy Chicago

From the beautifully restored 1930s façade to the 30-foot lobby wall of quotes, the Viceroy is all about looks.

During a recent stay, I was quite impressed by the highly-designed rooms, which felt like a study in midcentury modern decor, and as if I was living in my own pied-à-terre rather than a standard hotel.

I also loved that Viceroy is located in the Gold Coast neighborhood with its great shopping and dining. Staying here gives visitors a taste of residential life, but with plenty to do nearby, and prime beach access. The hotel is very close to Lake Michigan.

COVID-19 procedures are available here

Read our full hotel review for Viceroy Chicago

The Peninsula Chicago

the peninsula chicago

Book the Peninsula Chicago

Often named not only the best hotel in Chicago but also one of the best in the US, the five-star Peninsula Chicago earned a spot on our list for its winning combination of service and elegance.

We appreciate all the plush details found within rooms from the Pratesi linens to the TV above the soaking tub in the marble bathroom. It’s opulence at its finest. Although it’s pricey, sometimes they have special offers like a third night free.

Whenever you visit, try to stay over Friday or Saturday night so as not to miss the decadent, chocolate buffet of your dreams in the Lobby restaurant. This is also where the celebrated Peninsula Afternoon Tea takes place. And don’t miss the 1930s supper club decor and world-class dining at Shanghai Terrace or the views of Michigan Avenue from the rooftop terrace.

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review for Peninsula Chicago

The Langham Chicago

guest room langham chicago

Book The Langham Chicago

The five-star Langham Chicago is a classic example of luxury, consistently praised for its excellent service and posh appearance. The art-filled hotel resides in the landmark, 52-story IBM building designed by renowned architect Mies van der Rohe. It’s perched on the Chicago River, steps from Michigan Avenue, Millennium Park, and Chicago’s business district, offering one of the best locations in all of the city.

Large rooms all have floor-to-ceiling windows with stellar city views. Splurge on a Club Level room and you’ll receive a complimentary breakfast buffet, afternoon tea, cocktails and snacks all day and into the evening, and butler service, which offers tremendous value for the higher price tag. Oh, and don’t forget your swimsuit to do laps in one of Chicago’s nicest indoor pools. 

COVID-19 procedures are available here.

Read our full hotel review for Langham Chicago

More on our methodology for selecting the best hotels

In addition to the criteria previously outlined, we considered the following factors:

Experience: Every hotel on this list has been visited first-hand by one of our local Chicago writers, who confirmed that the overall experience delivers on design, value, location, and more.

Value: In fact, value matters a lot. We chose Chicago hotels that offered strong value through rooms that feel worth the money, as well as a combination of other important travel factors such as on-site amenities and a location that makes it easy to explore the city.  

COVID-19 protocols: We only selected hotels that prioritize the health and safety of their guests with new strict new cleaning policies in light of COVID-19.

Price: We only accepted hotels with room rates that start under $400 in low season.

Guest profile: We chose hotels that would appeal to families, young professionals, solo travelers, couples, business travelers, friends, and more. 

Reviews: We consulted past guest reviews and ratings on trusted traveler sites such as Trip Advisor, Hotels.com, Booking.com.

FAQ: Chicago hotels

What are the best hotels in Chicago? 

The ones on this list, of course! As a self-proclaimed ambassador for Chicago who’s always encouraging friends to visit, I’m always asked for recommendations on where to stay. My answers typically depend on the person’s style preferences, location requirements, reasons for visiting, and of course, budget. These factors similarly fueled this very list, to highlight the hotels that best tick all those boxes: stylish, centrally located, near business and leisure, and are reasonably priced.

What is the best time of year to visit Chicago?

Chicago’s harsh winter means spring, summer, and fall are the ideal times to visit, though, summer can also be quite humid. However, the city is filled with fun outdoor things to do during these warmer months, from sunbathing on the beach at Lake Michigan, to sitting riverside at a restaurant on the Riverwalk, strolling through Millennium Park, hitting farmer’s markets, and more.

But because of cold weather, winter will also be the cheapest time of the year to visit. Expect to pay higher prices in summer and early fall.

Which is the best location to stay in Chicago?

If you’re visiting Chicago on business, you’ll probably want to be based downtown, otherwise known as The Loop, which is the city’s financial center. It’s also home to Millennium Park. 

Foodie should head to West Loop, an emerging hotspot for chef-driven restaurants and swanky cocktail lounges.

If shopping is on the agenda look to areas in and around Magnificent Mile, such as Streeterville, which is also well-suited to first-time visitors, as is River North. To travel further afoot like a local, consider Wicker Park or Lincoln Park.

Is it safe to stay in hotels?

The CDC has said that fully vaccinated people can safely travel within the US. Experts also say hotels are safe if you are unvaccinated, so long as you take proper precautions.

Hotels are also implementing new cleaning policies to help guests rest easier. We’ve noted updated policies for each of the hotels on this list below.

However, because the pandemic situation is constantly evolving, you may want to read up on hotel cancellation policies.

More of our favorite city hotels

best hotels nyc

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Inconsistencies between new video of shooting of Adam Toledo and the police reports

Adam Toledo
Still from Chicago Police body camera footage from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s (COPA).

  • The police report about a Chicago police officer who killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo was released on Thursday.
  • The incident report claimed the teenager was an imminent threat who ignored commands.
  • Body cam footage shows that Toledo turned around and raised his hands before he was shot.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Less than a second. That’s the time between when a Chicago police officer told Adam Toledo, 13, to “show me your f—ing hands,” and when that officer fatally shot the boy in his chest on March 29.

Police body-camera video of this event, the incident report, and the tactical response report were released to the public on Thursday by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, a police watchdog agency in Chicago.

The officer, 34-year-old Eric Stillman, stated in an incident report on the March 29 incident, that the suspect was a John Doe, listed as an adult, between the ages of 18 and 25.

According to NPR, another person apprehended at the scene, 21-year-old Ruben Roman, gave a false name for Toledo, delaying his identification; authorities later identified Toledo by finding him in missing persons reports.

Police accuse Roman of firing a gun at a passing car, blaming him for the events that then unfolded.

Adam Toledo
Incident report Adam Toledo

But police also misstated events, Officer Stillman stating in a separate tactical response report that the deceased “did not follow verbal direction” – and that the officer faced an “imminent threat of battery with weapon” and said the subject “used force likely to cause death or great bodily arm.”

Incident report Adam Toledo
Incident report Adam Toledo

Those claims do not entirely match up with troubling footage, released on Thursday, from the body cam Officer Stillman was wearing.

Toledo in the video appears to have had a gun but dropped it before complying with the officer and raising his hands. The report lists the weapon as a “semi-auto pistol.”

An attorney for the family asserted during a press conference that Toledo complied with the officer’s request and was not holding a gun when he was shot.

The shooting occurred, police say, after officers responded to a “shots fired” call and reports of “two males in a nearby alley,” CNN reported.

Police initially claimed the shooting took place following an armed confrontation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Police in multiple US cities are reportedly preparing for and anticipating white supremacist rallies this weekend

police
Police officers on October 27, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Police forces are aware of and preparing for white supremacist rallies happening this weekend.
  • Organizers have largely kept secret rally locations, but New York and Chicago are among the cities expected to see them.
  • Several counterprotests have been planned to mobilize against the message of the white pride rally attendees.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police forces across the country are reportedly preparing for white supremacist rallies planned for this weekend.

White supremacist groups are organizing the rallies over encrypted messaging app Telegram, Newsweek first reported. There are also public event pages on Facebook suggesting there will be several rallies on Sunday, April 11.

“Patriots all over this nation are peacefully marching to raise awareness for whites being victims of massive interracial crime and also persecution by the government,” one Facebook event page reads.

“This is happening in every majority white nation on earth. Time to make a stand. Please join your brothers and sisters in this amazing event,” the event description continues.

Organizers have, for the most part, not disclosed the locations planned for these rallies. But Newsweek and local news outlets reported that police have identified numerous cities where the white supremacist rallies are expected. Among them are New York, Fort Worth, and Chicago.

The Facebook event page encourages people to organize a rally in their own city.

It’s unclear how many people these planned rallies will attract.

But officials who are aware of planned rallies this weekend in their cities are taking steps to prepare, news outlets reported.

Huntington Beach police in California, for example, are aware of an event to “unify White people against white hate” circulating on social media and planned for this Sunday.

Interim Police Chief Julian Harvey told the San Bernardino Sun that the police are preparing for large crowds in case the rally attracts a lot of people.

“Like any demonstration in the city, we are preparing and will continue to prepare until the day,” he said. “We do have a plan to ensure public safety – not just the safety of the participants and the attendees, but also residents, businesses and motorists.”

The Asheville Police Department in North Carolina told Newsweek its officers have been briefed on the “call for action around the country” coming from white supremacists. The department is tracking any action, Newsweek reported.

In response to the planned rallies, counterprotesters have also begun to organize.

The local Black Lives Matter chapter in Huntington Beach, for example, is assembling for a counterprotest a few hours ahead of the planned white supremacist rally, the San Bernardino Sun reported.

And in Albuquerque, New Mexico, counterprotesters are encouraging residents to “rally against white supremacy in all its forms.”

“On Sunday, April 11th – local Proud Boys and White Supremacists are planning on hosting a ‘White Lives Matter’ Event on the Albuquerque Civic Plaza alongside a national day of actions by far-right extremists across the United States – we refuse to let them bring their violence to our beautifully diverse city because white supremacy has no place here,” a Facebook event page for the counterprotest reads.

“Please wear your masks, bring creative signs, water, plan on being loud, and bring your friends – we have safety in numbers,” the page says.

Read the original article on Business Insider

In a bellwether case, restaurant chains in Midwest US are taking their insurer to court, claiming that business interruption insurance should cover their pandemic losses

Empty restaurant
Three groups of restaurants are pursuing legal action.

  • Three groups of restaurants are taking their insurer to court over lack of cover for pandemic losses.
  • The restaurants claimed that their coverage should have been triggered when the pandemic started.
  • A judge has ruled that the restaurants should be able to move forward with their legal action.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A federal district court judge has ruled that three groups of restaurants operating in four US states should be able to move forward with legal action, which claims that business interruption insurance should cover their pandemic losses.

The restaurants’ revenues were hit as states introduced COVID-19 safety protocols including social-distancing requirements, restaurant capacity limits, and even the temporary suspension of both indoor and outdoor dining.

Restaurants being run by Valley Lodge in Illinois, Rising Dough in Illinois, and Big Onion Tavern Group in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Tennessee all took action against Wisconsin-based insurer Society Insurance. The cases were initially filed separately before being combined into a multi-district bellwether case.

The insurance company tried to dismiss the cases – but the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois turned this down, meaning that the restaurants will be able to take the issue to court.

“The case serves as an accountability mechanism,” Shannon McNulty of Clifford Law Offices, who is co-lead counsel in the case, told Insider.

The restaurants alleged that under their insurance policy with Society Insurance, they had coverage that should have been triggered last March when the pandemic started.

Society Insurance, in response, said that this pandemic coverage isn’t included in the language of the policy.

Society Insurance had told the restaurants in an email in March 2020 that “a quarantine of any size … would likely not trigger business income or extra expense coverages under our policies.” It also said “a widespread governmental imposed shutdown due to COVID-19 would likely not trigger the additional coverage of civil authority.”

The insurance company added that COVID-19 would be “unlikely” to trigger contamination coverage because it isn’t a foodborne illness, and that exposure that their food products had to COVID-19 would not count as a spoilage-covered cause of loss.

In a 31-page ruling viewed by Insider, the court found that the restaurants’ insurance policy “does not contain a specific exclusion of coverage for losses due to a virus or pandemic.” The restaurants said that is a standard exclusion in the insurance industry.

“The fundamental questions at stake in this litigation are how properly to classify the interruption that has happened here, and whether this particular interruption is covered under the policy,” Edmond Chang, the judge leading the ruling, wrote.

The court said that “exclusions are narrowly or strictly construed against the insurer if their effect is uncertain.”

“The decision is highly significant for businesses, particularly here in the Midwest, who have suffered financial losses due to the pandemic and paid insurance premiums to protect against those losses,” McNulty said.

“The court correctly found no coverage under the civil authority, contamination, and sue and labor provisions of Society’s policy,” Society Insurance told Insider. “But Society is disappointed that the court allowed the claims for business-interruption coverage to survive early motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.”

“This is an early, preliminary ruling, and does not resolve the merits,” it said. “Society will continue to vigorously defend its interests in the litigation.”

The court classed the multi-district case as a “bellwether” case, but it’s part of a much bigger wave of coronavirus-related litigation covering everything from individual businesses to industries, lawmakers, and even entire governments.

Strip clubs in New York City have sued Gov. Andrew Cuomo for keeping them closed during the pandemic and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton threatened to sue the city of Austin if it didn’t lift its mask mandate. In addition, a Dutch court ordered the government to scrap the country’s COVID-19 curfew.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Vaccine angels’ are working through the night to book shots for people in danger of getting left behind

Chicago Angels Zoom Photo
Some of the Chicago vaccine angels meet on Zoom.

  • Volunteer “vaccine angels” around the country are helping high-risk people get vaccinated.
  • In Chicago, one group says it has helped 1,250 elderly people and frontline workers obtain shots.
  • These volunteers are navigating the online signup process for those who can’t do it themselves.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The last time Brianna Wolin stationed herself at the phone in the hopes of finally getting through, she was trying to win a radio contest in 2005.

Her latest phone calls have higher stakes. Wolin, a graduate student at Northwestern University, has been calling county COVID-19 vaccination sites in Chicago with the goal of booking appointments for elderly residents and frontline workers.

“You feel like you’ve won the lottery when you get an appointment,” Wolin told Insider. “It’s almost absurd, because we’re talking about booking vaccines for people to save them from a global pandemic.”

While the US is doing fairly well in the global vaccine distribution race – for its own citizens, at least – local sign-up processes have been mired in complications. Phone sign-up lines have been long, and competitive online registration doesn’t favor those who are high-risk due to old age, or people who are away from their computers all day at essential jobs.

Volunteers like Wolin have joined forces to make sure high-risk vaccine seekers don’t slip through the cracks, earning them the nickname “vaccine angels.” They make up one arm of a loose patchwork of “vaccine hunters,” or people who have banded together, mostly in online groups, to find extra shots.

They started out vaccine hunting for themselves, but some wanted to help others

The team of angels working in Chicago have booked appointments for 1,250 people and counting, Wolin said. Similar initiatives have emerged across the country, from Washington State to Massachusetts.

The vaccine angels formed a coalition within the larger Chicago Vaccine Hunters Facebook group, a community of more than 50,000 people hoping to get shots themselves or for loved ones.

chicago coronavirus vaccine
Dr. Marina Del Rios, from University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, receives Chicago’s first COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Nikhila Juvvadi on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, at Loretto Hospital, a 122-bed medical facility in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago.

Roger Naglewski created the group in early February after he came across similar online communities based in other cities. He started out by sharing tips he picked up from the NOLA Vaccine Hunters page, but soon the Chicago members were posting their own experiences and advice.

One day, Naglewski got a message from Ben Kagan, a kid he guessed to be college-aged, based on his profile picture. Kagan, who turned out to be 14, wanted to use his computer skills to book appointments for less tech-savvy Chicagoans. A couple of other members had been doing similar work, so Naglewski put them in touch.

The team grew from just a few volunteers to 55 “vaccine angels” in less than a month. They now have an official inbox for requests, and they’ve coordinated a schedule of volunteer shifts for around-the-clock coverage.

Vaccine hunting requires quick fingers and connections

After wrapping up her day job as a manager at a publishing company, Gisele Gover sits at her computer waiting for the telltale ping that means a vaccination site has updated their available appointments.

Heart pounding, she frantically exchanges messages with other volunteers and refreshes the relevant webpages, sometimes logging on as late as midnight to check for open spots.

“My husband thinks I’m nuts,” she told Insider, but the work has been a rewarding way to give back to her community during the pandemic.

coronavirus vaccine
A nurse at the Royal Cornwall Hospital prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine in Truro, United Kingdom.

Recently, she was looking for an appointment for a breast cancer survivor who was practically in tears after she struggled to find a spot. Gover was able to book her a shot, and the woman was overjoyed. “So freakin’ blessed that you crossed my path,” she wrote in a text to Gover.

Many of the tips and tricks used by vaccine hunters and angels alike require a combination of computer proficiency and insider knowledge. If a vaccine angel books an appointment for someone who later needs to cancel, the team tries to time it so a volunteer can snag the spot for another person in need.

“When you think about a senior citizen trying to do that – like, ‘okay, I’m cancelling this appointment, but I want you to have it’ – there’d be no way,” Gover said. “Really, what it’s all about is representing the people that can’t navigate this whole thing on their own.”

Booking appointments for those who can’t

Right now, the demand for vaccine angels exceeds their bandwidth. Group coordinators like Wolin are trying to balance fielding requests with training new volunteers, and every few days, they need to temporarily shut down the registration form to play catchup.

The team tries to turn around requests within three to five days, prioritizing people who qualified for the earliest phases of rollout but have struggled to book vaccine appointments themselves.

Some of the populations at the highest risk of getting severely ill or dying of COVID-19 are those who would have trouble booking an appointment, whether that’s due to lack of computer skills or Internet access, or because of busy work schedules.

mexico city vaccine signup
An elderly woman tries to register for a vaccine appointment in Mexico City, where online signups have also been complicated.

In the vaccine rollout so far, Black and Latinx Americans have received fewer vaccine doses than their white counterparts, despite being two to three times more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 cases and deaths.

That inequity is not lost on the vaccine angels, who are conscious of people trying to grab vaccine appointments designated for underserved communities, despite “never stepping foot on one of those streets in their lives,” Wolin said. They also have some Spanish speakers on the team, and Wolin said they’re seeking to partner with community organizations.

All of these efforts – the outreach, the late hours at the computer, the heart-pounding thrill of booking an appointment – are fueled by unpaid volunteers.

“It almost feels like finding a group of friends that you’ve never met, because it’s all people who have the same values and priorities,” Wolin said. “We’re not getting paid a penny; we’re not looking for money. We just want to make a difference in our community.”

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Southwest Airlines has added new service to 2 hot vacation destinations ahead of the potential summer travel boom

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airline.

  • Southwest Airlines will begin offering new services to Florida and Montana.
  • This includes Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone airports.
  • Southwest has been drastically expanding its flight services since last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Southwest Airlines will begin offering flights to Florida’s Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport and Montana’s Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in May ahead of the potential summer travel boom.

Travel, especially by air, dropped significantly in 2020 as COVID-19 first began taking its hold on the US. But now, the travel and hospitality industry is hoping that pent-up demand and the continuing vaccine rollout will lead to a big spike in travel this summer. 

As a result, companies are gearing up for this potential boom, including Southwest Airlines. In the last year, Southwest has dramatically expanded its flight offerings with new services to locations like Palm Springs, California, Cozumel, Mexico, and Miami.

Now, the airline has added additional flights to two travel hotspots: Florida and Bozeman, Montana.

Bozeman, Montana – known as “Boz Angeles” – has become a hot destination, especially for wealthier travelers looking to trade city life for a break in nature. Bozeman also been named one of the fastest-growing cities in the US and offers close access to hotspots like Yellowstone National Park. 

This will be Southwest Airline’s first destination in Montana. Flights to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport will take off from airports in Denver and Las Vegas starting at $40 beginning May 27.

On the opposite end of the climate spectrum, Florida has also emerged as a top travel destination during the COVID-19 pandemic due to its warm weather and more relaxed restrictions. Southwest already flies to 10 other airports in Florida but decided to expand its offerings in the state for “winter-weary families” looking to get away to warm destinations, Andrew Watterson, Southwest Airlines’ executive vice president and chief commercial officer, said in the press release.

Direct Southwest flights to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport can be taken starting May 6 from these four airports: Dallas Love Field, Baltimore/Washington, Nashville, and Chicago Midway, the latter starting June 6. These flights will start at $70.

Read the original article on Business Insider

10 US cities paving the way for the future by investing in technology, sustainability, and infrastructure

Atlanta, Georgia
The population of Atlanta is expected to grow by nearly three million over the next few decades.

  • The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in infrastructure, mobility challenges, and a digital divide.
  • These US cities will remain resilient due to investing in things like sustainable technology and innovation.
  • As a result, places like Raleigh-Durham, Denver, and Atlanta are some of the fastest-growing cities.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

If city leaders across the country learned anything from the past year, it’s the value of resilience. 

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed cracks in infrastructure, posed mobility challenges, and revealed a digital divide. The places that have fared the best are the ones that have been investing in the future, specifically in areas like digital transformation, manufacturing, sustainability, infrastructure, and innovation. 

“I don’t think we talk about resilience enough,” Diana Bowman, co-director of the Center for Smart Cities and Regions at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, told Insider. “Resilience talks about our capacity to respond in a quick way to address whatever those external challenges are.”

While investing in technology and infrastructure is key for cities of the future, Bowman said that resilience also depends on strong partnerships across the public, private, and local university sectors. 

“One of the things that we’ve seen in this last 12-month period is if you take your eye off the ball at any single one of these, then your ability to have a fully engaged school system, fully engaged workforce is really challenged, and everybody suffers as a consequence of that,” she said. For example, the influx of people working and learning from home revealed a lack of access to high-speed internet in some places. 

Cities of all sizes should be thinking about building a better tomorrow through investment and policy, or risk getting left behind. 

The need for cities to innovate and be more sustainable is coming, whether they’re prepared or not, Zachary Schafer, CEO and executive director of United for Infrastructure, a nonprofit working to modernize and repair the country’s infrastructure, told Insider. “It’s better to be developing frameworks early to understand how to deploy them, how to use them, how to benefit from them, and how to talk to residents about these technologies.”

Several US cities are already leading the way. Here’s a look at 10 places making big strides when it comes to innovation.

The cities are listed in no particular order.

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, March 2020, after lockdown order
Chicago is using digital trackers to collect data on the environment and activity to help improve city conditions.

The city of Chicago has several programs in the works aimed at updating infrastructure and advancing manufacturing. 

One example is the Smart Lighting Program, which some have referred to as the largest streetlight modernization project in the nation. It involves installing wireless, LED lights across the city, which can be dimmed or controlled remotely. The goal is to cut energy costs and improve public safety. 

To function as a kind of “fitness tracker” for the city, the Array of Things (AoT) project included placing sensors throughout the city to collect data on the environment, infrastructure, and activity. The purpose is to address traffic safety and flooding, reduce costs, and make the city more efficient and equitable. 

Both the streetlight and AoT programs come with interactive elements, so residents can track their progress and view the data collected. 

“Chicago has a good program for launching projects using digital technologies to transform the city landscape,” Schafer said. “You’re building the foundational infrastructure for a smart city or for a city to use to make smart decisions.” 

On the manufacturing front, Chicago is home to MxD (Manufacturing times Digital), which opened in 2015 to focus on digital design, automation, and digital in manufacturing. MxD is part of the Manufacturing USA initiative, which established institutes across the country to focus on different areas of technology and digital transformation in manufacturing and supply chain. 

MxD helps educate manufacturers about digital tools and processes. It has a mock production line, projects to help digitize equipment, and cybersecurity technology developed with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawi Wind Farm at Upolu Point, the northernmost tip of Hawaii Big Island on the Kohala Coast.
Hawaii launched the Aloha+ Challenge to address six metrics from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including clean energy transformation.

The entire state of Hawaii is leading the charge on sustainability, Bowman said. Two years ago, Gov. David Ige issued a declaration of commitment to sustainability — though the state’s focus on sustainability started long before. 

In 2014, Hawaii kicked off the Aloha+ Challenge to address six metrics from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including clean energy transformation, local food production, management of natural resources, solid waste reduction, creating smart and sustainable communities, and building and educating a green workforce. The initiative comes with an online dashboard that allows the public to track the progress the state is making in these areas. 

Bowman said the program is a great example of the state legislature in Honolulu working with nonprofits and private companies to achieve sustainability metrics. “If you don’t measure it, you can’t act upon it, so it’s crucial in terms of sustainability and resilience,” she added. 

The city of Honolulu has a resilience strategy and set up a Resilience Office to track how climate change is affecting the city. It’s examining “shocks” and “stresses,” such as hurricanes, tsunamis, infrastructure problems, cost of living, and vulnerable communities.

Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta
The population of Atlanta is expected to grow by nearly 3 million over the next few decades, adding to traffic woes.

Atlanta has been growing exponentially, and the city is expected to add nearly three million more residents over the next couple of decades. 

To handle the growth, city leaders and stakeholders have been focusing on traffic and transportation infrastructure. Part of the plan is to add more express lanes to highways, put sensors on some roads to detect traffic patterns and weather problems, and adjust traffic lights to help with flow. 

Smart streetlights are also being added, and the city is testing a gunshot detection system that would send alerts to 911, police patrol cars, and residents’ smartphones. Other systems would help drivers detect parking spots. Atlanta partnered with Georgia Power, AT&T, and Current by GE for the project.

“There’s a lot of activity going on just in general around transit and Atlanta, in and around the larger metro area,” Christopher Le Dantec, associate professor in the School of Interactive Computing and School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech, told Insider. That means thinking through the transportation of people and goods around the city and its suburbs. 

“It’s a very difficult problem to solve because there are so many different agencies at play,” he added. 

Other initiatives center on reducing the number of cars on the road. Atlanta is expanding its walking and biking plan, providing grants to help communities become more pedestrian-friendly and encouraging different types of commuting like carpooling, flexible work schedules, and working from home. 

Incorporating more bike infrastructure has been several years in the making and involved collecting and analyzing data, Le Dantec said. “It was part of a transformation within the urban core of Atlanta, where there is now a lot more people moving around on bicycles, even prior to the past year’s events,” he added.

San Antonio, Texas

San Antonio, tourists by the River Walk
San Antonio’s Office of Innovation is focused in part on digital infrastructure.

Through its Office of Innovation, San Antonio has several infrastructure and technology projects in the works.

Some are still in the development phase, but so far some city vehicles have been equipped with sensors to gather real-time data on infrastructure and identify problems like potholes and then report them to the appropriate agency for repair. The goal is to reduce calls to the city and provide upkeep to areas that tend to be neglected. 

Recently, San Antonio launched a Smart Streetlight Project that will have remote controls and sensors to monitor parking, air quality, temperature, noise, and flooding. The city also installed interactive digital kiosks at its transit hub and other locations to give residents and visitors real-time access to information about traffic, transit systems, and attractions, like local restaurants. The kiosks also provide free WiFi and access to city services. 

Cities should view digital infrastructure as a way to rethink how people interact with their government and policymakers, and give residents easy access to details about what’s going on in their city, Le Dantec said. 

“Being able to actually show what those outcomes look like becomes a really powerful way to mobilize people toward addressing these issues,” he said. 

Technology in manufacturing is another key area for San Antonio. CyManII (Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute), a Manufacturing USA institute located there, is focusing on cybersecurity and secure automation in manufacturing. These issues are critical today, as the manufacturing sector saw an uptick in ransomware attacks in 2020.

Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

RIoT Accelerator Program pitch nights in Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh-based nonprofits like RIoT support entrepreneurship through pitch competitions and other events.

The tri-city area of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill has long been known as a hub for innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship.

In fact, Raleigh ranks third on Forbes’ list of the “Best Places for Business and Careers” for its economic and job growth and educated workforce. 

Being a tech hub and supportive of entrepreneurs and startups has attracted new residents, making Raleigh one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. 

The three cities also form the Research Triangle, along with North Carolina State University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina, and Wake Forest University. The Research Triangle Park is home to several major tech companies and known as a center for innovation and technology. 

The presence and partnerships with universities is a central part of a smart, resilient city, Bowman said. 

“You have world-class universities that have been fundamental to driving the innovation agenda,” Bowman said. “It has attracted leading tech companies and other multinationals to that space. Not only is there the benefit of having universities in terms of being able to engage with them and co-create and co-test, it becomes a supplier of high-quality talent to those companies.”

Several nonprofits exist across Raleigh-Durham, including Innovate Raleigh and RIoT, that are devoted to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. The tech focus also extends to the manufacturing sector. The area houses a Manufacturing USA institute, PowerAmerica, focusing on semiconductor technology and electronics.

Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin - Madison students 2020
Students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are encouraged to participate in sustainability initiatives.

The Wisconsin state capital has an ambitious sustainability plan to reach zero-net carbon emissions and use 100% renewable energy for city operations by 2030. The plan sets specific goals for slashing overall energy and fuel consumption and making half of city buses electric by 2035. 

Other city initiatives include increasing solar power by training unemployed and under-employed people in solar panel installation. 

The city also has goals to improve air and water quality and transportation systems, support sustainable construction, affordable housing, and local food systems, economic and workforce development, and more. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison has a number of sustainability initiatives, too, like housing and grants for students who have ideas for enhancing sustainability on campus. The university is also working to align its sustainability goals with academics and research. 

A part of its efforts are engaging key stakeholders, including universities, nonprofits, local business, and members of the public. Interviews, public meetings, and a new website in development will keep citizens informed of the progress and promote transparency. 

Local governments too often overlook the need for communication, especially in innovation and digital transformation projects, Brian Chidester, head of worldwide industry strategy for the public sector at information management firm OpenText, told Insider.

“[Madison] has really embraced that piece of it,” he said.

Phoenix, Arizona

Waymo
A Chrysler Pacifica outfitted with Waymo’s self-driving technology.

Phoenix, and the entire state of Arizona, has been working to become a leader in autonomous vehicles since 2015, when the governor signed an executive order to support the testing of driverless cars. 

Phoenix has partnered with companies like GM and Lyft to allow hundreds of driverless cars to be tested on their roadways. Recently, the city began working with Waymo to launch a self-driving taxi fleet in nearby Tempe and Chandler. 

“You just see the vehicles everywhere, the Waymo vehicles in particular, and we now have a long history, and it’s just part of the landscape,” Bowman said. 

The state also created the Institute of Automated Mobility with Intel, Arizona State University, and other universities and organizations to research autonomous vehicles. Part of the goal is to create a regulatory framework that other places can model. 

One setback to the self-driving initiative was a 2018 incident when a driverless Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe. Bowman said city leaders handled the investigation in a transparent way that regained community trust and investment in the program. 

By investing in autonomous vehicle infrastructure and innovation, the hope is to cut down on traffic fatalities, help older people age in place, reduce traffic and the need for parking, and protect the environment, she explained.

“Integrating autonomous vehicles into your fleet has the potential to reduce congestion within cities, and that brings an environmental benefit with it,” Bowman said. 

Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles traffic
Traffic and road safety are the primary infrastructure topics in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles has emphasized its commitment to sustainability while addressing some of the city’s biggest infrastructure concerns, like traffic and road safety. 

A digital dashboard, called the pLAn, debuted to track and measure its Green New Deal sustainability plan. It keeps tabs on metrics like water and electricity usage, greenhouse gas emissions, and other sustainability efforts. And the data is open to the public. 

“One of the things I really like about what we see in LA is not only do they make this public — and they have a fantastic dashboard that any citizen or any individual anywhere in the world can go to and see how they’re doing based on hundreds of metrics — but they also have held themselves accountable,” Bowman said. “They’ve done a voluntary review of how well they’re doing, and the results of that review has then gone on to inform the next step.” 

Governments holding themselves accountable in this way is something other metros can learn from, she added. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has also set a goal of reducing carbon emissions to zero by 2045, and has a number of other goals to make the city more sustainable and reduce traffic. 

For example, they’re working on a network of bus-only lanes, adjusting traffic lights to put trains first over cars, launching an electric bus fleet, creating better traffic light synchronization, and debuting bike- and pedestrian-friendly projects. 

Los Angeles is also home to one of the Manufacturing USA institutes, CESMII (Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute), that focuses on smart sensor and digital process technology to make manufacturing more efficient.

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston street sign illustrating its innovative approach to traffic management
A Boston street sign highlights its Smart Vision project.

One of Boston’s many innovation, infrastructure, and sustainability projects is the Vision Zero initiative, a smart-street project with the goal of reducing traffic accidents and fatalities through data gathering and analysis.

Through the program, Boston is investing in new infrastructure on the streets, including LED lights, surveillance cameras, sensors, and a public dashboard. The data collected will inform future decision-making on roadway improvements, like safer sidewalks and streets and advanced signage. 

Other traffic-centric innovative infrastructure programs include giving drivers real-time information about where to find parking spaces or suggestions for taking another form of transportation. The point is to reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. The city is also working on driverless car testing, smart parking sensors, and IoT. 

Additionally, Boston is working to modernize information systems and technology in utility infrastructure to make utilities more affordable, equitable, and sustainable through the Smart Utilities Vision project. 

“[Boston] has been trying to position itself as a technology hub, so that’s part of what’s driving a lot of their digital transformation infrastructure,” Chidester said. 

Investing in innovation and infrastructure tends to attract larger companies and a highly skilled workforce, which boosts the economy, he added. Specifically, Boston has developed an environment to draw and support fintech companies. 

The Boston area has the advantage of having several universities, including Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which the city partners with to test new technology and other projects. 

“One of the things you see is cities with large, very advanced universities with good engineering programs are some of the furthest along, simply because they’ve got the partnership between academia and city government,” Schafer said. “You’ve got engineering programs going to the city to say, ‘Hey, we’re working on this technology to be tested in our city.'”

Denver, Colorado

Denver .JPG
“Love My Air” dashboards are installed in Denver schools, relaying real-time data from area sensors to a TV display.

Denver’s population has increased 20% over the last 10 years, so the city has seen more construction and traffic, which has worsened its air quality. 

To address the issue, they launched Love My Air, a program to measure air quality in real time using pollution sensors.

The city is tackling its transportation issues by participating in Vision Zero, like Boston. This includes launching an intelligent transportation system to address traffic and road safety. The program will deploy connected vehicle technology to allow trucks to communicate with traffic signals and connect city vehicles. 

And to address and manage data around its infrastructure, Denver is creating an IoT platform to gather data about transportation, environmental health, weather, and freight. The data is pulled from road and weather sensors, street lights, universities, and other city infrastructure, which the city will use to drive future projects. 

Denver also has a partnership with Panasonic on a project called CityNow. It’s creating smart city infrastructure in a remote area that includes high-tech highways and driverless vehicles. They’ve installed WiFi, LED street lights, pollution sensors, security cameras, and a solar-powered microgrid. 

One challenge cities face in their digital transformation and innovation initiatives is that they start small, maybe with specific neighborhoods. While this makes sense, Chidester said it often creates disparate technologies, giving cities an additional challenge of making everything work together for the benefit of residents. 

“You’re not going to drop a whole bunch of technology to encompass the entire city,” he said. “Ultimately, as you crawl, walk, run, there’s the need to ensure interoperability, and the ability to take information and analytics and drive value on behalf of their citizens.” 

Data and analytics are necessary for sustainability and infrastructure efforts. But another issue cities will need to address revolves around the data they’re collecting through sensors and other means, Schafer said — specifically, who owns the data and what it’s all used for. And do citizens have the right to take their data back? 

“That’s a thorny issue that a lot of them are going to have to deal with,” he said. “Whether they like it or not, it’s coming.”

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Texas isn’t the only state lifting COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s how 11 other states and cities are easing lockdowns, despite the CDC insisting that ‘now is not the time.’

greg abbot coronavirus vaccine texas
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

  • Texas on Tuesday became the largest US state to ease its lockdown restrictions.
  • Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order that would end all COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask mandate, on March 10.
  • Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan also made announcements to ease restrictions.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Texas on Tuesday became the largest state in the US to lift its mask mandate.

Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order set to end all COVID-19 restrictions on March 10. He tweeted that “Texas is OPEN 100%,” and said “people and businesses don’t need the state telling them how to operate.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Monday of a potential resurgence of coronavirus infections in the US, despite a dip in numbers of new cases nationally.

“At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained,” Rochelle Walensky, the head of the CDC, said. “Now is not the time to relax the critical safeguards that we know can stop the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

Texas isn’t the only place in the US easing restrictions. Mississippi, Louisiana, and Michigan, as well as Chicago and San Francisco, all made announcements to ease restrictions on Tuesday, though the details varied.

Montana, Iowa, North Dakota, and Mississippi have already waived mask-wearing restrictions, and Michigan has eased other lockdown restrictions. Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina have not enforced state-wide mask mandates throughout the pandemic.

In Florida and South Dakota, schools and businesses have been widely open for months.

More than 35 US states have kept their mask-wearing rules in place, albeit with variable enforcement.

Here is how some other states, as well as some cities, are easing their restrictions.

Chicago

Chicago's Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at a University of Chicago initiative event for the science in Chicago, Illinois, on July 23, 2020.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Chicago announced Tuesday that hospitality, sports, and performance venues could increase to 50% capacity, up from 40%. The maximum number of people is 50, or 20 people for indoor fitness classes. Curfews were also extended. The changes were effective as of Tuesday.

San Francisco

Mayor London Breed of San Francisco said Tuesday that indoor dining, indoor fitness, museums, and movie theaters would be allowed to reopen Wednesday at limited capacity.

Louisiana

Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana said on Tuesday that starting Wednesday, businesses could operate at 75% capacity, except in indoor event halls, which were limited to 50% capacity at a maximum of 250 people.

Live music could also resume indoors. He said that the state’s mask mandate would continue, and the new rules would remain in place for at least 28 days, until March 31.

Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan announced easing of restrictions on Tuesday, set to take effect on Friday.

Restaurants would be able to operate at 50% capacity – increased from 25% – and retail, entertainment, and sports facilities could open at increased capacity, she said. People can also visit a nursing home after a negative COVID-19 test.

Michigan has a state-wide mask-mandate, and Whitmer said mask-wearing, social distancing, and washing hands was “more important than ever.”

Mississippi

Mississippi Republican Gov. Tate Reeves
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

Mississippi rescinded a state-wide mask order in September, but Gov. Tate Reeves of Mississippi said Tuesday that county-specific mandates would be lifted too. He also said that the only COVID-19 restrictions that would remain were a 50% cap on the number of people in indoor arenas, and that certain restrictions would remain in schools.

North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina eased restrictions starting February 26, lifting a curfew and allowing indoor venues to operate at limited capacity. There is still a mask mandate.

Arkansas

Gov. Asa Hutchinson on February 26 lifted capacity limits for bars, restaurants, gyms, and large venues. He said that the state’s mask mandate would remain in place until March, provided the number of cases and hospitalizations were low.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts said February 25 that restaurants could open at full capacity – albeit with social distancing and table size and time restrictions – starting Monday.

Other venues could open at 50% capacity, with no more than 500 people allowed inside. A state-wide mask mandate is still in place.

Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee lifted restrictions for five counties in the state on February 14, and allowed restaurants to open up at 25% capacity.

Montana

Gov. Greg Gianforte of Montana terminated the state’s mask mandate February 12.

Iowa

Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa lifted restrictions February 5. Iowans no longer have to wear face coverings in public. Businesses can have as many people as they want inside and don’t have to abide social-distance guidelines.

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Trump could be fined $12 million after an Illinois judge ruled his Chicago hotel violated a environmental protection law for 3 years

Trump chicago
A man walks by Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois, on March 21, 2020.

Former President Donald Trump’s Chicago hotel is improperly using water from the Chicago River to cool the building in violation of environmental protection regulations, a judge in Illinois ruled this week.

The ruling stems from a 2018 lawsuit against the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, The Washington Post reported. The Illinois attorney general had argued that Trump’s property used 19 million gallons of water each day from the Chicago River to cool the property and returned the water to the river at a warmer temperature.

The hotel had initially secured a permit that allowed it to cool the building in this way, but the permit expired in 2017 and was not renewed, according to the report, sparking more than three years of violations.

The Trump Organization, which owns and operates the Chicago hotel, did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

Read more: Democrats are moving ahead with Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID stimulus – with or without Republicans. Here are the 4 main sticking points that could blow things up.

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Sophia Hall, who decided the case, said a penalty would be decided at a future date.

According to the Washington Post, the office of the Illinois Attorney General had asked that the judge impose the maximum possible fines: $50,000 for two violations plus an additional $10,000 per day for each day the hotel continued to cool the building using water from the river.

With violations occurring since 2017, the former president’s hotel chain could be ordered to pay as much as $12 million in fines, The Chicago Tribune reported. It added, however, that fines that high were ultimately unlikely.

The lawsuit had first been filed by former Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, but a spokesperson for current Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, in office since 2019, told The Washington Post he was happy with the judge’s ruling, adding he planned to “continue to seek to hold the defendants accountable for violations of Illinois’ environmental laws that jeopardized the quality of the Chicago River.”

The ruling in Chicago is just one in a series of legal battles that the former president faces now that he is out of office.

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