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Gov. JB Pritzker on Tuesday announced “Restore Illinois” – a roadmap with five phases designed to gradually bring the state out of quarantine and back to normal.
“Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19,” Pritzker said.
The plan divides the state into four “health regions,” which will move through the five phases independent of one another based on COVID-19 data and health care capacity within the region.
“We are one Illinois. But we are also one Illinois made up of 60,000 square miles, and reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state,” Pritzker said.
The four health regions are composed of 11 smaller “Emergency Medical Services Regions” traditionally used by the Illinois Department of Public Health in addressing health emergencies, according to the Restore Illinois plan.
The North Central region spans from McDonough and McLean counties north to the Illinois/Wisconsin border, excluding the Chicago area. It includes Bureau, DeKalb, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Putnam and Jo Daviess counties.
The Northeast region covers nine counties: Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, McHenry, Lake and Will.
The Central health region covers a large area of central Illinois, spanning from Hancock County to Iroquois and stretching down to Jersey County and out to Lawrence County.
Finally, the Southern region stretches from Madison County to Wabash and down, covering the southern-most portion of the state.
This approach was decided upon based on input from nonprofits, businesses, school districts, mayors and members of the Illinois General Assembly, many of whom stressed the importance of a regionalized response going forward, Pritzker said.
Restore Illinois will provide guidance around reopening businesses and allowing for social gatherings and other recreational activities. Dependent on public health metrics, health regions will move forward through each phase but may also need to move backward if surges in cases occur.
The governor described Phase 1, “Rapid Spread,” as where the state was from “early March to April 30 when Illinois moved to minimum essential operations to bend the curve.”
The state currently is in Phase 2 of the plan, aptly named “Flattening,” with the main differences being the allowance of elective health procedures, the reopening of select state parks, golf courses and the allowance of fishing and boating in small groups.
“So what’s next?” Pritzker said. “Health care regions that meet certain thresholds over the next few weeks will be able to move to Phase 3.”
These thresholds include a positive COVID-19 test rate of 20% or lower, no overall increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions for a 28-day period and available surge capacity of at least 14% of hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators. The transition to Phase 3 or “Recovery” also requires that regions have strong testing and contact tracing capabilities.
Since Phase 2 began with the governor’s modified stay-at-home order May 1, the soonest that any region will be able to move to Phase 3 is May 29.
“At that point, with face coverings as the norm, nonessential manufacturing and other nonessential businesses can open in accordance with safety guidance,” Pritzker said.
“Barbershops and salons can reopen, health and fitness clubs can offer outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training,” he said. “Limited child care and summer programs can operate with DPH guidance, all [public gatherings] of 10 people or fewer can take place during this phase.”
To move to Phase 4, “Revitalization,” regions must make testing available to all residents regardless of symptoms or risk factors associated with the virus. The region also must have the capacity to begin contact tracing and monitoring of at least 90% of all new COVID-19 cases within 24 hours of diagnosis.
Once this is achieved, the Revitalization phase opens many of the recreational businesses and activities that Illinois residents have missed.
“Restaurants, bars, spas, cinemas, theaters, retail and health and fitness clubs can open with new capacity limits,” Pritzker said. “Schools, summer and fall programs, child care and higher education can open with safety guidance and all outdoor recreation programs would be allowed.”
Public gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed in this phase, a number that Pritzker said is subject to change based on ongoing data projections.
The IDPH will track each region’s data within these requirements and will update region-specific data on a daily basis through their website.
The final phase of the plan is a complete return to normalcy and likely will be impossible to reach without a COVID-19 vaccine or viable treatment option, Pritzker said.
“Until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn’t exist,” he said.
Pritzker said the state does not plan to restrict travel between the four health regions, but will continue to rely on local police to enforce the restrictions of each phase.
“At the state level, we don’t have the capacity or the desire to police the individual behavior of 12.7 million people,” he said. “But we are also working with local law enforcement and have asked for their assistance to monitor for violations and consider taking actions when necessary.”
The state also reported a record for the highest single-day increase in COVID-19 deaths, with 176 additional deaths.
The IDPH reported 2,122 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 65,962 confirmed cases and 2,838 dead.
The state conducted 13,139 tests in the past 24 hours, of which 16.2% came back positive, according to the IDPH. This is down from the 16.9% positive rate reported Monday afternoon.
The state’s total hospitalizations because of COVID-19 have increased since Monday.
On Tuesday, the IDPH reported that 4,780 Illinois residents are in hospital care and, of those residents, 1,266 are in intensive care units and 780 are on ventilators.
County-specific numbers: There were a total of 26,606 confirmed cases in the city of Chicago, with a total of 18,617 confirmed cases in the rest of Cook County.
Of the 176 new deaths reported, 117 were Cook County residents with ages ranging from people in their 30s to people in their 90s.
Additionally, Bureau County reported one new death, DuPage County reported 13 deaths, Kane County eight, Kendall County three, Lake County two, McHenry County two and Will County 10.
In total, Lake County has seen 4,370 confirmed cases, DuPage 3,918, Will 3,150, Kane 2,206, McHenry 802, Kendall 334, DeKalb 140, Ogle 133, Whiteside 94, La Salle 69, Grundy 47, Lee 41, Bureau 12 and Carroll 10, according to IDPH data.
Recovery data: IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike announced that, based on the results of an ongoing study, 47% of respondents report feeling recovered within 14 days of testing positive for COVID-19, and 74% of respondents say they are symptom-free within 28 days of testing positive.