Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Monday that three of Illinois’ four medical regions are currently on track to move into phase three of the state’s phased reopening plan, but one key region still has work to do to be able to reopen more businesses and loosen more restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Pritzker the North Central, Central and Southern regions of the state are all hitting the metrics required to move into phase three of the reopening plan later this month, but the Northeast region, which includes Chicago and most of the city’s suburbs, is not.
The Northeast region includes Cook County, as well as McHenry, Lake, Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties.
No region can officially move forward until May 29, under the parameters of the governor's plan.
The reason, according to the governor, is that the region’s positivity rate, a measure of the percentage of coronavirus test results that come back positive, is still too high.
“In the Northeast region, the positivity rate as of midnight on May 8 is at 22.3 percent, which is of course higher than the 20 percent cap on this metric to move into the next phase,” Pritzker said.
That number bucks a statewide trend, as the positivity rate has been declining steadily since peaking on April 22. On that date, the state’s positivity rate was at 21.36 percent, but as of Monday, 17.86 percent of tests statewide have come back positive since the pandemic began.
Pritzker did say that the positivity rate has to remain below 20 percent for a 14-day period, meaning that the Northeast region could potentially fall under that threshold and move forward with the rest of the state.
According to data provided by the governor North Central region is sitting at 9.1 percent, while the Central region is sitting at six percent. The Southern region is at 10.5 percent, putting all three regions well within the parameters to move into phase three of the state’s reopening plan.
All regions, including the Northeast region, have seen a decrease in hospitalizations since May 1, including a 18.6 percent decrease in the Northeast region, a 35,8 percent decrease in the North Central region, a 44.4 percent decrease in the Central region and a 54.3 percent decrease in the Southern region.
To move onto the next phase of the plan, a region cannot see an overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness across a 28-day period. Every region, including the Northeast region, is on track to hit that mark.
The third requirement for moving forward is an available surge capacity of at least 14 percent for medical/surgical beds, ICU beds and ventilators. All four regions have more than 14 percent availability in all three of those areas, with the Northeast region currently at 17.8 percent availability in beds, 18.8 percent in ICU beds, and 64.3 percent availability of ventilators.
If those three regions maintain their numbers in all metrics, they will be eligible to move to phase three of the five-phase reopening plan on May 29. In that phase, gatherings of 10 or fewer people will be allowed, while more non-essential businesses, including hair salons, will be allowed to open with strict social distancing and capacity limit guidelines.