Illinois is currently on track to enter its final stages of reopening in the coming weeks, but the state's governor said there's an important caveat for residents.
"This good news comes with a caveat," Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Thursday. "We have all seen throughout this pandemic that this virus and its variants have proven to be unpredictable. Metrics that look strong today are far from a guarantee of how things will look a week, two weeks, a month from now. We saw that last August and again in March."
So while the state has announced plans to enter a Bridge Phase on May 14 and potentially fully reopen on June 11, that could all change with the metrics.
Under the guidelines previously released, Illinois could revert back to a previous phase in its reopening plan if there is a resurgence in the pandemic. That would be measured by an unspecified "increasing trend" in Illinois' case rate as well as one of the following, measured over a 10-day monitoring period:
- Hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness trend increasing and above 150 daily average
- COVID-19 patients in the hospital trend increasing and above 750 daily census
- Mortality rate trend increasing and above 0.1 daily average
- ICU bed availability < 20%
Illinois has been in Phase 4, without added mitigations, for much of 2021, but the Bridge Phase will loosen restrictions further and increase capacity limits before the final Phase 5.
Phase 5 would see no capacity limits, though Pritzker noted the state will continue following mask guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
For a full look at what changes between Phase 4, the Bridge Phase and Phase 5, click here.
Unlike previous tiered mitigations that were implemented regionally late last year during the fall surge of the pandemic, the state will move through the Bridge Phase and Phase 5 all at once. Chicago officials announced last week that the city would advance to the Bridge Phase with the rest of Illinois if metrics remain stable and it meets the required criteria.
During a news conference announcing the return of the Chicago Auto Show Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city is on track to enter Phase 5 by July 4. It remains unclear if the city will join the state in a full reopening next month.