Illinois will move into the Bridge Phase of its COVID reopening plan next week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday.
Pritzker detailed the move while giving a COVID-19 update alongside Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and other health care providers.
"As a testament to the lifesaving, community-protecting power of vaccinations, I’m pleased to announce this morning that the concerning upward movement of cases and hospitalizations we were seeing a few weeks ago have stabilized," Pritzker said.
"The number of people going into the hospital each day with COVID-19 has dropped, the total number of patients fighting COVID-19 in the hospital is beginning to level off, and our statewide ICU bed availability is above 20 percent," he continued.
"As a result, on Friday, May 14th, the State of Illinois will move into the Bridge Phase of our mitigation plan – one step closer to removing nearly all of the remaining mitigations," Pritzker said. "For restaurants and bars and retail and weddings and public gatherings, this means higher capacity limits and a very hopeful move toward fully reopening."
Pritzker also revealed Thursday that the state is on track to enter Phase 5 - which would mark a full reopening - as early as June 11.
Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan and must first enter the Bridge Phase, a transitional period before the final Phase 5, which would see all sectors of the economy fully reopened and no capacity limits.
The Bridge Phase will allow for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current guidelines and a full reopening.
For a full look at what changes between Phase 4, the Bridge Phase and Phase 5, click here.
To advance to the Bridge Phase, the entire state was required to reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
Officials said Thursday that the state has vaccinated 60% of all adults and 85% of residents ages 65 and older - both well above the threshold to advance.
While the state reached the vaccination metrics required to move from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations prevented the state from moving into the new phase in recent weeks.
Previously under more strict guidelines than the rest of the state, Chicago officials announced last week that the city would join the rest of Illinois in moving to the Bridge Phase if it meets the metrics. Illinois officials said Tuesday that since that announcement, the COVID-19 test positivity has continued to drop and is now under 5%.