Two Illinois regions were allowed to move into Tier 1 coronavirus mitigations over the weekend, with limited indoor dining now allowed, among other loosening of restrictions.
Meanwhile, appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations will begin Monday at the Lake County Fairgrounds in north suburban Grayslake, county officials said.
Here are the latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic across the state of Illinois today, Jan. 18:
Illinois Adjusts COVID Metrics Thresholds Required to Loosen Restrictions in Health Care Regions
Health officials in Illinois have announced adjustments to the metrics used to determine whether health care regions can roll back coronavirus mitigation rules, allowing the majority of the state’s regions to loosen restrictions as the state takes steps to increase hospital staffing.
The state is stepping up efforts to increase staffing at hospitals, and as a result officials have determined that the percentage of available hospital beds will no longer be used as part of the metrics required for a region to roll back coronavirus restrictions.
Originally, a set of four metrics were used to determine whether regions could roll back coronavirus mitigation rules, but according to state officials, hospital bed availability will no longer be included in that list.
Instead, the state will launch multiple health care staffing contracts to help increase hospital staffing, thereby increasing the number of “staffed” beds available for coronavirus patients. That change will reflect the wishes of health officials, who said that the usage of the “staffed beds” statistic was slightly misleading, as hospitals had enough bed capacity, but not enough staff to care for patients in those beds.
“With this surge staffing program, IDPH and hospital leaders feel confident that metrics can safely move away from utilizing medical/surgical bed limits to move across mitigation tiers,” state officials said in a statement.
The surge staffing program will be spearheaded by IDPH and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. Hospitals will be allowed to submit requests for additional staffing to the state, according to a press release.
All other metrics thresholds to move between tiers and phases will remain the same, according to the state.
Illinois Loosens COVID Restrictions for Several Regions, Bringing Some Back to Phase 4
Monday marked a day of major changes as several Illinois regions were allowed to loosen their coronavirus restrictions even further as the state changed its mitigation guidelines.
Illinois' health department announced that due to a change in staffing contracts, which increases hospital staffing across the state, Regions 8, 9, 10, and 11 can move from the most restrictive Tier 3 to Tier 2. In addition, Regions 1 and 6 have met the metrics to move to Tier 1, and Regions 3 and 5 have met the metrics to return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.
Illinois Reports 3,385 New Coronavirus Cases, 50 Additional Deaths Monday
Health officials in Illinois reported 3,385 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 50 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, Monday's new cases brought the statewide total number of confirmed cases to 1,072,214 since the pandemic began. The fatalities reported Monday lifted the death toll to 18,258.
In the last 24 hours, Illinois officials said 63,002 test specimens were returned to state laboratories, putting the state at 14,826,995 tests performed during the pandemic.
The seven-day rolling positivity rate on all tests was 5.9%, while the positivity rate for unique individuals tested is at 7.0% - both down slightly from the day before.
As of Sunday night, 3,345 patients in Illinois were hospitalized due to coronavirus. Of those patients, 705 were in intensive care units, while 392 were on ventilators.
8 Illinois Regions Are Still Under Tier 3 Mitigations: Here's Where They Stand
Eight of Illinois' 11 health care regions remain under Tier 3 mitigations, having not met the metrics to move back to previous tiers, which would lift a number of coronavirus restrictions currently place in those areas.
Over the weekend, two of the state's regions became the first to return to Tier 1 mitigations, allowing them to resume indoor dining in limited capacity. One other region sits in Tier 2, which lifts some of Tier 3's restrictions, but does not yet resume indoor dining.
Cook County to Host Mass Vaccination Event
The Cook County Department of Public Health is scheduled to hold a mass vaccination event Monday.
CCDPH is hosting the event in partnership with Oak Street Health at 12:30 p.m. The event can be watched live in the video player above.
Drive-Thru COVID-19 Vaccine Site Opens Monday at Lake County Fairgrounds
Appointment-only drive-thru COVID-19 vaccinations will begin Monday at the Lake County Fairgrounds in north suburban Grayslake, county officials said.
Under Phase 1A of Illinois' vaccination plan, doses are currently only available to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Phase 1B, which will center on residents aged 65 years and older and "frontline essential workers," is slated to begin Jan. 25., Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday.
In order to receive the vaccine, which will be administered by the Lake County Health Department, an individual must register on the AllVax Portal and have a confirmed appointment, according to a news release.
When the Health Department receives a shipment of vaccine doses, officials said, a number of people who are eligible to receive the vaccine are notified to schedule an appointment.
Anyone who lives or works in Lake County can register on the portal to be notified when it's their turn to be vaccinated.
4 Lake County Restaurants in Defiance of Illinois Indoor Dining Restrictions
Even though restrictions preventing indoor dining remain in effect across Illinois, four restaurants in north suburban Lake County decided to reopen their doors Friday.
The restaurants include Stevens' Steakhouse, Kaiser's Pizza & Pub and Timothy O'Toole's pub in Gurnee as well as the Shanty Restaurant in Wadsworth.
Under Illinois' guidelines, indoor dining can resume, in part, as regions begin to move into Tier 1 of the state's coronavirus mitigations and even further as they return to Phase 4.
NBC 5 reached out to officials with the village of Gurnee who confirmed they were aware of the situation, but didn't specify how it's being handled.