Illinois has now met the vaccination metric required to move to its new Bridge Phase, a transition phase before fully reopening, but the state isn't advancing just yet, health officials said Wednesday.
While 70% of Illinois residents age 65 and older have now received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, the state's health department said "not all of the metrics needed to advance to the Bridge Phase and on to Phase 5 of the Restore Illinois Plan have been met."
"The number of people being admitted to the hospital in Illinois due to COVID-19 continues to increase," IDPH said in a release Wednesday. "As long as new hospital admissions continue to increase, the state will not advance. The number of cases of COVID-19 has seen an increasing trend as well. Health officials continue to urge all residents to continue to mask up, socially distance, and avoid crowds to reduce transmission and bring the metrics back in line to transition to the Bridge Phase."
The increasing hospitalizations come as state officials warn of a potential resurgence amid concerning trends not just in Illinois but across the U.S.
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"The state is taking quick and decisive action to reverse early signs of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases," the governor's office said in a release Monday.
Health officials on Wednesday reported 2,592 new coronavirus cases and 28 additional deaths.
As of Tuesday evening, 1,413 individuals in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 294 patients were in the ICU and 123 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.
This time last week, 1,261 individuals in Illinois were in the hospital with COVID-19.
The state's positivity rate has also increased in the last week from 2.8% to 3.3% on Wednesday.
Last week, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported "a concerning possible trend in increasing COVID hospitalizations and case rates" in multiple regions.
Those regions include Chicago, Cook County and Region 1, located in the Rockford area.
Chicago officials warned Wednesday that they may again shut the venerated ballpark to fans if number of COVID-19 cases keep climbing.
"The biggest thing driving this is increases in cases in our younger adults, and I want to highlight that," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said during a press conference last week. "Unfortunately, these sorts of increases are just what we were seeing in October as we were starting to see the beginnings of what became our huge surge. It was really the same case rates and younger adults that started this."
In order for Illinois to move to the new "Bridge Phase," considered the final step before the full reopening, the entire state must meet the required metrics.
- 70% of residents 65 years and older must have received a first dose;
- Hospitals must maintain 20% or greater ICU bed availability;
- Hospitalizations for COVID-19, admissions for COVID-like illness and deaths must hold steady or decline over a 28-day monitoring period.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled the Bridge Phase earlier this month, announcing new metrics and guidelines that 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 Phase 4 and before a full reopening in Phase 5.