While Illinois is on the verge of meeting the vaccination metric required to enter the new Bridge Phase of its reopening plan, it appears the state won't be moving forward just yet.
As of Monday, the state had reported 69 percent of seniors 65 and older had been vaccinated, just shy of the 70% threshold required to enter the final phase before a full reopening.
But according to Illinois' health department, hospitalization metrics "continue to trend upward," meaning "the state has not yet met the conditions to move to the Bridge Phase."
"Health officials continue to urge all residents to mask up, socially distance and wash hands frequently to reduce transmission and bring the metrics back in line to transition to the Bridge Phase," IDPH said in a release Monday.
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The increasing hospitalizations come as state officials warn of a potential resurgence amid concerning trends not just in Illinois but across the U.S.
"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 Monday reported 1,761 new coronavirus cases and five additional deaths in Illinois, along with more than 49,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours.
As of Sunday evening, 1,352 Illinois residents were hospitalized due to the virus. Of those patients, 280 were in ICU beds and 128 were on ventilators. The previous day, 1,337 people were reported to be in the hospital with coronavirus.
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.
"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 Tuesday. "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.