All four of Illinois' health regions will be allowed to enter to the next phase of reopening after meeting the health criteria necessary to begin easing restrictions, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.
As of Thursday, just two days remained in the statewide stay-at-home order, but regions can begin entering phase three Friday. Chicago will not be joining the rest of the state, however, the city's mayor said, revealing plans to enter her own phase three plan on Wednesday.
Illinois' four reopening regions — Northeast, North Central, Central and Southern — are based on the state's 11 hospital regions, which Gov. Pritzker said have been "on the books for decades."
In order to enter phase three, a region must "have a positivity rate of 20% or less and an increase of no more than 10% over a 14-day period." The positivity rate is determined by using a 7-day rolling average to smooth volatility in the daily metrics, according to IDPH.
The Northeast region, which includes Cook County and collar counties, reported a positivity rate at 14.2% Thursday — a drop of 4.3% in the last two weeks.
The other remaining regions in the state sit well-below the positivity rate threshold, with the North-Central region at 6.9%, the Central region at 2.6% and the Southern region at 5.1%. The Southern region has seen an increase in their numbers this week, but it remained on a downward trend over the last two weeks.
While positivity rate is undoubtedly a major factor, it's not the only requirement to move the reopening process forward.
Additionally, a region must see stability or a decrease in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness across a 28-day period. All four regions have seen a dip in hospitalizations since May 1, according to state officials.
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In contrast to Illinois' requirements, the plan announced by the White House includes 14 days of downward movement.
All four regions are also required to have the available surge capacity of at least 14% ICU beds, medical/surgical beds and ventilators. As of Thursday, that requirement was also being met by all four health care regions.
The Northeast region reported 27.9% of medical-surgical beds available and 31.4% of ICU beds not in use as of Thursday. The area remained strong with ventilator availability, with 67% on hand.
Other regions reported medical/surgical bed availability in excess of 30% and ICU capacity above at least 40%, nearly double the necessary metrics.
Under phase three, manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons will be able to reopen to the public with capacity and other limits as well as safety precautions. Gatherings must be limited to 10 people or fewer and face coverings will also be necessary.
The following criteria must also be met for phase three to begin:
• Testing Capacity:
o Test at least 5% of Chicago residents per month
• Testing Percent Positivity Rates (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
o Congregate: <30% positive tests
o Community: <15% positive tests
• Syndromic Surveillance (over 14 days, as a rolling average):
o Declining emergency department visits for influenza-like illness and/or COVID-like illness
• Case Investigation & Contact Tracing:
o Expanded system in place for congregate and community investigations and