coronavirus illinois

Metrics Explained: Where Pritzker Wants Illinois’ 4 Regions to be Before Reopening

A region must have a positivity rate of 20% of less in order to enter phase three of Illinois' five phase reopening plan

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All four of Illinois' health regions remain on track to meet the metrics required to move on to the next phase of reopening, however when it comes to the positivity rate, the state's most populous region sits just below the threshold, according to data provided Friday by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In order to enter phase three, a region "will be required to 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 the region's collar counties, reported a 19.4% percent positivity rate Friday — just under the threshold of 20%.

However, earlier in the week, the region was not hitting the numbers required to enter phase three of the state's five-phased reopening plan, prompting some suburban leaders to criticize the grouping of health care regions.

Most counties in northeastern Illinois are included in the same region as Chicago, meaning that their reopening schedule could be delayed more than that of their neighboring counties during the pandemic. 

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."

While positivity rate is no doubt a major factor, it's by far the only requirement to move the reopening process forward.

Additionally, a region must not see an increase, rather 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.

In contrast to Illinois' requirements, the plan announced by the White House includes 14 days of downward movement.

"If you look across the board in the state, we are roughly speaking, only stable, not moving downward," Gov. Pritzker said Thursday. "So it's highly likely that we will move into phase three in a shorter period of time under the metrics that I put forward."

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 Friday, that requirement was also being met by all four health care regions.

May 15 briefing: Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, discusses that latest coronavirus case information for Illinois.

Under phase three, "Recovery," manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons will be able to reopen to the public with capacity and other limits and 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
contact tracing

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