Illinois' 11 regions can begin lifting Tier 3 restrictions as early as next week if they've met the right metrics, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Wednesday.
"Since Nov. 30, I have maintained – at the advice of Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, the [Illinois Department of Public Health] and other infectious disease experts – that it would be unwise to downgrade any region from our current Tier Three mitigations while in the holiday season, when people were particularly prone to gather in multi-family groups and do it without masks – the things that could deliver the worrisome 'surge upon a surge,'" Pritzker said during an update on the state's coronavirus response.
He noted that the state "did not experience the post-Thanksgiving uptick that plagued much of the country" and said state health officials were "watching closely" the period after Christmas and New Year's.
"I’m cautiously optimistic as there are some early signs indicating that some regions have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress this week or next," Pritzker continued.
"So on Jan. 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of Tier Three of our mitigation plan," he said.
All of Illinois' 11 regions have been under Tier 3 mitigations since Nov. 20, which have lowered capacity limitations for outdoor dining and other activities, suspended indoor dining entirely, shut down indoor recreation venues like theaters and casinos and increased other restrictions.
A region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if it sees a test positivity rate less than 12% for three consecutive days and more than 20% of ICU and hospital beds are available, as well as declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.
Illinois reported 7,569 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 139 additional deaths attributed to the virus. The new cases bring the statewide total to 999,288 confirmed cases and 17,096 deaths since the pandemic began last year, according to IDPH.