Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state is "making progress" in its coronavirus metrics and could soon enter the "Bridge Phase" of its reopening plan, a new transition phase before reaching a full reopening.
"As you have seen in the numbers, they've been coming down gradually, which is terrific," Pritzker said during a press conference to discuss an expansion of resources and vaccine accessibility in the state Monday. "We have a period of time that we wait - I think it's another, I'll have to look at the IDPH website lately, but it's, you know, five or six more days of decline, which will allow us to move to the Bridge Phase and then on to Phase Five."
To move into the Bridge Phase, the entire state needed to reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintaining the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
Illinois met the vaccination metric required to move to the Bridge Phase at the end of March, officials said, but did not advance because of increasing hospital admissions and COVID cases.
"We had two sets of criteria, right? First it was making sure that we got 70% of our seniors vaccinated, and then 50% of our total population, but also making sure that our hospitalizations are not increasing," Pritzker said. "And so, unfortunately, just at the moment when we were about to tip to 50% population/70% of our seniors, hospitalizations started going up and so did cases. And that's very concerning because we've seen this movie before where they start going up, they tend to continue going up, and you know, whether it's putting mitigations in or vaccinating more people, we need to make sure that that we bend that curve and bring it back down again."
Illinois health officials reported 2,137 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases and 10 additional deaths Monday, along with over 50,000 vaccinations administered.
As of midnight, 2,083 patients were hospitalized due to COVID. Of those patients, 506 were in ICU beds and 251 on ventilators in the state.
New hospital admissions reached a high on April 16, with 240 patients. Total hospitalizations peaked so far on April 19, with 2,288. Sunday and Monday's recent hospitalization numbers, while lower than April 19, marked an increase from days earlier, reaching 2,083, up from Saturday's 2,032.
Unlike with previous tiered mitigations, all of Illinois will move through the Bridge Phase and Phase 5 together once they meet the required metrics. Entering the Bridge Phase will allow for higher capacity limits prior to entering Phase 5, which would mark a complete reopening.
Once in the Bridge Phase, in order to move to Phase 5, the state must reach a 50% vaccination rate for residents age 16 and over and meet the same metrics and rates required to enter the transition phase, over an additional 28-day period, state officials said.
The state could be forced to revert back to an earlier phase if, over the course of 10 days, the state experiences an increasing trend in COVID-19 and COVID-like illness hospital admissions, a decrease in ICU bed availability, an increase in the mortality rate, and an increasing case rate, the state said.