coronavirus

What Could Happen if Illinois Sees Spike in Coronavirus Cases Like Other US States?

New cases have surged in several states across the nation, setting new records almost daily

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Illinois is still operating under its phase four guidelines, but with other states backtracking on their reopening plans and some instituting travel restrictions or heightened closures to prevent new spikes, could the state see changes ahead?

The answer: yes, if the health metrics and state officials deem it necessary.

In the Midwest alone, Indiana postponed its move to phase five, instead opting to shift into what it called "phase 4.5." Public health officials also closed indoor service at bars in Madison, Wisconsin, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Wednesday said she was closing indoor seating in bars in parts of the state, including a city with a bar that has been linked to a rising number of infections. 

New cases have surged in several states across the nation, setting new records almost daily, driven mostly by expanding outbreaks in the American South and West. Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are just some of the states that reported record-high counts of daily new cases last week.

California closed bars, theaters and indoor restaurant dining all over again across most of the state Wednesday. Counties in South Florida are closing beaches to fend off large July Fourth crowds that could spread the virus.

Some distant states and cities that seemed to have tamed their outbreaks, including Colorado, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey, hit pause or backtracked on some of their reopening plans for bars and restaurants as they watched the crisis unfold from afar.

New York and New Jersey are also asking visitors from 16 states from the Carolinas to California to quarantine themselves for two weeks.

The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. per day has roughly doubled over the past month, hitting 44,800 on Tuesday, according to a count kept by Johns Hopkins University. That is higher even than what the nation witnessed during the deadliest stretch of the crisis in mid-April through early May.

So what is Illinois' plan going forward?

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he's not opposed to return the state, or parts of it, to previous reopening phases if necessary.

"I'm not afraid to protect the people of Illinois by moving a region back to an earlier phase," he said last week. "If we see a surge ours will not be one of the states that takes no action in response to a return to the peak."

In Chicago, the city has implemented a system to determine if the reopening should stall or possibly even move backwards. As long as metrics continue to be met, or stay "green," cautious reopening plans can advance. If some metrics are not being met, or become "yellow," the city will "pause and monitor."

But if the city's progress turns "red," plans will stop and some restrictions may be reinstated.

The city has announced new plans to strictly enforce phase four guidelines at businesses heading into the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

"If we get into trouble, we'll take steps backwards," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Thursday.

In Illinois, a new county map was launched to give areas a look at which locations are most at-risk.

As of last week, only one county was in a "warning" stage.

"Maybe you think about reconsidering going out in that large group gathering, maybe you'll reconsider going to an indoor dining experience, maybe you'll consider appreciating a religious gathering online as opposed to in person," Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said at the time.

Pritzker has said guidance from health officials and scientists has not yet indicated the state should require people from "hotspot" states to quarantine, as states like New York and New Jersey are doing.

"That's not something that we are looking at implementing right now," he said last Wednesday. "Going forward, if we got the advice to do it we might."

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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