With the holidays over and the New Year beginning, when might Illinois start to see its tiered mitigations lifted?
Currently, Illinois is under Tier 3 mitigations, which have lowered capacity limitations for outdoor dining, left indoor dining suspended and increased other restrictions.
According to Gov. J.B. Pritzker the answer on when things could begin to reopen isn't concrete.
Here's a look at what the governor has said and when in recent weeks:
When asked if indoor dining will be allowed to resume as coronavirus metrics began declining across the state, Pritzker said decisions would likely be made after the holidays.
"What we don't want to do is yo-yo back and forth between Tier 3, Tier 2 and that would not open bars and restaurants either way," Pritzker said at the time. "We do want to get everything open as soon as possible. We are heading, generally speaking, in the right direction."
Pritzker noted that while some metrics had been declining, hospitalizations were rising.
"That's concerning," the governor said. "So we're going to keep a very close eye on it. I'm the first one to want to move the regions down to Tier 2 and Tier 1 and back to Phase 4 as soon as possible but we also want to make sure that we've crushed this growing number of cases and growing number of hospitalization and that we do not have, as we do now, a very, very large number of ICU patients."
Pritzker said he plans to watch the numbers through the holidays.
"We'll get there, I believe, shortly and we want to see how the Christmas and New Year's holidays go," he said.
As some regions in Illinois began to report coronavirus data below the state's requirements for mitigations, some wondered if restrictions might be eased in their regions.
"As you know, a couple of weeks ago, out of concern for the idea that we would have a surge here, we basically stepped back from taking regions out of Tier 3, in hopes that we could bring the numbers down significantly across state," Pritzker said at the time. "They're coming down, not by enormous numbers, but they're going the right direction. And we're very hopeful that things will continue in the right direction. But as Dr. Ezike said, you know, when you're still talking about 8,000-plus cases, for example, in a day. That means, as you were mentioning earlier, that as you project forward, that quite a number of people will still pass away as a percentage of that. And so just deeply concerned that we bring the numbers down to a level where, you know, we're we're seeing a much better numbers, even our positivity rates, although they've come down, still are not near the WHO recommended 5%."
With the start of vaccinations for coronavirus in Illinois many asked if Phase 5 of the state's reopening plan could soon be reached.
"Today is the beginning of a process that allows us to move toward reopening the state entirely," Pritzker said after watching the first doses of the vaccine be administered in Illinois. "It will take some time."
But according to Pritzker, there's still a long ways to go.
"The length of time, you know, as you talk to the experts what they would say is the manufacturing process will take some time so they can deliver them as fast as they can," Pritzker said. "But months will go by here while we are working through the ACIP/CDC guidelines first for health care workers and those in longterm care facilities and then the many others that are in the various phases... until we get herd immunity. That's what we're all aiming for for the state of Illinois and the United States of America."
Phase 5 of Illinois' reopening plan was set to begin once a vaccine or highly effective treatment became widely available.