Illinois will open in 5 phases regionally.
In a press conference earlier today, Governor JB Pritzker introduced “Restore Illinois”: a 5-step plan of re-opening the state by region.
The governor explained the research, consideration, and forethought — as well as the discussions with businesses, non-profits, parents, children, politicians on both sides of the isle, and other members of city council — that went into the formation of his new plan, using science and data as guardrails in his decision-making.
Among the groups, city officials, and politicians that he spoke to were: Senate Republican Leader, Bill Brady; Legislators from Metro East; the Legislative Latino Caucus; Mayor Joe Judge of Mount Carmel; the House GOP’s Women’s Caucus; Mayor Jim Langfelder of Springfield; and Representative, André Thapedi.
“I want to introduce you to our framework for moving forward: Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19,” said Pritzker.
“This is also a regional plan… moving forward with Restore Illinois, we are looking at the state as four regions, each of which can move through phases at different times: Northeast Illinois; North-Central Illinois; Central Illinois; and Southern Illinois.”
Priztker explained that areas reflected the regionalization of the IDPH Emergency Medical Services.
Phase 1 entailed the rapid spreading of the virus in the state between early March and the end of April. While this phase has passed in every region, the phase could re-occur if mitigation efforts aren’t maintained. Only essential businesses remained open during this phase.
Phase 2 began with the modified stay-at-home order enacted May 1. It regards the state’s current operations during its “flattening” of the curve where rates of COVID-19 have diminished, slowing the viral spread. Retail businesses are currently open for particular services, wherein individuals can participate in outdoor activities while maintaining social distancing. State citizens are required to wear a mask in public spaces.
Phase 3 represents the recovery phase. Phase 3 will begin on May 29 at the earliest, so long as the requirements are met. This will occur once the need for ICU beds stabilizes or declines due to the declining number of incoming patients. In this phase, “non-essential manufacturing and other non-essential businesses can reopen, in accordance with safety guidance,” including barbershops and salons, health and fitness clubs (for outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training), and limited child care and summer programs. State parks will also re-open.
Phase 4 will see to the revitalization of the state. For this phase to occur, “a region would need to see continued declines in its positivity rate and hospitalizations and maintain surge capacity.”
In Phase 4, “restaurants, bars, spas, cinemas, theaters, retail and health and fitness clubs can open with new capacity limits and DPH approved safety guidance.” Additionally, regions will be able to permit gatherings of up to 50 people, travel, and the re-opening of childcare facilities, and schools will re-open under safety guidance.
The Governor asserted that each phase would be monitored by the IDPH, who will observe each phases of the process by careful health metrics:
“IDPH will watch the identified health metrics closely to determine when regions have attained them so each can move from Phase 2 to Phases 3 and 4. More specifically the metrics are: 1) A region must be at or under a 20 percent test positivity rate and increasing by no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, AND 2) A region must have either not had an overall increase OR must have maintained overall stability in hospital admissions for COVID-like illness in the last 28 days, AND 3) A region must maintain the availability of a surge threshold of 14 percent availability of ICU beds, Medical and surgery beds, and ventilators.”
Phase 5 represents the complete restoration of Illinois. Phase 5 will occur with the successful production and distribution of a viable vaccine, or when there are 0 new cases of COVID over a period of time. Once this occurs, the state will permit festivals, conventions, and large social gatherings. All schools, businesses, and recreation facilities will also re-open.
“It’s important to remember that we put this plan together not only because the state needs a plan, but because mayors need a plan. Small business owners need a plan. Workers need a plan. Everyday Illinoisans need a plan,” said the governor.
“But this plan, as vetted and data-driven as it is, is a plan for responding to and recovering from a global pandemic in the 21st century. There is no modern day precedent for this – we are quite literally writing the playbook as we go. The scientists learn more things about this virus every day, and we can and will make our Restore Illinois plan smarter as we move forward. I’m not afraid to redesign the playbook if the rules change.”
[Featured image via video still]