As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker confirmed that all four of the state's health regions will move into Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan on Friday, June 26, according to statements made in a special news conference Tuesday afternoon.
"The responsible decision-making by most Illinoisans should give us all confidence as we move toward the new school year beginning in the fall," Pritzker said.
Pritzker also announced that he has released safety guidelines which will allow all K-12 schools, colleges and universities, both public and private, to reopen for in-person learning in the fall.
"Classroom learning provides necessary opportunities for our students to learn, socialize and grow," he said. "The benefits of in-person instruction can't be overstated."
The governor warned that teachers, students and families should be prepared to return to remote learning if the state experiences another spike in COVID-19 cases over the school year.
The Illinois Department of Public Health will work closely with the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board to support schools in reopening safely. Some things may vary from district to district as each area decides what kinds of strategies will work best for their students and staff, Pritzker said.
"Each school district and each university will develop and implement a reopening plan that meets the needs of their community and the children that they serve," he said. "...These guidelines align with the broader requirements of Phase 4."
The beginning of Phase 4, which the governor has named the "revitalization" phase, means that gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed. Restaurants, bars, gyms and other non-essential businesses will be able to open their indoor spaces with capacity limits and safety guidelines in place.
Starting Friday, cinemas and indoor movie theaters will be able to reopen with capacity limits and all outdoor recreation activities will be permitted, according to the Restore Illinois plan. Day camps, daycare centers, museums and zoos are also able to reopen in this phase, with some restrictions in place.
Continuing to adhere to safety guidelines around mandatory face coverings, hand washing and social distancing will be crucial in this next step, Pritzker said in Tuesday's news conference.
"As we reopen aspects of our daily lives that coronavirus took away, it's important to emphasize that the virus has not gone away," he said. "It is still effecting and infecting people."
COVID-19 medical update:
On Tuesday, the IDPH reported 601 new cases of the coronavirus and 38 additional deaths. This brings statewide totals to 137,825 confirmed cases and 6,707 related deaths, according to IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike.
The state's daily COVID-19 case count as well as the number of COVID-19-related deaths have declined week over week for the past five weeks, Ezike said.
"Lives are in your hands and you've saved so many with your actions," she said. "...Let's recall that, at our highest, we reported 4,000 cases within a single 24-hour period. That was about six weeks ago and we reported 191 deaths on May 13."
"...So we are delighted to see how far we've come," Ezike added.
The results of 20,507 COVID-19 tests conducted in Illinois were received in the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday afternoon for a total of 1,399,510 tests conducted thus far. The seven-day rolling average of the state's positivity rate is currently at 2%.
As the state moves into Phase 4, Ezike said that increased coronavirus testing is essential to keeping Illinois residents safe and seemed to make a reference to recent statements made by President Donald Trump calling for less tests to be done nationwide.
"Please forget what you've heard, increased testing is a good thing," Ezike said. "Testing capacity across the state continues to grow."
As of Monday night, there were 1,648 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois. Of those people, 424 were in intensive care units and 236 were on ventilator support.
Now that elective procedures are allowed, Ezike urged Illinois residents to take this time to ensure that children are up to date on immunizations and health check-ups going into the fall school semester.
In general, all Illinois residents should use this time to catch up on any routine or elective health procedures, screenings or doctor's appointments that they may have been putting off due to the pandemic, Ezike said.
"Let's get as healthy as we can," she said. "Your baseline health status effects how you fare against this virus."
The IDPH may choose to increase or decrease the 50-person limit on gatherings as the state moves further into Phase 4, depending on infection rates and other data trends, Pritzker said.
Given that moving into Phase 5 – a complete return to normalcy – will be impossible without the existence of a COVID-19 vaccine or an effective and widely available treatment, Ezike said that Illinoisans should be prepared to remain in Phase 4 for "quite a while."
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Northeast region (Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, McHenry, Lake and Will counties) reported an average positivity rate of 5%. The region reported an average availability of 33% of medical/surgical beds, 42% of ICU beds and 73% of ventilators.
The North Central region (Bureau, DeKalb, La Salle, Lee, Ogle, Whiteside, Carroll, Boone, Winnebago, Stephenson, Putnam and Jo Daviess counties) reported an average positivity rate of 3%. On average, the region has enough medical/surgical beds to accommodate a 47% surge in COVID-19 cases. The North Central region reported that 58% of ICU beds are available and 77% of ventilators are available.
The Central region reported an average positivity rate of 1%. On average, there was an availability of 42% of medical/surgical beds, 54% of ICU beds and 81% of ventilators as of Tuesday afternoon.
The Southern region had an average positivity rate of 3%. On average, there was an availability of 44% of medical/surgical beds, 53% of ICU beds and 76% of ventilators.
Newly reported deaths:
Boone County - 1 male 60s
Cook County - 1 female 40s, 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 3 males 60s, 2 females 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 male 80s, 3 females 90s, 2 males 90s, 2 females 100+
DuPage County - 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 male 80s
Jefferson County - 1 male 70s
Kane County - 1 male 60s, 1 male 80s
Kankakee County - 1 female 60s
Kendall County - 1 male 90s
Lake County - 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 2 males 80s
Macon County - 1 male 80s
McHenry County - 1 female 80s
St. Clair County - 1 female 60s
Will County - 1 female 70s, 1 female 80s
Winnebago County - 1 female 50s