The regionalized approach to reopening the state that many have been clamoring for is coming — though maybe not as quickly as some would like.
On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker laid out plans for a five-phase, four-region, data-driven, science-based “Restore Illinois” plan, in which the 39-county central Illinois region (that’s us) can advance to the next stage on a different clock than the northeast, north-central and southern regions.
Pritzker said the state’s public health strategy recognizes that “reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state.”
Phase 1, entitled “Rapid Spread,” is behind us. Phase 2, “Flattening,” is what we’re in now. Regions will be allowed to move onto Phase 3, “Recovery,” no sooner than May 29.
Regions could also move backward if the public health situation deteriorates.
Here’s a glance at the road ahead, including what opens when (all with required state-approved safety precautions).
PHASE 3: RECOVERY
To get there: All three of these metrics must be stable or declining: the rate of infection among those tested, the number of patients admitted to the hospital, and the number of patients needing ICU beds.
Also, testing must be available for all patients, health care workers, first responders, people with underlying conditions and residents/staff in congregate living facilities.
Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons can reopen to the public with capacity limits and other precautions.
Health/fitness clubs can provide outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training.
All gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people are allowed, with face coverings and social distancing “the norm.”
PHASE 4: REVITALIZATION
To get there: A combination of three things must happen: A region must be at or under a 20 percent positivity rate and increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, can’t have an overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days, and must have available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of ICU, medical and surgical beds and ventilators.
Also, testing must be available region-wide, regardless of symptoms or risk factors.
All schools, colleges/universities, summer programs and child care facilities can reopen.
Bars and restaurants can seat and serve customers (up to a certain capacity).
Gatherings of 50 or fewer people are permitted, along with all outdoor recreation and all health/fitness clubs and spas.
PHASE 5: RESTORED
To get there: A tall order. It will take a vaccine, a “highly effective treatment” that’s widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period. Only then will the state economy fully reopen.
With safety precautions continuing, there are no limitations on the size of gatherings.
Conventions, festivals and large events — think Illini football and Cubs baseball — are allowed.