Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said bringing back restrictions from Phase 3 or possibly even as far back as Phase 2 isn’t off the table as the state continues to see coronavirus metrics climb during a second surge of the virus.
But what would that mean?
“If the numbers keep going in the wrong direction, we will need to impose further mitigations. I think we all remember what Phase Three looked like, or Phase Two looked like,” Pritzker said. “Those are all things that are under consideration. Remember that it’s the exposure that people have to one another, the way they expose themselves, in other words, wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, whether they have distance, rather, those are all the things that affect whether the virus is going to be spread… whether you’re indoors in more greater numbers than you should be, and so on. And so all of the things that we looked at and did over the last six months, are things that are under consideration for what those new mitigations might look like.”
Here’s a look at what was and wasn’t allowed during those phases of the Restore Illinois plan:
When it began: This phase began in Illinois on May 1, when a modified stay-at-home order took effect.
What was allowed: Non-essential retail stores reopen for curb-side pickup and delivery. Residents can begin enjoying additional outdoor activities like golf, boating and fishing while practicing social distancing.
Restrictions: Illinoisans are directed to wear a face covering when outside the home.
When it began: All of Illinois’ healthcare regions moved to Phase 3 on May 29. Chicago joined on June 3.
What was allowed: Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons can be open to the public with capacity and other limits and safety precautions. Child care providers remain open with certain restrictions. State parks, campgrounds, driving ranges, pools, outdoor shooting ranges and paintball courses open- all with guidelines in place. Bars and restaurants are open for delivery, pickup and drive through, but restaurants are also allowed to open outdoor seating in this phase with social distancing requirements still in place. Health and fitness clubs can open for private workouts and outdoor classes. Churches can offer services but with limited capacity and social distancing.
Restrictions: Face coverings and social distancing are the norm. Gatherings limited to 10 people or fewer.
It remains unclear which, if any, of the restrictions from those phases could return and if so, where. Pritzker revealed on Thursday that the Illinois Department of Public Health is “looking at proposing further regional and statewide restrictions because the rise in cases and hospitalizations is unsustainable.”
“Across the country, we are already seeing states and cities affected by this growing crisis, and they’re responding by rolling back their reopenings. And over in Europe, France, England and Germany are rising so quickly that they’re resorting to much more significant restrictions on all non-essential activities as they, too, face case numbers and hospitalizations rising in at a tragic rate,” Pritzker said. “Remember that Europe fared much better than the United States over the last five months, so when they impose those severe mitigations, it’s an indication that the virus is raging out of control there, and we are heading in a similar direction.”
Already all of Illinois is under increased mitigations imposed by the state on a region-by-region basis. The restrictions follow a three-tiered plan.
Currently, all but one region in Illinois is under Tier 1 mitigations, which eliminated indoor dining at restaurants, reduced gathering sizes and more. One region in the state is under Tier 2 mitigations, which adds further gathering size limitations and reduces table sizes for restaurants to six.
If a region reaches Tier 3, elective surgeries will be suspended, gathering sizes will be restricted again, recreational spaces like gyms could be forced to close, salon and personal care services will be suspended, and nonessential retailers may be forced to shut their doors once again.
“It’s the last thing I want to do but I’m ready to do it,” Pritzker said Friday.
The governor has declined to give specifics on what restrictions could begin and though he has previously said another stay-at-home order was not on the table, on Friday, he said he can’t guarantee what might happen in the coming weeks.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he can’t make any guarantees that Illinois won’t see a stay-at-home order in the coming weeks if the state’s coronavirus metrics continue to rise.
“I’m not looking at the broader mitigation of stay-at-home as something I would do in the coming days or week, but I can’t guarantee you what it looks like two weeks from now or three weeks from now – I just don’t know. None of us, frankly, expected that the entire country would be swept with an increase in COVID-19.”
Pritzker added Friday that he currently has no plans of shutting down outdoor dining.
Illinois reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases on Friday, setting a new one-day record for the second day in a row as the state’s positivity rate continues to climb.
In the last week alone, data showed the state’s case positivity rate climbed from 6.9% to 9.1%. In the last month, that number has nearly tripled.
Along with the increases in cases and positivity rates, the state has also seen a continued rise in hospitalizations due to the virus. According to IDPH data, 4,090 residents are currently hospitalized because of the virus. Of those patients, 786 are currently in intensive care units and 339 are on ventilators.
“We’re getting to the point where we’re really concerned,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said Thursday. “We’re worried that there won’t be a bed enough for everyone.”
Illinois is currently averaging 3,400 hospitalizations due to coronavirus, well above the 1,500 the state reported at the start of October. Data has also shown a rise in the number of patients in the ICU, which have more than in the last month, Pritzker said.
“If the current trajectory continues, if our hospitals continue to fill up, if more and more people continue to lose their lives to this disease, we’re going to implement further statewide mitigations – which nobody wants to do,” Pritzker warned.
He noted that the state is currently seeing new records in testing, but “the rate of growth in our positivity is far outpacing our growth in testing.”
“The more we test, the more we are finding people infected with the virus,” Pritzker said. “That’s awful news. Offsetting that is that we are finding infected individuals earlier, both because people are getting tested when they are contact traced or when they may have been exposed to someone who is sick. Don’t wait until you develop symptoms. The earlier you test, the more likely you can limit the spread of the virus to your family, friends or co-workers.”
Pritzker warned specific regions Thursday, including Region 7, which includes suburban Will and Kankakee counties and is at a 13.4% positivity rate, and Region 1 in northwest Illinois, which is at an “alarming” 15.8% positivity.
“We are headed down a dark, dark path toward where we were last spring,” Pritzker said.