Pritzker outlines regional reopening as state records 176 new COVID-19 deaths

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday to reopen four different regions of the state in five phases.

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday to reopen four different regions of the state in five phases. Courtesy of the State of Illinois

  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlined a five-phase regional plan to reopen the state based on testing and hospitalization thresholds at Tuesday's briefing.

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker outlined a five-phase regional plan to reopen the state based on testing and hospitalization thresholds at Tuesday's briefing.

 
 
Updated 5/6/2020 7:18 AM

As the state saw its largest single-day spike in COVID-19 deaths with 176 more dead, Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan to reopen four different regions of the state in five phases.

But the governor's office said no parts of the state will open further until at least May 29.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Pritzker previously had announced a modified stay-at-home order through May 30, which coincides with Phase 2, the "flattening" period.

The plan ranges from strict social distancing amid rapid disease spread in Phase 1 to fully opening schools, businesses and recreation in Phase 5.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday to reopen four different regions of the state in five phases.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker unveiled a plan Tuesday to reopen four different regions of the state in five phases. - Courtesy of the State of Illinois

Each of four regions of the state can move forward, but they also can move backward. The Northeast region includes Cook, DuPage, Grundy, Kankakee, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

The plan to reopen the state came amid a record high number of deaths in a 24-hour period, including the first deaths in some downstate counties.

The single-day death count includes 117 people ranging from their 30s to their 90s in Cook County, 13 people in their 50s to 90s in DuPage County, eight people in their 40s to 90s in Kane County, two people in their 40s and 90s in Lake County, two people in their 90s in McHenry County and 10 people in their 70s through 90s in Will County.

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That brings the total number who have died from the virus in Illinois to 2,838.

The single-day count of new cases was 2,122 on Tuesday, for a total number of 65,962 cases since the outbreak began.

Coronavirus-related hospitalizations spiked Monday as well, with 287 more patients admitted statewide, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care grew by 34 on Monday.

Moving forward to Phase 3, or "recovery," would allow many businesses and services to reopen to the public but with limits on numbers of people imposed by IDPH and with face coverings, sanitizing and social distancing. Gatherings of 10 or fewer would be allowed for any reason.

To get to that point, hospitalization rates in the region would have to be stable or decrease for 28 straight days and the percentage of tests that are positive for coronavirus would have to remain at or below 20% for 14 days. Hospitals would need to have 14% of total beds, intensive care beds and ventilators available for new patients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Outside of the Chicago area's Northeast region, the state's other regions are southern, central and northwest Illinois, and based on an existing Illinois Department of Public Health emergency response map. Pritzker said he based his plan on a Republican legislative proposal to open the state up regionally.

"We appreciate Gov. Pritzker's focus on a plan that puts Illinois on a path to safely reopening," said Mark Denzler, president & CEO of the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. "Manufacturers are ready to unleash their full economic might to help restore our state's economy."

State Sen. Bill Brady, a Bloomington Republican, said it doesn't move fast enough and questioned why it sets a 28-day window before moving to Phase 3 as compared to the 14 days in the White House plan.

"While it is important to have a plan that gives us hope, we need to look at it in greater detail," he said.

In Pritzker's Phase 4, gatherings of 50 or fewer would be allowed. Schools and child-care facilities could reopen with IDPH safety guidelines in place. Movie theaters could reopen with capacity limits. All outdoor recreation would be allowed as well.

But this phase also requires "widely available" testing and commonplace contact tracing, neither of which are currently in place, health officials have noted.

Reaching Phase 5 would depend on a vaccine or "effective and widely available treatment," Pritzker said. He added the state could move to the fifth phase if "new cases over a sustained period of time" were eliminated through herd immunity or other factors.

Pritzker said regions could move backward if there is a spike in positive test results or hospital admissions for COVID-19, if a significant outbreak occurs, or if hospital capacity drops.

Nationally, more than 70,000 Americans have now died from complications related to the virus since the outbreak began.

Cook County has the fifth-highest number of deaths of any county in the country, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Medical Center in Maryland.

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