Pritzker says state might ease more COVID-19 restrictions soon
Illinois could ease more COVID-19 restrictions as soon as next week if health metrics continue in a positive direction, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday.
That would mean the state shifts to a "Bridge Phase," that increases capacity at shops, festivals, social events, concert and other activities.
"It looks to me like we're on a decent trajectory. I can't say exactly what day that is," Pritkzer said. "It looks to me, if you look at all the hospitalization admissions data, we're in decent shape and moving exactly as I would hope toward the Bridge Phase."
The governor also said he is optimistic the Illinois State Fair will reopen this summer in Springfield, although capacities would be lower than in typical years.
After a decline in COVID-19 infections in February through mid-March, cases and hospitalizations started to climb, bringing fears of a significant surge. Recently, though, metrics have been inching back down.
Illinois has already met several requirements to enter the Bridge Phase. Among them -- more than 70% of people 65 and older must have received at least one dose of vaccine. IDPH data Monday showed the tally is at 79%.
Also, more than 20% of ICU beds must be available, plus new COVID-19 hospital admissions and death rates should not be rising "significantly" over 28 days -- criteria the state is meeting.
But one metric, requiring no significant hike in total COVID-19 hospital patients over 28 days, currently is red-flagged mainly because of spikes in April.
Hospital patients being treated for COVID-19 is one key trend experts watch carefully to ensure enough beds are available. Illinois hospitals were treating 1,963 COVID-19 patients Sunday night, fewer than the seven-day average of 2,050.
The number of COVID-19 vaccination shots administered dropped sharply to 16,920 Sunday, although officials said that low count is partly due to some retail pharmacies not yet reporting their tallies.
The seven-day vaccination average is now 78,440. The last time daily vaccinations fell to a comparable level was Saturday, Feb. 20, with 13,264 shots.
Illinois reported 2,049 new COVID-19 cases Monday; the seven-day average is 2,658. Twenty-eight more people died of the respiratory disease.
The federal government has delivered 11,802,395 doses of vaccine to Illinois since distribution began in mid-December and 9,410,057 shots have been administered.
So far, 4,119,343 people -- 32% of Illinois' population -- have been fully vaccinated. Vaccines manufactured by Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. require two doses several weeks apart.
The state's positivity rate for COVID-19 cases is 3.4% based on a seven-day average.
Total cases statewide stand at 1,341,777 and 22,047 Illinoisans have died since the pandemic began.