April 12, 2021

Pritzker announces reopening plan, sets targets for Phase 5; COVID-19 vaccine eligibility opens up April 12

Bridge phase to begin when 70% of Illinois residents 65 and older get at least one vaccine dose

Saying “it’s time to begin to cautiously move toward normalcy,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced Thursday targets to reopen the state and COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

Pritzker said the state would expand COVID-19 vaccine eligibility starting April 12 to all Illinois residents 16 and older, outside of Chicago.

The governor also announced a “bridge phase” between the state’s current Phase 4 and a full reopening of the state in Phase 5. The bridge phase will open up capacity limits at businesses, sporting events, theaters and more.

The state will advance to the bridge plan once 70% of Illinois residents aged 65 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and the state doesn’t see a reversal in the current trends for COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. As of Thursday morning, Pritzker said the state stood at 58% of those 65-and-older having received at least one shot.

In the bridge phase, restaurants can increase indoor capacity to 30% and outdoor dining capacity to 50%; health and fitness centers, offices, personal care businesses, museums, spectator events, theaters and performing arts, and zoos can increase to 60% capacity.

The bridge phase will last 28 days, Pritzker said, which is two coronavirus incubation cycles, for monitoring.

How does the state reach Phase 5?

Once 50% of Illinois residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose, and stable or declining COVID-19 metrics are recorded during a 28-day monitoring period, the state will be fully reopened.

As of Thursday, Pritzker said 28% of Illinois residents 16 and older have received at least one vaccine dose.

“After a 28-day monitoring period in the Bridge Phase, and assuming no significant resurgence of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, Illinois will resume normal business operations when at least 50% of our 16 and over population has received at least one dose,” Pritzker confirmed.

Vaccine eligibility opens up

Pritzker said the state received more than 800,000 vaccine doses in its weekly shipment from the federal government. That weekly shipment number will exceed one million in April.

“By mid-April, we will be at a point where dividing the population into phases won’t make sense, because of the supply,” Pritzker said.

The state moved to Phase 1B-plus of its vaccine plan on Feb. 25, though several suburban county health departments have not expanded at the same pace as the state, citing a lack of available vaccine to administer to those residents older than 65 and frontline workers.

Pritzker also felt that by opening up eligibility, it may help people who feel that they are on the border of one of the current phases of who is and who isn’t eligible for a vaccine.

“By taking away all of the various restrictions on who can get vaccinated. I think that actually clears it up for most people,” he said.

What about masks?

The state’s mask mandate will end when the CDC recommends it, Pritzker said.

Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said, “We absolutely will not have any mask-burning parties. We in Illinois know the importance of masks. We know that we still need to avoid crowds if possible and keep our distance.”

Ezike added that people who have been vaccinated should continue to follow CDC recommendations on how to interact with others, and that “wearing the mask is not going to be forever.”

Why not a specific date?

Pritzker was asked repeatedly why he didn’t put a specific target date on reopening the state.

“I’m not going to set a date, it ebbs and flows,” he replied.

COVID update: IDPH reported 2,325 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 34 additional deaths Thursday, and a total of 4,375,171 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered.

The seven-day rolling average of Illinois’ positivity rate increased from 2.2% to 2.4%. The state received the results of 89,817 COVID-19 tests in the 24 hours leading up to Thursday afternoon.

Illinois has seen 1,216,090 total cases of the virus, and 21,022 people have died. The state has conducted a total of 19,389,098 tests since the start of the pandemic.

As of late Wednesday, Illinois had 1,120 COVID-19 patients in the hospital. Of those, 252 were in intensive care units, and 100 were on ventilators.

Vaccine update: As of Thursday, IDPH reported a total of 5,587,315 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed statewide, with 4,375,171 vaccines administered.

As of the time this story was published, 1,645,032 of the population of Illinois have been fully vaccinated, or 12.91%. Illinois has a population of 12,741,080 people.

There can be as much as a 72-hour delay in reporting from healthcare providers on vaccines administered.

In northern Illinois, here is the percentage of the population fully vaccinated by county:

Chicago: 10.56%

Suburban Cook: 13.12%

Lake: 10.89%

McHenry: 10.49%

DuPage: 13.31%

Kane: 10.33%

Will: 10.82%

Kendall: 13.33%

La Salle: 11.80%

Grundy: 9.99%

DeKalb: 10.08%

Ogle: 12.68%

Lee: 11.96%

Whiteside: 11.23%

Bureau: 12.23%

Regional update: Currently, all 11 of the state’s health regions are in Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan.

Regional data from the IDPH remains on a three-day lag.

The North Suburban region (McHenry and Lake counties) has seen 54 consecutive days under 8% for its COVID-19 test positivity rate. The region’s positivity rate increased to 3.1%. Currently, 35% of ICU beds are available.

The region has never dropped below the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability since tracking began.

Within this region, McHenry County’s seven-day positivity rate average stayed flat at 3.7%. Lake County, which does about two-thirds of the testing in the region, is reporting a rolling average of 3.0%.

Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for nine out of the last 10 days in this region.

The West Suburban region (DuPage and Kane counties) has seen 57 consecutive days under 8%. The region’s positivity rate decreased to 3.8%. Currently, 32% of ICU beds are available.

The region has 95 consecutive days over the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

Within this region, Kane County’s seven-day positivity average increased to 3.8% and DuPage County stayed flat at 3.9%.

Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for eight out of the past 10 days in this region.

The South Suburban region (Will and Kankakee counties) has seen 58 consecutive days under 8%. The region’s positivity rate stayed flat at 3.4%. Currently, 32% of ICU beds are available.

The region has 77 consecutive days under the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for nine out of the past 10 days in this region.

The North region (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties) has maintained a positivity rate under 8% for 62 days. The region’s positivity rate increased to 2.7%. Currently, 26% of ICU beds are available.

The region has seen 95 consecutive days above the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

Within this region, DeKalb County’s positivity rate decreased to 2.2%, Lee County’s rate increased to 1.0%, and Whiteside County’s increased to 3.9%.

Hospitalizations have increased for nine out of the past 10 days in this region.

The North-Central region (Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties) has seen 63 days under 8%. The region’s positivity rate increased to 2.9%.

Currently, 28% of ICU beds are available. The region has 83 consecutive days over the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability. Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for seven out of the past 10 days in this region.

Within this region, La Salle County’s seven-day positivity rate increased to 2.1%.

Chicago has seen 56 consecutive days under 8%. The region’s positivity rate stayed flat at 2.9%.

Currently, 25% of ICU beds are available. The region has 95 consecutive days over the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for 10 out of the past 10 days in this region.

Suburban Cook County has seen 57 days under 8%. The region’s positivity rate stayed flat at 3.5%.

Currently, 24% of ICU beds are available. The region has 76 consecutive days over the 20% threshold for ICU bed availability.

Hospitalizations have decreased or remained stable for five out of the last 10 days in this region.

To see how other regions across the state are doing, see the full IDPH dashboard here.

Newly reported deaths include:

• Champaign County: 1 female 80s

• Cook County; 1 male 50s, 1 female 60s, 1 male 60s, 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s, 2 females 80s, 1 female 90s, 1 male 90s

• Cumberland County: 1 male 60s

• DuPage County: 1 female 70s, 2 males 70s, 1 male 90s

• Kane County: 1 female 50s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 80s, 1 female 90s

• Lake County: 1 male 70s

• Madison County: 1 male 60s, 2 males 90s

• Rock Island Cunty: 1 female 70s, 1 male 70s

• St. Clair County: 1 male 70s

• Vermilion County: 1 male 70s

• Whiteside County: 1 male 60s, 1 male 80s

• Will County: 2 males 60s, 1 male 80s, 2 females 90s

John Sahly

John Sahly is the digital editor for the Shaw Media Local News Network. He has been with Shaw Media since 2008, previously serving as the Northwest Herald's digital editor, and the Daily Chronicle sports editor and sports reporter.