For the first time since November, metrics meant to measure the spread of the COVID virus have improved to the point the majority of the Chicago region now appears to qualify for the easing of some restrictions. However, Gov. JB Pritzker has said it won’t happen anytime soon.
The Illinois Department of Public Health’s regional metrics now show all counties in the Chicago area have achieved consistent declines in all four of the categories the state monitors including hospital capacity and usage along with positivity rates.
“My concern is we might or are going to see some uptick from Christmas and New Year’s in hospitalizations as well as patients,” Gov. Pritzker said on December 23.
While Illinois did not see a significant surge in COVID cases and hospitalizations after the Thanksgiving holiday, other states have and continue to struggle to keep up with a surge of patients.
State and federal health officials have also expressed concern Christmas and New Year’s gatherings could compound the COVID crisis.
“We very well might see a post-seasonal…surge, and as I’ve described it, as a surge upon a surge,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN Sunday. “I share the concern of President-elect Biden that as we get into the next few weeks it might actually get worse.”
As of Sunday, 1,932 fewer people were hospitalized with COVID-related illness in Illinois than at the peak of the latest surge November 20. 10,500 hospital beds remained open and available in Illinois as of Sunday and there were 840 open intensive care beds.
Pritzker has said he will re-evaluate easing Covid restrictions in Illinois at some point in January.
“What we don’t want to do is swing back and forth between mitigations and not having mitigations within days or a week or two of one another,” the governor said before Christmas.
All of Illinois has been under Tier 3 restrictions since November 20 which prohibit indoor dining and bar service along with organized indoor sports. Theaters and casinos were also closed.