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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois has delayed the planned date of the Bridge Phase in the reopening plan as COVID-19 and hospitalizations continue to tick upward.

The Bridge Phase was supposed to happen in mid-April, but was postponed on Tuesday. It will significantly lower restrictions on businesses and social gatherings, but health officials are sounding the alarm at the rise of new COVID-19 hospitalizations.

On average, hospitals are treating more than 1,300 patients with COVID-19 daily, an increase of 15% from two weeks ago. Currently, there are 308 COVID-19 patients in the ICU and 121 are on ventilators.

The state’s phased-in reopening plan calls for 28 straight days of stable or declining COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

At Northwestern Hospital, doctors are seeing trends moving in the wrong direction.

“We are seeing a little uptick in patients, nothing too concerning but we’re paying attention because when they uptick in the hospital, they uptick in the ICU, so we’re really paying attention,” Dr. Khalilah Gates said.

On Tuesday, Illinois’ 7-day positivity rate inched up to 3.4% as more than 2,400 new cases were announced.

Several mass vaccination sites across the suburbs are getting ready to open next month. The city said Monday that on April 5, mass vaccination sites at Gallagher Way, which is next to Wrigley Field, and Chicago State University will open.

The state doesn’t plan to move into Phase 5 until at least 50% of residents 16 and older have received their first dose of the vaccine and no increase in virus metrics is recorded.

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