Many Illinois regions near metrics for relaxing COVID-19 restrictions as state reports 6,652 cases, 88 deaths

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — While four Illinois regions currently meet the metrics for seeing some coronavirus mitigation measures lifted tomorrow, many are on the verge as the number of COVID-19 cases reported on average continues to decline across the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,652 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases Thursday, as well as 88 additional deaths. New Covid infections and deaths have been trending down in recent days, with Illinois now seeing a 7-day average of 6,400 cases and 93 lives lost each day.

Several regions in Illinois are set to see some coronavirus mitigation measures lifted tomorrow as the state allows them to move down from “Tier 3” restrictions which were left in place after they were implemented amid a surge in new cases November.

As of the latest state data available Thursday the North, North-Central and Southern regions qualify for moving down to “Tier 2,” while the West-Central Region qualifies to move down to “Tier 1.”

Many regions in the Chicago area are very close to qualifying, with Lake and McHenry counties, greater Cook County and City of Chicago only falling slightly short based on the number of available non-ICU hospital beds.

Additionally, the South Suburban and East-Central regions would only need to see one or two days with a decline in the number of COVID-19 patients to qualify.

Under “Tier 2” restrictions, limits on group sizes are expanded beyond household members to 10 people or less, indoor sports and recreation activities would be allowed to resume and casinos, entertainment venues and cultural institutions like museums can reopen.

Current guidelines do not allow for indoor dining at restaurants until regions qualify for “Tier 1.” Only the West-Central Region meets that bar as of Thursday, although the Southern Region could be days away if it continues to see a drop in its 7-day test positivity rate.

Vaccination efforts continue across the state as well, with IDPH reporting 972,750 total doses have been delivered and 414,296 administered statewide, while 91,947 individuals have been fully vaccinated after receiving a second dose.

As Phase 1A of vaccinations continues with healthcare workers taking priority, vaccinations to 1B — which includes essential workers and people over 65 — are getting close to opening up in Chicago. The city plans to have six mass vaccination sites open by next week when people over the age of 65 can begin receiving the vaccine as well.

With more than 118,000 new tests reported in the past 24 hours, testing in Illinois has neared the level seen before the Christmas holiday as the state is now averaging more than 93,000 test a day. The 7-day case positivity rate has dropped for a fifth consecutive day to 6.8%.

After reaching a peak in mid-November, hospitalizations in the state have declined to a level seen in the middle of a spike which began in early October, but are still more than double the lowest levels seen in the summer. According to IDPH, 3,511 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday night including 742 in intensive care and 382 on ventilators.

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