Could Illinois regions soon slide back into COVID-19 restrictions?

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Who remembers Phases 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5?  And the surprise “Bridge Phase” that was announced just before Illinois achieved the holy grail of reopening?  The state health department used a complicated formula to trigger re-openings and while the Illinois Department of Public Health says a similar formula will be used to revert  back to restrictions, there are signs it won’t be as straight-forward.

Illinois health officials are tracking key metrics surrounding new cases, Covid-related hospital admissions, patient counts, medical staffing, vaccination milestones and mortality.  (You can see those here.)

But the official triggers for new restrictions are a bit different.  Illinois could move back to the Bridge Phase or Phase 4, if over 10 days the trend of new cases increases and at least one of the following is true:

  • Hospital ICU availability is below 20%
  • There is a significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations or total COVID-19 patients in the hospital

Right now, hospitalizations statewide are increasing but Covid-related deaths are not.

But those aren’t the only criteria state health officials are monitoring. 

“New evidence concerning variants, vaccine effectiveness, or waning immunity could substantially and quickly increase COVID-19 hospitalizations and will be taken into consideration,” according to the IDPH website.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot previously said if Chicago sees an average of more than 200 new cases per day for several days, mask mandates may come back.  However, as that milestone approached, the mayor did not order people to mask-up.

Illinois has traditionally followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and is doing so when it comes to masking.  The CDC has determined Cook, McHenry, DuPage, Kendall, Grundy & LaSalle Counties are now at the “substantial transmission” category triggering a recommendation that even vaccinated people wear masks indoors. 

However that’s simply a recommendation, it’s up to local counties to set their own rules  

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