By Dee Longfellow

For The ADDISON Independent

Area Chambers of Commerce have announced that, following a decrease in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic test positivity rates and fewer hospitalizations throughout the state, on Friday, Jan. 15, Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that regions across the state are now eligible to move out of Tier 3 mitigations—the strictest tier of Illinois’ Resurgence Mitigation Plan—which was first implemented just before Thanksgiving.

After weeks of careful consultation with public health experts, the Governor announced that some regions could move out of the tiered resurgence mitigations (Tier 3, Tier 2, and Tier 1) and back into Phase 4 on a data-driven basis.

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois has followed the science and listened to public health experts to keep people safe, according to Restore Illinois.

After bending the curve in the spring, the state achieved relatively low rates of community spread and hospitalizations over the summer. But amid a nationwide surge, every region of Illinois saw an increase in cases and hospitalizations in the fall, which triggered the regional tiered mitigations outlined by the governor.

As the surge became more severe here in Illinois and across the nation, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health moved all 11 regions into Tier 3 mitigations, effective Nov. 20, 2020. At the advice of public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, the mitigations remained in place over the holidays to prevent a “surge upon a surge.”

With some regions now beginning to make progress, Governor Pritzker announced that any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of Tier 3 to less restrictive tiers, beginning Friday, Jan. 15.

As Region 8 (DuPage County) currently stands in Tier 3, the ban on indoor dining at restaurants and bars will remain in place.  However, Region 8 is trending toward a move to Tier 2, possibly within days. 

By operating with consistent and meaningful mitigations throughout the holiday season, Illinois has saved lives, brought down community risk, and prepared to safely reduce these mitigations. Pritzker said this approach has allowed the state to be in its strongest position to combat the virus since the pandemic began, as the administration prepares to proceed with Phase 1B of Illinois’ vaccine distribution plan.

Illinois also continues to build upon its nation-leading testing operation, surpassing more than 100,000 tests per day. This plan accounts for months of additional research as public health experts reach a greater scientific understanding of this virus.

In the updated Mitigation Tiers Structure, the biggest change occurs in Tier 1 which, when achieved by Region 8, will allow for limited indoor service at restaurants and bars serving food.

Youth and recreational sports may also resume play following the Illinois Department of Public Health’s (IDPH) All Sports Policy in all regions moving out of Tier 3.

In addition, the Governor announced Phase 1A of the Illinois COVID-19 Vaccination Administration Plan is on track to be substantially completed this week, with the entire state moving to Phase 1B on Monday, Jan. 25.  In accordance with local progress, IDPH has permitted local health departments who have already substantially completed their 1A populations to move forward with 1B in order to leave no vaccine on the shelves.

While vaccine shipments from the federal government remain limited, the state is aggressively building out its capacity to prepare, with hundreds of additional pharmacy sites coming online as of Monday, Jan. 18. Also, the Illinois National Guard has been deployed to support local health department vaccination sites starting Tuesday, Jan. 19, both initially only available to the 1A population.

The report issued by Governor JB Pritzker noted that while shipments from the federal government remain limited, the state is building out wide-reaching capacity to prepare for additional shipments and ensure those eligible in Phase 1B can receive their vaccine as quickly and equitably as possible.

As of Jan. 15, 2021, Illinois including Chicago has received a total of approximately 726,475 doses since vaccinations first launched last month, not including the federal program that serves long-term care residents.

In the initial phases of the state’s plan, IDPH is partnering with large pharmacies to launch hundreds of new sites in communities across Illinois. Additionally, the Illinois National Guard (ILNG) will deploy two teams to two sites in Cook County.

 

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