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Breaking down Illinois' 5-step reopening plan

Here are the details of each phase, what it'll take to move to the next one and what could set a region of the state back

CHICAGO — Illinois announced its plan Tuesday to safely reopen the state using a five-step guide that’s broken down by region.

Governor JB Pritzker acknowledged that a “one-size-fits-all” plan wouldn’t be the best approach for the state. The majority of COVID-19 cases are in Chicago and the “collar counties”, while some counties downstate and in central Illinois have no confirmed cases at all.

“We are one Illinois, but we are also one Illinois made up of 60,000 square miles and reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state,” Pritzker said.

RELATED: Illinois announces regional approach to reopening state in phases

The governor said he knows Illinoisans are eager to get back to normal, but the reality is there is still no vaccine for COVID-19.

“Here's the truth, and I don't like it any more than you do, until we have a vaccine or an effective treatment or enough widespread immunity that new cases fail to materialize, the option of returning to normalcy doesn't exist,” Gov. Pritzker said.

He explained the state put together the guide so everyone can see what it'll take to move Illinois forward. Pritzker said this plan is meant to save lives and livelihoods and that it can and will change as coronavirus developments happen.

RELATED: State-by-state look at how America is reopening from the coronavirus

State health officials separated the state into four health regions:

  • Northeast Illinois
  • North-Central Illinois
  • Central Illinois
  • Southern Illinois

Parts of the Metro East are in the Central Illinois and Southern Illinois regions. Each region will be able to move through the phases independently of each other. And it is possible for regions to move back a phase.

As of May 5, all of Illinois is in Phase 2, the flattening phase.

Credit: Illinois Department of Public Health

Here’s how the phases break down, as outlined in the Restore Illinois plan:

Phase 1: Rapid spread

What this phase looks like

COVID-19 is rapidly spreading. The number of COVID-19 positive patients in the hospital, in ICU beds, and on ventilators is increasing. The public health response relies on dramatic mitigation measures, like stay at home orders and social distancing, to slow the spread of the virus and prevent a surge that overwhelms the health care system. With a Stay at Home order in place, only essential businesses are in operation and activities outside of the home are limited to essentials, like grocery shopping.

What’s open?

Gatherings: Essential gatherings, such as religious services, of 10 or fewer allowed; No non-essential gatherings of any size

Travel: Non-essential travel discouraged

Health care: Emergency procedures and COVID-19 care only

Education and child care: Remote learning in P-12 schools and higher education; Child care in groups of 10 or fewer for essential workers

Outdoor recreation: Walking, hiking and biking permitted; State parks closed

Businesses:

  • Manufacturing: Essential manufacturing only
  • “Non-essential” businesses: Employees of “non-essential” businesses are required to work from home except for Minimum Basic Operations
  • Bars and restaurants: Open for delivery, pickup and drive-through only
  • Entertainment: Closed
  • Personal care services and health clubs: Closed
  • Retail: Essential stores are open with strict restrictions; Non-essential stores are closed

How we move to the next phase

Cases and Capacity:

  • Slowing of new case growth
  • Availability of surge capacity in adult medical and surgical beds, ICU beds, and ventilators

Testing:

  • Ability to perform 10,000 tests per day statewide
  • Testing available in region for any symptomatic health care workers and first responders

Phase 2: Flattening

What this phase looks like

The rise in the rate of infection is beginning to slow and stabilize. Hospitalizations and ICU bed usage continue to increase but are flattening, and hospital capacity remains stable. Face coverings must always be worn when social distancing is not possible. Testing capacity increases and tracing programs are put in place to contain outbreaks and limit the spread.

What’s open

Gatherings: Essential gatherings, such as religious services, of 10 or fewer allowed; No non-essential gatherings

Travel: Non-essential travel discouraged

Health care: Emergency and COVID-19 care continue; Elective procedures allowed once IDPH criteria met

Education and child care: Remote learning in P-12 schools and higher education; Child care in groups of 10 or fewer for essential workers

Outdoor recreation: Walking, hiking, and biking permitted; Select state parks open; Boating and fishing permitted; Golf courses open; All with IDPH approved safety guidance

Businesses:

  • Manufacturing: Essential manufacturing only
  • “Non-essential” businesses: Employees of “non-essential” businesses are required to work from home except for Minimum Basic Operations
  • Bars and restaurants: Open for delivery, pickup, and drive through only
  • Personal care services and health clubs: Closed
  • Retail: Essential stores are open with restrictions; Non-essential stores open for delivery and curbside pickup

How we move to the next phase

Cases and Capacity: The determination of moving from Phase 2 to Phase 3 will be driven by the COVID-19 positivity rate in each region and measures of maintaining regional hospital surge capacity. This data will be tracked from the time a region enters Phase 2, onwards.

  • At or under a 20 percent positivity rate and increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, AND
  • No overall increase (i.e. stability or decrease) in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days, AND
  • Available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of ICU beds, medical and surgical beds, and ventilators

Testing: Testing available for all patients, health care workers, first responders, people with underlying conditions, and residents and staff in congregate living facilities

Tracing: Begin contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis

What could cause us to move back

IDPH will closely monitor data and receive on-the-ground feedback from local health departments and regional healthcare councils and will recommend moving back to the previous phase based on the following factors:

  • Sustained rise in positivity rate
  • Sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities
  • Significant outbreak in the region that threatens the health of the region

Phase 3: Recovery

What this phase looks like

The rate of infection among those surveillance tested is stable or declining. COVID-19-related hospitalizations and ICU capacity remains stable or is decreasing. Face coverings in public continue to be required. Gatherings of 10 people or fewer for any reason can resume. Select industries can begin returning to workplaces with social distancing and sanitization practices in place. Retail establishments reopen with limited capacity, and select categories of personal care establishments can also begin to reopen with social distancing guidelines and personal protective equipment. Robust testing is available along with contact tracing to limit spread and closely monitor the trend of new cases.

What’s open

Gatherings: All gatherings of 10 people or fewer are allowed with this limit subject to change based on latest data & guidance

Travel: Travel should follow IDPH and CDC approved guidance

Health Care: All health care providers are open with DPH approved safety guidance

Education and child care: Remote learning in P-12 schools and higher education; Limited child care and summer programs open with IDPH approved safety guidance

Outdoor recreation: State parks open; Activities permitted in groups of 10 or fewer with social distancing

Businesses:

  • Manufacturing: Non-essential manufacturing that can safely operate with social distancing can reopen with IDPH approved safety guidance
  • “Non-essential” businesses: Employees of “non-essential” businesses are allowed to return to work with IDPH approved safety guidance depending upon risk level, tele-work strongly encouraged wherever possible; Employers are encouraged to provide accommodations for COVID-19-vulnerable employees
  • Bars and restaurants: Open for delivery, pickup, and drive through only
  • Personal care services and health clubs: Barbershops and salons open with IDPH approved safety guidance; Health and fitness clubs can provide outdoor classes and one-on-one personal training with IDPH approved safety guidance
  • Retail: Open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance, including face coverings

How we move to the next phase

Cases and Capacity: The determination of moving from Phase 3 to Phase 4 will be driven by the COVID-19 positivity rate in each region and measures of maintaining regional hospital surge capacity. This data will be tracked from the time a region enters Phase 3, onwards.

  • At or under a 20 percent positivity rate and increasing no more than 10 percentage points over a 14-day period, AND
  • No overall increase (i.e. stability or decrease) in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days, AND
  • Available surge capacity of at least 14 percent of ICU beds, medical and surgical beds, and ventilators

Testing: Testing available in region regardless of symptoms or risk factors

Tracing: Begin contact tracing and monitoring within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90% of cases in region

What could cause us to move back

IDPH will closely monitor data and receive on-the-ground feedback from local health departments and regional healthcare councils and will recommend moving back to the previous phase based on the following factors:

  • Sustained rise in positivity rate
  • Sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities
  • Significant outbreak in the region that threatens the health of the region

Phase 4: Revitalization

What this phase looks like

There is a continued decline in the rate of infection in new COVID-19 cases. Hospitals have capacity and can quickly adapt for a surge of new cases in their communities. Additional measures can be carefully lifted allowing for schools and child care programs to reopen with social distancing policies in place. Restaurants can open with limited capacity and following strict public health procedures, including personal protective equipment for employees. Gatherings with 50 people or fewer will be permitted. Testing is widely available, and tracing is commonplace.

What’s open

Gatherings: Gatherings of 50 people or fewer are allowed with this limit subject to change based on latest data and guidance

Travel: Travel should follow IDPH and CDC approved guidance

Health care: All health care providers are open

Education and child care: P-12 schools, higher education, all summer programs, and child care open with IDPH approved safety guidance

Outdoor Recreation: All outdoor recreation allowed

Businesses:

  • Manufacturing: All manufacturing open with IDPH approved safety guidance
  • “Non-essential” businesses: All employees return to work with IDPH approved safety guidance; Employers are encouraged to provide accommodations for COVID-19-vulnerable employees
  • Bars and restaurants: Open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
  • Personal care services and health clubs: All barbershops, salons, spas and health and fitness clubs open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
  • Entertainment: Cinema and theaters open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance
  • Retail: Open with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance

How we move to the next phase

Post-pandemic: Vaccine, effective and widely available treatment, or the elimination of new cases over a sustained period of time through herd immunity or other factors.

What could cause us to move back

IDPH will closely monitor data and receive on-the-ground feedback from local health departments and regional healthcare councils and will recommend moving back to the previous phase based on the following factors:

  • Sustained rise in positivity rate
  • Sustained increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities
  • Significant outbreak in the region that threatens the health of the region

Phase 5: Illinois Restored

What this phase looks like

Testing, tracing and treatment are widely available throughout the state. Either a vaccine is developed to prevent additional spread of COVID-19, a treatment option is readily available that ensures health care capacity is no longer a concern, or there are no new cases over a sustained period. All sectors of the economy reopen with new health and hygiene practices permanently in place. Large gatherings of all sizes can resume. Public health experts focus on lessons learned and building out the public health infrastructure needed to meet and overcome future challenges. Heath care equity is made a priority to improve health outcomes and ensure vulnerable communities receive the quality care they deserve.

What’s open

  • All sectors of the economy reopen with businesses, schools, and recreation resuming normal operations with new safety guidance and procedures.
  • Conventions, festivals, and large events can take place.