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Southern Illinois returns to Phase 4 of state's COVID-19 plan, loosening restrictions further
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Southern Illinois returns to Phase 4 of state's COVID-19 plan, loosening restrictions further

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Ezike

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike takes questions during a COVID-19 briefing Jan. 11 at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield. 

SPRINGFIELD — Southern Illinois' Region 5 on Monday moved back to COVID-19 guidelines outlined under Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, the third time since Friday that mitigation measures have been loosened in Southern Illinois.

Based on adjustments for hospital staffing, Region 5 moved to Phase 4 mitigations Monday. Under Phase 4, gaming and casinos, hotels, indoor fitness classes, offices and cultural institutions are able to reopen without tier restrictions. More information about Phase 4 guidance is at dceocovid19resources.com/restore-illinois.

Test positivity rates must remain below 6.5% for three consecutive days, staffed hospital and ICU beds must reach 20% or higher for three consecutive days and there must be a sustained decline in COVID-19 patients in the hospital for 7 out of 10 days.

COVID-19 in Southern Illinois: Here are today's case numbers

Region 3, which covers west-central Illinois counties including Sangamon and Logan, also moved to Phase 4 on Monday.

Illinois Department of Public Health had on Saturday announced indoor dining could resume in Southern Illinois with restrictions under Tier 1 of the state's coronavirus resurgence mitigation plan. Indoor dining had not been allowed in Southern Illinois since October, when the region was placed under Tier 2 mitigations. The entire state was later placed under Tier 3 mitigations in November.

Region 5 includes Marion, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Perry, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Massac and Pulaski counties. Randolph County is in the state's Region 4, which encompasses the Metro East St. Louis area. Region 4 remains under Tier 3 mitigation measures.

Nine of 11 regions in the state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan have seen mitigations lifted in the past week.

The announcement came as hospitalizations and positivity rates continued to decline and the state launched a contracting effort to increase hospital staffing, adjusting the available bed metrics that determine mitigation levels.

Region 1, which covers counties including Carroll and DeKalb in northern Illinois, Region 2, which covers north-central Illinois counties including McLean, Peoria and Rock Island, and Region 6, which covers east-central Illinois counties including Champaign and Macon, have moved to Tier 1. These regions can now open indoor dining with limited capacity and restrictions in place.

Once a region moves into Tier 1 mitigations, indoor dining is allowed at a limited 25% capacity, indoor tables cannot exceed four people, reservations are required and establishments must be closed between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Although indoor bar service is allowed under Tier 1, it remains suspended unless food is being served at the establishment.

The requirements to move to Tier 1 include a test positivity rate below 8% for three consecutive days, with the same criteria for hospitalizations and bed availability as the previous tiers.

Region 8 in the west suburbs, Region 9 in the north suburbs, Region 10 in suburban Cook County and Region 11, which covers the city of Chicago, are all in Tier 2, meaning there is still no indoor dining allowed.

In order to move from Tier 3 to Tier 2, regions must see a test positivity rate below 12% for three consecutive days, with the same criteria for hospitalizations and bed availability as previously stated.

Region 4, which covers Metro East St. Louis, and Region 7, which covers south suburban Illinois, remain under Tier 3 mitigations. No indoor dining is allowed under Tier 3.

Prior to Monday, eight of the state’s 11 mitigation regions remained under Tier 3 restrictions.

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“Hospital leaders have made clear the importance of staffing in their continued response to this pandemic and conveyed that staffing contracts will be extraordinarily valuable in their ability to meet the needs of their communities,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a news release.

The surge staffing program was created to address capacity issues reported by Illinois hospitals and IDPH in partnership with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and Department of Healthcare and Family Services. The program helps hospitals hire staff for to tend to existing beds that they otherwise cannot staff.

“We are pleased to see most of our regions move out of Tier 3 mitigations with this change, and it is critical that we maintain this progress,” Ezike added. “With new variants of COVID-19 spreading, it is more important than ever to follow public health guidance that keeps people safe.”

Positivity rate decreasing

The statewide seven-day rolling case positivity rate was 5.9% Monday, and has been steadily decreasing for over a week. The rolling positivity rate was 7.6% exactly one week ago.

IDPH reported 3,385 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state Monday, including 50 additional deaths. Within the last 24 hours, 63,002 test results have been reported. Over 14.8 million total test results have been reported in Illinois since the pandemic started.

In total, the state reported 1,072,214 COVID-19 cases, including 18,258 deaths across the state’s 102 counties since the pandemic began.

As of Sunday night, 3,345 COVID-19 patients were reported in the hospital and 705 patients reported in intensive care unit beds. There were 392 COVID-19 patients on ventilators. All numbers were steadily decreasing.

Vaccine update

Pritzker also announced Friday the entire state will move into Phase 1B of vaccine distribution starting Jan. 25, although some counties, including several in Southern Illinois, have already entered that phase.

Most of the state is only distributing the vaccine under Phase 1A, which includes health care workers and long-term care facility residents. Counties that have substantially completed the first phase have started Phase 1B, which includes essential workers outside of the health care field, residents 65 years or older, and inmates.

As of Sunday night, a total of 1,085,750 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to the state of Illinois.

About 781,150 doses were delivered to providers in Illinois, including Chicago, while the remaining 304,600 doses have been allocated to the federal government’s Pharmacy Partnership program for long-term care facilities.

Currently the state is reporting a total of 495,563 vaccines administered, including 66,679 for long-term care facilities. Administers have three days from when a vaccine was administered to report it.

The seven-day rolling average of vaccines administered daily is 22,856 doses.

— The Southern staff contributed.

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