Illinois Headed in ‘Right Direction’ on Eve of Phase 3: State’s Top Doctor

New statewide totals: 115,833 cases, 5,186 deaths

Retail stores, barbershops, salons, offices and gyms can reopen throughout the state on Friday — unless they’re located in Chicago.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Thursday that the city will begin to cautiously reopen next Wednesday.

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But areas elsewhere in the state “are eligible to reopen in accordance with (phase three of) Restore Illinois,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced during his press briefing Thursday.

Pritzker’s five-phase reopening plan divides the state into four regions, which can move independently through the phases – both forward and, if needed, backwards. All four regions have met the metrics required to move from phase two to phase three on Friday, according to officials.

“As a state we’re definitely headed in the right direction,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We’ve successfully met the metrics to move into phase three, but we must proceed with caution.”

Under phase three, called “Recovery,” face coverings and social distancing will still be required, but gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed.

Officials encouraged residents to continue to practice good hygiene, washing hands and wiping down surfaces frequently.

“Let’s move forward, not backward,” Pritzker said.

Businesses permitted to reopen during this phase will have to follow safety guidelines developed by IDPH.

Officials have also developed guidelines for religious services that Pritzker said “are not mandatory.”

Those guidelines include opting for remote or drive-in services, congregating outdoors and limiting in-person services to groups of fewer than 10 people. IDPH also provides guidance for instances in which the 10-person limit cannot be followed, including setting capacity limits to 25% or a maximum of 100 people and conducting multiple small services instead of one large service.

On Thursday, officials announced 1,527 additional cases of COVID-19 and 104 deaths linked to the virus since Wednesday, bringing statewide totals to 115,833 and 5,186, respectively.

“Among those who have passed from COVID almost 44% were those in long-term care facilities,” Ezike said Thursday. “And as we’ve known from the beginning, nursing homes and other congregant settings have always been at increased risk for outbreaks.”

While officials have taken steps to address outbreaks in long-term care facilities, many of them are privately owned and not all are heeding public health officials’ guidance or accepting free state help with COVID-19 testing or infection control, according to Pritzker.

On Thursday, IDPH filed emergency rules mandating all long-term care facilities comply with infection control practices, including testing all residents and staff for COVID-19. Each facility will be required to develop and implement a coronavirus testing plan, according to Pritzker.

Each facility will collect specimens and arrange with a laboratory to have them tested, according to the governor’s office. IDPH will provide training and assistance with testing if needed and help identify laboratory services if requested.

Facilities will be required to report the number of residents and staff tested, and the number of positive, negative and indeterminate test results to public health officials.

Contact Kristen Thometz: @kristenthometz (773) 509-5452  [email protected]


Coronavirus Prevention Tips and Resources

Officials advise taking preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, including: 

—Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water
—Using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
—Sneezing or coughing into a tissue and then disposing of the tissue
—Limiting contact with people regardless of how you feel
—Staying home when you are sick

Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to:

—New onset of fever, cough, shortness of breath
—Congestion in the nasal sinuses or lungs
—Sore throat, body aches or unusual fatigue

If you think you have COVID-19:

Call your doctor before showing up at their office. If you have a medical emergency and need to call 911, tell the operator that you think you have COVID-19. If possible, wear a mask before medical help arrives or presenting at a doctor’s office. More advice for those who think they have COVID-19.

Additional resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Illinois’ COVID-19 website
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) website
—IDPH COVID-19 hotline: 800-889-3931
—IDPH COVID-19 email link
City of Chicago COVID-19 website
—City of Chicago COVID-19 hotline: 312-746-4835
—City of Chicago COVID-19 email link


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