CHICAGO — Chicago and the suburbs are the only region in Illinois not on track to move into the next phase of Gov. JB Pritzker’s reopening plan at the end of May.
Pritzker’s five-phase plan breaks Illinois up into four regions, each of which have to meet certain goals in regards to coronavirus to progress through the phases. All of the regions are currently in Phase 2, meaning they’re under a slightly relaxed stay at home order.
But the Northeast Region, of which Chicago is a part, is the only one of the four that’s not currently on track to move into Phase 3 of the plan at the end of May, Pritzker said at a Monday press conference.
That’s because the Northeast Region had a coronavirus test positivity rate of 22.3 percent as of midnight Friday, and it needs that rate to fall to 20 percent to progress.
All of the other regions have already hit that goal.
“There’s time for the Northeast Region to fall below this cap,” Pritzker said.
The region is meeting its other goals, the governor said, and he plans to keep sharing information about how each region is doing in the weeks to come.
The shift from Phase 2 to Phase 3 will see major changes in daily life: Offices, manufacturing, salons and retail stores can reopen, and gatherings of 10 people or fewer will be allowed.
A delay would mean businesses that have already lost much to the pandemic — like small stores, which are struggling to make it through the stay at home order — would face even longer without being able to reopen and bring in cash.
And a delay now also means the Northeast Region would be slowed from entering into Phase 4, when restaurants, bars and schools can reopen and gatherings of 50 or fewer people are allowed.
It’s not particularly surprising, however: Chicago and the suburbs have been hard hit by COVID-19. Chicago has 30,921 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 1,356 people have died, which accounts for 39 percent of confirmed cases and deaths in the state.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said Chicago’s coronavirus test positivity rate is currently at 24.6 percent. Her goal is to get that under 20 percent by the end of the month and to eventually see that fall to 15 percent or lower.
Pritzker said throughout the state, the expected peak has been delayed, too. It’s now predicted to hit in mid-June.
But that’s a good thing, Pritzker said, because it means Illinois flattened its curve, pushed out the peak and slowed down the spread of the virus.
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