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Illinois Is 1 Of Only 2 States Meeting Trump’s Guidelines For Reopening Amid Coronavirus

The federal guidelines suggest states only reopen if they're seeing a falling number of COVID-19 cases, are able to treat people who become sick and have a "robust" testing program.

The Chicago skyline seen from Humboldt Park as temperatures reached 80 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of Chicago while cases of Coronavirus in Illinois continue to rise on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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CHICAGO — Illinois is one of only two states meeting President Donald Trump’s guidelines for reopening, according to a ProPublica analysis.

ProPublica, a nonprofit news publication, gathered data on all 50 states — as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. — and found Illinois and New York are the only states that appear to meet all of the federal government’s criteria for reopening.

The federal guidelines suggest states only reopen if they’re seeing a falling number of COVID-19 cases, are able to treat people who become sick and have a “robust” testing program, among other things.

Gov. JB Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other officials have prioritized all of those things during the pandemic: They built “field hospitals” like McCormick Place to ensure there’d be enough space for COVID patients, increased testing for coronavirus and have provided daily online updates on how many cases and deaths there have been.

But officials here have been criticized by some for reopening too slowly. There have been rallies and protests where people call on Pritzker to move quicker to spare jobs.

Some fear the long shutdown — the stay at home order has been in place since March 21 — will lead to permanent business closures and people losing their homes.

But the governor and mayor have said they want the state’s reopening to be slow so they can save as many lives as possible from coronavirus. They’ve also said they will take steps back in the plan if there’s a surge in cases, though they don’t anticipate that.

And Pritzker’s said his own reopening requirements aren’t as stringent as the ones suggested by Trump, allowing the state to move quicker.

The federal guidelines suggest states reopen only if they meet these criteria:

  • Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period
  • Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period
  • Downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period or downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period
  • Treat all patients without crisis care
  • Robust testing program in place for at-risk health care workers, including emerging antibody testing

The guidelines are just suggestions, though, and states don’t have to meet them to start reopening — in fact, many states have already started reopening despite not meeting the criteria.

There have been mixed results as states reopen: Some that flung open the doors, like Wisconsin, are now seeing an increase in confirmed coronavirus cases.

But Illinois has started reopening and, despite the lifting of some restrictions, it’s beginning to see a fall in cases and deaths. Pritzker even said the state is now falling from its peak.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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