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Illinois now will be moving forward through the Restore Illinois plan in 11 health regions, Gov. JB Pritzker announced Wednesday.
The state previously had been operating with four much wider geographic regions. Currently all four regions are in Phase 4 of the plan, and have been for about two weeks.
Now, 11 regions can move backward or forward through the phases, based on COVID-19 positivity rates and hospital availability.
Suburban counties no longer will be lumped in with Chicago. The city of Chicago now will be its own region, as will the rest of Cook County.
“We’re setting these regions because we need to be able to monitor properly where there are outbreaks, where there are communities in danger and to make sure we have hospital beds available for an outbreak that might take place,” Pritzker said.
Other new regions include:
• North: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.
• North-Central: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Woodford counties.
• West-Central: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler and Scott counties.
• Metro East: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.
• Southern: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White and Williamson counties.
• East-Central: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby and Vermillion counties.
• South Suburban: Kankakee and Will counties.
• West Suburban: DuPage and Kane counties.
• North Suburban: Lake and McHenry counties.
The state also released guidelines for how to handle a resurgence in any region. The state, as a whole, is at about a 3% testing positivity rate right now. Any region seeing an increase in positivity rate in seven out of 10 days and increased hospitalizations for seven days could trigger resurgence criteria. A positivity rate greater than 8% over three consecutive days also can trigger resurgence criteria.
The state released three different tiers for resurgence mitigations, which are available at Illinois.gov.
During a Tier 1 resurgence, bars and restaurants could reduce indoor dining capacity, hospitals could reduce elective surgeries, and further limits could be placed on gatherings and room capacities.
“Opening up our economy does not have to come with a spike in cases,” Pritzker said. “That requires vigilance on the part of all of us.”
Pritzker noted that bars remain a “concerning source of rising positivity rates.” He also mentioned Lake Zurich High School, where summer athletic camps might have contributed to a cluster of COVID-19 cases.
IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said the state is closely monitoring a rise in cases among young people.
“Young people, we need you to make responsible decisions to help us continue to … minimize spread,” Ezike said.