As coronavirus cases surge nationwide, Governor J.B. Pritzker introduced a new plan to address a resurgence in Illinois.
Pritzker said Illinois is doing well combating the virus thanks to increased testing and expanded contact tracing efforts.
“This virus has not gone away,” Pritzker said. “It’s still infecting people, and it will likely continue doing that for months to come. Illinois’ ability to manage covid-19 looks a whole lot better than it did at the beginning.”
The governor added that he will put more restrictions in place if trends in data indicate a potential problem. Those indicators include three days in a row of more than 8% of people tested getting a positive result, a sustained rise in the positivity rate, and more hospital admissions.
At 3%, Illinois has one of the lowest positivity rates in the country, a significant decrease from the 23% positivity rate in March.
The new coronavirus response plan also calls for dividing the state into 11 regions, instead of four – a move Republican lawmakers have been asking for since May.
State Sen. Steve McClure (R-Springfield) said he is glad the Governor heard the bipartisan call to institute a more regional approach, based on smaller districts.
“We can all debate the validity of the new boundaries, but this is a step in the right direction,” McClure said in an emailed statement. “But it is disheartening once again that we are receiving this information after a decision has already been made.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, members of the GOP have accused the Governor of not including them in making statewide decisions.
Pritzker said the goal of the regional lines is to ensure people who need hospital care can get it and to target where most outbreaks are occurring.
“We’re focusing on detecting and mitigating localized outbreaks by working with municipalities and counties to take targeted steps to contain outbreaks,” he said.
The plan has a tiered approach for regions that need to combat a resurgence in COVID-19, which depends on the severity of outbreaks. It suggests tougher restrictions, like reducing indoor restaurant capacity or temporarily shutting down businesses, where outbreaks occur.
The new break down of regions are as follows:
1. NORTH: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago
2. NORTH-CENTRAL: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford
3. WEST-CENTRAL: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott
4. METRO EAST: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington
5. SOUTHERN: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson
6. EAST-CENTRAL: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby, Vermillion
7. SOUTH SUBURBAN: Kankakee, Will
8. WEST SUBURBAN: DuPage, Kane
9. NORTH SUBURBAN: Lake, McHenry
10. SUBURBAN COOK: Suburban Cook
11. CHICAGO: City of Chicago
Pritzker said the state can’t reach the final phase of reopening until there is a vaccine or effective treatment available.
ISBE Releases Guidelines For Students And Faculty To Return To In-Person Learning
Face coverings, social distancing, and classroom capacity requirements will be mandatory in all Illinois schools as students and faculty return to school next month.
There is room in the guidelines for districts to move forward with their own regulations making blended and remote learning available options for school, as well.
“Schools must focus on giving students the best education possible while offering the greatest consideration to their health, the health of their families, and all of those who work in our schools,” said Pritzker.
He also explained that there could be consequences for districts that don’t adhere to the rules.
“Any districts that don’t live up to public health guidelines and standards, and don’t make a genuine attempt to protect their communities from this virus could be held liable in the courts by community members who are ill-affected,” Pritzker said.