SPRINGFIELD – Only one of the state’s 11 COVID-19 mitigation regions remains at the highest level of restricted activity Thursday as the statewide case positivity rate continues to decline.
The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Thursday that Region 7, which includes Will and Kankakee counties, was moved to Tier 1 mitigations, while Region 6 in east-central Illinois moved back to base Phase 4 guidelines.
That left only Region 4 in the Metro East region near the St. Louis, Missouri, border in the strictest Tier 3 mitigations.
Regions can move downward if test positivity rates meet certain levels, hospitalizations for COVID-19 decrease for at least seven of 10 days and at least 20 percent of hospital and intensive care beds remain unoccupied.
To move to Phase 4, a positivity rate must remain below 6.5 percent for three straight days, while a rate between 6.5 percent and 8 percent allows movement to Tier 1 mitigations and a rate from 8-12 percent allows movement to Tier 2 mitigations from Tier 3.
Indoor dining is not allowed until a region moves into Tier 1, at which point it is permitted at 25 percent capacity. Drinks can be served in Tier 1 as long as food is served. Museums and casinos can reopen in Tier 2, as can indoor fitness classes, according to state guidance.
According to IDPH, if all trends continue in Region 4, it would move to Tier 2 beginning Friday.
The announcement of the latest tier movements came as the state’s seven-day rolling average case positivity rate dropped to 5.4 percent, marking 13 days in a row it has decreased, hitting a low since Oct. 19.
Intensive care bed usage for the disease dropped by 8 percent from the day prior as of Wednesday night, with 662 beds in use by COVID-19 patients. There were 3,281 hospital beds in use by COVID-19 patients and 358 ventilators at the end of Wednesday, both decreases from the day prior.
The state also reported another 123 COVID-19-related deaths, which are considered a lagging indicator of disease spread. That brought the death toll to 18,520 since the pandemic first arrived in Illinois.
That’s out of more than 1 million confirmed or probable cases and 15 million test results reported.
Gov. JB Pritzker also praised executive action announced by President Joe Biden’s administration in response to the pandemic.
“One year and one day since the first known COVID-19 case was identified in the United States, I’m incredibly heartened to see the Biden-Harris administration step up to the herculean task of providing a truly cohesive, prepared, robust national response to COVID-19 that saves lives, protects our healthcare workers, supports small businesses, gets children back into schools, and promises the economic recovery Americans deserve,” Pritzker, who often criticized the Trump administration for a lack of cohesive pandemic response, said in a statement Thursday.
Biden announced plans to sign a number of executive orders aimed at combatting the pandemic in his first days in office, ranging from masking requirements on federal property to invoking the Defense Production Act to coordinate the federal government’s efforts to “produce, supply, and distribute personal protective equipment, vaccines, tests, and other supplies for the nation’s COVID-19 response.”
That act allows presidents to compel domestic industries “to expedite and expand the supply of materials and services,” such as vaccine materials or personal protective equipment, “from the U.S. industrial base needed to promote the national defense.”
Biden’s plan would also reportedly steer more funding to local and state governments to aid in vaccination efforts.
The state has received more than 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with just over 900,000 delivered to providers and 524,050 allocated as part of the federal government’s pharmacy partnership program to vaccinate long-term care residents.
Of those, 572,389 doses have been administered, 90,752 of which were part of the long-term care effort. Administrators reported 34,649 vaccines administered on Wednesday alone.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.