Illinois health officials announced 1,178 new COVID-19 cases and 39 additional deaths on Tuesday. There’s now a total of 113,195 COVID-19 cases and 4,923 deaths, as Illinois prepares to enter Phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan Friday.
Within the past 24 hours, Illinois has conducted 17,230 coronavirus tests for a total of 786,794. The statewide 7-day rolling positive rate for May 17 through May 23 was 9.2%, down from a high of 23% in late April.
WATCH: Illinois COVID-19 update on May 26
For the first time since the pandemic hit, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported the number of deaths week to week has dropped and all four regions are hitting the key metrics needed to move into Phase 3 on Friday.
“I am hopeful that this fact is the beginning of a downward trend,” IDPH director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.
The death rate is also falling and hospital and ICU bed availability, is above 30-percent.
“Looking at the numbers on a daily basis, looking at it on a weekly average basis, the answer is we seem to have come off the peak,” Gov. Pritzker said.
The state appears ready to reopen under the governor’s Phase 3 plan, which includes the opening of salons and outdoor restaurant dining, and social gatherings of up to 10 people, but that’s not the case in Chicago.
“Face coverings can make all the difference,” Pritzker said. “Since we implemented that one change, we saw all the numbers that had already stabilized then begin to fall.”
WATCH: Critical health metrics continue to improve across Illinois
But even as Phase 3 will allow social gatherings of up to 10 people, health officials are urging caution.
“I can’t give anybody a COVID free pass,” Dr. Ezike said. “As you expand your circles, obviously, there’s the additional risk of transmission.”
The governor was dismayed at seeing the crowds – including many from Illinois that packed Lake Geneva, Wisconsin and the Indiana Dunes – over Memorial Day weekend.
“What we’ve suggested to Illinois residents, because we want Illinois residents to be safe, is to follow the same rules for yourself when you travel that you would have, if you were at home,” Pritzker said.
The state is also receiving another shipment of the drug Remdesivir, which officials say is being distributed to hospitals with known COVID-19 cases and seems to be working.
Pritzker’s announcement came as a Republican lawmaker is seeking to recall the governor over the troubled unemployment filing system that has frustrated thousands of people trying to apply for unemployment. And, the system that was hacked earlier this month, leading to some people’s personal information being compromised. The petition requires support of 30 lawmakers and at least half must be Democrats.
“And it’s pretty darn clear that the governor is only putting 20 some more people on the phone lines when he should have put 2,000 more people on the phone lines,” said State Rep. Allen Skillicorn, R-Crystal Lake. “This could have been done much, much sooner.”
“When it became clear that we were going to see a rush of applications, we acted as quickly as we could,” Pritzker said.
Over the weekend, Governor JB Pritzker released reopening guidelines for businesses and workplaces. The guidance is tailored to specific industries, such as restaurants, retail and health and fitness centers.
In addition to industry-specific guidelines, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Department of Public Health developed a common set of standards all businesses must follow. Those standards include the required use of face coverings, social distancing and informational signage on site, among other preventative measures.
The industry-specific guidelines can be found online on the state’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity website.
This Friday, Illinois restaurants can open their patios and rooftops. Restaurants can open their patios, rooftops and indoor spaces where at least 50 percent of the wall can be removed, including by opening windows and doors.
Restaurants can host parties of no more than six people.
As of right now, the City of Chicago will not enter the next phase of reopening with the rest of the state. Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week that could happen in early June.
READ: GOV. PRITZKER’S UPDATES TO PHASE 3 OF ‘RESTORE ILLINOIS’ PLAN
Bars and Restaurants Can Open for Outdoor Seating, All State Parks to Open
Building on a robust, statewide effort to ensure Illinois can safely reopen and following the data, science, and guidance from public health experts and stakeholders across the state, Governor Pritzker announced updates to Phase 3 of the state’s Restore Illinois plan.
“We are by no means out of the woods, but directionally, things are getting better. And because of these advances, we are able to make some modifications to allow more activity during Phase 3 of our reopening plan Restore Illinois,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “Our mission has always been to get people back to work, get students back to school and return to as much normalcy as possible without jeopardizing the health and safety of Illinoisans.”
In the coming days, the state and IDPH will be issuing formal industry-specific guidance, particularly around workplaces and childcare, for business owners and employees in these and other sectors.
Bars and Restaurants
With Phase 3, bars and restaurants will have the option to resume operations for outdoor seating only. Tables must be six feet apart and away from the sidewalks, masks and distancing measures for staff must continue to be followed, and other precautions and guidance will be issued.
These measures will allow restaurants to re-open at a risk comparable to other outdoor activities, while giving the state’s hospitality industry a much-needed boost.
Municipalities are encouraged to help restaurants and bars expand their outdoor seating options.
To date, the administration has delivered over $14 million in small business grants averaging $20,000 to 699 bars, restaurants, and hotels across 270 individual cities in Illinois.
With the start of phase 3, all state parks will reopen on May 29. All concession will reopen as well under guidelines set for our retail and food service businesses in Phase 3. Illinois will permit the re-opening of indoor and outdoor tennis facilities with Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) safety precautions and capacity limits.
For golf, in Phase 3, courses can allow foursomes out on the same tee times. Carts will also be permitted with one person per cart, or one immediate household per cart.
With the new ten person gathering limit for all activities in Phase 3, boating or camping with up to ten people will be permitted.
The state will be providing guidance on how other outdoor recreational businesses, such as driving ranges, outdoor shooting ranges, and paintball courses can safely open their doors in Phase 3.
Health Clubs, Retail, and Personal Care Services
In Phase 3, health clubs, gyms, and fitness studios can provide one-on-one personal training in indoor facilities and outdoor fitness classes of up to ten people.
Personal care services, like nail salons, tattoo shops, hair braiders, spas and barbershops, can open with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits.
And all retail stores can open their doors to in-person shopping with IDPH safety precautions and capacity limits in place.
Local governments retain the right to establish stricter restrictions in any areas.
“The Governor’s action to allow for expanded outdoor dining options will benefit many restaurants at a time when every dollar counts and provides a glimmer of light at the end of this long, COVID-19 tunnel. Innovative outdoor dining strategies extend a lifeline – restoring jobs and offering guests the hospitality experience they’ve been missing while prioritizing public health and safety. Outdoor dining will not help every restaurant, but it is a constructive step in the right direction,” said Sam Toia, President & CEO of the Illinois Restaurant Association.
“The Allied Golf Associations of Illinois are grateful that we had the opportunity to collaborate with the Governor’s office to propose safely lifting some of the restrictions that had been in place for golf. The Phase 3 changes will allow more people to enjoy the physical and mental benefits of the game, and do so in a way that is safe for both golfers and facility staff,” said Carrie Williams, Executive Director of the Illinois PGA and Illinois PGA Foundation.
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Source: ABC7 Chicago