Suburban Cook County moves to Tier 2 of COVID mitigations

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COVID-19 restrictions

Restrictions loosened slightly for gaming, gatherings, and fitness centers—no indoor dining

Information provided by the Illinois Department of Public Health

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (January 18, 2021) – With the state of Illinois launching multiple health care staffing contracts to increase hospital staffing, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is adjusting its mitigation metrics to reflect the additional staff. With the change, Regions 8, 9, 10, and 11 will move from the most restrictive Tier 3 to Tier 2. Region 10 incorporates suburban Cook County and Region 11 is Chicago. In addition, Region 1 and 6 have met the metrics to move to Tier 1, and Regions 3 and 5 have met the metrics to return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

Although restaurants may not re-open for indoor dining until Region 10 moves to Tier 1, indoor gaming is now allowed under Phase 4 guidelines. Additionally, recreational facilities and fitness centers are no longer required to operate on an appointment-only basis and can allow operation at 25% capacity. Meetings and gatherings are limited to 10 people or less in Tier 2.

Click here for the list of mitigations in Tier 3, Tier 2, and Tier 1.

State staffing program allows for reduced mitigations

To address capacity issues reported by Illinois hospitals, IDPH, in partnership with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), has launched a surge staffing program. The program leverages the state’s larger contracting power to engage multiple staffing vendors and create access to a talent pool at greater scale than any individual hospital could achieve. Hospitals with rooms available to increase capacity but lacking the personnel to staff their beds may partner with the state to procure the staff they need. Hospitals that create orders will enter into a contract with the state to access this new staffing pool.

Hospital leaders have conveyed that due to the progress the state has made as well as the volatility in medical/surgical capacity this time of year, the state’s remaining metrics will appropriately monitor capacity and spread. While IDPH is working to allow regions greater flexibility in lifting the most stringent mitigations, public health officials will continue to carefully monitor hospital needs and test positivity in order to maintain the state’s progress.

This is particularly critical as new variants circulate. Early studies for the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, have shown the variant may spread more rapidly and easily than what we have seen previously. Experts are predicting another possible surge due to this new variant in the next several months. Because of this, it is vital for people to remain vigilant and continue to wear their masks, keep 6-feet of distance, avoid large gatherings, and get vaccinated when they are eligible.

Mitigation metrics

In order to move to Tier 2 mitigations, a region must meet the following metrics:

  1. A test positivity rate less than or equal to 8% and less than 12% for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
  2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
  3. A sustained decrease in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average.

In order to move to Tier 1 mitigations, a region must meet the following metrics:

  1. A test positivity rate between 6.5 and 8% for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
  2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
  3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average.

In order to move to Phase 4, a region must meet the following metrics:

  1. A test positivity rate less less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
  2. Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
  3. No sustained increase in the number of people in the hospital with COVID-19 for seven out of 10 days, on a 7-day average.

Information about mitigation and resurgence metrics can be found at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics.

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