Governor Announces New COVID-19 Mitigation Plan

July 15, 2020

Governor J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today announced a new COVID-19 mitigation plan to prevent a renewed outbreak of the virus – setting threshold metrics for taking action and revising the state’s regional framework for reopening.

The following metrics will be used to determine when the spread of the virus in a region requires additional mitigations:

  • Sustained increase in 7-day rolling average (7 out of 10 days) in the positivity rate and one of the following severity indicators:   
    • Sustained 7-day increase in hospital admissions for a COVID-19 like illness   
    • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities (ICU capacity or medical/surgical beds < 20%)   
  • OR three consecutive days averaging ≥ 8% positivity rate

According to the Governor’s press release, the updated guidance from IDPH establishes three tiers of mitigations that can be implemented should a region meet the resurgence metrics. Some mitigation strategies in higher risk settings, like indoor bars and restaurants, will be automatically applied in a region that meets resurgence criteria to prevent rapid spread of COVID-19. A larger list of mitigation strategies relating to settings like retail, fitness, and salons and personal care will be available if testing and contact tracing data at the local level indicate those mitigations to be prudent.

The mitigation plan includes provisions on hospital elective surgeries:

  • Tier 1: Reduce elective surgeries and procedures; limit visitation at hospitals; implement twice daily bed reporting
  • Tier 2: Suspend elective surgeries and procedures; implement surge capacity; assess need to open Alternate Care Facility
  • Tier 3: Open Alternate Care Facility

Mitigations will be applied on a regional basis based on the traditional eleven IDPH Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Regions, with the new regions following county lines to account for counties that are in more than one region of the EMS system, with a few exceptions.  The city of Chicago and suburban Cook County are in their own separate regions; Grundy and Kendall counties are in a region separate from the collar counties; and the other collar counties are in three separate regions (two counties each).

"Illinois now has the lowest infection rates among all our neighboring states and one of the lowest positivity rates in the country - and it's because of the individual actions of millions of our residents," said Governor Pritzker in announcing the new mitigation plan. "Opening up our economy does not have to come with a spike in cases. Other countries have done it successfully while reducing cases and infection rates. But that requires vigilance on the part of all of us. It's imperative that individuals, families, workers and businesses follow the recommendations doctors have given about vital mitigations and that we act quickly if we see any outbreaks and upticks, signs that could lead to a surge of coronavirus infections."

For more details, see a three-page overview of the state’s mitigation plan.

Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot this morning warned that the city is “on the precipice” of rolling back parts of its reopening if COVID-19 cases continue to increase, especially among young people. Lightfoot and Chicago Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady noted that the city’s daily average number of new cases is now 192. If that number goes over 200, Lightfoot said the city will consider taking action to “address particular areas where we are seeing the new cases coming from.” According to city statistics, 30% of the new COVID-19 cases were among people ages 18 to 29.