Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike today (Wednesday, July 15, 2020) announced a new COVID-19 mitigation plan focused on combating a resurgence of cases while maintaining the progress the state has made toward bending the curve over the last four months.
As states across the country experience a surge of new COVID-19 cases, state health officials say Illinois remains an outlier with lower hospitalization and infection rates and one of the highest rates of testing in the U.S.
The plan divides the state into 11 regions that will be evaluated according to seven-day positivity rates, and hospital availability and surge capacity. Kane County and DuPage County make up the West Suuburban Region. Click on this link for details.
State in ‘Strong Position’
State officials say the resurgence plan recognizes that the state is in its strongest position to combat the virus since the pandemic began, with a robust testing operation regularly yielding more than 30,000 tests per day, expanded tracing operations with 1,450 contact tracers, a growing stockpile of personal protective equipment, and hospital surge capacity.
The plan also accounts for months of additional data and research as public health experts reach a greater scientific understanding of this virus and how it spreads.
Pritzker credited “individual actions of millions of our residents” with helping to establish one of the lowest positivity rates in the country.
“Opening up our economy does not have to come with a spike in cases,” he said. “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.”
Ezike said the plan ensures the IDPH is looking at all available data to make timely decisions to protect the health of each community.
“By assessing key metrics that indicate both the disease burden and the capacity of each COVID-19 region to respond, we can then take targeted actions within specific regions to help mitigate the spread of this deadly disease while keeping as much of our state open as possible,” she said.
The resurgence prevention plan developed by IDPH outlines three tiers of general and industry-specific mitigations that can be acted upon to prevent a renewed spread of COVID-19.
To provide for a more granular approach, the mitigations outlined will be applied on a regional basis based on the 11 Emergency Medical Services (EMS) regions that have traditionally guided IDPH in its statewide public health work.
Metrics and Mitigations
The following metrics will be used to determine when the spread of the virus in a region requires additional mitigations:
- Sustained increase in seven-day rolling average (seven out of 10 days) in the positivity rate and one of the following severity indicators:
- Sustained seven-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
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 list of optional measures included in the updated guidance is not exhaustive. Other industries could require additional mitigation if indicated by the region’s data.
A map of the resurgence plan regions will be available on the state’s coronavirus website: www.coronavirus.illinois.gov.
COVID-19 Testing And Tracing
Since issuing a stay-at-home order in March, the state has expanded testing access.
Today, the weekly average is more than 33,000 tests per day, recently surpassing 2 million tests total. This expanded testing programming contributed to a significant decrease in the state’s seven-day rolling average positivity rate, now averaging just over 3.0%.
The state has also worked to expand its contact tracing operation, with approximately 1,450 contact tracers now working across Illinois.
Over the next week, 26 local health departments will receive additional funding from the state, representing more than $127 million of available grant funds for contact tracing.
With these funds, local health departments will hire approximately 1,330 contact tracers over the next few months and significantly expand their contact tracing efforts.
Actions to Combat a Resurgence
Once a region meets the resurgence criteria, the following tiered menu of mitigation options will be considered.
If sustained increases in health metrics continue unabated, further mitigations could be added from additional tiers.
State of Illinois Facebook Post
Press Conference Video