Coronavirus Illinois: Gov. Pritzker reveals 'Restore Illinois' plan to reopen state as total COVID-19 cases near 66K with 2.8K fatalities

Illinois reports highest daily COVID-19 death toll since crisis began
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Gov. JB Pritzker unveiled his new plan to reopen Illinois on Tuesday as health officials reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period since the outbreak began.

WATCH: Gov. Pritzker's COVID-19 update on May 5
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Watch Gov. JB Pritzker and Dr. Ngozi Ezike's opening remarks from the Illinois COVID-19 update on May 5, 2020.

Health officials announced 2,122 new cases of COVID-19 in Illinois, including 176 additional deaths, on Tuesday, bringing Illinois' statewide total of coronavirus cases to 65,962, including a total of 2,838 deaths.

Reopening Illinois: What are the 5 phases in Gov. Pritzker's new plan?
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Illinois will move toward reopening with a five-phase, regional approach. Here's what each phase means and how we get to the next one.

Gov. Pritzker detailed a five-phase reopening plan for four Illinois regions: Northeast, North Central, Central, and South. Pritzker said each region is able to move through phases separately. During these phases, face coverings and social distancing rules apply.

"There is no modern precedent for this," Pritzker said. "We are quite literally writing the playbook as we go."

You can read Gov. Pritzker's full plan to 'Restore Illinois' at the bottom of this article.

Illinois started in Phase 1, which is where the state was until April 30. More than six weeks into the stay-at-home order, Illinois is currently in Phase 2, with garden centers and nurseries now open, non-essential retail open for pickup and delivery and golf, boating, and fishing allowed with strict rules.

"Over the next few weeks, we'll be able to move to Phase 3," Pritzker said.

To get to Phase 3, officials said infection rates, hospitalizations and demand for ICU beds must be stable or declining. If that occurs, manufacturing, offices, hair salons and all retail can open. Additionally, all gatherings of 10 people or less, not just essential ones, will be allowed.

Based on current data and benchmarks, how soon could we get there?

"The earliest that a region can move to phase three is May 29," Pritzker said.

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Getting to Phase 4 will require a continued decline in infection rates and hospitalizations, which would allow restaurants and bars, child care and schools to reopen under strict safety guidelines. Gatherings of up to 50 would also be allowed.

"If there are signs that we are headed in the wrong direction, I will make sure to signal the alarm as soon as possible, and we will have to make whatever course correction is necessary," Illinois Director of Public Health Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Finally, Phase 5 would mean a full lifting of restrictions. To get there, officials say likely requires a treatment or vaccine.

"It brings me no joy to say this," Pritzker said. "Large conventions festivals and other major events will be on hold until we reach Phase 5."

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The governor was asked specifically about Lollapalooza, which is set to happen from July 30 to August 2. He would not say if that should be canceled, but some people should watch the data and added if there is an effective treatment, all bets are on.

"I believe in the people of Illinois, now more than ever, and together we will finish the work that we are in," Pritzker said.

The specific benchmarks and metrics for getting to each next phase will be determined by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Officials said that as we move through those phases, there may be a need to tighten or loosen those requirements.

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Illinois' spike in COVID-19 deaths comes a day after health officials reported 46 fatalities, the lowest daily death total since April 19.

While the decrease in the number of deaths is encouraging, Governor Pritzker warned that the numbers could spike again. Pritzker said it needs to be looked at in the context of multiple days to determine if it's a true downward trend.

"I know that it's attractive when the sun is out for people to go out and gather in groups, but I want to remind everybody that it's a mistake," Pritzker said.

The governor renewed his call for people to stay home after several situations over the weekend of people ignoring the order and social distancing. He said the state continues to make progress in combating COVID-19, but that if people continue to defy his stay-at-home order, more restrictions could be put back into place.

"And to the extent people are not following them and gathering in groups," Pritzker said. "They're going to spread the virus and they're going to cause us to go back into a, you know, a previous executive order or a more stringent lockdown than what we've had, if, in fact, there's a spike of cases as a result of people not following the rules."

From Friday through Sunday, Chicago police had to break up almost 950 gatherings around Chicago that defied the governor's stay-at-home order, but there were no citations or arrests.

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Hospitalization numbers appear to be flattening statewide. At Rush University Medical Center, they remain relatively high, but the lobby converted into an extra care facility for non-COVID patients has not been needed and is now being used to test staff and medical students for antibodies. But Dr. Paul Casey, the chief medical officer at Rush, issued a warning about people letting their guard down too soon.

"It's not time with nice weather to bring a bunch of people together," Dr. Casey said. "We really got to maintain this social distancing for a period of time to be successful."

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In northwestern Illinois, a pastor who sued the governor and lost his bid for a temporary restraining order still met with nearly 100 people at Beloved Church, but again, there were no arrests.

"If people are persistently defiant, they can be put in jail," Pritzker said. "I'm not suggesting that that's the best answer or the first answer, but it is something that's an option for local law enforcement."

The governor deferred to local law enforcement to handle that as opposed to calling in the state police, but he remained concerned about the potential consequences.

"It's an enormous mistake and I am very hopeful that we aren't going to need to send teams in to do mass testing among the people who, you know, may be spreading the virus in their community," Pritzker said.

And it's not just in Chicago. In northwest Illinois, several dozen people attended a Sunday church service, defying the ban on gatherings of more than 10.

After the pastor there sued Pritzker arguing his civil rights had been violated, a judge denied that preacher's request for a temporary restraining order over the weekend.

"I'm very hopeful that we aren't going to need to send teams in to do mass testing among the people who may be spreading the virus in their community," Pritzker said.


Governor Pritzker Announces Restore Illinois: A Public Health Approach To Safely Reopen Our State

Restore Illinois is a Five-Phase, Regional Plan for Saving Lives, Livelihoods, and Safely Reopening Illinois

Building on data, science, and guidance from public health experts and after consulting with stakeholders across the state, Governor JB Pritzker announced Restore Illinois, a five-phase plan focused on saving lives, livelihood, and safely reopening Illinois.

""We have to figure out how to live with COVID-19 until it can be vanquished - and to do so in a way that best supports our residents' health and our healthcare systems, and saves the most lives," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Restore Illinois is a public health plan to safely reintroduce the parts of our lives that have been put on hold in our fight against COVID-19. This is also a data-driven plan that operates on a region-by-region basis, a recognition that reality on the ground looks different in different areas of our state."

The five-phase plan is guided by public health metrics designed to provide a framework for reopening businesses, education, and recreational activities in each phase. This initial plan can and will be updated as research and science develop and as the potential for effective treatments or vaccines is realized.

The five-phase plan is based on regional healthcare availability and recognizes the distinct impact COVID-19 has had on different regions of our state as well as regional variations in hospital capacity. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has 11 Emergency Medical Services Regions that have traditionally guided its statewide public health work. For the purposes of Restore Illinois, from those 11, four health regions are established, each with the ability to independently move through a phased approach: Northeast Illinois; North-Central Illinois; Central Illinois; and Southern Illinois.

The five phases of reopening for each health region are as follows:

Phase 1 - Rapid Spread: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital is high or rapidly increasing. Strict stay at home and social distancing guidelines are put in place and only essential businesses remain open. Every region has experienced this phase once already and could return to it if mitigation efforts are unsuccessful.

Phase 2 - Flattening: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital beds and ICU beds increases at an ever slower rate, moving toward a flat and even a downward trajectory. Non-essential retail stores reopen for curb-side pickup and delivery. Illinoisans are directed to wear a face covering when outside the home, and can begin enjoying additional outdoor activities like golf, boating and fishing while practicing social distancing. To varying degrees, every region is experiencing flattening as of early May.

Phase 3 - Recovery: The rate of infection among those tested, the number of patients admitted to the hospital, and the number of patients needing ICU beds is stable or declining. Manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops and salons can reopen to the public with capacity and other limits and safety precautions. All gatherings limited to 10 or fewer people are allowed. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 4 - Revitalization: The rate of infection among those tested and the number of patients admitted to the hospital continues to decline. All gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, restaurants and bars reopen, travel resumes, child care and schools reopen under guidance from the IDPH. Face coverings and social distancing are the norm.

Phase 5 - Illinois Restored: With a vaccine or highly effective treatment widely available or the elimination of any new cases over a sustained period, the economy fully reopens with safety precautions continuing. Conventions, festivals and large events are permitted, and all businesses, schools, and places of recreation can open with new safety guidance and procedures in place reflecting the lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until COVID-19 is defeated, Restore Illinois recognizes that as health metrics tell us it is safe to move forward, health metrics may also tell us to return to a prior phase. With a vaccine or treatment not yet available, IDPH will be closely monitoring key metrics to immediately identify new growth in cases and hospitalizations to determine whether a return to a prior phase is needed.

As millions of Illinoisans continue working together by staying at home and following experts' recommendations, the result has been a lower infection rate, lower hospitalizations, and lower number of fatalities than without these measures. As the state's curve begins to flatten, the risk of spread remains, and modeling and data point to a rapid surge in new cases if all mitigation measures are immediately lifted. The governor and his administration continue to urge all Illinois residents to follow the state's stay at home order and to follow the guidance issued by the state and public health experts.
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