IDPH adjusts metrics to allow more regions to loosen COVID restrictions

Coronavirus Illinois

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Illinois Department of Public Health announced Monday adjustments to its mitigation metrics, as the state launched multiple health care staffing contracts to increase hospital staffing.

After consulting with hospital leaders and local health departments and launching a surge staffing program to address their primary concerns, IDPH has adjusted the metrics to move away from utilizing medical/surgical bed limits to move across mitigation tiers, allowing more regions to advance.

With the change in mitigation metrics, Regions 8, 9, 10, and 11 will move from the most restrictive Tier 3 to Tier 2. 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.

As of Monday, only two of the state's 11 regions remain in Tier 3 - the strictest tier - and eight regions moved into less restrictive mitigations.

"This doesn't mean we've won our battle against COVID-19, so please keep taking the proven precautions that keep us safe," Governor Pritzker said in a tweet.

Those precautions include wearing a mask, socially distancing, washing your hands, and staying home.

“Hospital leaders have made clear the importance of staffing in their continued response to this pandemic and conveyed that staffing contracts will be extraordinarily valuable in their ability to meet the needs of their communities,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, in a statement. “We are pleased to see most of our regions move out of Tier 3 mitigations with this change, and it is critical that we maintain this progress. With new variants of COVID-19 spreading, it is more important than ever to follow the public health guidance that keeps people safe – wear your mask and watch your distance.”

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.

Here's a look at where each region stands:

Phase 4

Region 3 (West Illinois): Hancock, Adams, Pike, Calhoun, Jersey, Greene, Scott, Brown, Schuyler, Cass, Morgan, Macoupin, Montgomery, Christian, Sangamon, Logan, Menard, Mason

Region 5 (South Illinois): Marion, Jefferson, Wayne, Edwards, Wabash, Perry, Jackson, Franklin, Williamson, Saline, Hamilton, White, Gallatin, Union, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Alexander, Massac, Pulaski

In this phase, gatherings of 50 or fewer people are allowed. Travel should follow IDPH and CDC approved guidance. All healthcare providers are open. Schools and child care are open with IDPH approved safety guidance. All outdoor recreation is allowed. Bars and restaurants are open indoors with capacity limits and IDPH approved safety guidance. For a complete look at what is allowed in this phase, click here.

Tier 1

Region 1 (Northwest Illinois): Jo Davies, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, Dekalb, Carrol, Ogle, Whiteside, Lee, Crawford

Region 2 (West-Central Illinois): Rock Island, Henry, Bureau, Putnam, Kendall, Grundy, Mercer, Knox, Henderson, Warren, McDonough, Fulton, Stark, Marshall, Peoria, Tazwell, McLean, Woodford, Livingston, Lasalle

Region 6 (East-Central Illinois): Iroquois, Ford, Dewitt, Piatt, Champaign, Vermillion, Macon, Moultrie, Douglas, Edgar, Shelby, Coles, Cumberland, Clark, Fayette, Effingham, Jasper, Crawford, Clay, Richland, Lawrence

A move to this tier means indoor dining can resume at limited capacity, but only for establishments serving food. Gatherings are limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors. Sports should follow the mitigation measures set forth in the All Sport Guidelines, which outlines appropriate levels of practice and competition based on individual sport risk. For a complete look at what is allowed in this tier, click here.

Tier 2

Region 8: Kane, Dupage

Region 9: McHenry, Lake

Region 10: Suburban Cook

Region 11: Chicago

A move to this tier means the reopening of cultural institutions, like museums as well casinos. Gatherings are limited to 10 guests in both indoor and outdoor settings. Recreation sports can continue with capacity limits, as well as group fitness classes. For a complete look at what is allowed in this tier, click here.

Tier 3

Region 4 (Southwest Illinois): Bond, Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, Washington, Monroe, Randolph

Region 7: Will, Kankakee

This is the most restrictive tier and is the one all of Illinois has been under since before Thanksgiving. For a complete look at what is allowed in this tier, click here.

Mitigation metrics for moving from a higher to lower tier are as follows:

In order to move to Tier 2, a region must meet the following metrics:
• A test positivity rate between 8 and 12% for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
• Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
• 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, a region must meet the following metrics:
• A test positivity rate between 6.5 and 8% for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
• Greater than or equal to 20% available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
• 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:
• A test positivity rate less than or equal to 6.5 percent for three consecutive days, as measured by the 7-day rolling average; AND
• Greater than or equal to 20 percent available staffed ICU hospital beds for three consecutive days, on a 7-day rolling average; AND
• 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 on the IDPH website at http://www.dph.illinois.gov/regionmetrics.