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Governor Unveils Plan To Open Up The State, With Caveats

Governor J.B. Pritzker unveils a regional plan for businesses to reopen.
Governor J.B. Pritzker unveils a regional plan for businesses to reopen.
Governor J.B. Pritzker unveils a regional plan for businesses to reopen.
Governor J.B. Pritzker unveils a regional plan for businesses to reopen.

On the same day the state announced a record number of COVID-19 deaths, Governor J.B.Pritzker released a five part regional plan,which would allow parts of the state to open up to more activity in the coming weeks and months.

The governor’s office announced 176 people died as a result of COVID-19 infections. Deaths, however, do not play into the governor’s plan, which show the Governor has been listening to legislative and public calls not to treat all areas of the state with the same type of restrictions.

Called Restore Illinois, the governor divides up the state into four areas:  Northeastern Illinois, Northern Illinois, Central Illinois and Southern Illinois.    The Illinois Department of Public Health will keep tabs on infection rates and other matters in each region.  If a section of the state goes a month with improvements or holding steady, residents can move to the next phase.

There are five phases. The entire state is at level two right now.   That level is the Governor’s current Executive Order which eased portions of April’s stay-at-home order.  The May 1 decree allows more businesses to operate. Face masks are required for indoor usage in public places.

If a certain region meets the state metrics for 28 days, it could see restrictions eased on May 29.  At that point, the plan would allow for businesses such as barbershops and salons to reopen along with non-essential manufacturing.

“Face coverings would be the norm” for upcoming phases, Pritzker noted.

Should a region go another four weeks with better health outcomes, schools and universities will be allowed to open.

The hardest to attain would be phase five, which would allow large conventions and stadium gatherings to take place.   That phase would require development of a vaccine or greatly improved medical treatment for COVID-19. That could be a long time away, although the governor would not be pinned to any estimate of how long it would take to reach that goal.

“I won’t open the door to overwhelming our hospital system and possibly tens of thousands of additional deaths by exposing everyone to the virus today just because a loud, but tiny, minority would like to indulge in that fantasy” the governor said.

Democratic leaders praised the governor’s plan, which he worked to sell as a bi-partisan plan, utilizing suggestions from Republican lawmakers.  

The Illinois Manufacturers Association warmed to the possibility that more factories could be open within a month.

“While many manufacturers across the state have continued operating to produce needed medical products, safe and nutritious food, and equipment for our first responders, others are eager to start production and put people back to work. We appreciate Governor Pritzker’s focus on a plan that puts Illinois on a path to safely re-opening”  IMA President and CEO Mark Denzler said in a prepared statement.

Individual counties have been working on plans for reopening as well. The governor said he took the Adams County plan under advisement when formulating the Tuesday announcement.

Sangamon County’s emergency response team – known as Incident Command, which includes officials from the county and city of Springfield – has been working on a plan to reopen the county, according to a news release Tuesday night.

“As Incident Command continues to review the phases and guidelines released today, and look for the best way to move forward and reopen, we want to reiterate that any plans to reopen will be done by a unified countywide approach,” the release reads.

Copyright 2021 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.