Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Wednesday he’s working with business interests and health professionals in developing an incremental reopening plan for Illinois that is expected to be released later this week.

“We’re working with industry leaders, (and) we’re working with our doctors at (the Illinois Department of Public Health) as well as other experts in the state to make sure that the phased reopening is not only healthy for everybody but also good for the economy as we move it forward,” Pritzker said outside Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital in downstate Lincoln.

At a stop later in Decatur, Pritzker said the new reopening plan would balance economic interests with the need to stay ahead of new variants of the virus that spread more quickly than the strains that drove the spring and fall surges.

He said the state would have little time to react to an increase in the variants.

“Having said that,” he added, “let me be clear to everybody: I’m more optimistic today than I have ever been throughout this pandemic about where we are going and getting to the end of the pandemic.”

State health officials say 120 cases of the coronavirus variant that originated from the United Kingdom have been identified in Illinois, along with three cases of the South African variant and two of the variant that originated in Brazil.

Illinois is in the fourth of five phases in Pritzker’s original reopening plan, with the fifth phase essentially being a return to normal.

But earlier this week, a Pritzker spokeswoman said the administration is “working on a phased-in reopening.” State public health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike told a state senate committee that to get “from where we are now to phase five, (is) maybe not just an on-off switch but a dial, so there may be one more phase.”

Separately on Wednesday, state public health officials reported another 102,390 coronavirus vaccine doses were administered, bringing the statewide total to 4,283,487.

The number of residents who have been fully vaccinated — receiving both of the required shots, or Johnson and Johnson’s one shot — reached 1,605,112, or 12.6% of the total population.

An average of 102,223 vaccines were administered daily over the last seven days.

Officials on Wednesday also reported 1,655 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 17 additional fatalities. The total number of known infections in Illinois since the start of the pandemic is 1,213,765, and the statewide death toll is 20,988.

The seven-day statewide positivity rate for cases as a share of total tests is 2.2% as of Tuesday. Wednesday’s new cases resulted from a batch of 77,798 tests.

As of Tuesday night, 1,143 people in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 259 patients in intensive care units and 102 patients on ventilators.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also announced Wednesday it will now be releasing on its website the weekly number of vaccine doses allocated to the state, broken down by county, local health department, and first and second shots.

The allocation will also be reported by the type of operation receiving the vaccines, such as long-term care centers, retail pharmacies and Illinois National Guard sites. The city of Chicago receives a separate vaccine allocation and will not be included in the weekly reports.




Copyright © 2021, Chicago Tribune


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