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Gov. Pritzker says Illinois regions, including Lake and McHenry counties, may soon lift Tier 3 restrictions

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | File Photo.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced that all 11 Illinois regions, including Lake and McHenry counties, could have their Tier 3 restrictions lifted by next week if they meet the required metrics.

In mid-November, Pritzker moved all the regions to Tier 3 level, which is the strictest mitigation before a stay-at-home order, in an effort to “suppress the spread of the virus and prevent hospitals from becoming overrun” as the holidays were approaching.

Those mitigations put restrictions on grocery stores to 50% capacity, health and fitness centers to 25% capacity, and retail and personal care stores to 25% capacity.

Gaming and casinos, cultural institutions, banquet halls, and indoor fitness classes were also closed in Tier 3.

Pritzker held a COVID-19 press conference Wednesday afternoon and said that the state did not experience a post-Thanksgiving uptick in cases.

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He also said health officials are watching closely following Christmas and New Year’s to see if cases rise.

“I’m cautiously optimistic as there are some early signs indicating that some regions have made real progress and won’t reverse that progress this week or next,” he said.

“So on January 15, exactly one incubation period from New Year’s Day, any region that has met the metrics for a reduction of mitigations will be able to move out of Tier 3 of our mitigation plan,” Pritzker added.

A region can move to Tier 2 mitigations if they have a test positivity rate of less than 12% for three consecutive days. They also need to have more than 20% ICU and hospital beds available and declining COVID-19 hospitalizations in seven of the previous 10 days.

Lake and McHenry counties, which is Region 9, currently meets the threshold for being under 12% positivity rate for at least three days and for having over 20% ICU bed availability.

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However, Region 9 does not meet the threshold to move to Tier 2 mitigations because it has seen 7 consecutive days of having less than 20% hospital bed availability.

The region has also seen a slight increase in the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the past few days.

Pritzker said that Illinois has administered 207,106 vaccinations to date. He announced that the state’s next vaccination phase, 1B, will include all residents age 65 and over and frontline essential workers.

Read the full Tier 2 mitigation restrictions document here.