The North Central health region includes counties from the Iowa to Wisconsin border taking in the cities of Rockford, Peoria and Quad Cities.
The North Central health region includes counties from the Iowa to Wisconsin border taking in the cities of Rockford, Peoria and Quad Cities.

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Though the number of COVID-19 positive cases and hospital admissions rose in the North Central Region Wednesday, overall the region remains on track to enter Phase 3 next week under Gov. JB Pritzker's Restore Illinois plan according to figures released by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The positivity numbers for COVID-19 went up slightly to 7.1% from Tuesday's 7%, but the trend remains downward, as cases have dropped 2.3% over the past 14 days, according to IDPH.

Hospital admissions increased and bed and ventilator capacity decreased sightly in the North Central region Wednesday, though statewide the overall hospital admissions count is decreasing, said IDPH Director Ngozi Ezike.

The numbers, however, still meet criteria for hospital admissions due to COVID-19, as well as availability of ICU beds, hospital beds and ventilators.

Hospital admissions rose by nearly 10 percentage points Wednesday, from 44.3% to a 33.8% change in admission. Medical bed surge availability is at 40.9%, ICU bed availability is at 43.5% and ventilator availability is at 61.1%.

The region, which includes La Salle, Bureau, Lee, Whiteside and DeKalb counties, among others, must stay below 20% and not see more than a 10% increase over any 14-day period. It has met that criteria and the region is on its way to move to Phase 3, expected to begin at the end of the day May 29.

In a Wednesday announcement, Pritzker amended his Phase 3 guidelines significantly, making allowances for restaurants and bars to reopen as long as they offer outdoor seating only, with tables and chair six feet apart and off the sidewalk. Including the new changes, Phase 3 would allow for campgrounds and boating in groups of 10 or fewer, and retail, barbershops and salons, and non-essential businesses and manufacturing to reopen under guidelines.

Recreational amendments were made to Phase 3 as well Wednesday.

Foursomes and carts for golfing will also be allowed as of Wednesday, and health clubs, gym and fitness studios can implement one-on-one training or outdoor fitness courses in groups of 10 or fewer. And all state parks will reopen, along with indoor and outdoor tennis facilities.

In order to move to Phase 4, the region will have to stay at or under a 20% positivity rate and increase no more than 10% over a 14-day period; have no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illness for 28 days; maintain an available surge capacity of at least 14% of ICU beds, medical and surgical beds, and ventilators; have testing available in the region regardless of symptoms or risk factors; and be able to trace and monitor within 24 hours of diagnosis for more than 90% of cases in the region.

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