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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The COVID-19 positivity rate for the North Central Region dropped by half a percentage point on Thursday, reaching 6.7% as 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.

Cases in the region, which include La Salle, Bureau, Lee, Whiteside and DeKalb counties, among others, have dropped 2.4% over the last 14 days. The monthly percent change in hospital admission numbers changed slightly to 36.8% on Thursday from 33.8% on Wednesday.

Medical and surgical bed availability is at 40.2% after being at 40.9% on Wednesday. ICU bed availability was at 42% Thursday after being at 43.5% Wednesday, while ventilator availability went from 61.1% on Wednesday to 60.3% on Thursday.

The region, must stay below 20% positivity 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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Coronavirus