(WAND) - Gov. JB Pritzker is moving all of Illinois to Tier 3 COVID-19 mitigations on Friday.
Last week, Pritzker warned a statewide stay-at-home order could be issued if COVID-19 metrics did not turn around. In the Tuesday announcement, the governor said this move to Tier 3 is not a stay-at-home order.
This tier means elective surgeries could be suspended, gathering sizes could be restricted again, recreational spaces like gyms could be forced to close, salon and personal care services may be suspended, and nonessential retailers may be forced to close. The following settings and industries are affected by Tier 3:
- Personal Car Services
- Health and Fitness Centers
- Bars and Restaurants
- Meetings and Social Events
- Organized Group Recreational Activities
- Indoor Recreation, Theater, Cultural Institutions
"As they have since the start of COVID-19, grocery stores across the state will remain open and available," a press release from the governor's office said. "Child care facilities may continue to operate subject to guidelines from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. School districts and officials should continue to follow the extensive guidance released by the Illinois State Board of Education in August to make decisions related to in-person and remote learning at the local level."
The governor's office said the goal of Tier 3 mitigations is to limit gatherings and encourage people to stay home as much as possible and follow proper safety measures, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing when out in public.
"The mitigations carefully balance the paramount goal of saving lives while preserving the option for in-person learning for children and protecting as much of the economy as possible from the continued impacts of the virus," the release said.
COVID-19 spread has become exponential in every region, the press release said. Statewide positivity rates are at record highs and hospitalizations are already surpassing the Illinois Spring peak. As a result, officials said additional restrictions that are more stringent and statewide are needed to combat the COVID-19 surge and preserve hospital capacity.
Pritzker said if things don't change in the coming days, the point will be reached where some form of a mandatory stay-at-home order "is all that will be left." He said he does not want this to happen, but "right now that seems to be where we are heading."
Full Tier 3 mitigations are attached to this story in a PDF document. The mitigations take effect across Illinois at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
“To stop this spread and preserve some semblance of the holidays, all of us need to do more than just wear our masks now – though masks are mandatory throughout the state. The simple fact is that COVID-19 is spreading so quickly and so widely, and our hospitals are beginning to experience real strain and at the current infection rate they will be overwhelmed. So whenever possible, we need you to stay home,” said Pritzker. “I’m hopeful that by limiting our in-person interactions, we will succeed at avoiding a stay at home order like what we had in the spring – when the choice between saving lives and saving livelihoods was even more stark. Tier 3 may allow us to do both. Like in other states like Michigan and California and Washington, it’s our best effort to avoid a stay-at-home order and save lives.”
State health officials have already issued guidance recommending all residents "stay home as much as possible, leaving only for necessary and essential activities, such as work that must be performed outside the home, COVID-19 testing, visiting the pharmacy, and buying groceries."
IDPH also recommended everyone work with employers to work from home unless necessary to be in the workplace.
Stay-at-home advisories took effect Monday morning in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
All 11 regions in the state are currently under some form of enhanced mitigations, including the closure of indoor dining and bar service.
Most of Illinois is under Tier 1 restrictions Tuesday. Several counties are under Tier 2, which increased limitations on gathering sizes and table sizes at bars and restaurants for outdoor dining.
As of Monday, Illinois was averaging more than 5,200 coronavirus patients in state hospitals, a number that is 400 more individuals than the spring high, and a 70 percent increase in the last two weeks alone, NBC Chicago reported.
"If we wait to take action until our hospitals are full, it will be too late, and countless patients – COVID patients as well as those with all the other ailments and injuries that bring people to the hospital – will die unnecessary deaths because there aren’t enough beds or people to staff them," Pritzker said Monday. "So we are keeping in close touch with hospitals on an individual, system-level and region-level basis to monitor who is at risk of running out of staff or ICU beds in the next three weeks. But I want to be clear. We can’t create new staff for a hospital that’s filled to the brim. We can’t staff more ICU beds if a hospital’s personnel get sick outside of work because people in their communities refuse to wear a mask or follow any of the mitigation rules."
The public may have questions about when Tier 3 mitigations could be reversed. The governor's office said the Illinois Department of Public Health will continue tracking positivity rates and hospital capacity metrics in each region in 14-day monitoring periods to see if mitigations can be relaxed, if more mitigations are needed or if they should stay the same.
"In order for a region to move back to Tier 2 mitigations, a region must experience less than 7-day 12 percent test positivity average for three consecutive days AND greater than 20 percent available intensive care unit (ICU) and hospital bed availability for three consecutive days AND declining 7-day COVID hospitalizations average in 7 out of the last 10 days," the release said.
People can follow the latest regional metrics by clicking here.