PEORIA — With a statewide plan for reopening laid out by Gov. JB Pritzker just prior to the daily COVID-19 press conference Tuesday, Peoria officials were hopeful but full of questions.
Pritzker has created a five-stage plan that utilizes medical metrics to determine when regions can begin to lift restrictions. Phase 2 began May 1, and the Tri-County Area is already achieving benchmarks that could potentially make it eligible to move into Phase 3, said Monica Hendrickson, administrator for the Peoria City/County Health Department.
Phase 3 would allow manufacturing, retail, barbershops and salons to reopen with capacity restrictions, and gatherings of 10 or more people for any reason.
"We are in those capacities. Our positivity rates are below 20%, our ICU usage is also within the parameters of those discussed by the governor’s office," she said. "We feel comfortable where we sit right now. But that’s for the Peoria specific region. I can’t speak to all of our partners across the state."
Under the governor’s plan, the state has been divided into regions that will be considered as a whole when it comes to moving through the five phases of reopening. It appears that Peoria is in the same region as Rockford, which has been harder hit during the pandemic. The thought that Peoria’s ability to reopen could be affected by Rockford was troubling to Ardis.
"(Those are) medical regions that have been established for quite some time, so they’re trying to work within existing boundaries. I get that part of it, but when you are talking about a hospital system that is that far removed from ours, and we have this much available capacity here, that worries me that we would potentially be held back until they could get caught up with us," said Ardis. "I’m not sure the governor has had that consideration yet, or if he would consider maybe making those tweaks in a situation like we might have here."
Another part of the plan that concerned Ardis was the timing. According to the governor, May 29 is the earliest any region could move into Phase 3.
"If there isn’t any flexibility given for the communities that are already there, I would be very disappointed," he said.
Civic and health leaders from Peoria County and the city submitted their plan for reopening to Pritzker on Tuesday, said Ardis, who was surprised that Pritzker came out with his plan so quickly.
The daily count of confirmed COVID-19 cases is at 175 for the Tri-County region, said Hendrickson. Peoria now has 112 cases, Tazewell has 50 and Woodford has 13. There has also been another death, a woman in her 90s with underlying health conditions. The Tri-County Area has now seen 8 deaths from COVID-19.
Leslie Renken can be reached at 686-3250 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter.com/LeslieRenken, and subscribe to her on Facebook.com/leslie.renken.