SPRINGFIELD – With the state of Illinois launching multiple health care staffing contracts to increase hospital staffing, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is adjusting its mitigation metrics to reflect the additional staff. With the change, Regions 8, 9, 10, and 11 will move from the most restrictive Tier 3 to Tier 2.
In addition, on Monday, Region 1 and 6 have met the metrics to move to Tier 1, and Regions 3 and 5 have met the metrics to return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.
Region 1: Northern Illinois (Jo Davies, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, Dekalb, Carrol, Ogle, Whiteside, Lee and Crawford.)
Hospital leaders and local health departments have communicated to IDPH that their primary capacity challenge is the need for additional staffing and stressed that state-facilitated staffing contracts will be critical in addressing this challenge. With this surge staffing program, IDPH and hospital leaders feel confident that metrics can safely move away from utilizing medical/surgical bed limits to move across mitigation tiers, allowing more regions to advance. The adjustment also recognizes the substantial progress the state has made since November 20, 2020 when Tier 3 mitigations were put in place.
“Hospital leaders have made clear the importance of staffing in their continued response to this pandemic and conveyed that staffing contracts will be extraordinarily valuable in their ability to meet the needs of their communities,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are pleased to see most of our regions move out of Tier 3 mitigations with this change, and it is critical that we maintain this progress. With new variants of COVID-19 spreading, it is more important than ever to follow the public health guidance that keeps people safe – wear and mask and watch your distance.”
To address capacity issues reported by Illinois hospitals, IDPH, in partnership with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) and the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), has launched a surge staffing program. The program leverages the state’s larger contracting power to engage multiple staffing vendors and create access to a talent pool at greater scale than any individual hospital could achieve. Hospitals with rooms available to increase capacity but lacking the personnel to staff their beds may partner with the state to procure the staff they need.
Hospital leaders have conveyed that due to the progress the state has made as well as the volatility in medical/surgical capacity this time of year, the state’s remaining metrics will appropriately monitor capacity and spread. While IDPH is working to allow regions greater flexibility in lifting the most stringent mitigations, public health officials will continue to carefully monitor hospital needs and test positivity in order to maintain the state’s progress.
This is particularly critical as new variants circulate. Early studies for the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7, which was first identified in the United Kingdom, have shown the variant may spread more rapidly and easily than what we have seen previously. Experts are predicting another possible surge due to this new variant in the next several months. Because of this, it is vital for people to remain vigilant and continue to wear their masks, keep 6-feet of distance, avoid large gatherings, and get vaccinated when they are eligible.
Tier 1 Mitigations
Bars and restaurants
• All bars and restaurants close at 11pm and may reopen no earlier than 6am the following day
• Indoor service limited to the lesser of 25 guests or 25% capacity per room
• Establishments offering indoor service must serve food
• Indoor service reservations limited to 2-hour maximum duration and maximum 4 persons per party (dining only with members of the same household recommended)
• All bar and restaurant patrons should be seated at tables
• No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)
• Tables should be 6 feet apart
• No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting
• No dancing or standing indoors
• Reservations required for each party
• No seating of multiple parties at one table
• Includes private clubs and country clubs
Meetings, events and gatherings
(excluding in- person school or sports)
• Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25% of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors
• Applicable to professional, cultural and social group gatherings.
• Not applicable to students participating in-person classroom learning, or sports.
• This does not reduce the overall facility capacity dictated by general Phase 4 business guidance such as office, personal care, retail, etc.
• No party buses
Organized group recreational activities (fitness centers, sports, etc.)
• Sports should follow the mitigation measures set forth in the All Sport Guidelines, which outlines appropriate levels of practice and competition based on individual sport risk
• Face coverings must be worn at all times in fitness centers, including while engaged in individual exercise regardless of person or machine spacing
• Recreation, fitness centers and outdoor activities (not included in the above exposure settings) follow Phase 4 guidance