Lake-McHenry COVID-19 Restrictions Due To Lack Of Empty Beds

Jonah Meadows
·10 min read

WAUKEGAN, IL — Coronavirus positivity rates are falling across every region of Illinois. The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 is also declining.

But when Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that the 11 COVID-19 resurgence mitigation regions his administration announced would — for the first time in six weeks — be eligible for a reduction in Tier 3 restrictions, only three regions qualified.

Why? For smaller regions, where fewer people are hospitalized, the average number of people hospitalized was not falling fast enough. For larger regions, where there are far more hospital beds, a lack of staffed and empty beds outside of intensive care units was the deciding factor.

In Region 9, which is composed of Lake and McHenry counties in the governor's Restore Illinois plan, the positivity rate fell by 1 percentage point to 9.5 percent for the week ending Tuesday. The number of people hospitalized fell by nearly 10 percent during the week ending Thursday. And the availability of beds in the two-county region's ICUs was nearly 25 percent.

But a lack of empty, staffed surgical beds prevented Region 9 from being eligible to move from Tier 3 to Tier 2 mitigations.

What does it take to move between tiers?

To move to Tier 2, a region needs to keep the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 test positivity below 12 percent for three days in a row, keep the seven-day average of the number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals declining for seven out of the previous 10 day and keep three-day rolling average percentage of available staffed surgical and intensive care unit beds both above 20 percent for three days in a row.

Tier 2 allows for the return of indoor fitness classes, reopening of cultural institutions, gatherings of up to 10 people group, recreational activities with up to 25 people and lower-risk youth sports.

To move to Tier 1, a region needs the rolling average of test positivity to fall below 8 percent for three days, as well as no "sustained increase" in coronavirus patients for seven out of 10 days. The hospital bed requirement remains the same.

Pritzker announced changes to Tier 1. Limited indoor dining at bars and restaurants that serve food will no longer be forbidden in the tier, the governor said.

And to move back to Phase 4, the level of restrictions the state was under during the summer of 2020, a region must have three days of 6.5 percent positivity or below. The hospital bed and hospitalization requirements remain the same.

RELATED: Coronavirus Restrictions Loosened In 3 Illinois Regions

What is the actual rate of new cases?

The number of new cases is not a factor in the metrics Pritzker's administration has decided will determine which businesses he will allow to open and which activities will be permitted.

However, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all incorporate per capita COVID-19 incidence rates to determine the level of community transmission of the coronavirus.

Less than 50 new cases per week per 100,000 people is considered minimal community transmission, according to guidance provided to local school districts by state public health officials. Above 100 cases per week per 100,000 — equivalent to fewer than 15 new cases per day — is considered "substantial community transmission."

But Illinois reported about 50 new cases per 100,000 people — per day — as of Friday. That's 350 new cases per 100,000, per week.

Coronavirus incidence rates in Illinois counties ranged from a low of just under 25 daily new cases per 100,000 people in Warren, Fulton, Bureau and Putnam counties in Central Illinois to above 100 daily new cases per 100,000 people in Montgomery, Hardin, Brown, Perry and Hamilton counties in Southern Illinois.

Daily per capita case counts in Chicago area counties ranged from just under 40 in Lake County to 46.5 in Will County.

Also Friday, public health officials announced the discovery of the B.1.1.7 lineage in Illinois, a new strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. First detected in the United Kingdom, where it had become the dominant strain, the variant is believed to be more contagious. It was detected in a randomly selected COVID-19 positive test collected in December in Chicago.

Positivity data through Tuesday and hospitalization averages through Thursday were released Friday. Find the latest metrics from all regions below:

Region 1 (Rockford EMS region)

  • Positivity: 8.1 percent on Jan. 12, down from 10.4 percent a week earlier

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 148 on Jan. 14 down from 170 the prior week, declining on seven of the previous 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 23.6 percent for surgical beds and 22.3 percent for ICU beds on Jan. 14, making the region eligible to move to Tier 2. The northwestern Illinois region was one of three to move from Tier 3 to Tier 2 mitigations on Jan. 15.

Region 2 (Peoria EMS region)

  • Positivity: 7.9 percent on Jan. 12, down from 9.6 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 263 on Jan. 14, down from 305 a week earlier and falling on nine of the past 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 24.7 percent for surgical beds and 22.7 percent for ICU beds. Both have remained above the 20 percent threshold for at least 10 consecutive days. The region remained eligible for reduced restrictions for the second week in a row and was one of three to move to Tier 2 on Jan. 15.

Region 3 (Springfield EMS region)

  • Positivity: 6.5 percent on Jan. 12, down from 8.3 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 188 on Jan. 14, down from 198 a week earlier. The average fell on seven of the previous 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 19.2 percent for surgical beds and 20.5 percent for ICU beds. With average surgical bed availability falling below the 20 percent threshold on Jan. 14, the region is ineligible for reduced restrictions.

Region 4 (Edwardsville EMS region)

  • Positivity: 9.9 percent on Jan. 12, down from 13.5 percent the prior week.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 185 on Jan. 14, down from 187 a week earlier but increasing on five of the prior 10 days, making the region ineligible for reduced restrictions.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 13 percent for surgical beds and 15.9 percent for ICU beds. Surgical bed availability has remained below the 20 percent threshold for 11 consecutive days, while average ICU bed availability has been below the threshold for nine days in a row.

Region 5 (Marion EMS region)

  • Positivity: 7.2 percent on Jan. 12, down from 11.4 percent a week earlier and remaining below the 12-percent threshold for the past 11 consecutive days.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 97 on Jan. 14, down from 124 a week earlier. It fell on eight of the previous 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 31.9 percent for surgical beds and 23.6 percent for ICU beds, with ICU bed availability above the 20 percent threshold for the past four days and surgical beds above the mark for the past 11 days, making the region, making the region eligible for a reduction in Tier 3 restrictions. It was one of three regions that shifted to Tier 2 on Jan. 15.

Region 6 (Champaign EMS region)

  • Positivity: 7.9 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 9.5 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 181 on Jan. 14, down from 191 a week earlier. But the rolling average only fell on six of the previous 10 days, making the region ineligible for reduced restrictions.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 21.4 percent for surgical beds and 31.9 percent for ICU beds, with surgical beds above the 20 percent threshold for the past five days and ICU beds above it for 11 consecutive days.

Region 7 (Will, Kankakee counties)

  • Positivity: 9.7 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 11.6 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 148 on Jan. 14, down from 153 a week earlier. But the rolling average fell only six of the previous 10 days, making the region ineligible for reduced restrictions.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 23.2 percent for surgical beds and 25.7 percent for ICU beds. Both have ben ablve the 20 percent threshold for 11 consecutive days.

Region 8 (Kane, DuPage counties)

  • Positivity: 9.8 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 10.5 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 368 on Jan. 14, down from 407 a week earlier. The average fell on nine of the past 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 24.7 percent for ICU beds but only 16.7 percent for surgical beds. Surgical bed availability has remained below the key threshold for two days in a row, making the region ineligible for a reduction in Tier 3 restrictions.

Region 9 (Lake, McHenry counties)

  • Positivity: 9.5 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 10.5 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 242 on Jan. 14, down from 268 in the prior week. It fell on seven of the previous 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 16.6 percent for surgical beds and 24.7 percent for ICU beds. With surgical bed availability of below the key threshold, the area is ineligible for a reduction in Tier 3 restrictions.

Region 10 (Suburban Cook County)

  • Positivity: 9.3 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 10.6 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the region's hospitals was 935 on Jan. 14, down from 1,015 a week earlier. The rounded rolling average fell on each of the past 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 17.4 percent for surgical beds and 21.2 percent for ICU beds. With surgical bed availability below the 20 percent threshold for 10 days in a row, the region is ineligible for reduced restrictions.

Region 11 (Chicago)

  • Positivity: 9.5 percent positivity on Jan. 12, down from 10.6 percent a week earlier.

  • Hospitalizations: The seven-day rolling average number of COVID-19 patients in the city's hospitals was 788 on Jan. 14, down from 855 a week earlier and falling on each of the prior 10 days.

  • Bed Availability: The three-day rolling average availability was 15.8 percent for surgical beds and 25.2 percent for ICU beds. Surgical bed availability has been below the 20 percent threshold for nine days in a row, making the city ineligible for reduced restrictions.

This article originally appeared on the Highland Park Patch