Rockford, Illinois News

Region 1 could roll back to Tier 2 COVID-19 mitigation Friday

ROCKFORD — Region 1 of the state’s COVID-19 mitigation plan could be rolled back from Tier 3 to Tier 2 by Friday.

But, Mayor Tom McNamara said it is still not official. Tier 2 also does not allow bars and restaurants to resume indoor service. The mayor says he’s trying to change that.

“I was on the phone twice today with the governor’s office, having my thoughts on it and encouraging some loosening of those mitigations,” McNamara said at a press conference Wednesday. “I think we’re moving in that direction. We’re just not ready to announce it.”

To have Tier 3 restrictions removed, Region 1 must have a less than 12-percent positivity rate for three consecutive days, more than 20-percent hospital bed availability and a decline in hospitalizations for seven of the last 10 days.

As of Wednesday, the region’s test-positivity rate dropped for a fourth straight day and stood at 8.9%. More than 26% of ICU beds are available. There is a 27-percent availability for medical and surgical beds. Hospitalizations have now seen a decrease in seven of the last 10 days.

If Region 1 gets the green light from the Illinois Department of Public Health Friday to move into Tier 2, casinos, museums, recreational venues and entertainment facilities may open with capacity limits.

“We know that it has been very slow and, at times, painfully slow,” the mayor said. “And we also recognize that we have a long way to go. However, I am pleased that we may be taking some small steps toward a broader reopening of our economy that is safe for employees, customers and citizens.”

Region 1 comprises Boone, Carrol, Crawford, DeKalb, Jo Davies, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties.

Winnebago County Public Health Administrator Dr. Sandra Martell said that while things are moving in the right direction, the pandemic isn’t quite over. Vaccinations are happening but the majority of the public could are still without shots.

“It’s a marathon not a sprint,” Martell said. “I’m with you. I wish it was a sprint and we could say, ‘In a month from now, we’ll be done and we can return to life as normal.’ But, we’re not there yet.”

It could be summer before the general public is offered a coronavirus vaccine.

Martell reported 104 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths Wednesday. There have now been been 24,505 cases in Winnebago County and 380 virus-related deaths since last March.

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