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As of July 20, Forest Park, like all of Illinois, was in Phase 4 of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois Plan, which divided the state into four regions. But Pritzker announced last week that, in addition to the Restore Illinois plan, there is now also an Illinois plan to combat a possible resurgence. This plan breaks the state into 11 regions to combat COVID-19 in an even more pinpointed way, with three tiers of mitigation outlined to scale back on business activity in response to worsening pandemic numbers.

Forest Park is in Region 10, which encompasses suburban Cook County. The city of Chicago is in its own region now, Region 11.

This sounds like something from a sci-fi novel, but it’s real. And it’s the state’s new plan to mitigate potential worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The phases of Restore Illinois are still in effect. But in addition to those phases, there are three mitigation tiers that the state will implement if certain conditions exist in any of the 11 regions.

These triggers would cause the state to place additional restrictions on businesses in a certain region:

  • Sustained increase in virus positivity rate, along with either a sustained increase in hospital admissions or reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities; OR
  • An 8 percent or greater positivity rate over three consecutive days.

Let’s say Region 10, which includes Forest Park, had one of the above conditions. The state could then place limitations on businesses. The first line of defense for bars would be to reduce indoor dining and bar service. Next would be suspending in-person dining and bar service. Finally, only take-out service would be allowed if COVID-19-related conditions worsened in the region.

Similarly, for indoor recreational activities and gyms, the first tier of response would be reducing indoor capacity. The second tier would require suspending organized indoor and recreational activities. The third tier would involve suspending both indoor and outdoor activities.

Restrictions and tiers are supplied for salons, retail, hospitals, and all other types of businesses. See www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/21818-Actions_to_Combat_a_Resurgence_of_COVID-19.pdf for specifics.

As of July 20, Region 10 reported four days of positivity increases and only one day of hospital admissions increases.

Quarantine guidelines announced

On July 17, the Cook County Department of Public Health issued emergency travel guidance for travelers entering or returning to suburban Cook County, including Forest Park, from states with high COVID-19 rates. The guidelines instruct travelers from high-rate states to quarantine for 14 days since their last contact within the identified state.

Consistent with Chicago’s July 2 order, the guidelines apply to states with more than 15 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents per day over a seven-day rolling average. Exceptions are made for essential workers traveling for work purposes.

“We have come a long way in Cook County and Illinois and we want to keep it that way,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, Cook County Department of Public Health Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer, in a press release from the county. “It is summer and we know people want to travel, but we have to remain vigilant to keep our gains and avoid having to close places we’ve only just reopened.”

Travelers from the following states, including suburban Cook County residents returning from these states, will be directed to quarantine upon arrival:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Nevada
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah

The list of included states will be updated on the CCDPH website at www.cookcountypublichealth.org every Tuesday afternoon.