Note: Pritzker’s news conference can be watched live in the video player above beginning at around 1:30 p.m.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to give an update on the state’s COVID-19 response on Thursday.
Pritzker will be joined by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike and other health care providers to give the update at 1:30 p.m. from the Thompson Center in Chicago, according to his public schedule. The news conference can be watched live in the video player above.
It was not immediately clear what the update may entail. It comes days after Illinois officials announced that the state is on track to enter Phase 5 of its reopening plan – which would mark a full reopening – in July.
Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of its reopening plan and must first enter what’s known as the Bridge Phase, a transitional period before the final Phase 5, which would see all sectors of the economy fully reopened and no capacity limits.
Pritzker said Monday that the state could move to the Bridge Phase potentially as early as next week.
“If you look at all the hospital admissions data, it looks like we’re in decent shape and moving toward the Bridge Phase,” he said. “I believe that it may be next week.”
Pritzker’s office said in a statement the following day that as “metrics continue to stabilize and decline, the state could soon move into the ‘Bridge Phase’ of the Restore Illinois Reopening Plan.”
“Following a 28-day period of continued stability or decline in key COVID-19 metrics, the state would then move into Phase 5, with all capacity limits lifted. The State is on track to be in Phase 5 in July.” Pritzker said.
Before Phase 5, the transitional Bridge Phase will allow for higher capacity limits at places like museums, zoos and spectator events as well as increased business operations during a transitional period between the current guidelines and a full reopening.
For a full look at what changes between Phase 4, the Bridge Phase and Phase 5, click here.
In order for Illinois to advance to the Bridge Phase, the entire state must reach a 70% first-dose vaccination rate for residents 65 and older, in addition to maintain the current required metrics of at least 20% ICU beds availability and holding steady on hospitalizations for COVID-19 or COVID-like illnesses, mortality rates and case rates over a 28-day monitoring period.
Officials said Tuesday that the state has vaccinated 55% of individuals 16 years and older and 79% of residents ages 65 and older – both well above the threshold to advance.
While the state has reached the vaccination metrics required to move from Phase 4 to the Bridge Phase, increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have prevented the state from moving into the new phase in recent weeks.
Previously under more strict guidelines than the rest of the state, Chicago officials announced last week that the city would join the rest of Illinois in moving to the Bridge Phase if it meets the metrics. Illinois officials said Tuesday that since that announcement, the COVID-19 test positivity has continued to drop and is now under 5%.
“The trends are encouraging, but we must be cautious as we move forward,” Ezike said in a statement Tuesday. “As more venues reopen, it is critical that we increase the number of people who are vaccinated. Immunity is how we stop transmission of this virus, but we need greater community immunity and that requires as many of us as possible getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”