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All four health regions established by Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan entered Phase 3, “Recovery,” on Friday, while Chicago, which has more stringent standards set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is on track to do so next week. According to data compiled by ProPublica, Illinois is the first state to meet all five of the metrics the White House suggested should be required for a safe reopening.
“Safe” is a relative term. Experts at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security warn: “To be clear, reopening will increase the risk of COVID-19 spread.” Illinois residents need to understand the novel coronavirus still poses a significant threat to their health, and that maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and regularly washing their hands are still critical.
In response, Illinois PIRG Director Abe Scarr made the following statement:
Today is an important milestone for Illinois and a testament to the leadership, hard work and sacrifice for the common good by so many in our state: Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health, local leaders and public health departments, health and other frontline workers, and every Illinois resident practicing social distancing and other protective behaviors.
Because reopening more of our state increases the risk of COVID-19 spread, our elected leaders must continue to make decisions driven by the best available data and science, and be willing to reintroduce health restrictions if infections spike. Individuals must remain vigilant, rather than letting their guard down, during this time of increased risk.
We have not defeated the coronavirus, only slowed its spread. We applaud the efforts of Illinois residents and leaders, while continuing to call for a coordinated national response to the ongoing public health crisis.
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