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Masks already? Pritzker sets guidelines for resumption as cases of COVID-19 continue to decline

As business owners in Illinois prepare to return to full operational capacity next week, the state’s latest indicators for new cases of COVID-19 continue to show a sharp decline.

For the first time since Illinois public health officials began tracking COVID-19 infections, the daily rate of positive cases in the state is below 1%.

Of the 65,300 new test results released Friday, only 626 showed new virus infections, or 0.96%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

In the last week, the state averaged only 586 new cases a day. This is 40% less than the previous week and at the same time the lowest percentage for more than a year for this indicator.

The new data is in line with Governor JB Pritzker’s plan to fully open the business and remove many restrictions on the collection of social events on June 11.

“Thanks to the hard work of the people of the state, Illinois will soon resume life as we knew it before – a return to events, rallies and a fully open economy, with some of the safety guidelines we have adopted still in place,” Governor JB Pritzker said.

Pritzker released a series of these open guidelines on Friday. Although it still calls on unvaccinated residents to wear masks and practice social distancing, state opening policies will allow businesses to operate at full capacity, remove restrictions on the size of social gatherings and allow those who have been vaccinated to go to most places without masks.

Even after reopening, the masks must still be worn in healthcare facilities, children’s facilities, general housing, public transport and any private business that requires it, according to government guidelines.

Civil servants pointed to rapidly declining levels of positivity around the state, declining hospitalizations and a growing number of vaccinated residents.

“This pandemic has robbed us of many of our freedoms, such as going to ball games and concerts; celebrating diplomas, weddings and birthdays; going to dinner with friends; and even sharing a hug with loved ones we don’t live with,” said the director of IDPH Ngozi Language. The vaccine restores our freedoms.

IDPH officials noted on Friday that another 53,156 doses of vaccine had been administered, bringing the total number of shots fired across the country to 11,427,833 in the nearly six months since they became available.

The state reports that 51% of adults in Illinois have already been fully vaccinated, while 67% have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Illinois Department of Public Health officials announced another 15 deaths from COVID-19, as well as 626 new cases of the virus.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, 22,880 Illinois residents have died and 1,384,365 have been infected, according to IDPH.

Hospitals across the country are treating 901 patients with COVID-19, according to IDPH data. Of the 247 hospitalized, they are in intensive care.

Although not completely eradicated, public health officials said COVID-19 infection levels were low enough to justify a resumption of the situation.

“We are at a time when we are not concerned about the threat to the health care system,” said Chicago Public Health Director Alison Arvadi. “This is the time to open up when you’re in a significant downturn like this.”

The seven-day case positivity rate, which helps health officials monitor the level of infection in Illinois, is 1.3 percent – also at its lowest point ever.

The positivity of the case is the percentage of new cases diagnosed by a group of tests. A seven-day average is used to smooth out any anomalies in the daily reporting of these figures.

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