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Coronavirus In Illinois: Entire State Now In Phase 4 Of Reopening Plan; Infection Rate, Hospitalizations Continue Downward Trend

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois continues to see improvements in key COVID-19 metrics, as the state's average case positivity rate and virus hospitalizations dropped to levels not seen since the start of the fall surge in October, and the last region of the state still under tighter mitigations was allowed to resume limited indoor service at restaurants and bars.

The Illinois Department of Public Health on Thursday reported 3,328 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases, as well as 69 more deaths.

Since the start of the pandemic, the state has reported a total of 1,137,559 cases, including 19,444 deaths.

The state's 7-day average case positivity rate is down to 3.4%, the lowest it's been since Oct. 6. The state's average infection rate was more than double that a month ago.

As of Wednesday night, 2,341 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, including 513 patients in the ICU and 265 on ventilators. That's the fewest statewide coronavirus hospitalizations since Oct. 20, and less than half of the peak of 6,175 patients on Nov. 20.

Illinois also reported the second most daily COVID vaccinations on Wednesday, with 62,318 doses administered statewide. Illinois has received a total of 2,125,650 doses of coronavirus vaccines so far and has administered 1,156,453 doses as of Wednesday night.

Meantime, Region 4 (seven counties in the Metro East area near St. Louis) became the last region of the state to lift a ban on indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars, which had been in place for months due to the fall surge of the pandemic.

Region 4 moved from Tier 2 mitigations all the way back to Phase 4 of the state's reopening plan on Thursday after getting its hospital ICU bed capacity above 20% for three days in a row.

Under Phase 4, bars and restaurants can seat up to 10 people per table indoors, as long as tables are spaced at least six feet apart, and booths that are closer than six feet from each other have impermeable barriers separating them. Standing areas are limited to 25% capacity.

The state's limits on when bars and restaurants may be open also are lifted in Phase 4, although those businesses are still subject to local rules regarding hours of operation.

In addition, retail stores and personal care services such as barber shops and salons are allowed to operate at 50% of normal capacity.

Indoor recreation facilities such a bowling alleys and skating rinks may reopen at 50% capacity. Museums remain limited to 25% capacity, with guided tours limited to 50 people or fewer per group.

Meetings and other social events are limited to 50 people or 50% of room capacity, whichever is less.

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