Easing of business restrictions slow as COVID-19 cases surge

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois public health officials say increasing numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are delaying the state’s reopening plans.

Some business operating restrictions were to be lifted this week under Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s bridge phase,” which precedes a full reopening.

The plan requires hospitalization to hold steady or decline over a 28-day period. Illinois Public Health officials said Tuesday hospitalizations have increased almost daily since falling to a one-year low on March 12.

Hospitalizations totaled 1,396 beds by late Monday, the most since late February. Health officials report 2,404 new COVID-19 cases, including 17 new deaths. Over the past year, more than 1.2 million Illinois residents have contracted the virus, and 21,273 have died.