The state’s current stay at home order represents progress in the effort to resume normalcy, Gov. JB Pritzker has said.


What happens next depends on how well the COVID-19 virus is held in check in central Illinois for the rest of May.


Under Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan, Springfield and Sangamon County is part of the central region of the state for purposes of deciding what can reopen and when. There are 37 counties in that region stretching from the Indiana border to the Mississippi River.


That region, like all of Illinois, is now considered to be in Phase 2 of the five phase plan. Under the plan, that means the spread of the virus is considered “flattening.” That’s an improvement over the initial stage of the virus which was considered “rapid spread.”


The next several weeks will be critical in determining if the central region can move on to the next phase, which the plan calls “recovery.” In order to move on, the region must show no more than a 20 percent positivity rate on COVID-19 tests conducted in the region. They must also not increase by more than 10 percentage points.


Along with that, there can be no overall increase in hospital admissions for COVID-19 for 28 days and at least 14 percent of intensive care unit beds, medical and surgical beds and ventilators must be available in case there is a surge.


Testing must be available for all patients, health care workers, first responders, people with underlying conditions and residents and staff in congregate living facilities. Finally, the region has to begin contact tracing to track people who have been in contact with coronavirus patients.


If a region can meet all of those criteria some additional restriction will be removed. People will still have to wear facing coverings in places where social distancing can’t be maintained. However, manufacturing, offices, retail, barbershops can reopen, as long as capacity limits and other safety precautions are observed.


If additional progress if made for another 28 days, additional restrictions can be removed, including allowing larger gatherings and allowing restaurants and bars to reopen.


But what can go forward can also go in reverse. A sustained rise in cases or hospital admissions for COVID-19-like illnesses, reduced hospital capacity to handle a surge or a significant outbreak that threatens the health of a region can result in tighter restrictions being put back in place.


The newness of the plan has local authorities continuing to review it to absorb its details, said Sangamon County spokesman Jeff Wilhite.


“The plan released by the state places Sangamon County in the Central Illinois Region, an area in which more than 30 counties together must meet specific requirements to move to the next phase of recovery,” he said in a statement. “Incident Command is looking forward to additional details.”


He said Incident Command “continues to review the phases and guidelines released today and look for the best way to move forward and reopen.”


“We want to reiterate that any plans to reopen will be done by a unified countywide approach,” he said. “Incident Command already has representatives from public health, emergency management, fire, law enforcement, hospitals and other health providers and physicians with expertise in infectious disease.”


The group is also getting input from local government officials, educators, retailers, restaurateurs, the Chamber of Commerce and others about the health and economic impacts of reopening.


Contact Doug Finke: doug.finke@sj-r.com, 788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr