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In Phase 4, Illinois no longer an outlier in terms of COVID-19 restrictions

A shopper wears a face mask for safety against the coronavirus as she leaves a department store in Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie, Ill., Thursday, June 18, 2020. 

(The Center Square) – Illinois is no longer an outlier in terms of the state’s government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, it’s now in the middle of the pack when it comes to measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

That’s according to an updated ranking of states based on rules such as face mask requirements and bar closures recently tabulated by consumer finance website WalletHub.

In the days before Gov. J.B. Pritzker allowed the state to enter Phase 4 of his Reopen Illinois plan, the state was one of the most restrictive in the nation, ranked 41st overall.

With the state entered Phase 4 on June 26, gyms, indoor dining, casinos, and indoor gaming were all allowed to resume with precautions.

The precipitous drop in the rankings wasn’t just due to the easing of Illinois’ restrictions. It was the result of other states adding restrictions as new hot spots emerge.

“With Illinois, the restrictions were there for so long that, health-wise, it was able to see a drop in new cases, a drop in deaths and, because of that, it does make sense to start reopening,” WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said. “At the same time, you have states like Florida and Texas that have now rolled back on their restrictions. They’re almost swapping places with Illinois.”

More restrictive states such as Illinois and California watched residents cross over state lines to enjoy the relative freedoms of states such as Wisconsin and Arizona.

Florida and Texas, which are now both reporting daily increases in COVID-19 cases, ordered different types of businesses to once again close and restrict access to certain public places. Arizona, which saw a higher case count per capita than any other state, ordered gyms and bars to again close through much of July and banned tubing, a popular summertime activity.

The COVID-19 death rate doesn’t seem to be tracking along with the severity of restrictions, according to WalletHub’s analysis. Wisconsin, for instance, has the second-lowest number of COVID-19-related restrictions, but also one of the nation’s lowest death rates.

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