While state health officials announced 20 more COVID-19 related deaths and an additional 6,222 new cases of the disease Monday, some areas of the state are bracing for the potential of even tighter restrictions.
Two suburban regions already under COVID-19 mitigation restrictions could see additional restrictions imposed by the end of the week.
Test positivity rates and hospital admissions in DuPage and Kane counties’ Region 8, as well as Will and Kankakee counties’ Region 7, have continued to rise exponentially even after business operation and gathering size restrictions were put in place Oct. 23. Restrictions include a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants, and limits of social gatherings to 25 people or 25% of a facility’s capacity.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mitigation plans calls for increased restrictions, called Tier 2, if rates of positive COVID-19 test results and hospital admissions don’t decline after two weeks of Tier 1 restrictions in those regions. The two regions will have been under mitigation efforts for two weeks on Friday.
If imposed, the next tier of restrictions would mean outdoor seating at bars and restaurants would be limited to six people per group. Social gatherings would be limited to 10 people for indoor and outdoor events. Sporting and recreational events would see limits on group and spectator sizes.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said the only way regions can avoid further restrictions is to maintain social distance, wear masks, wash hands and limit interactions with others to drive down caseloads.
“Every day counts and is critical in getting Illinois back on track and away from the mitigations we’re under now,” she said Monday.
IDPH officials reported that neither suburban region has seen positivity rates decline since the mitigation restrictions were put in place. The seven-day average test positivity rate in DuPage and Kane’s Region 8 is at 11.1%, up from 9.5% when the restrictions were imposed. In Region 7, the positivity rate stands at 12.4%, more than three percentage points higher than when the restrictions were put in place.
By Thursday, all of Illinois will be under some type of restriction.
Currently, only Region 1, which is composed of nine counties in the northwest corner of the state, is under Tier 2 restrictions.
The region was originally placed on Tier 1 mitigation restriction in late September. Pritzker could have imposed Tier 2 two weeks later, but he waited more than three weeks from the original restrictions to do that. Despite the increased mitigation efforts in those counties, the combined average positivity rate there has increased to 14.6%, the highest of any region in the state.
“Of course we have Tier 3 mitigations or other things we could do,” Pritzker said, adding that he had no plans to move the entire state back to measures used in the spring.
“We’re not looking at a stay-at-home order,” he said. “But that’s obviously something that lurks in the background if we don’t believe the tiered mitigations are effective.”
Region 10, which is suburban Cook County, and Region 9 with Lake and McHenry counties could also be placed on Tier 2 restrictions sometime next week if positivity rate and hospitalization trends continue upward.
Illinois has seen a record-breaking number of new cases multiple days during the past week, along with growing deaths and hospitalizations from the virus.
The state’s death toll from the respiratory disease stands at 9,810, while 423,502 residents have been infected since the outbreak began.
Today’s new cases come from a batch of 68,118 test results, meaning 9.1% of all the tests resulted in a new case of the virus being diagnosed. It’s been exactly five months since that metric reached this level.
The statewide seven-day average infection rate is at 8.1%, the highest since late May.
Hospitalizations increased yet again. Statewide, hospitals added another 77 COVID-19 patients by the end of Sunday, with 3,371 people now admitted for treatment of the virus. Of those hospitalized, 722 were treated in intensive care.
Statewide, COVID-19 hospitalizations are up 28% from a week ago, and COVID-19 patients in ICUs are up 22% from the week before.