Pritzker: Northwest Ill. nearing threshold for additional COVID-19 restrictions

The warning from Pritzker came as IDPH announced 1,848 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as well as 22 additional deaths.
Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 2:18 PM CDT
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CHICAGO (CBS) — While most of Illinois is seeing declines in COVID-19 cases, Gov. JB Pritzker on Wednesday warned that Region 1 in the northwestern part of the state has seen cases climb “at a concerning rate” in recent weeks, and is nearing the point the state might have to impose tougher mitigations, such as forcing bars and restaurants to stop serving customers indoors.

Region 1 — which includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, and Winnebago counties — has seen its seven-day average positivity rate climb from 5.7% in early September to 7.5% as of Wednesday, according to Pritzker and data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

If that region surpasses an average of 8% positivity for three days in a row, Pritzker said the state would require additional restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, as it did this summer in Region 4 (the Metro East area) and Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties).

“To area residents in Region 1, please wear your masks, encourage others to wear masks, watch your distance, wash your hands, and get your flu shot now to make sure that if you get COVID-19, it won’t be much worse than it otherwise could be,” Pritzker said.

Added restrictions that could be imposed in Region 1 include requiring bars and restaurants not to serve customers indoors, closing bars and restaurants at 11 p.m., further limiting public gatherings, and more.

Region 7 recently had those added mitigations removed, after getting its average positivity rate under 6.5% for three days in a row, and Pritzker said Region 4 has been able to get its positivity rate down to 7.3% and may be able to soon get down under the 6.5% threshold to return to Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan.

The warning from Pritzker came as IDPH announced 1,848 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Wednesday, as well as 22 additional deaths.

Those new cases account for nearly 4% of the 46,391 tests performed in the past 24 hours. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate stands at 3.5%, the lowest it has been since July 24.

Pritzker said Illinois is now averaging more than 52,000 tests per day, among the top states in the U.S. Illinois also was one of first states to surpass 5 million tests.

“At this point, we are by far the best testing state in the Midwest, and the best testing state between the two coasts,” Pritzker said.

Since the start of the pandemic, Illinois has reported a total of 279,114 cases of COVID-19, including 8,508 deaths.

“Some people have become a bit numb to the numbers, but I want to remind people that COVID-19 can have severe consequences,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

As of Tuesday night, 1,563 people in Illinois were hospitalized for COVID-19, including 351 patients in intensive care, and 144 on ventilators. The state’s coronavirus hospitalization figures have been relatively flat since late June, even as overall cases were steadily rising for most of July and August.

So far, the vast majority of COVID-19 patients have recovered from the disease, with a 96% statewide recovery rate as of Wednesday. The state’s recovery rate calculates the number of people who have tested positive for the virus, and have survived at least 42 days after their test.

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