Gov. Pritzker announces tougher restrictions on bar, restaurant capacity for Region 1

Pritzker said the mitigations being ordered by the state are “our best tools to find our way through to the other side.”
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 3:12 PM CDT
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Coronavirus cases continue to surge in Illinois, which saw a record number of new cases for the third time in eight days. The number of people hospitalized from COVID-19 also continues to grow.

Pritzker said Region 1′s positivity rate has only continued to climb since the added mitigations went into effect earlier this month, rising to 11.9% as of Thursday. As a result, another round of tougher restrictions will begin Sunday, including a 10-person limit on public gatherings, down from 25, and a cap of 6 people per table at bars and restaurants, down from 10.

Pritzker said the mitigations being ordered by the state are “our best tools to find our way through to the other side.” The governor said the restrictions aim to cut down on high-risk activities until positivity rates can be brought back down.

“We want to restore as much normalcy to people’s lives as possible, but that can only happen when we can slow down the community spread and keep it there,” he said.

Meantime, tougher virus restrictions begin in Region 5 in southern Illinois on Thursday, and Gov. JB Pritzker said even tougher mitigations will be imposed in Region 1 in northwestern Illinois, which has seen cases continue to climb even after more limits were put in place nearly three weeks ago.

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 4,942 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as well as 44 additional deaths. While the state reported 5,368 new cases of COVID-19 on Sept. 4, that total included cases from several previous days, after the state cleared a backlog of cases caused by a slowdown in the public reporting of results.

IDPH also reported record daily case counts twice last week, with 4,015 new cases on Oct. 15 and 4,554 new cases on Oct. 16.

Indiana also set yet another grim record on Thursday, reporting the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases ever with 2,880 new cases; and the highest number of deaths since April with 42 confirmed deaths, state health officials said.

The new Illinois cases announced Thursday account for 6.1% of the 80,977 new tests reported by IDPH. The statewide seven-day average positivity rate remains at 5.7%, the highest it’s been since June 5, when the rate was 6%.

On Thursday, increased COVID mitigations began in Region 5 in southern Illinois (Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, and Williamson counties). The increased restrictions mean bars and restaurants must halt indoor service; reservations are required for each party at restaurants and bars; party buses must shut down; restaurants, bars, casinos, and other gaming facilities must close at 11 p.m.; and capacity limits for public gatherings are reduced to the lesser of 25 people or 25% of overall room capacity.

“These mitigations are not fun for anyone, but they’re meant to protect people, support our healthcare workers, and save lives. Just like stop lights and seat belts make our roads safer for everyone, or banning smoking from airplanes and restaurants, when science demonstrated the harms of second-hand smoke,” Pritzker said at his daily coronavirus briefing. “So many times throughout our lives, we are met with challenges, and from seat belts to signage we find ways to manage and to overcome them.”

The same extra mitigations will go into effect on Friday for Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties) and Region 8 (DuPage and Kane counties).

Region 1 in northwest Illinois has been under increased mitigations since Oct 3.

The tougher restrictions from IDPH are triggered when a region’s average positivity rate surpasses 8% for three days in a row, and can be lifted if that positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% for at least three days in a row. However, if a region’s positivity rate stays at or above 8% for 14 days or longer, the state could impose even more stringent COVID rules.

The governor also warned that Region 4, the Metro East area, could soon see added mitigations for the second time, after spending more than a month with extra restrictions in September and early October. Those restrictions were lifted on Oct. 8, after Metro East’s positivity rate dropped to 5.8%.

“Here in Region 4 things have moved once again in a concerning direction,” Pritzker said.

The Metro East area’s positivity rate has ticked up from 5.8% to 7.8% in the past two weeks, according to the governor.

“In other words, Metro East, it’s time to step up and mask up. The work is not yet over. Nobody wants to go back to tightened and heightened mitigations,” he said.

IDPH has now reported a total of 360,159 coronavirus cases, including 9,387 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Illinois also has reported a total of more than 7 million tests.

As of Wednesday night, there were 2,463 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Illinois, the most hospitalizations since June 8, when there were 2,600 virus patients being treated in Illinois hospitals.

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