Another Illinois region joins COVID-19 mitigation list as cases rise
Another region of the state was put on COVID-19 mitigation measures Wednesday while the region covering Sangamon County got closer to also seeing mitigation measures imposed.
Region 9 that covers Lake and McHenry counties will be under mitigation measures that take effect Saturday. The region has a seven-day rolling average positivity rate of 8 percent or above which automatically triggers mitigation measures.
At the same time, Gov. JB Pritzker said Region 3, which includes Sangamon, Logan, Menard, Christian, Montgomery, Macoupin, Morgan, Scott and Cass counties among others has seen its positivity rate at 8 percent or above for two consecutive days. One more day and that region also will be under mitigations.
After the Springfield area, the next region that appears likely to face added restrictions is Region 6, the east-central portion of the state including Champaign-Urbana. Though rates within those twin cities are lower because of mandatory, widespread testing of faculty, staff and students at the University of Illinois, Pritzker has said that if the remainder of the region shows rates above 8% for three days, the entire region will see restrictions. Rates there hit 8.1% for the first time — excluding the U of I tests — on Wednesday.
Region 2, which includes Peoria and Galesburg, is on pace to be the last in the state to face tougher state restrictions — though positivity rates continue to rise. Rates reported Wednesday stood at 7.7% and had climbed from 7.1% over the past seven days.
Tier 1 mitigations, the least restrictive of the mitigation measures that can be imposed to control the spread of the virus, include a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants, an 11 p.m. closing time for those facilities and limits on crowd sizes.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 6,110 new cases of coronavirus Wednesday and 51 additional deaths. That brings the total cases to 389,095 and the death toll to 9,619.
The statewide positivity rate is 6.7 percent. There were 2,861 people hospitalized with COVID-19, including 243 in the intensive care unit. There were 243 patients on ventilators. All of those numbers have been steadily increasing.
With Wednesday’s development, eight of the state’s 11 regions were already or would be under mitigation measures by the weekend. All but one of the regions were under the least restrictive of the mitigation measures. Region 1 at the northwest part of the state was under more restrictive measures because the region’s positivity rate continued to climb.
“If we aren’t able to bring down the number of cases and the rate of transmission, not only will our economy continue to suffer, but many more people will be hospitalized and some will end up with long term health consequences and many will die,” Pritzker said.
Also Wednesday, House and Senate Republicans held news conferences criticizing Pritzker and the mitigation efforts that they said unfairly target bars and restaurants.
Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady of Bloomington said the Pritzker administration hasn’t shared the data it is using to claim that bars and restaurants are among the top locations where people have been prior to testing positive for the virus.
“We’ve asked a lot of questions, but haven’t always gotten answers,” Brady said.
He called for the Senate to convene hearings where the administration would be required to provide documentation to lawmakers showing that bars and restaurants are a problem area.
A spokesman for Senate President Don Harmon, D-Oak Park, said the senator looks forward to working with Brady.
Pritzker said data about exposures and outbreaks would be available for public viewing by early next week. He said it has taken time to collect the data from all 97 health departments in the state and prepare it for release.
Pritzker also said he’s not changing any of the mitigation measures.
“As far as I’m concerned, the mitigations we’ve been putting in place in regions have been working and we intend to stick with them,” he said.
Contact Doug Finke: firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-788-1527, twitter.com/dougfinkesjr