Governor, IDPH on COVID-19 in IL: ‘The state is going in the wrong direction’

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MURPHYSBORO, Ill. (WCIA) — The surge of coronavirus cases across the state means that there will be a surge in updates from Gov. JB Pritzker, as well. On Monday, Pritzker said that he will return to daily COVID-19 briefings as the virus situation worsens across the state.

“While we continue to see a safer pandemic landscape than back in April and May in terms of positivity, hospital capacity and community spread… things have changed,” he said. “Every region of the state has started to move in the wrong direction.”

Over the past week, nearly every region in the state has seen an increase in hospitalizations. On October 15, the state set a record-high number of positive cases in a day (4,015), then surpassed that number on Friday, when 4,554 new cases were announced.

“All of this takes place in a national landscape of increasing positivity rates, and where the majority of our border states have been called out as national hotspots: With Indiana and Missouri seeing hospitals reaching capacity with ICU shortages, and with Wisconsin’s need so severe that the state has opened a field hospital with plans for more potentially in the works, our neighboring states of Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin and Indiana, all have double digit positivity rates reaching as high as nearly 25 percent,” Pritzker said. “We can’t wall off Illinois from the surge, but we can take extra precautions and do better than others and following the mitigations that slow the spread.”

Pritzker delivered his comments from Murphysboro in Jackson County, part of the state’s coronavirus region (Region 5) that has surpassed the recommended eight-percent COVID-19 test positivity rate (9.1 percent). As a result, mitigation efforts will go into effect on Thursday. Those include the following, according to a release from the governor’s office:

Bars 

  • No indoor service 
  • All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m. 
  • All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside 
  • No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed)  
  • Tables should be 6 feet apart  
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting 
  • No dancing or standing indoors 
  • Reservations required for each party 
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table 

Restaurants 

  • No indoor dining or bar service 
  • All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m. 
  • Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart 
  • No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting 
  • Reservations required for each party  
  • No seating of multiple parties at one table 

Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings 

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity 
  • No party buses 
  • Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable 

These mitigations do not currently apply to schools.

IDPH will track the positivity rate in Region 5 to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place, according to the release. If the positivity rate averages less than or equal to 6.5% for three consecutive days, then Regions 5 will return to Phase 4 mitigations under the Restore Illinois Plan. If the positivity rate averages between 6.5% and 8%, the new mitigations will remain in place and unchanged. If the positivity rate averages greater than or equal to 8% after 14 days, more stringent mitigations can be applied to further reduce spread of the virus.  

Currently, two of the state’s 11 regions have positivity rates above the public health department’s 8% threshold for resurgence mitigations. Region 1, home to Rockford, Dixon and Galena, is currently operating under additional mitigations as the region continues to report a 7-day rolling positivity rate above 8%. 

Tightened mitigations were implemented on October 3 and the region has continued to see test positivity climb at a consistent pace. However, hospital admissions in the area have stabilized after a period of growth.

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