Health officials eyeing East Central Illinois’ COVID-19 positivity rate

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — The block of the state called Region 6 in reopening plans — which includes Champaign, Coles, DeWitt, Douglas, Ford, Macon, Piatt and Vermilion counties — is returning positive COVID-19 tests at a rate higher than seven percent, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said.

Ezike’s remarks came during a scheduled COVID-19 update from Governor JB Pritzker this afternoon; the update was held virtually due to the Governor and staffers isolating at home after a coworker tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this week.

Public health officials are looking at two things within Region 6: The rolling, seven-day, test positivity rate without Champaign County — which is what pushes that number to higher than seven percent, currently — and the positivity rate with Champaign County included. That’s due to widespread testing being available in that county due to efforts by the University of Illinois.

That widespread testing is deflating the actual positivity rate of Region 6, Ezike said, meaning that the data isn’t entirely reflective of the region’s true COVID-19 status.

“We want to ensure that the large volume of tests at Urbana-Champaign does not overshadow the trends that we’re seeing in the broader region, and we don’t want to be inhibited from keeping people safe,” she said. “Therefore, in addition to providing data for Region 6, IDPH is now presenting data for Region 6 without Champaign County’s numbers. If regional metrics are tripped in Region 6 by looking at the data in this way, the entire region — including Champaign County — will still be required to implement mitigation efforts.”

IDPH is currently working alongside local health departments and community leaders in an attempt to curb the rate in the meantime, she added.

If Region 6’s test positivity rate hits 8 percent or higher, the entire region will move back a phase in the state’s reopening plan.

Region 1 — which includes Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside and Winnebago counties — is set to implement mitigation efforts beginning this weekend, according to a release from the governor’s office. That area marked a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8% or above for three consecutive days, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing mitigation measures in the region under the state’s plan.

Mitigation efforts include the following, according to 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.

Region 4 —  comprised of Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties — remains under similar mitigation efforts.

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