CHICAGO, Ill. (WCIA) — As the number of COVID-19 cases skyrockets across the United States, Gov. JB Pritzker talked Wednesday about how Illinois “can preserve the progress” made in the fight against the spread of the virus.
Illinois now has the lowest infection rates among all of our neighboring states, Pritzker said, adding that “this virus has not gone away.”
“It’s still infecting people and it will likely continue doing that for months to come,” he said. “Illinois’ ability to manage COVID-19 looks a whole lot better than it did in the beginning.”
Pritzker said his administration is reversing a decision to lump the state’s 11 EMS regions in 4 regions. Each region can move forward — or backward — according to phases within the state’s Reopen Illinois plan, depending on its infection rates and hospital capacity rates.
The new regions are:
- NORTH: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago
- NORTH-CENTRAL: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford
- WEST-CENTRAL: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott
- METRO EAST: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington
- SOUTHERN: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson
- EAST-CENTRAL: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby, Vermillion
- SOUTH SUBURBAN: Kankakee, Will
- WEST SUBURBAN: DuPage, Kane
- NORTH SUBURBAN: Lake, McHenry
- SUBURBAN COOK: Suburban Cook
- CHICAGO: City of Chicago
And while a previous state announcement gave schools the green light to reopen their doors to in-person learning, Pritzker warned districts disregarding state guidelines that mandate the use of face coverings and social distancing that not making a “genuine attempt to protect their communities from this virus” means those districts “could be held liable in the courts.”
His warning preceded an update from Illinois Department of Public Health director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who said that “young people…are having higher case rates now than ever before in this pandemic.”
That includes groups between 10 and 19-years-old and those aged 20 to 29-years-old.
“And of course, parents, as, as additional supports leaders for these young adults, I pray that you will assist and guide, these teenagers and young adults to make the right decisions as everyone’s decisions affects all of us,” she said.
Pritzker said state officials are “continually evaluating what works and what doesn’t work,” and after identifying multiple coronavirus outbreaks tied to the return of sports, “we’re taking a good hard look at how youth sports fits into that conversation.”