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Restrictions give Illinois a chance to check pandemic

A new COVID-19 wave is here. Cases are increasing exponentially. Deaths are rising. Hospitals in every area of the state have more coronavirus patients than they did the spring.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announces that he is enforcing Tier 3 mitigations in Illinois to curb the spread of COVID-19 at the James R. Thompson Center in the Loop, Tuesday afternoon
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

We can be the single best weapon against the surging coronavirus in Illinois. We have to be.

That’s how Gov. J.B. Pritzker phrased it on Tuesday when he announced new “Tier 3” guidelines will go into effect on Friday for the entire state to combat the resurgent pandemic.

We hoping everyone listens and follows the rules, including those who have resisted COVID-19 restrictions until now.

Unlike some other states, Illinois avoided a second wave of COVID-19 in the summer. But a new wave is definitely here. New cases are increasing exponentially. Deaths are rising. Hospitals in every area of the state have more COVID-19 patients than they did the spring. Testing supplies are running short, again.

We have got to turn this around.

A rule of thumb should be if you don’t have to do something that brings you into contact with other people, don’t do it. Everyone should comply with the existing order to wear masks.

And while the new restrictions are necessary, let’s not forget: A major source of new infections are social gatherings — those dinner parties and family gatherings people are having despite the risks of mixing households.

Two words on that: Stop it.

On Tuesday, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike likened the strategy to removing a few dominos from a long line ready to start toppling. If there is enough space between the dominos, they won’t all fall.

It won’t be easy. People are struggling with the isolation of being sequestered. They long to come together with loved ones. They want to be out and about in the ways we all were before the pandemic struck.

But that won’t stop the unseen virus. It won’t get us through to a time when vaccines are readily available to reduce the spread of the virus. It won’t save lives.

Under Tier 3, new restrictions will be place on retailers, gyms, hotels, restaurants, bars, personal care services and other businesses. Casinos, museums and theaters will close. Indoor group sports will be halted, and outdoor sports and recreation will be limited to 10 persons or fewer. A stay-at-home order will not be included, for now.

In the meantime, we know what we must do to avoid more drastic action later.

Limit in-person interactions. Wash your hands. Get a flu shot. Wear a mask. Skip the invite to someone else’s house, and don’t send one yourself.

Be a domino removed from the line to keep the rest from toppling uncontrollably. Be a weapon against the virus. Save lives. Be the best hope for Illinois.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.