As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Illinois at an unprecedented rate, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Sunday announced new restrictions for North-Central Illinois.
Pritzker will be imposing a ban on indoor service at bars and restaurants, among other restrictions, this week for Region 2 — which covers 20 North-Central counties, including Rock Island, Kendall and Knox counties — after the area saw an average positivity rate above the 8% positivity threshold for three consecutive days.
That means, starting Wednesday, all 11 of the state’s regions will be operating under the governor’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Pritzker, who hinted last week the peak of this outbreak is still nowhere in sight, said the mitigation measures are being put in place to help limit the spread of the virus.
“As cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising across our state, across the Midwest and across the nation, we have to act responsibly and collectively to protect the people we love,” Pritzker said in a statement.
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike echoed Pritzker, adding the new restrictions are not meant to be a “punishment” for Illinoisans but rather “a way to help all of us co-exist with COVID-19 more safely.”
This comes as state health officials announced 6,980 new cases and an additional 35 coronavirus-related deaths, making Sunday the fifth consecutive day Illinois’ daily caseload has topped 6,000 — a number that far exceeds anything seen in the state’s previous COVID-19 peak in May.
The new infections, which account for nearly 8.9% of the 78,458 tests that have been processed statewide in the last day, raised the seven-day average positivity rate from 7.5% Saturday to 8% Sunday — up from 3.5% at the start of last month.
The rise in that number is worrisome to health experts who use that figure as a way to gauge how rapidly the virus is spreading.
More than 119,600 people tested positive for the virus in Illinois over the last 30 days, accounting for more than a quarter of the 417,280 cases that have been recorded over the last eight months. And the state has broken the daily caseload record five out of the last 12 days, including Saturday when state health officials announced 7,899 new cases.
Meanwhile, 15 of Sunday’s 35 fatalities were reported in Cook County, bringing the state’s death toll to 9,792.
Illinois hospitals are treating the most coronavirus patients they’ve seen since the end of May. As of Saturday night, 3,294 people were hospitalized in Illinois with COVID-19, with 692 of those patients in intensive care units and 284 on ventilators, officials said.
Illinois boasts a recovery rate of 97% as most people who contract it show mild or no symptoms.