Going south? South suburbs could be hit with business restrictions as Illinois notches 1,612 more coronavirus cases

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Illinois health officials on Monday announced 1,612 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 statewide — and warned that businesses across Chicago’s south suburbs could soon be saddled with tighter restrictions due to a rise in positive coronavirus tests.

Illinois’ latest cases were confirmed among 36,155 tests submitted to the state, keeping the state’s testing positivity rate over the last week at 4.2%.

But the Will-Kankakee County region clocked in at 8.3%, topping the 8% threshold for a third straight day after weeks of steady increases.

That meets the criteria set by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s health team to trigger a state intervention. The state already clamped down last week on the downstate Metro East region, where the positivity rate is still at 9.4%.

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Those state-imposed “mitigations” include forcing bars, restaurants and casinos to close by 11 p.m., shutting down party buses and limiting gatherings to 25 people or 25% of room capacity, whichever is lower.

Neither Pritzker’s office nor the Illinois Department of Public Health immediately returned messages seeking comment on potential restrictions looming for the Will-Kankakee region.

The positivity rate indicates how rapidly the virus is spreading through a region, according to experts. Numbers have increased in seven of the state’s 11 regions over the last week. The statewide rate increased from 2.5% in early July to 4.4% last week before a slight dip last weekend.

Chicago’s positivity rate dropped a notch to 5.2% Monday, but suburban Cook County has inched closer to warning-level numbers. It’s at 6.7%, up half a percentage point from a week ago.

Health officials also announced the latest eight deaths attributed to COVID-19, including two Cook County men, one in his 60s and another in his 80s.

Since March, 3.7 million people have been tested for the coronavirus in Illinois, almost 220,000 have tested positive and 7,888 of those have died.

After a mid-May pandemic peak, Illinois cases have surged back upward over the summer. Over the last two weeks, the state has averaged 1,885 new coronavirus cases per day, more than triple the state’s running rate on June 24.

Officials have tied Illinois’ increase to outbreaks lax social distancing and masking guidelines being followed at bars, restaurants, parties and other large gatherings — largely due to “COVID fatigue” among many residents itching to get back to normal.

But Illinois hospitals are still well within their capacity. As of Sunday night, 1,529 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 statewide, with 334 in intensive care units and 141 on ventilators.

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via Chicago Sun-Times

August 24, 2020 at 02:55PM

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