UPDATED: East-central Illinois makes 10 of 11 regions mitigated as restaurants push back
Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks at the daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago Friday. (Credit: Blueroomstream.com)
Ezike warns two regions could see hospital bed shortages ‘in as short as 2-4 weeks’
By JERRY NOWICKI
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Illinois is down to one region that is not facing increased COVID-19 mitigations after east-central Illinois’ Region 6 reached an 8 percent positivity rate for the third straight day, according to Friday’s data.
“With community transmission rates on the rise all around our state, it’s more important than ever to take caution, mask up, avoid gatherings and ensure your family gets through this as safe as can be,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a news release. “Let’s remember that the quickest way we get kids back into schools and businesses open and workers employed is to bring down infections, positivity rates, and hospitalizations in our communities – and that means mask up, wash up, back up, and sleeve up to get your flu shot.”
Across the state, hospitalizations and ventilator usage for COVID-19 each pushed second-wave highs for the fifth straight day Friday. Intensive care bed usage set its second-wave high for the seventh straight day. As of Thursday night, 3,092 people in Illinois were reported hospitalized with COVID-19, including 673 in the ICU and 288 on ventilators.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said for Regions 1-6 – all those not including or immediately adjacent to Cook County – hospitalization metrics are already at the peaks they saw in the first wave of COVID-19 in April and May.
“So, we are already seeing numbers that these hospitals saw at the highest point of wave one and we are not at the peak now,” Ezike said at the daily COVID-19 briefing in Chicago. “So that's just to frame it and make sure we all understand that we are getting into territory that most of these hospitals had never seen before.”
She said Region 3, including the Springfield area and surrounding counties in west-central Illinois, and Region six, including the Champaign area and several surrounding counties in east-central Illinois, could see hospital bed shortages “in as short as two to four weeks.”
“And so we have been on the phone, my team, with hospital leadership, with the Illinois Health and Hospitals association to discuss what the plans are to ensure that if someone is coming, whether it's for COVID, whether it's for a flu-like illness, whether it's for chest pain… or a car accident victim, that there will be beds for these individuals,” she said. “And so we are talking through those very important measures to make sure that we can deal with what we are going to see in the pending weeks and months.”
The final unmitigated region – Region 2 which includes Peoria and several surrounding counties – shot up to an 8.5 percent positivity rate from 7.9 percent the day prior, meaning two more days at the same pace of virus spread will trigger the mitigations there as well.
While the mitigations include capacity limits of the lesser of 25 people or 25 percent capacity at gatherings both indoor and outdoor, the main mitigation measure is the closure of bars and restaurants to indoor service. For Region 6, the mitigations will take effect Monday, Nov. 2.
The Illinois Restaurant Association announced in a news conference Friday morning that it would file a court brief supporting a Kane County business challenging the governor’s authority to shut down indoor dining.
“The IRA has repeatedly called upon governor Pritzker to take a more reasonable and pragmatic approach to mitigation and to collaborate on a plan that is less detrimental to the state's largest private sector employer,” Association president and CEO Sam Toia said at the news conference. “We just heard (from previous speakers who were restaurant owners) how devastating and unjustified these restrictions are to the industry and our economy. And it is important that our legal efforts align with the interests of the businesses and passionate individuals who make up our restaurant community.”
The announcement came as the state reported another 6,943 new confirmed cases – a one-day record – among 95,111 test results reported, which was also a one-day record. That made for a single-day positivity rate of 7.3 percent, driving the rolling seven-day average positivity rate to 7.3 percent as well – the highest seven-day average since May 29.
IDPH also reported another 36 COVID-19-related death, bringing the death toll to 9,711 since the pandemic began. The state also surpassed 400,000 confirmed cases among more than 7.6 million test results reported as the total case count grew to 402,401.
Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.