Indoor service will soon be back off the menu for bars and restaurants across many of Chicago’s south and western suburbs as COVID-19 testing positivity rates shoot up statewide.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to announce his public health team’s latest restrictions on establishments in Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties at a Tuesday afternoon coronavirus briefing.
The testing positivity rate in the Will-Kankakee region is up to 8.6%, while Kane and DuPage have soared to 9%. Tuesday marked a third consecutive day for each region over the 8% threshold set by Pritzker’s health team that triggers state “mitigation” efforts.
Will and Kankakee counties were previously slapped with an indoor service ban in late August, but the region was restored within a month as the positivity rate sank as low as 5.2%.
With the state facing what Pritzker has called a “new wave” of surging coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths, business restrictions will be in place across four of the state’s 11 regions by the end of the week — and other regions are flirting with a state intervention as well.
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Experts use the testing positivity rate as a gauge of how rapidly the virus is spreading. According to state metrics, Chicago is up to 6.7% positivity, suburban Cook is at 7.1%, and Lake and McHenry counties are up to 7.5%.
The northwest corner of the state that includes Rockford was hit with mitigations earlier this month as it’s climbed to 11.8% positivity. Restrictions go into effect Thursday in the southern tip of the state, which is at 9.1% positivity.
The seven-day average statewide testing positivity rate climbed to 5.5% with the latest 3,714 new cases of the disease confirmed among 59,077 tests submitted to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
That’s as high as it’s been since early June. It was just 3.3% as of Oct. 4.
Public health officials also announced the virus has claimed 41 more lives, raising the state’s death toll to 9,277. More than 350,000 people have contracted the virus among almost 6.9 million tests administered since March.
Pritzker is slated to announce the suburban dining restrictions as he resumes his daily coronavirus briefings, a practice he’d put on hold since the end of May when infection rates were falling from the initial peak of the pandemic and Illinois was entering its third reopening phase.
Cases have skyrocketed in Illinois and its neighboring states over the last few weeks as the Midwest has become a focal point of the United States’ latest coronavirus resurgence. As of Monday night, 2,261 Illinoisans were hospitalized with the virus, the most COVID-19 patients since mid-June.
The Chicago Department of Public added five states to its emergency travel order Tuesday, raising the number of destinations to 30 states and Puerto Rico.
The latest hot-spot states are Colorado, Ohio, Delaware, West Virginia and Texas. Anyone coming to Chicago from those areas should self-isolate for 14 days upon arriving in the city.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office instituted the travel order in July, when Chicago and Illinois were faring well in the pandemic relative to surging states across the South and West.
But for over a month, Illinois itself has met the city’s criteria to be included on the quarantine list. On average, Illinois has added about 29 cases per 100,000 residents over the last week, nearly double the threshold rate set by Lightfoot’s health team.
About two weeks into the second surge, Chicago remains in what city Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady calls the “yellow phase,” which requires public health officials to “pause and monitor.” But without a dramatic turnaround, “we are absolutely gonna be in the red phase,” with further restrictions, Arwady said Monday.
“This has me — and it should have you — very concerned,” she said. “If it is not essential, do not invite people to your home who do not already live there… If it is essential, you must wear a mask, even in your own home.”
The other states on Chicago’s quarantine list are Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
The city says it has issued warnings, but no fines yet, to people flouting the travel quarantine order. Essential workers are exempt.