Rockford, Illinois News

TESTING: Illinois tops 40K coronavirus tests for second day, infection rate steady at 3%

SPRINGFIELD – Illinois laboratories surpassed 40,000 COVID-19 tests for the second straight day, officials reported Friday, July 17.

In the last 24 hours, labs processed 43,692 tests for a total of 2,166,299 statewide. There were 43,006 tests reported Thursday.

With 1,384 new cases Friday, there have now been 159,334 infections in Illinois since the pandemic began in March. Coronavirus-related deaths currently stand at 7,272, including 22 new fatalities.

As cases and hospitalizations continue to climb in other states, Illinois has kept both at bay.

“The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total tests from July 10 to July 16 is 3.0%,” the Illinois Department of Public Health said in a  release.

As of Thursday night, 1,431 people with COVID-19 symptoms were hospitalized. Of those, 309 patients were in the ICU and 128 were on ventilators.

Of deaths reported Friday, 18 occurred in Chicago’s collar counties. One fatality, a woman in her 80s, was reported in DeKalb County. The remaining deaths were reported in DuPage (a woman in her 60s, a woman in her 80s), LaSalle (a man in his 60s), St. Clair (a woman in her 50s) and Woodford (a man in his 60s).

Illinois is currently in Phase 4 of Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s Restore Illinois plan and isn’t expected to move into the fifth and final phase until there’s a coronavirus vaccine or widespread treatment.

In response to recent spikes in several states, Pritzker announced a new mitigation plan Wednesday that divides Illinois into 11 regions instead of the initial four. It also includes three-tiers of restrictions that could be imposed if hospitalizations and positivity rates shoot up.

Pritzker said he is not ready to act on the proposed restrictions. They can be avoided if citizens continue to follow guidelines issued by medical experts. That means wearing face coverings, avoiding crowds, social distancing and hand washing.

“Illinois now has the lowest infection rates among all our neighboring states and one of the lowest positivity rates in the country,” Pritzker said. “And it’s because of the individual actions of millions of our residents. Opening up our economy does not have to come with a spike in cases. Other countries have done it successfully while reducing cases and infection rates. But that requires vigilance on the part of all of us.”

Public Health Director Ngozi Ezike said the latest mitigation plan ensures the state is looking at all available data to make timely decisions.

“By assessing key metrics that indicate both the disease burden and the capacity of each COVID-19 region to respond, we can then take targeted actions within specific regions to help mitigate the spread of this deadly disease while keeping as much of our state open as possible,” she said.

Following are the three tiers (not currently in place).

Tier 1

Bars and restaurants: Reduce indoor dining capacity and suspend indoor bar service.

Hospitals: Reduce elective surgeries and procedures; limit visitation at hospitals; implement twice daily bed reporting.

Meetings, social events and religious gatherings: Additional limits on gatherings and room capacity.

Offices: Institute remote work for high-risk individuals; continued emphasis on telework for as many people as possible.

Organized group recreational activities and gyms (optional): Reduce indoor capacity.

Retail (optional): Reduce in-person capacity.

Salon and personal care (optional): Institute temporary location shutdown tied to outbreak.

Tier 2

Bars and restaurants: Suspend indoor dining and bar service.

Hospitals: Suspend elective surgeries and procedures; implement surge capacity; assess need to open Alternate Care Facility.

Meetings, social events and religious gatherings: Greater limits on gatherings and room capacity.

Offices: Reduce office capacity with recommendations to resume remote work where possible.

Organized group recreational activities & gyms (optional): Suspend organized indoor recreational activities.

Retail (optional): Suspend in-person nonessential retail; online and curbside pick-up available for all.

Salon and personal care (optional): Institute temporary location shutdown tied to outbreak with possible broader mitigations.

Tier 3:

Bars and restaurants: Suspend in-person dining; takeout only.

Hospitals: Open alternate care facility.

Meetings, social events and religious gatherings: Strictest limit to gatherings
and room capacity.

Offices: Institute remote work for all non-essential workers.

Organized group recreational activities & gyms (optional): Suspend organized indoor and outdoor recreational activities.

Retail (optional): Suspend all non-essential retail; only essential retail open (i.e. grocery stores, pharmacies).

Salon and personal care (optional): Suspend salon and personal care operations.

According to the governor’s office, the following metrics will be used to determine “when the spread of the virus in a region requires additional mitigations:”

  • Sustained increase in seven-day rolling average (seven out of 10 days) in the positivity rate and one of the following severity indicators:
  • Sustained seven-day increase in hospital admissions for a COVID-19 like illness
  • Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities (ICU capacity or medical/surgical beds < 20%)
  • OR three consecutive days averaging ≥ 8% positivity rate.