Rockford, Illinois News

Pritzker: Bars and restaurants are major sources of COVID-19 spread

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker, on  Wednesday, said crowds at bars and restaurants are largely responsible for the statewide increase in COVID-19 cases.

Pritzker said while the virus has been spreading during in-home gatherings, the majority of people who have been infected in recent weeks visited a tavern or a restaurant just before or after they tested positive.

“There are a lot of people who just don’t want to believe the facts,” Pritzker said during  a press conference. “There are 12 studies that show that bars and restaurants are, in fact, a major spreading location for the virus.”

According to a study by the CDC, adults with positive COVID-19 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than those who tested negative. Another study by Emerging Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal published by the CDC, claims COVID-19 clusters are associated with heavy breathing at close proximity, singing karaoke, conversations at bars, and exercising in gymnasiums.

“It’s disturbing to me that people want to just either lie about it, or disbelieve the facts,” the governor added. “We’ve been operating on facts and data and science from the very beginning. We aren’t making arbitrary decisions. Across the state, we see that bars and restaurants are a place that people are visiting just before or just after they get their test. It’s part of the data that we collect. We are trying to be careful. We are not calling (to) across-the-board close down businesses. That’s not something we are doing. We are trying to target the places we think and know–based upon the science and based upon the contact tracing data–that will have the biggest effect of lowering transmission. We are trying to target the mitigation to those places.”

Winnebago County bars and restaurants are now limited to 25 people, according to modified coronavirus mitigation efforts in Region 1 of the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan. The county’s positivity rate was 12.7% Tuesday.

Statewide, the positivity rate from Oct. 14 to Oct. 20 has climbed to 5.7%. In the last 24 hours, Illinois labs processed 66,791 tests. Officials announced 4,342 new COVID-19 Wednesday in Illinois, including 69 new deaths.

As of Tuesday night, 2,338 people were hospitalized with symptoms of COVID-19. Of those, 502 patients were in the ICU and 194 were on ventilators.

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