Rockford, Illinois News

Pritzker: Recent COVID-19 surge could be worse than first

Region 1 bars and restaurants face more restrictions.

ROCKFORD — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that Region 1 of the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan will be under tighter restrictions to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The restrictions mean restaurants and bars in the region, which includes Winnebago and Boone counties, will be limited to serving tables of no more than six people outdoors. Indoor and outdoor social gatherings are again limited to 10 people. Restrictions will be begin Sunday, Oct. 25.

Thursday’s announcement comes two weeks after the state suspended indoor dining and drinking and limited gatherings to 25 people Oct.3. Since then, Winnebago County’s test-positivity rate has climbed to 13% while Boone County has reached 15.7%.

Restrictions will be lifted when Region 1’s test-positivity rate reaches 6.5% and remains there for three straight days. But, according to Pritzker, the recent surge doesn’t appear to be slowing.

“We are now headed into a peak that is beyond, potentially, March and April,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker added that the Illinois State Police is enforcing the new restrictions. Establishments that flout them could be ticketed, and the state is prepared to suspend liquor licenses.

“We are being very serious and very focused on having the state police not only issue warnings but also issue citations if necessary,” Pritzker said.”We are asking state’s attorneys to simply follow through on those citations. Those are monetary citations. We will look to remove people’s liquor license and their gaming license if they will not follow the resurgence mitigations that get put into place. This is nothing something I’ve wanted to do before. I think you know I’ve been reluctant to do this before because it has a very serious implication for the future of the business. I want businesses to stay in business.”

Labs in Illinois processed 80,977 coronavirus tests between Wednesday and Thursday. Since March, there have been 7,031,082 tests administered.

The Illinois Department of Public Health also reported 4,942 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, including 44 additional deaths. The seven-day statewide positivity for tests administered from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21 is 5.7%.

As of Wednesday night, 2,463 people in Illinois were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms. Of those, 525 patients were in the ICU and 212 were on ventilators.

For Region 1, additional mitigation measures taking effect Oct. 25 include the following:

Bars and restaurants
Party size reduced from 10 to six people.

Meetings, social events and gatherings
Maximum indoor-outdoor gathering size of 10 people.
Applicable to professional, religious, cultural and social group gatherings.
Not applicable to students participating in-person classroom learning.
This does not reduce the overall facility capacity dictated by general business guidance, such as office, retail, etc.
Not applicable to sports.

Indoor recreation
Maintain lesser of 25 people or 25 percent of capacity.
No groups more than 10 individuals.
Does not apply to fitness.
These mitigations do not apply to schools or polling places.

If Region 1’s test-positivity rate averages greater than or equal to 8% after 14 days, more restrictions could be implemented.

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