Rockford, Illinois News

Region 1 salons, retail could close again if COVID-19 worsens

ROCKFORD — More local businesses could be ordered to close if the COVID-19 positivity rate in Region 1 continues to climb.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Monday that the next step for Region 1, which includes Boone and Winnebago counties, would be to implement Tier 3 coronavirus restrictions. Under Tier 3 of the state’s resurgence plan, non-essential retail stores would be ordered to close and medical centers ordered to stop elective procedures. Salons and personal-care businesses like gyms and health clubs could also see a second round of shutdowns.

Pritzker said Region 1, with a positively rate of 14.9%, could see Tier 3 restrictions by month’s end.

“We have to consider Tier 3 mitigations,” Pritzker said. “But, I want to remind everyone that it takes a couple to three weeks for a set of mitigations to start to have an effect on positivity and cases. It’s not something you just impose one after another, after another.”

Tier 1 mitigation, which limits bar and restaurants to 25% capacity, are put into place once a region’s positivity rate hits 8% and stays there for three days. Tier 2, which suspends indoor dining and drinking and limits public gatherings to 10, are imposed if the rate doesn’t come back down in two or three weeks.

Region 1 went under Tier 1 mitigation Oct. 2. Tier 2 restrictions began Oct. 23. The positivity rate, meanwhile, has continued to rise.

“We will be watching it very closely,” Pritzker said. “I do every day.”

Several local establishments, with the support of the Illinois Restaurant Association, have continued to serve customers indoors in spite of recent restrictions. They say they’ve been singled out and that bars and restaurants are not vectors of COVID-19.

Local leaders say they will continue to put pressure on those who flout the state’s orders. Winnebago County Health Department Director Dr. Sandra Martell said the list of businesses have been ordered to close is growing.

“We will be following our routine procedures, which is a notice of non-compliance, an order to disperse, and an order of closure,” Martell said. “We have issued multiple orders to close on several establishments.”

Martell said the orders are forwarded to the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office, Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Illinois Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

The Illinois State Police is also enforcing the restrictions. Pritzker said merchants will be ordered by troopers to disperse. Those who remain open after are subject to a citation. Several tickets have already been issued throughout the state.

Boone County led Region 1 Monday with a 19.7-percent positivity rate. It was followed by Stephenson (18.1%), Lee (17.6%), Carroll (15.6%), Whiteside (15.5%), Winnebago (14.9%), Ogle (13.1%), DeKalb (10.3%), and Jo Daviess (9.1%).

Winnebago County is currently averaging more than 100 new cases of COVID-19 per day. The local recovery rate is 97.1%.

The Illinois Department of Public Health announced 6,222 new cases of coronavirus COVID-19 Monday, including 20 additional deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 423,502 infections statewide.

The number of people who have died from COVID-19 complications stood at 9,810 Monday. Labs have processed 7,876,421 coronavirus tests since March.

As of Sunday night, 3,371 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 722 patients were in the ICU and 298 were on ventilators.

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