Suburban Cook County will be under heightened restrictions, including the suspension of indoor dining, beginning Wednesday as the area sees increases in its coronavirus positivity rate and hospitalizations.
Region 10, which holds all but Chicago in Cook County, became the first in Illinois to trigger the state’s mitigation plan in multiple metrics simultaneously.
“We have seen eight days of increases in test positivity and seven days of increased hospital admissions,” Cook County Department of Health Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer Dr. Rachel Rubin said in a statement, “The positivity rate is now 7.7%, up from 7.2% last week. Metrics like these prompted the state to mandate Tier 1 Resurgence Mitigations, similar to other counties with increased transmission.”
The positivity rate in Region 10 has ticked upward from 7.3% on Oct. 20 and to 7.5% on Oct. 21 and 7.7% on Oct. 22, continuing a slow upward trend, data from the state’s health department showed. Hospitalizations are also going up, and the region only had an average of 25% availability on hospital beds in the event of a surge, along with a 30% ICU availability, as of Oct. 22.
“We are seeing test positivity across the state increase, but for Region 10, Suburban Cook County, we are also seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations for COVID-like illness,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement.
“[Sunday] the state reported over 4,000 new cases of COVID-19 in a 24-hour period. The numbers are very concerning and a wake-up call as we head into colder weather, flu season and the holidays,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said in a statement. “We are all experiencing COVID fatigue, but we must remain vigilant and continue practicing the commonsense strategies that have been proven to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
The county health department warned that recent studies have shown “when people gather indoors to drink and eat at parties, bars, or restaurants they are more likely to become lax in following physical distancing and masking guidelines.”
“And taking the party home isn’t necessarily safer,” Cook County Department of Public Health Co-Lead and Senior Medical Officer Dr. Kiran Joshi said in a statement. “People are exposed to the virus and are bringing it home to their families and friends.”
Joshi cautioned as Halloween and the holiday season approach.
“As tempting as it may be to celebrate Halloween with friends, even small gatherings pose significant risk – especially for loved ones who may be more vulnerable to serious illness,” Joshi said.
This week, Region 10 and Region 4 will join four other healthcare regions in the state with additional coronavirus mitigation restrictions.
Kane, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties in the Chicago area saw added restrictions put in place Friday. Region 5 in southeastern Illinois began the new measures on Thursday.
Region 1 in northern Illinois also saw a second tier of added restrictions beginning Sunday.
Several other regions in the Chicago area could potentially see additional rules put in place as well as they near the 8% positivity threshold set by the state.
Those regions include Chicago itself and Region 9, which includes McHenry and Lake counties.
“Much like the four areas already operating under Tier One or Tier Two of the plan – Northwestern Illinois, Southern Illinois, and Will, Kankakee, DuPage and Kane Counties – Region 4 triggered our 8 percent positivity average threshold, the second time it has done so since mid-summer,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Region 10, on the other hand, is the first region in Illinois to earn additional mitigations not because of its positivity rate alone, but because its positivity rate and its COVID-related hospitalizations have both seen a sustained increase over the last 10 days.”
Here’s a look at the full list of restrictions being added for Region 10:
No indoor service All outside bar service closes at 11:00 p.m. All bar patrons should be seated at tables outside No ordering, seating, or congregating at bar (bar stools should be removed) Tables should be 6 feet apart No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting No dancing or standing indoors Reservations required for each party No seating of multiple parties at one table
No indoor dining or bar service All outdoor dining closes at 11:00 p.m. Outside dining tables should be 6 feet apart No standing or congregating indoors or outdoors while waiting for a table or exiting Reservations required for each party No seating of multiple parties at one table
Meetings, Social Events, Gatherings
Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity No party buses Gaming and Casinos close at 11:00 p.m., are limited to 25 percent capacity, and follow mitigations for bars and restaurants, if applicable
These mitigations do not currently apply to schools.
The state’s health department said it plans to track the positivity rate in both Region 4 and Region 10 over the coming days “to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigations should remain in place.”
The positivity rate in Region 4 must average or equal 6.5% for three consecutive days to see its current mitigations lifted and return to Phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan. Region 10 would need to see the same drop in positivity rate, but will also need to record a decrease in hospital admissions for COVID-19 like illness over a three-day period. The three-day rolling averages for ICU bed availability and medical/surgical bed availability will also need to be great than or equal to 20% over a seven-day period.