COOK COUNTY, IL — New regional COVID-19 mitigations lifted on one area of Illinois this week and imposed on another, as rising coronavirus positivity rates in neighboring regions risk triggering additional restrictions.
Suburban Cook County, Region 10, saw hospitalizations rise by nearly 35 percent, even as the positivity rate slightly declined during the first week of October, falling by 0.2 percentage points to 5 percent on Tuesday, the most recent day where data is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
During the same period, daily new hospitalizations of patients with “COVID-like illnesses,” or CLI, rose from a rounded rolling average of 23 people a day to 31 people a day on Oct. 6.
Only one region is currently subject to increased restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus as part of the 11-region Restore Illinois COVID-19 resurgence plan, as of Friday. It is the third region where public health officials have tightened limits on gatherings and businesses due to high positivity rates.
In Region 1, the Rockford emergency medical services region, the seven-day rolling average coronavirus positivity rate has remained above 8 percent for more than two weeks. Three days above the threshold leads to mandatory mitigation measures. Restrictions on indoor service at bars and restaurants will be in effect in the nine-county region until its rate stays below 6.5 percent for three consecutive days.
That happened this week in Region 4, where the “tier 2” restrictions on businesses and gatherings were first imposed on Aug. 18. The Metro East region hit a high of 10.5 percent positivity in late August before coming down to 5.8 by Friday, when public health officials announced the restrictions had been lifted.
Region 7 was the first to have its regional restrictions rolled back, with mitigations imposed on Aug. 27 were lifted Sept. 18.
The region with the fastest growing positivity rate — and the highest rate outside of the Rockford region — is Region 5 in Southern Illinois. The Marion emergency medical services region saw its positivity rate spike from 5.6 percent to 7 percent this week. If the rolling average continues to rise at that rate, the region could be on pace for additional restrictions as soon as next week.
The next highest rate was in Region 6 excluding Champaign County. Public health officials have begun calculating the region’s positivity rate without counting results from the University of Illinois’ comprehensive saliva testing program. Outside of the county, the positivity rate was 6.7 percent, although it had declined by half a point from a week earlier.
The number of counties in the state at a warning level on the IDPH decreased by two over the past week. The 26 counties where two or more county-level risk indicators show an increasing COVID-19 threat are: Case, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Coles, Crawford, Effingham, Fayette, Henderson, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Lake, Lee, Mason, Massac, Pulaski, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Union, Vermilion, Whiteside, Winnebago and Warren.
As of Thursday night, there were 1,812 people hospitalized