CHICAGO — Illinois on Friday reported nearly 7,000 newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus, eclipsing a single-day record set just 24 hours earlier and pushing the total number of known cases since the pandemic began past 400,000.
“This is an extraordinarily dangerous time,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said during his daily COVID-19 briefing. “And as a result, we must do everything in our power to keep down the infection rate.”
The 6,943 new known COVID-19 cases brings the seven-day average of new daily cases to 5,481. The previous one-day high, set Thursday, was 6,363. There have now been 402,401 known cases in Illinois.
On the eve of Halloween, Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike urged the public to make “pandemic-guided decisions” and to avoid in-person gatherings.
Pritzker on Friday also announced a chunk of east-central Illinois that includes Champaign-Urbana and Decatur will become the 10th of 11 regions in the governor’s reopening plan to come under tighter restrictions, including a ban on indoor dining and bar service, as the coronavirus continues its statewide resurgence.
The 21-county region, which includes a long stretch of the Indiana border, saw its seven-day rolling positivity rate on coronavirus tests hit 8.6% on Tuesday, exceeding the state-established threshold of 8% for the third straight day and triggering the reopening rollback. The restrictions, which go into effect Monday, also include a 25-person cap on gatherings, down from 50.
The positivity rate data for the region does not include the massive saliva-based testing program at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus, which the state has said artificially lowers the regional rate and skews the level of transmission in the community at large.
Friday’s announcement leaves only one region — a wide swath of north-central Illinois that stretches from Kendall County on the outskirts of the Chicago suburbs to the Quad Cities and includes Peoria and Bloomington — without stricter rules aimed at slowing the surging COVID-19 pandemic.
That region hit a rolling seven-day positivity rate of 8.5% as of Tuesday, according to state data. If it remains above 8% for two more days, Pritzker could announce tighter restrictions as soon as Sunday.
Still, Pritzker again said he is not considering another statewide stay-at-home order like the one he issued in March, his most drastic step to date to combat the virus.
A renewed prohibition on indoor dining and bar service took effect in Chicago on Friday, and the same rules kick in for surrounding Lake and McHenry counties on Saturday and west-central Illinois, including Springfield, on Sunday. The measures have faced a strong pushback from the bar and restaurant industry and Republican lawmakers.
Even as many eating and drinking establishments challenge his restrictions in court or openly defy them, Pritzker called on local officials to enforce the rules.
Illinois State Police, empowered to enforce the governor’s orders through an emergency rule issued in August, so far have cited only four businesses in central and southern Illinois, though officials say they’ve issued warnings to many more. The Pritzker administration has yet to initiate the process of pulling liquor or gambling licenses from scofflaw businesses, as he has threatened to do.
But the Democratic governor said he would stand his ground in the face of growing resistance.
“Every day we now see these numbers going through the roof,” Pritzker said. “And so the idea that we’re going to make the locations that are amplifying the number of cases and the spread, the transmission of this virus, that we’re going to open those even more at this point, makes no sense to me.”
Along with the record number of new cases, state health officials reported 36 more fatalities Friday, bringing the statewide death toll to 9,711. The state also set a record for testing, with results from 95,111 screenings reported in the previous 24 hours.
The seven-day average for the case positivity rate — the share of confirmed cases out of the total number of tests — was 7.3% statewide as of Thursday, up from 5.6% a week earlier and more than double the rate at the start of October.
The test positivity rate — the share of positive tests out of all tests conducted — was 8.5% statewide on a seven-day average. This figure, which the state began reporting Thursday, is what’s used when assessing which regions need stricter rules to slow transmission of the virus.
Ezike said health officials are particularly concerned about how well-equipped central and southern Illinois hospitals — which didn’t experience the same surge during the spring — are to deal with the new crush of cases.
Hospitals in some areas already are seeing more COVID-19 patients than they did at the initial peak in the spring, “and we are not at the peak now,” Ezike said.
Based on the current trajectory, hospitals in the regions that include Springfield and Champaign could see bed shortages in as little as two to four weeks, she said.
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