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Coping with COVID: Oct. 23

The fall COVID-19 spike is affecting the whole country. H-F numbers are going up fast, too. 

Gov. JB Pritzker announces state vaccine distribution plan. Pritzker also warns bars and restaurants that don’t follow mitigation measures, saying the state is prepared to get tougher on enforcement. 

How do H-F numbers compare? Although Homewood and Flossmoor — along with the rest of the region, state and nation — have seen a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the rate of infection in the two villages remains lower than some surrounding communities — and higher than some. 

On Thursday, Oct. 22, Homewood’s rate was 27.32 cases per thousand residents, according to Cook County Public Health Department data. Flossmoor’s rate was 25.15 per thousand residents. Other communities with rates under 30 per thousand include Olympia Fields, Richton Park, Sauk Village, Lynwood, East Hazel Crest, Tinley Park, Oak Forest, Riverdale, Crestwood, Phoenix and Orland Park. 


Dixmoor had the lowest rate at 19.76 per thousand.

Other communities had rates above 30 cases per thousand residents, including South Holland, Lansing, Calumet City, Matteson, Park Forest, Country Club Hills, Markham, Hazel Crest, Dolton, Posen and Harvey. 

Burnham had the highest rate at 47.55 per thousand, followed by Chicago Heights with 40.76.

On the other hand, Homewood and Flossmoor are among the communities with the most dramatic rate increases when comparing the past two weeks with the previous two weeks.

Homewood’s rate increased 165 percent and Flossmoor’s was the highest at 386 percent. Other communities with rate comparisons of more than 100 percent include Country Club Hills, South Holland, Sauk Village, Riverdale and Park Forest. 

State vaccine plan announced. Gov. JB Pritzker and Illinois Department of Public Health announced on Wednesday the release of the state’s vaccine distribution plan, which complies with a requirement issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Pritzker said the plan will prioritize offering vaccinations to those most vulnerable to the virus, including frontline health care workers, first responders and long term care facility residents and staff. 

He said the plan will likely change as more becomes known about the vaccine that will be available.

“The most defining characteristic of this plan is it’s adjustable as we go forward,” he said. “This plan will evolve as vaccine trials come to a conclusion and the FDA considers which to approve.”

Ezike said the state would not mandate that residents take the vaccine but would attempt to persuade residents through educational efforts. 

“We will provide information about effectiveness and safety,” she said. “There will be no cost for the vaccine.”

She added that some providers might charge for administering the vaccine, but added that “no one will be turned away from getting a vaccine through inability to pay.”

State could start coming down harder on scofflaws. At the daily COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, a reporter told Pritzker a number of bars and restaurants are ignoring the additional restrictions in regions that have exceeded the state’s mitigation metrics.

For most of the pandemic, Pritzker has taken a hands-off approach to enforcement, saying the task would primarily be left to local law enforcement and that he would prefer local officials use education and persuasion rather than stronger tactics.

On Thursday, Pritzker became noticeably more intense on the subject. 

“We will issue citations if necessary. We will look to remove liquor or gaming license if they will not follow resurgence mitigations,” he said. “I want businesses to stay in business. I want them to survive. That’s why we limit capacity rather than close down. It’s very serious right now. If we have to close down restaurants and bars, we will do that.”

He noted that contact tracing data has found that restaurants and bars are among the most common places where infected people have visited.

Pritzker also noted that the state is offering grant money to help businesses survive the economic impact of the restrictions. He said businesses within regions under additional mitigation requirements will be moved to the front of the line for Business Interruption Grants.

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