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State health officials announce additional COVID-19 mitigation measures in 3 regions

Additional COVID-19 mitigation efforts went into effect Wednesday, Nov. 11, in three of Illinois’ 11 health regions, including two near the South Suburbs.

Region 5 (Southern Illinois), Region 7 (Will and Kankakee counties), and Region 8 (Kane and DuPage counties), are seeing a test positivity rate that remains above 8% and continues to rise after more than 14 days under Tier 1 mitigations, which exceeds the threshold set for establishing additional mitigation measures under the state’s Restore Illinois Resurgence Plan.

All 11 regions are under additional mitigation orders. 

Homewood and Flossmoor are in Region 10, which entered Tier 1 additional mitgations on Oct. 28. The positivity rate has continued to climb since then. The rate was 13.2% on Nov. 8, the most recent date the information was available. 

Hospitalizations, too, continue to increase, with 101 people in the hospital with COVID-19-related illnesses as of Nov. 8. 

Homewood has seen a spike in new cases, adding about 80 in the first 11 days of November. Flossmoor has added about 40 in the same period.
 

“Mitigations are only effective if they are followed,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said. “The end goal of mitigating the damage the virus is doing to people’s lives is this: Keep as much of our economy and our schools as open as possible in a safe manner, and when risk rates in the community surge up, take meaningful action to bring things back down in order to protect ourselves and the people we love.”

“We continue to see COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths increase,” Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, said. “Science tells us that when you are in close contact with someone, there is an increased risk for virus transmission. We must reduce the opportunities for the virus to spread. Only when the virus can no longer sustainably spread can we end this pandemic. It will take all of us working together, so please, be part of the solution and not the problem and help us reduce the risk of spread.”

For Regions 5, 7 and 8, additional mitigation measures include:

Bars and restaurants

  • Reduce party size from 10 to six individuals.

Meetings, social events and gatherings

  • Maximum indoor/outdoor gathering size of 10 individuals, applicable to professional, cultural and social group gatherings but does not reduce the overall facility capacity dictated by general business guidance, such as office, retail, etc. This restriction does not apply to students participating in-person classroom learning or to sports.

Organized group recreational activities

  • Limit to lesser of 25 guests or 25 percent of overall room capacity both indoors and outdoors.
  • Groups limited to 10 individuals or fewer.
  • Does not apply to fitness centers.

These mitigations do not apply to schools.

Regions 5, 7 and 8 have seen what health officials call “alarming trends” in recent months. On Monday, Region 5’s average positivity rate was 11.5%, with more than twice as many COVID-19 patients entering a hospital each day compared to the summer peak in late August. Regions 7 and 8 each have positivity rates of 13%, with nearly one in seven tests in these regions coming back positive.

Last week, Illinois surpassed 8 million tests and on Nov. 10 the state reported a record high of 101,955 tests within a 24-hour period. Although the administration continues to build upon this progress, the state’s rate of growth in positivity is outpacing the growth in testing. Given that testing remains readily available throughout the state, it is critical for residents to get tested before developing symptoms. To find the nearest testing center, please visit DPH.Illinois.Gov/Testing

The closest state testing site to H-F is at South Suburban Community College at 15800 State St. in South Holland. The drive-thru site is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. No appointment is required. Capacity is limited. Hours of operation are subject to change on a daily basis, based on available equipment and demand.
 
In the coming days, IDPH will continue to track the positivity rate in Regions 5, 7 and 8 to determine if mitigations can be relaxed, if additional mitigations are required, or if current mitigation should remain in place. IDPH has been working closely with local health departments in the three regions to provide education to the public and offer information to businesses and organizations on safe ways to reopen.

All 11 regions continue to operate under resurgence mitigation framework. A full list of mitigation measures pertaining to some businesses and industries may be found on the DCEO website here.

The Chronicle staff contributed to this story.

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