Downstate region hits Illinois’ ‘warning’ level of days with increases in coronavirus positivity rate

Coronavirus

CHICAGO – A region of Illinois counties outside St. Louis hit health officials’ “warning” number of days with an increase in the percent of coroanvirus tests which come back positive Monday, approaching the state’s “failsafe” level where reopening measures could be rolled back.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the “Metro East” region in southwest Illinois has seen an increase in test positivity rates for seven over the past 10 days, hitting the “warning” level outlined in the updated “Restore Illinois” plan.

Moreover, the region’s rate was at 7.1 percent as of July 17 and is approaching 8 percent, the point at which Governor JB Pritzker previously said reopening measures would likely be rolled back as part of a “failsafe” if cases exceed that level for three days.

The region includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties.

On Monday, Illinois health officials reported 1,173 new cases of COVID-19 and six additional coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past day.

To date, officials say over 162,000 cases of coronavirus disease and 7,301 deaths have been confirmed in Illinois, while 95 percent of confirmed cases are believed to have recovered.

The statewide positivity rate from July 13-19 ticked up slightly to 3 percent but remains remain relatively stable in Illinois, even as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday the city will reinstate some COVID-19 restrictions to help combat a recent rise in cases.

Indoor service at bars, taverns and breweries will no longer be allowed after Friday, and the city is reducing capacity for gyms and outdoor dining as well. Chicago remains within the guidelines for Phase 4 laid out in the state’s reopening plan, with a positivity rate of 3.6 percent as of July 17.

Hospital capacities in all regions of Illinois outlined in the state’s plan remain within the limits for Phase 4 of reopening, while health officials report 1,410 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Sunday night, including 308 in intensive care and 133 on ventilators.

Indiana health officials reported Monday 658 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the state, while three more residents have died from the respiratory disease. The figure is the lowest number of newly-diagnosed cases in a week, although numbers reported by the state typically dip on Mondays.

The pandemic has found fresh legs around the world, as confirmed deaths passed 600,000 over the weekend and countries from the U.S. to South Africa to India struggle to contain a surge of new infections. The World Health Organization said that 259,848 new infections were reported Saturday, its highest one-day tally yet.

Companies across the country continue to update their policies amid an upswing in cases. Aldi is the latest retailer to begin requiring customers wear face masks. Delta Air Lines will now require medical screenings for passengers who can’t wear face masks due to health reasons. Walt Disney World is no longer allowing theme park visitors to eat and drink while walking without a mask.

While the weekly federal coronavirus relief program technically doesn’t expire until July 31, this coming week will be the last for which $600 in additional benefits will be paid for millions of unemployed Americans.

Republican leaders in Congress are expected to meet Monday with President Donald Trump to discuss a second round of coronavirus relief that may include a new stimulus check.

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