Illinois imposing new restrictions in St. Louis region after COVID-19 positivity rate hits ‘failsafe’ level

Coronavirus

CHICAGO, Ill. – The State of Illinois is imposing new restrictions in the “Metro East” region outside St. Louis, including limiting bar and restaurant hours and shrinking the size of permitted gatherings, after the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate there exceeded 8 percent for a third day Sunday.

According to the latest data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the 7-day coronavirus test positivity rate in the Metro East region reached 8.2 percent on August 11 and remained above the state-established 8 percent threshold for three days, reaching 8.5 percent as of Thursday.

Governor JB Pritzker said new mitigation measures would be put in place in the Metro East region starting Tuesday, as the positivity rate remains above what he has described as the “failsafe” level set by the latest “Restore Illinois” plan in July.

“If the data shows we need to go backwards in our reopening, I won’t hesitate to tighten restrictions to protect our collective health,” Pritzker said in a statement.

The Metro East is the first region in Illinois to have new coronavirus disease mitigation measures put in place under the latest reopening plan.

Both the Metro East and downstate Southern regions have reported the highest positivity rates in the state for weeks, and the rate in Metro East has been near or above 7 percent for a month.

“As we warned when we began reopening Illinois, we are seeing an increase in cases, emergency department visits, and other indicators that the virus is circulating more widely in the community,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in the statement.

New mitigation measures put in place as of Tuesday include:

  • Limits on meetings, social events, and other gatherings to 25 people or 25 percent of room capacity
  • All bars, restaurants, gaming facilities, and casinos will close at 11 pm; reservations will also be required, and “congregating” indoors and outdoors will not be allowed
  • Indoor tables will be reduced to six people or less, and dancing will not be allowed indoors
  • All reception halls will be closed
  • Party buses are not allowed to operate

Find all the new mitigation measures here.

The Metro East region includes Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair and Washington counties. Four of those counties reported positivity rates near or over 8 percent as of Sunday, including Clinton (8.6 percent), Madison (8 percent), St. Clair (7.9 percent) and Washington (8.3 percent).

In the statement, health officials said the restrictions will remain in place until the positivity rate in the region averages 6.5 percent or lower over a 14-day period.

Additional measures could be put in place if the positivity rate is averaging more than 8 percent after that 14 day period, including the closure of indoor bars and dining.

Earlier Sunday, IDPH reported 1,562 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed in Illinois over the past 24 hours.

There are now 206,081 total cases in the state and 7,744 deaths. The preliminary seven-day positivity rate for cases between August 9 and August 15 is 4.1%.

As of Saturday night, 1,581 people in Illinois are hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 345 were in the ICU and 116 patients are on ventilators.

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