WATCH ABOVE: Governor JB Pritzker and health experts provide an update on COVID-19 in Illinois Wednesday. Note, the first few minutes were lost due to a technical issue.
CHICAGO — The region of Illinois including Will and Kankakee counties is on track for added state-imposed mitigation measures to be lifted in coming days as COVID-19 positivity rates there continue to decline, Governor JB Pritzker said Wednesday.
Additional mitigation measures were put in place in the South Suburban region on August 26 after the 7-day COVID-19 positivity rate there passed the state’s 8 percent limit for three consecutive days. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, the positivity rate in the region reached 6.4 percent on September 13 after declining over the past two weeks.
“IDPH will continue to watch that positivity over the next few days, and if that trend holds for three days we will remove the resurgence mitigations and return the entire region to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan,” Pritzker said.
Additional mitigation measures remain in place in the Metro East region outside St. Louis, while the 7-day positivity rate there remains above the state’s limit at 8.9 percent as of Sunday.
Illinois health officials reported 1,941 new cases of COVID-19 and 35 additional coronavirus-related deaths have been confirmed over the past day Wednesday.
Illinois’ positivity rate from September 9-15 came in at 3.7 percent, and Pritzker said the rate in “nearly every region”of the state has remained stable or declined over the past two weeks.
Hospital resources and coronavirus hospitalizations in Illinois also remain within state guidelines, with 1,565 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Tuesday, including 345 in intensive care and 143 on ventilators.
The federal government outlined a sweeping plan Wednesday to make vaccines for COVID-19 available for free to all Americans, even as polls show a strong undercurrent of skepticism rippling across the land.
No deal yet on next round of federal aid
Lawmakers and aides in Washington offered glum assessments both publicly and privately over whether Congress will approve a new round of coronavirus aid Wednesday.
Democratic leadership in the House rejected a bipartisan $1.5 trillion proposal that includes a second round of $1,200 direct payments to Americans.
On Tuesday, Pritzker warned of a “nightmare scenario” of cuts and layoffs of first responders and other government workers if the federal government doesn’t offer more assistance.
Retail sales rose for a fourth straight month as Americans kept spending in August, but the pace of that growth is slowing as millions of people who lost jobs have now lost a $600 a week boost in their unemployment checks.
The coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard on businesses like those in the Wrigleyville neighborhood that rely on ballpark traffic, as restrictions have eliminated crowds at major league games and limit the amount of people they can have inside their doors at the same time.
Pritzker also announced $245 million in new grants for Illinois businesses impacted by COVID-19 and recent unrest Tuesday.
Debate over reopening schools and sports
The Big Ten reversed course on Wednesday and announced plans for an eight-game football season starting the weekend of October 24.
Students and parents in suburban Crystal Lake rallied in support of resuming in-person learning Tuesday, as some say schools can safely reopen their doors and resume high school sports amid the pandemic.