Illinois reports 955 coronavirus cases, 23 deaths as Chicago launches social distancing campaign for youth

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CHICAGO — State health officials reported 955 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths have been confirmed over the past day in Illinois Tuesday, while some areas continue to see an increase in infections this summer.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, there have been 163,703 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 7,324 related deaths to date, while 95 percent of cases are believed to have recovered.

Hospitalization rates statewide remain within the limits of the state’s “Restore Illinois” plan, with 1,466 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 including 320 in intensive care and 142 on ventilators. The statewide positivity rate from July 14-20 also remains relatively stable at 3.1 percent.

The IDPH also reported two outbreaks in long-term care facilities Tuesday, including 16 new cases of COVID-19 in staff and 3 new cases among youth at Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice’s facility in St. Charles. Chester Mental Health Center in Randolph County reported 27 staff and 5 residents with newly confirmed cases.

On Monday the “Metro East” region made up of southwest Illinois counties outside St. Louis reached the state’s “warning” level after the area’s coronavirus positivity rates increased over seven of 10 days, approaching the “failsafe” level of 8 percent.

If the area sees an increase in hospitalizations or three days above that failsafe level, state health officials said they could implement mitigation steps in the region like suspending indoor bar service or placing additional limits on gatherings and room capacities “based on data received.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and health officials reimposed some coronavirus restrictions on Monday, including banning indoor seating for bars and reducing capacity for restaurants and gyms, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the city.

According to the City, nearly 30 percent of new cases from June 15 to July 15 confirmed in the city came from people between 18 and 29 years old.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago’s sports teams launched a new campaign Tuesday aimed at encouraging those youth to follow health guidelines amid the rise in coronavirus cases among them.

Teaming up with the Chicago Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls, Cubs, White Sox, Fire, Red Stars and Sky, the City’s campaign will use billboards, social media and other means to encourage kids to wear a face mask and observe social distancing rules.

Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Tuesday a new study found wearing a face covering can reduce the range of fluids expelled into the air by a cough from 8 feet to 2.5 inches.

Lightfoot said previously the city could go back to Phase 3 of reopening if the number of cases continues to rise.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and representatives from some of Chicago’s sports teams launch a new effort to get young people to follow health and social distancing guidelines Tuesday

Arwady said Tuesday the city decided to reimpose restrictions on bars because studies find they are “at the top” when it comes to which behaviors are most at risk for causing COVID-19 to spread.

“People are drinking, by definition they’re not wearing their mask – and it is a loud environment, think about it if you’ve been in a bar, you need to raise your voice,” Arwady said. “And then you add alcohol, and we know that even people with the best of intentions with social distancing some of that can fall by the wayside.”

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