Pritzker warns ‘only matter of time’ before state imposes COVID-19 restrictions as cases rise in 11 regions

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker warned Wednesday that 11 regions in Illinois are trending close to levels of coronavirus infections which will trigger further restrictions.

According to the Governor, regions 2, 3, 4, 7 and 9 have all seen an increase in the rolling 7 day testing positivity rate.

Regions 1 (which includes Winnebago, Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, DeKalb, Lee, Whiteside, Carroll and Jo Daviess counties), 5, 10 and 11 have the same average as that of a week ago, and only regions 6 and 8 have seen a slight decrease.

Pritzker said local officials need to pay attention to the data and implement harsher restrictions, “otherwise, the state will have to step in again, which nobody wants.”

“To be clear, we don’t want to go back to where we’re shutting things down. We don’t want to. It’s the last thing on my mind, if I can avoid it. Truth is, if we keep going in the wrong direction, we will inevitably get there,” he added.

The Governor also announced Wednesday a $46 million grant to help small businesses affected by COVID-19.

The grants are the first round of the Business Interruption Grant (BIG) program through which the State will award grants to a diversity of businesses, as well as business communities hit hardest by COVID-19 related closures. A substantial portion of the BIG program is dedicated to supporting childcare providers.

Pritzker said the funding will go to over 2,800 businesses in 400 towns and cities who have suffered losses due to the pandemic and looting due to civil unrest.

The Governor said his office is working with four partners, including the Chicago Urban League, to help provide resources specifically to black entrepreneurs.

The Illinois Department of Public Health today announced 1,645 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 16 additional confirmed death.

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 198,593 cases, including 7,672 deaths, in 102 counties in Illinois. The age of cases ranges from younger than one to older than 100 years.

Within the past 24 hours, laboratories have reported 42,098 specimens for a total of 3,189,801.

IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said she is concerned about the direction the state is taking, and again urged all residents to wear masks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Each case has a chance for each person to have the chance of being hard hit. Most people only have mild symptoms but we don’t know long-term effects,” she said. “Since the beginning of July, the number of people going to ER for COVID symptoms has gone up.”

“Those of who have lost friends and family, you know what the worst case scenario looks like,” Ezike continued. “We as individuals and communities have been traumatized to various degrees by this virus and ensuing pandemic.”

“Let’s protect each other. Let’s where a mask. Let’s wash our hands. What do we have to lose?” she said.

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