Gov. Pritzker announces new regions, metrics to determine further coronavirus response in Illinois

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CHICAGO, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced he is breaking up the state’s health regions from 4 to 11 and rolling out new metrics to determine if further restrictions will be needed in the battle against COVID-19.

As states across the country experience a surge of new COVID-19 cases, Illinois remains an outlier with lower hospitalization and infection rates and one of the highest rates of testing in the U.S.

Pritzker said the state is redrawing the state into 11 regions, instead of the initial four, based on emergency response capabilities.

The new regions are:

  1. NORTH: Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson, Whiteside, Winnebago
  2. NORTH-CENTRAL: Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Kendall, Knox, La Salle, Livingston, Marshall, McDonough, McLean, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford
  3. WEST-CENTRAL: Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Christian, Greene, Hancock, Jersey, Logan, Macoupin, Mason, Mason, Menard, Montgomery, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott
  4. METRO EAST: Bond, Clinton, Madison, Monroe, Randolph, St. Clair, Washington
  5. SOUTHERN: Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson
  6. EAST-CENTRAL: Champaign, Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, De Witt, Douglas, Edgar, Effingham, Fayette, Ford, Iroquois, Jasper, Lawrence, Macon, Moultrie, Piatt, Richland, Shelby, Vermillion
  7. SOUTH SUBURBAN: Kankakee, Will
  8. WEST SUBURBAN: DuPage, Kane
  9. NORTH SUBURBAN: Lake, McHenry
  10. SUBURBAN COOK: Suburban Cook
  11. CHICAGO: City of Chicago

A map of the resurgence plan regions will be available on the state’s coronavirus website: www.coronavirus.illinois.gov.

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), said the following metrics will be used to determine when the spread of the virus in a region requires additional mitigations:

• Sustained increase in 7-day rolling average (7 out of 10 days) in the positivity rate and one of the following severity indicators:
• Sustained 7-day increase in hospital admissions for a COVID-19 like illness
• Reduction in hospital capacity threatening surge capabilities (ICU capacity or medical/surgical beds < 20%)
• OR three consecutive days averaging = 8% positivity rate

The updated guidance from IDPH establishes three tiers of mitigations that can be implemented should a region meet the resurgence metrics.

Some mitigation strategies in higher risk settings, like indoor bars and restaurants, will be automatically applied in a region that meets resurgence criteria to prevent rapid spread of COVID-19.

A larger list of mitigation strategies relating to settings like retail, fitness, and salons and personal care will be available if testing and contact tracing data at the local level indicate those mitigations to be prudent.

The Governor also said, as a parent, he is worried about in-person learning at Illinois schools in the fall, saying hybrid schedules and distance learning are part of the solution.

“Everyone can have differences of opinion, but I wouldn’t let my kids to a school where masks aren’t mandatory,” he said.

“Any district who ignores guidelines is gambling with the lives of our children, teachers and families,” and could be held liable in court, he said.

“We have one of the lowest positivity rates in the country,” due to the way Illinois residents have responded to the virus, Pritzker said. “Wear a mask, watch your distance, wash your hands.”

Illinois has had recent outbreaks from athletic camps, and 4th of July parties, and Pritzker said he is deeply concerned about the spread of coronavirus at youth sport events.

“This virus has not gone away,” the Governor continued. “We cannot reach Phase 5 until we have a vaccine or treatment.”

The IDPH today announced 1,187 new confirmed cases of coronavirus in Illinois, including 8 additional confirmed deaths.

  • Cook County – 1 male 40s, 1 male 60s, 1 male 70s, 1 female 90s
  • DuPage County – 1 male 80s
  • Kane County – 1 female 80s
  • Will County – 1 male 50s, 1 female 70s

Currently, IDPH is reporting a total of 156,693 cases, including 7,226 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 38,161 specimens for a total of 2,079,601. The preliminary seven-day statewide positivity for cases as a percent of total test from July 8–July 14 is 3.1%. As of last night, 1,454 people in Illinois were reported to be in the hospital with COVID-19. Of those, 324 patients were in the ICU and 130 patients with COVID-19 were on ventilators.

Earlier Wednesday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot warned Chicago is “dangerously close” to taking a step backwards in reopening and reinstating stricter stay-at-home restrictions. Lightfoot said the number of coronavirus cases in the city are trending upwards, especially for young people.

Health officials in Cook County and Chicago also said Tuesday they’re seeing a surge in opioid addiction, overdose and even death during the coronavirus pandemic.

The first COVID-19 vaccine tested in the U.S. revved up people’s immune systems just the way scientists had hoped, researchers reported Tuesday. The shots are poised to begin key final testing, and the government hopes to have results around the end of the year.

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