ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the area, the local economy is experiencing a ripple effect, according to resident experts.

“This virus is devastating the economic stability of our county with the same intensity we have witnessed in human victims, and the toll it’s taken on families all across the region,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, speaking on a Region 1 conference call Friday morning.

Businesses say they are continuing to struggle as the pandemic surges on.

“The more we follow layered mitigations, including vaccinations, boosters, and masking and social distancing, the sooner we can get past COVID-19 and back to the experiences and the special events that create memories that we cherish,” said Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau president, John Groh.

“For example, the West Side Showroom in Rockford, a local theater company, struggles right now with getting guests to return to their live theatrical performances. Having survived the pandemic so far, the theater faces that, on any given performance night, only 25% of tickets are being sold,” Groh added.

Matt Prescott, who owns multiple restaurants across Lee County, including the Candlelight Inn, at 2907 Locust Street, in Sterling, says he has felt the struggle first hand.

“The toughest part of the current rise is the fact that there is less people out, less people going to a concert or restaurant. We have drive-thru windows that works well. If you don’t have a drive-thru window, it’s a tough time being in the restaurant business,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re on the downside of this and we can get through the holidays and by the middle of next year we’re in a better place.”

Ezike advised the public should continue to wear masks indoors, practice social distancing, and get vaccinated.