Officials warn suburban Cook County might soon need tighter COVID-19 restrictions

  • There are numerous public COVID-19 testing sites in Illinois, including a DuPage County facility in Wheaton.

    There are numerous public COVID-19 testing sites in Illinois, including a DuPage County facility in Wheaton. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, June 2020

 
 
Updated 8/28/2020 5:33 PM

Suburban Cook joined 30 counties exhibiting warning signs of a COVID-19 surge Friday, and that could lead to restrictions such as smaller gathering sizes, officials warned.

Suburban Cook recorded 112 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people from Aug. 16 to 22 -- compared to the target level of fewer than 50 -- and had 25 deaths, an increase of more than 20% for two weeks in a row, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported.

 

"Younger folks are driving the recent increase in cases," Cook County Department of Public Health Senior Medical Officer Rachel Rubin said at a phone-in briefing.

A county is put at a warning level when two or more metrics measuring COVID-19 spread are triggered. The alert is meant to increase awareness and prompt actions from local officials.

Across Illinois, new cases of COVID-19 jumped by 2,149 Friday, with 20 more deaths.

Total deaths from COVID-19 now stand at 7,997, and Illinois is expected to surpass 8,000 Saturday. The state has recorded 229,483 total cases, the IDPH announced.

Will County also made the IDPH's warning list after an average of 8.8% of tests were positive for the week of Aug. 16 through 22, surpassing the target of 8% or lower.

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On Monday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker imposed restrictions, including banning indoor dining at restaurants and bars, on Will and Kankakee counties because they hit 8% test positivity for three straight days.

Reasons for suburban Cook landing on the warning list include people ignoring mask and physical distancing mandates at large events such as weddings, parties or bars, Cook County health officials said.

There have also been infections connected with schools conducting in-person classes.

"It's not a huge amount," Rubin said. "It's basically spread out among a handful of schools reporting positive cases in staff, teachers and students."

Compared to the 25 deaths in the week ending Aug. 22, 15 suburban Cook residents died from COVID-19 the previous week.

The county health department is coordinating with the state and if health metrics don't improve, officials said, suburban Cook County could be hit with restrictions similar to Will County.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cook County health officials issued guidelines to reduce COVID-19 spread Aug. 3 that included reducing indoor fitness class sizes to 10 people or less and for bars to serve customers outside only, but those are just recommendations.

Among other key metrics statewide, the daily average of new cases is 1,936 this week, a 2.4% increase from Aug. 15 to 21 when the average was 1,891.

Positive results on COVID-19 tests average 4.1% over seven days. Friday's daily positivity rate is 4.4%, with labs reporting 48,383 results in the last 24 hours

There were 1,546 patients in Illinois hospitals with the virus Thursday night, a dip from Wednesday's tally of 1,631. The daily average of hospitalizations this week is 1,538.

Other counties at warning status are: Bureau, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Cumberland, Effingham, Fayette, Greene, Grundy, Henderson, Henry, Jasper, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Madison, Monroe, Morgan, Perry, Pike, Randolph, Sangamon, Shelby, St. Clair, Union, Warren, White, and Williamson.

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