State lifts COVID-19-related restrictions on Will, Kankakee counties

  • Restaurants in Will and Kankakee counties, like Naperville's Paris Bistro, can begin offering indoor dining service once again starting Friday at 5 p.m. following the state's loosening of COVID-19 mitigation restrictions.

      Restaurants in Will and Kankakee counties, like Naperville's Paris Bistro, can begin offering indoor dining service once again starting Friday at 5 p.m. following the state's loosening of COVID-19 mitigation restrictions. Lauren Rohr | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 9/18/2020 9:47 PM

Restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including a ban on indoor dining in restaurants and bars, were lifted in Will and Kankakee counties as of 5 p.m. Friday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said.

In late August, the two counties hit a COVID-19 test positivity rate of 8% or higher for three days, triggering state actions intended to stop a virus surge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

State health officials also reported 20 additional COVID-19 deaths Friday along with another 2,120 new cases of the respiratory disease.

That brings the state's death toll to 8,411, while 270,327 Illinois residents have contracted the virus since the pandemic began.

The state's seven-day rolling average infection rate now stands at 3.6%.

Among the deaths announced Friday, one was a Will County man in his 70s.

The daily infection rate Friday for Will County was 4.5% and 4.8% in Kankakee County, according to IDPH records.

The state clampdown for Will and Kankakee counties began Aug. 26 and was monitored for 14 days to see if mitigations could be lifted or continued.

Several restaurants in the two counties defied the order, though there's no record of any establishment being punished.

Meanwhile, the average positivity rate for the two counties dipped to the 7% range last week, according to Illinois Department of Public Health records.

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On Friday, the region's average test positivity rate hit 5.6% after coming down to 6.4% Wednesday, below a 6.5% benchmark required by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

"The regions can reopen for indoor service and the broader gathering capacity cap can return to 50 from 25 people," Pritzker said. "Let that be a testament to the entire state and the power of community that embraces doctor recommended mitigations proven to reduce risk and slow the spread. Let that be a testament to community leaders that stand on the side of science."

The region that contains Lake and McHenry counties now has the highest average positivity rate in the suburbs at 5.7%, according to the IDPH monitoring site.

"Moving from a greater than 8% rolling positivity rate to below 6.5% in a matter of weeks demonstrates how concerted efforts to reduce exposure risks through limiting large gatherings, increased masking and other mitigation measures can truly make a difference," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the IDPH. "It also shows how quickly the positivity rate can move, in either direction."

The seven-county Metro East region adjacent to St. Louis is the only region in the state still under business and gathering restrictions with an average test positivity rate of 8.4%, though that's been declining for several days when it was above 10%. Restrictions in that region have been in place since mid-August.

Illinois hospitals reported 1,481 COVID-19 patients being treated for symptoms by the end of Thursday. The state has seen three straight days of declining hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients. Of those hospitalized, 329 were in intensive care units, that's 30 fewer than the previous day, according to IDPH records.

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