Chicago put on COVID-19 restrictions as hospitalizations soar; Lake, McHenry counties next?

  • Like many county health departments throughout the state, DuPage County has been running a COVID-19 test site at the county fairgrounds for months.

      Like many county health departments throughout the state, DuPage County has been running a COVID-19 test site at the county fairgrounds for months. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, Oct. 2

 
 
Updated 10/27/2020 6:24 PM

Chicago is joining many areas of the suburbs and downstate Illinois in facing tightened restrictions on business operations and public gatherings because of a resurgence of COVID-19.

On Friday, the city will join six other regions of the state where restaurants and bars aren't allowed to serve customers indoors and gatherings are limited to 25 or fewer people or 25% of a building's capacity, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The region that includes Lake and McHenry counties could face the same restrictions as early as Saturday. Positive COVID-19 results, measured as a seven-day average, exceeded 8% of tests given for two straight days in those counties. A third day would trigger more restrictions.

The governor announced Chicago's mitigation restrictions as state health officials also reported Tuesday that 46 more Illinois residents have died from COVID-19 and 4,000 new cases were diagnosed.

Illinois is now averaging 4,587 new cases a day over the past week, a 23% increase in the daily new-case average from a week ago.

The state's seven-day average infection rate is now at 6.4%.

Hospitals statewide reported 2,758 patients being treated for COVID-19 infections by the end of the day Monday, 120 more patients than the day before and nearly 500 more than were hospitalized a week ago. Of those currently hospitalized with the virus, 595 are in intensive care.

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"(Chicago) is now averaging more than twice as many COVID-related hospital admissions per day as it was a month ago, with a positivity rate that has almost doubled since the beginning of October," Pritzker said. "We can't ignore what is happening around us. Without action, this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring."

More of the state's 11 health regions are under mitigation restrictions than not.

Region 8 with DuPage and Kane counties and Region 7 with Will and Kankakee counties are already under the heightened restrictions. Suburban Cook County's Region 10 begins mitigation efforts Wednesday. Three other downstate regions are also under mitigation plans.

"What we are starting to see now ... is that mitigation measures are needed because COVID-19 hospital admissions are going up alongside increases in test positivity," said Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health. "Based on current trends, we soon could face reduced hospital bed availability and overwhelming our health care systems."

IDPH was reporting 25% of all standard hospital beds were available in Chicago Tuesday. Less than 30% of standard-care hospital beds were available in the other regions under mitigation protocols as well, according to IDPH. If bed availability drops below 20% in a region, hospitals are required to stop performing elective procedures to ensure enough beds are available for COVID-19 patients.

Statewide, 2,559 patients have been hospitalized each day this week for COVID-19 treatment, on average. A month ago, the state was averaging just 1,555 hospitalized patients a day.

Pritzker on Tuesday moved basketball into the state's list of high-risk sports, which means teams at all levels won't be able to play games or scrimmage and can only train and hold noncontact practices. Pritzker said the move puts basketball seasons "on hold" along with other sports like wrestling and hockey.

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