coronavirus illinois

Illinois Officials Ask Companies to Let Employees Work From Home Unless Necessary

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Illinois health officials on Wednesday issued a call to all companies to allow employees to work from home unless necessary as coronavirus metrics continue to surge across the state.

The Illinois Department of Public Health released new guidance asking everyone in the state to "stay home as much as possible" for the next three weeks and leave only for essential activities like grocery shopping and coronavirus testing, among other necessary tasks.

As part of that guidance, IDPH said residents should also work with employers to "plan to work from home unless it is necessary for you to be in the workplace."

"We ask employers to make accommodation for this," IDPH said. "Our goal is to reduce transmission as we head into the holidays so businesses and schools can remain open."

In addition, health officials suggest limiting travel and gatherings.

"In our current situation, with a rising prevalence of the virus, attending even small gatherings that mix households, or traveling to areas that are experiencing high rates of positivity, is not advised and is potentially dangerous," the release states, "Please, travel only if necessary."

Illinois health officials again reported more than 12,000 new confirmed and probable coronavirus cases on Wednesday, setting a record for the highest single-day report of new cases for the second consecutive day as the state also marked the deadliest day of the pandemic since May.

The state reported 12,657 new cases and 145 additional deaths Wednesday, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health. That marked the second day in a row Illinois has reported a record high one-day case count and the sixth consecutive day in which the state has seen more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases.

Those figures brought the total number of cases in the state to 523,840 since the pandemic began and lifted the death toll to 10,434, IDPH said. The 145 deaths reported Wednesday marked Illinois' highest single-day death toll since May 27, when the state reported 160 deaths.

The state’s seven-day positivity rate continued to climb, reaching 12.4% on Wednesday. That marks a nearly 2-point increase in three days, rising from 12% on Tuesday, which was up from 11.4% on Monday and 10.6% on Sunday.

The new recommendations issued Wednesday follow a warning from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that the health department was looking at the possibility of added restrictions on a region level or possibly even statewide.

Already, all of Illinois' healthcare regions are under increased mitigations from the state, shutting down indoor dining and bar service and limiting gathering sizes.

On Wednesday, three of those regions entered Tier 2 of the state's mitigation plan, limiting party sizes at tables for outdoor dining and further restricting gathering sizes.

Pritzker said some Illinois regions have seen more than triple the number of coronavirus hospitalizations than they did during the first wave of the pandemic and a group of doctors warned that the state could "surpass its ICU bed capacity by Thanksgiving."

The state saw its hospitalization numbers continue to increase on Wednesday, with 5,042 residents currently in hospitals due to coronavirus-like illnesses. Of those patients, 951 are currently in intensive care units, and 404 are on ventilators.

All three statistics are the highest metrics the state has seen in their respective categories since the first peak in COVID-19 cases earlier this year.

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