New restrictions to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus take effect in one of Illinois' 11 health care regions on Thursday after the area has seen a sustained increase in its testing positivity rate.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the new restrictions Monday for Region 5, located in southern Illinois. Region 5 had exceeded the 8% threshold in its positivity rate for three consecutive days, automatically triggered the enhanced mitigations, state health officials said.
The changes include shutting down indoor dining and bar service, as well as a requirement that those establishments close by 11 p.m. daily. Gathering sizes are limited to 25 people and party buses are also banned under the rules.
Region 5 includes Alexander, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, Marion, Massac, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union, Wabash, Wayne, White, Williamson in the southernmost part of the state.
As of Wednesday, the area had seen six consecutive days of positivity rate increases and two days of increases in hospital admissions - both metrics used to determine whether a region will see enhanced restrictions.
As of Oct. 18, the last day for which data is available, the region's positivity rate stood at 8.9%, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Region 5 is one of four regions either already under enhanced coronavirus restrictions or scheduled to have those mitigations take effect.
The other three are Region 1 in northwest Illinois, and Regions 7 and 8 - suburban Will, Kankakee, Kane and DuPage counties - that will see the restrictions put in place on Friday.
Several other regions are also nearing potentially bad territory when it comes to positivity rates, with Regions 3, 4 and 9 all currently over 7% positivity. Cook County and Chicago are both over 6% in positivity rates, as is Region 2, which stands at 6.9% as of Monday.