Eleven counties in Illinois are now at a "warning level" for coronavirus, the state's health department said Friday.
The warning means each of the counties saw increases in two or more COVID-19 "risk indicators," the health department said.
The counties now under a warning include: Cass, Gallatin, Jackson, Jo Daviess, Johnson, Perry, Randolph, Saline, Sangamon, St. Clair, and White.
Last week, four counties were at a "warning level." Of those four, only Randolph County remained on the list Friday.
The counties each "saw outbreaks associated with business operations and activities posing higher risk for disease spread, including school graduation ceremonies, a rise in cases among late teens and 20s, parties and social gatherings, people going to bars, long-term care outbreaks, clusters of cases associated with restaurants and churches, and big sports events including soccer, golf, and softball tournaments," the health department stated.
"Residents of many communities are not wearing face coverings that have been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19," IDPH said in a release. "Public health officials are finding that most contacts to cases are testing positive as well."
Among the metrics evaluated to determine if a county has reached a "warning level" are:
• New cases per 100,000 people. If there are 50 or more new cases per 100,000 people in the county, this triggers a warning.
• Number of deaths. This metric indicates a warning when the number of deaths increases more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
• Weekly test positivity. This metric indicates a warning when the 7-day test positivity rate rises above 8%.
• ICU availability. If there are fewer than 20% of intensive care units available in the region, this triggers a warning.
• Weekly emergency department visits. This metric indicates a warning when the weekly percent of COVID-19-like-illness emergency department visits increase by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
• Weekly hospital admissions. A warning is triggered when the weekly number of hospital admissions for COVID-19-like-illness increases by more than 20% for two consecutive weeks.
• Tests perform. This metric is used to provide context and indicate if more testing is needed in the county.
• Clusters. This metric looks at the percent of COVID-19 cases associated with clusters or outbreaks and is used to understand large increase in cases.
The update comes as Gov. J.B. Pritzker said most of Illinois' 11 healthcare regions are seeing increases in coronavirus metrics, adding that the state has reached "a danger point."
"We do not want the state or any region in the state moving backward so I'm imploring people to follow the guidelines," he said. "We're at a danger point, everybody. Pay attention. Now is the time to wear your mask properly."
Illinois reported more than 1,900 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, the highest daily total for the month of July and the biggest daily increase since May 24.
With 1,941 new cases in the last 24 hours, the state's total number of cases since the pandemic began rose to 178,837, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. An 21 additional deaths also lift the total number of fatalities to 7,495.
At the same time, officials reported nearly 50,000 new coronavirus test specimens turned into state labs over the last 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to more than 2.6 million during the ongoing pandemic. The 49,782 new tests mark the highest single-day test results since the state started reporting such numbers.
Still, the state’s seven-day positivity rate climbed slightly to 3.9% after holding steady at 3.8% throughout the week.
"I'll remind every that the health metrics that we set to return to tougher mitigations is seven out of 10 days of increasing positivity rate plus a sustained seven-day increase in hospital admissions," Pritzker said.
The state's health department noted that several cities in Illinois have started adding measures to mitigate a rise in cases.
They cited that the mayor of Springfield now requires bar employees to wear masks or be subject to fines, Perry County hospitals and nursing homes have temporarily suspended visitors, and the state’s attorney in Jackson County is allowing a local food ordinance to be used to enforce COVID-19 guidance at restaurants and bars.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, bars have been forced to once again shut down indoor service and the city has implemented a travel order, requiring anyone visiting or returning to the city from 22 states to self-quarantine for 14 days.