Several Illinois regions are reporting increases in their positivity rates, prompting a warning from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
"Across the state, our 11 Restore Illinois regions are trending in different directions, the majority of which are negative," Pritzker said Wednesday.
The regions seeing increases in positivity rates as of Tuesday were 2, 3, 4, 7, and 9 - three of which include multiple Chicago-area counties. Meanwhile, regions 1, 5, 10 and 11, which includes Chicago, held steady with the same average as one week ago and regions 6 and 8, which include some western Chicago suburbs, saw slight declines.
"I want to emphasize again that local officials should pay close attention to the data for their communities and where necessary step up and impose greater mitigations on a targeted basis to bring down the number of infections and the positivity rate. Otherwise, it will only be a matter of time before the state will be forced to step in and roll things back on a regional basis – something none of us wants."
Across the state, health officials reported 1,645 new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday, along with 16 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
According to new data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, the state has now recorded a total of 198,593 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, with 7,672 fatalities reported.
Over the last 24 hours, the state also reported 42,098 new tests, an increase from a day earlier. That brings the total number of tests performed in the state to 3,189,801.
Those new test results keep the state's seven-day positivity rate steady at 4.1%.
"The virus is still among us, and will be until a treatment or vaccine is developed," Pritzker said Wednesday. "In the meantime, masking and distancing are two of the most important things we can do to stay healthy and safe during this pandemic."
The average number of new coronavirus cases in Illinois has been steadily increasing for more than a month, to the point where the state has nearly reached the threshold at which Chicago requires anyone entering the city from more than a dozen states to quarantine for 14 days under an emergency travel order.
Public health data shows that the 7-day rolling average number of new cases in Illinois - calculated excluding Chicago - stood at 14.3 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people as of Wednesday.
On Tuesday, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules voted to uphold new enforcement rules proposed by Pritzker and the state’s Department of Public Health. Those rules give local health departments and law enforcement agencies additional tools to enforce mask mandates and other protocols implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.
Under provisions of the new rules, businesses, schools and child care facilities could face fines of up to $2,500 for refusing to comply with state mandates.
“The rule allows a modest level of enforcement similar to what many other states already have,” he said over the weekend. “It prioritizes education and support for businesses over shaming and punishment. It stands in vast contrast to the arcane rules written long ago and without this pandemic in mind. These hard-and-fast rules can cripple businesses.”