Cook County

Cook County Eases Outdoor Restrictions as COVID Cases Increase

Chicago upped outdoor capacity limits at a number of establishments Thursday

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Following a similar path as Chicago, Cook County announced the gradual reduction of COVID-19 mitigation measures Friday, particularly as it relates to outdoor gatherings, as it experiences a worrisome rise in case numbers.

Suburban Cook County has recently seen its daily case rate increase by more than 40%, along with nine days of increasing hospital bed usage, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to a new mitigation order issued by the Cook County Department of Public Health Friday, the updated capacity limits include:

  • Outdoor Dining: Groups of 10 people
  • Amusement Parks: Can open at 25% capacity
  • Outdoor Fitness Classes, Meetings, Social Events and Recreation Activities: Can increase to 50% capacity or 100 people
  • Seated Spectator Events: Venues with a capacity less than 200 are limited to 50% and no more than 50 individuals. Larger venues with a capacity of more than 200 are limited to 25% capacity.

While most indoor restrictions remain the same, that's not the case for indoor fitness classes, which can increase to the lesser of 50% capacity or 50 people per room.

Face coverings must be worn at all times, and a minimum distance of six feet must be maintained between all participants, officials said.

Citing "worrying increases" in COVID health metrics, Chicago increased outdoor capacity limits at a number of establishments Thursday, with the focus of preventing "a third surge of the virus" in the city.

Statewide, Illinois' is reporting a "concerning possible trend" that could mark the start of another resurgence, according to IDPH.

Since March 8, Illinois has seen 10 days of increases in the seven-day rolling average for hospital admissions, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. At the same time, the COVID-19 test positivity has risen from 2.5% on March 10, to 3.3% on Friday.

So far, Illinois isn't meeting the metrics required to move into its "Bridge Phase," a transition phase that would increase capacity limitations ahead of a full reopening. In order to move forward, 70% of residents 65 and older statewide must have received their first dose of the vaccine, with no increase in COVID-19 metrics like hospital admissions and more.

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