Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday warned that "there seems to be a COVID storm coming" and urged residents to be prepared as the state's metrics continue rising.
"No matter where in Illinois you call home: as you go about your daily life, remember that this is not over," Pritzker said as he delivered his daily coronavirus press briefing.
The governor warned that six of the state's 11 healthcare regions will be under stricter mitigations this week, but more could soon follow.
Speaking from Peoria, which he said is currently in the best performing region in the state, the governor said no part of Illinois is currently immune to the rising metrics.
"Region 2, is currently the best performing of our state’s 11 Restore regions – but a 7.2 percent positivity average is nothing to write home about, and that’s on top of a slight uptick in hospitalizations this month after leveling off in August and September," Pritzker said.
But Region 2 isn't alone.
"Outside of Region 2, the remaining regions yet to experience heightened mitigations under the state plan are also trending in a bad direction. Region 11 – the City of Chicago – is now seeing an average positivity rate of 7.7, and Regions 3 and 6 are both at 7.8," he noted. "And Region 9, Lake and McHenry Counties, is reporting its first day of an average positivity rate above the 8 percent threshold, at 8.1 percent. If the region remains above the 8 percent threshold for the next two days, it could enter additional mitigations as soon as this week."
Already, Pritzker had announced two Illinois regions will soon be under new coronavirus restrictions as rising metrics triggered the state's mitigation plan.
Region 10, which holds all but Chicago in Cook County, will see the suspension of indoor dining and bar service, among other limitations, put in place Wednesday as the area becomes the first in Illinois to trigger the state's mitigation plan in multiple metrics simultaneously.
Region 4, known as the Metro East region, will also see the return of increased restrictions just days after such rules were lifted in the southern Illinois area.
"Region 4 has had a 7-day rolling average test positivity rate of 8 percent or above for three consecutive days. Region 10 has had eight consecutive days of increases in test positivity and seven days of increased hospital admissions making it the first region in the state to meet the metrics for additional mitigations in this way and surpass warning levels in two categories simultaneously," Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office said in a release.
Region 4 had been under heightened restrictions for weeks beginning in the summer, but recently saw the mitigations lifted as its positivity rate declined. Now, the area will see such rules put back in place.
The positivity rate in Region 10 has ticked upward from 7.3% on Oct. 20 and to 7.5% on Oct. 21 and 7.7% on Oct. 22, continuing a slow upward trend, data from the state's health department showed. Hospitalizations are also going up, and the region only had an average of 25% availability on hospital beds in the event of a surge, along with a 30% ICU availability, as of Oct. 22.
"We are seeing test positivity across the state increase, but for Region 10, Suburban Cook County, we are also seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations for COVID-like illness,” Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a statement. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were concerned about overwhelming our hospitals and we must take action now to prevent that possibility."
Regions 10 and 4 will now join four other healthcare regions in the state with additional coronavirus mitigation restrictions.
Kane, DuPage, Will and Kankakee counties in the Chicago area saw added restrictions put in place beginning Friday. Region 5 in southeastern Illinois began the new measures on Thursday.
Illinois health officials reported 4,729 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, along with 17 additional deaths attributed to the virus.
Monday’s new cases mark the fifth time in the last six days that the state has reported more than 4,000 new cases of the virus. The new numbers bring the statewide total to 378,985 cases of the virus since the pandemic began.
The 17 new fatalities bring the state’s death toll to 9,522, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
The state’s seven-day positivity rate, on a steady rise for nearly all of October, increased to 6.3%, the highest it has been since early June.