Michigan COVID Surge Sparks Concern For Nearby Illinois Residents

As of Thursday, Michigan had the worst rate of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. over the previous two weeks

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With COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations increasing across Michigan, state officials said they are watching the metrics closely in Illinois.

Although COVID vaccinations have been increasing, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said he has put the state's reopening plan on hold while he follows the latest Illinois metrics as numbers surge in nearby Michigan.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state reported 7,834 new coronavirus cases and 26 additional deaths related to COVID Friday.

Michigan's percentage of COVID tests bringing positive results was sitting at 18% Friday, which is the highest number since the state's spring 2020 surge, according to data.

Faced with the country's highest rate of new coronavirus infections, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday urged a two-week suspension of in-person high school classes, all youth sports and indoor restaurant dining.

High schools should shift to virtual learning, both school-and non-school youth sports should be paused, people should choose outdoor dining or takeout instead of indoor seating, and they should avoid gathering with friends indoors, she said.

The state health department issued guidance strongly encouraging high schools that remain open for face-to-face instruction to enroll in the state's rapid coronavirus testing program, which was recently mandated for teen athletes.

Michigan is currently in the "orange tier" of Chicago's travel order, requiring a quarantine or pre-arrival negative test before returning to the city. To be considered a at "orange," the state must have a rolling 7-day average above 15 cases a day per 100,000 residents.

In the Chicago area, the rise in metrics has prompted warnings from Cook County's health department, which said restrictions could return if the numbers continue to trend "in the wrong direction."

"We're currently seeing hospitalizations going up," Pritzker said of local metrics. "It's very challenging. I worry about it."

Meanwhile, in Chicago, officials have noted a surge particularly among young adults on the city's North Side, where several "hot spots" have been reported.

The U.K. strain is believed to be behind some spikes in younger populations in the U.S., but Arwady said data in Chicago hasn't shown an increase in COVID cases for residents 17 and younger so far.

"We've not seen significant increases there, which is good and different than what has been seen in Michigan, for example, where they have a lot of that [B 1.1.7] variant, where things are really not in good control from a COVID perspective," Arwady said. "Part of this has been they've seen actually a lot of increase in children like in that 10 to 17 years and that is not something at this point we're seeing here in Chicago."

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